Busy Philipps hosts comedy cocktail hour with Retta, surprise guest Nick Kroll

Jordyn Zitman

As the sun went down over Container Bar, Comcast NBCUniversal House crafted a cabana-style atmosphere to host E!’s happy hour for Busy Tonight, hosted by actress Busy Philipps.  

With intimate seating and a bustling bar nearby, it was as if Busy Philipps was hosting her late night talk show in her own living room. Philipps brought on two guests, Nick Kroll (“Big Mouth”) and Retta (“Good Girls”,”Parks and Recreation). Topics of discussion, including queso, pigs and Philipp’s take on SXSW films, evoked roars of laughter from the audience.

“Can someone tell me what SXSW is?” Philipps said. “I truly don’t understand it.”

Philips said she likes the city’s motto “Keep Austin Weird” because it isn’t reflected in the experiences she has at SXSW. Once a year, the city lets ‘tech nerds’ take over the city, she said, also commenting on the inexperienced tourists riding scooters through the streets.

Listing off her favorite queso spots in Austin, Philipps said she had eaten a tremendous amount in the short time since arriving. She said a friend asked her what cosmetic work she had done, to which Philipps replied that it was just extra fat from all the queso.

“I started having queso in the morning, which is like drinking in the morning,” Philipps said. “Because I’m drinking it.”

As she continued talking, a delivery man arrived at the bar, claiming to have queso for her. He brought it to the stage, said it was courtesy of the Driskill hotel, and left. Philipps ate the dip briefly before offering it to the crowd to be passed around.

Philipps critiqued some films premiering at SXSW, including Jordan Peele’s “Us” and Elizabeth Sankey’s “Romantic Comedy”. The latter pokes fun at the tropes of romantic comedies, such as meeting a lover at the top of the Empire State Building.

“My husband writes romantic comedies,” Philipps said. “Not once has he ever asked me to meet at the top of the Empire State Building.”

Priming the crowd with a lighthearted backstory, Philipps introduced her surprise guest Nick Kroll to the crowd. The two discussed a night they spent together in Austin, laughing and poking fun at each others projects.

Philipps then told Kroll about her pet pigs, who were sent to her by actress and comedian Whitney Cummings. Cummings rescued the pigs during the southern California wildfires earlier this year.

The pigs, Joe and Maxwell, were brought on stage by members of Central Texas Pig Rescue. Philipps and Kroll fed them animal crackers, and Joe bit her finger before being taken off stage. Philipps prompted the handlers to promote their mission at the pig rescue.

The discussion transitioned to focus on Kroll’s career, including “Big Mouth” and his film “Olympic Dreams”, premiering at SXSW on March 10. Philipps praised “Big Mouth” for candidly bringing difficult subjects up to kids, such as puberty. She said she thinks, as a parent, “Big Mouth” is an important show.

“(Our hope is) kids just won’t feel so alone with what they’re going through,” Kroll said. “We’re aware that there’s kids watching and we’re conscious of that with the messages we’re sending.”

Kroll discussed the experience of filming “Olympic Dreams” with two athletes over two and a half weeks during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. He was granted access by the Olympic Committee to private areas such as dining halls, athlete villages and medical facilities.

“We shot a full feature film in like 2 weeks, just three of us without a crew,” Kroll said. “You really feel like you’re getting an inside look at the Olympics that no one can see.”

Philipps then introduced a second guest, Retta, who appeared on another panel at Comcast NBCUniversal House earlier today. In a variation of a game called “Man Meat” often played on her show, Philipps asked her guests to liken a Texas-born celebrity to BBQ meat.

Retta described UT alum Matthew McConaughey as a ‘lean brisket with a lot of sauce,’ while Kroll said Willie Nelson is ‘smoked something,’ before concluding he is ‘a piece of beef jerky you find at the bottom of an ashtray.’

Following the game, Kroll made his departure to promote another event, and Retta stayed to discuss her show “Good Girls” and chat with Philipps.

The night ended the way it began: in a fit of laughter among an intimate crowd. Philips exited the stage to meet her husband and said she is excited to further explore Austin and find more queso.