That Guy: Zach Claywell
January 22, 2010
__Zach Claywell sits at The Daily Grind, wearing his trademark Pittsburgh Penguins hat and rasta-colored wristband. We find ourselves a quiet corner and dive in to discover Zach’s post-college plans to make it big on the West Coast. He talks about his involvement in his fraternity, William & Mary TV, WCWM and Beardvember, all uniquely energetic pursuits that complement his personality. While his absurd endeavors and need to be stand out are fueled by his restless imagination, Zach makes it clear that he wouldn’t be anywhere without the help of his friends.__
*Graduation is right around the corner. Off the top of your head, what experiences would you say have shaped your last four years at the College?*
Me and [Sean] Twigg doing Flash Mob was pretty sweet. But me and Twigg on the radio was pretty important early on. I came in here wanting to do TV and The Flat Hat and the radio; I wanted to do everything. I joined Chi Phi. My dad started a fraternity in West Virginia, and he was like “You probably shouldn’t start a fraternity. It’s going to be really hard, and there’s always one guy that’s stuck with all the work.” Luckily, I wasn’t that one guy.
*How do you think you will use your degree in the real world?*
I’m a double major in philosophy and English. I could either get my Ph.D. in philosophy, or move to Hollywood and try to be a screenwriter and try to get famous. And right now, it feels like that’s what I’m leaning toward; and if that’s the case, “Space Med School” [his WMTV show] is like my resume. I’m really putting everything I have into this, and a lot of people are putting everything they have into it as well. If I could just keep doing what I’m doing now with “Space Med School” forever – just working with my friends, figuring out where to put the camera, helping [Max] Brumby create a storyboard – I think that would be a fun and impractical way to make my living.
*Why did you join Chi Phi?*
We’re a group of friends that founded a chapter of a national frat. We try not to earn the adjective “fratty” though. We’re all different people, and not all of us are as silly as I am. I think it might be impossible to assemble 21 people that enjoy being silly as much as I do. It was out of character for me to join a fraternity, which you mention, a lot of people wouldn’t know that I’m a fraternity man. There was an appeal there; I went to a brand new middle school, I went to a brand new high school, I go to the second – oldest college in the country and start a new fraternity. The one chance I had to embrace tradition and I just couldn’t do it.
*Where did the idea for “Space Med School” come from?*
It was actually Brumby and Zach Aravich, separate from me, in a conversation. I don’t know the story that well, but I think they misheard somebody and Zach thought that she said she was going to space med school. And then Brumby and Zach kind of riffed on it, like, “What would a space med school be like?” And then I got involved and said, “What if it was a TV show?” The story is two friends at the worst med school in the whole galaxy — it orbits a trash dump — and hopefully it’s going to be kind of like an Adult Swim-type of humor. It’s a weird idea that’s going to take a lot of work, and the only reason to push it through is because it’s weird.
*When will the show air?*
What we’re trying to do is have 15-minute episodes, and we have two 15-minute episodes that we’re working on right now. We’re trying to shoot it by the end of January, edit it the first couple weeks of February, and get it out before spring break on William & Mary TV, channel 53, and on blip.tv.
*Is the show more like “Grey’s Anatomy” or “House?”*
It’s more like “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” I don’t think there’s one scene where anyone’s doing anything remotely medical. Annie Brown walks in one scene in a Halloween nurse’s costume. That’s the closest medical thing that happens on the show. It’s basically just two dudes hangin’ out kind of comedy.
*Who is your favorite Power Ranger?*
I didn’t watch the Power Rangers. I watched “Eureeka’s Castle.” It’s more of a little kid’s show than Power Rangers. I’ve always been a contrarian; everyone was like “I’m gonna be a Power Ranger for Halloween,” and I was like “I’m gonna be The Blues Brothers.”
*In the past you have been an active participant in Beardvember. Have you ever considered joining Beard Team USA, which represents the United States at the biennial World Beard and Moustache Championships?*
No, I don’t think I’ll ever grow a mustache of fine enough quality because it comes in blonde. I like being out there. I like putting in the work to promote and get participation in ridiculous things. I don’t just get a beard, I have to start a movement.
*I’ve heard that you have exuberant live performances with your bands, what does that entail?*
Yeah, that started in high school. I used to break stages. I would throw mics because I was the lead singer — I couldn’t play an instrument, so all I could do was flail around. I just love bands like The Flaming Lips and The Mars Volta, that it’s worth getting off your ass and going to see them live because they’re going to put energy into it. If I could, I’d be Wayne Coyne [the lead singer of The Flaming Lips]; that’s who I’d want to be. I strive to be onstage with people looking at me being weird.
__We part ways so Zach can meander over to The Green Leafe Cafe, leaving me wondering what crazy adventure he will get himself involved in next.__