Nick Kroll: The other, other Kroll

December 1, 2010, 1:00 PM UTC

Jeremy Kroll followed his famous father Jules into the family business of corporate investigations. His younger brother Nick is becoming famous the old-fashioned way—in Hollywood.

by Duff McDonald, contributor

Nick Kroll, laughing all the way home.

If the job of Jeremy Kroll is to keep a low profile as the CEO of K2 Global, a corporate investigations firm, the job of his brother Nick is to secure one as large as he possibly can. A comic actor, Nick is doing a pretty good job of achieving that goal. He’s in two television shows at the moment—playing Ruxin in FX’s fantasy football send-up The League and the voice of Stu on HBO’s cult animated hit The Life and Times of Tim. He’s had bit parts in a number of funny movies of late—Date Night, Get Him to the Greek, and Dinner for Schmucks. And he just filmed a one-hour stand-up and character special for Comedy Central that’s airing January 29. We caught up with Nick to ask what it was like growing up as a funny guy in a family that’s in a very serious business.

Your job couldn’t be further from your brother’s. In fact, the whole family has worked in the business except for you. Did you ever harbor dreams of being a private investigator yourself?

I had aspirations to do Dick Tracy the musical, but the yellow trench coat never fit right. Seriously, though, the only thing I think I am capable of is comedy. I worked as an intern at Kroll Inc while I was in college in Washington, DC. But I was so incompetent at digging up information—it took me two hours to get a phone number of a guy who worked at Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)—that I thought maybe I shouldn’t be a private investigator after all.

What’s the least funny part of growing up in your house?

The only time I ever remember any sort of physical presence was when Kroll Inc. was investigating Saddam Hussein’s money for the Kuwaiti government. We had a cop from Rye, NY parked outside our gate for a few months.

That’s obviously no laughing matter. What was?

My Dad and my brother both come across as very serious guys, but they are both very funny. In fact, I credit the two of them for my own sense of humor. When my Dad first got started, his first employee was my mother. And his second was a driver. He wanted to come off as being the real deal. That’s pretty funny, right? Of course, one time my Dad picked me up from school in a limo. That was not funny at all. In fact, there was nothing more horrific to me than that. It was embarrassing.

Does the family business inform your comedy at all?

It almost did. I was writing a script for Paramount that involved some wire transfer stuff and as we were structuring the story, the movie became very involved with the technical process of what would happen if $15 million came in from a country of shady origin. I was speaking to both Jeremy and my father about it, and in the process got way too involved in who at the Treasury would be alerted, and then who from the FBI. It got way too technical. All of a sudden my movie became Michael Clayton as opposed to Back to School. I had to back off of the real-life details of how something like that would happen.

What do you talk about over family get-togethers like this past Thanksgiving?

There are nine—almost ten—grandkids in our family right now, so it’s focused on them, obviously. It is great to see these families take on the character of my siblings.

Who is Jeremy closer to, Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Clouseau?

He doesn’t play the violin, but he does have a solid fashion sense. And while he doesn’t speak with a French accent, he did show me Dr. Strangelove. So he has the best qualities of both.