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Exclusive Interview with Andrew Santino About Interviewing Skylar Diggins

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One Foot Down’s Pat Rick talked to comedian/writer/actor Andrew Santino about his show Here’s the Rub and its latest episode starring Skylar Diggins

Showtime Emmy Eve Party - Arrivals Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Andrew Santino has always wanted to entertain people.

In his own words, he’s “always been funny and unfunny,” and he’s spent his entire life performing for others in one way or another.

“I started stand-up in 2006 or 2007, I’ve been doing it ever since, and I don’t think I’ll stop,” he said when asked how he got his start in comedy.

With the way his career is trending, it doesn’t seem likely he will stop anytime soon.

The 33-year-old has not only been involved in stand-up comedy since 2006, but has also written and acted for the MTV show Punk’d, guest starred on popular shows such as Arrested Development, The Office, The League, and Children’s Hospital, and has done numerous comedy specials for Comedy Central and stand-up performances on Conan, The Meltdown, and more. He was a star of ABC’s comedy Mixology, and just finished shooting the feature The Disaster Artist, starring and directed by James Franco.

This is all a very longwinded way for me to say that Andrew Santino is one of the bright young comedic talents out there, and his sports comedy show on go90, Here’s the Rub, is one of many prime examples of his abilities.

Here’s the Rub: Exploring a Different Side of Athletes

Here’s the Rub features Santino as Nikolai Popov, who Santino describes as “a Russian sports trainer, the cousin of Alexander Popov, one of the greatest Olympian swimmers in Russia, who was stabbed in the abdomen in Moscow after winning gold in Atlanta. Nikolai stayed in the United States to start his own sports show and befriend athletes and be a part of that culture. He’s just a goofy, lovable Russian sports trainer that’s made his way into some high-level athletes’ lockers rooms and meeting places to befriend them.”

Nikolai Popov interviewing Skylar Diggins
Mandalay Sports Media

I pressed Santino for more information about Popov and his Russian-and-sports-version-of-Borat kind of antics, and here were some of my favorite nuggets of information:

  • Nikolai Popov does not drink Kamchatka (much to the chagrin of me and all my college friends, no doubt): “Nikolai would only drink high-end Russian vodka, none of that cheap stuff. He’s a fancy dude. He used to drink Popov, like his last name, by the gallon. But now that’s he’s a fancy dude, he only drinks really fancy vodka - and real shitty beer.”
  • Hollywood has gone to his head: “He’s so Hollywood now. He’s so fancy, he goes out, he’s eating fancy dinners, he’s goin’ clubbin’. He thinks he’s the shit. He needs to be grounded, and you’re probably right - we need to make him drink some of the shitty stuff.”
  • He has upgraded his digs: “He’s not living in a studio apartment anymore. He’s got a 1-bed, 1-bath and he’s a hotshot. We’re trying to control him, but he’s a wild man.”

Popov’s interactions with the athletes on his show are entertaining and fun, as he asks goofy, probing questions that enable the interviewees to really shine, and has them participate in various off-the-wall activities.

“What our show is trying to do is humanize athletes and show that they’re also fun and fun-loving and I think that’s why the show is fun to do, because we’re lighthearted and we kind of poke fun at stuff and nothing is too serious,” Santino said. “You get to show the intimate side of people we don’t normally get to see because they gotta be super serious during interviews sometimes.”

The list of athletes Santino/Popov has had the pleasure of working with is full of noteworthy names, including Brian Scalabrine, Nick “Swaggy P” Young, Josh Norman, and even The Mountain from Game of Thrones fame.

Nikolai and The Mountain tossing kegs over their heads
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The great moments from those interviews inevitably follow due to Santino’s goober of a character, Nikolai, and his ideas for activities.

“Scalabrine is such a loose and fun dude, we played squash together. Nick Young was dope because he was down for whatever - we took him to get a crazy Russian massage and we were drinkin’ beers in a hot tub. We went to Iceland and interviewed The Mountain, and that dude was awesome...Josh Norman was hilarious - I made him act out a scene from a movie that doesn’t exist and he was a really good sport.”

Interviewing Skylar Diggins

The latest guest Santino sat down with is near and dear to Fighting Irish fans’ hearts, as Skylar Diggins, former all-everything Notre Dame guard from 2009-2013 and current player for the Dallas Wings, met with Santino at Lucky Strikes in Manhattan for some chit chat about Rudy, some reenactments of scenes from the movie Friday, serious allegations about her being “Becky with the good hair,” and some interesting bowling competition between the two competitors.

Nikolai presents Skylar with the Rudy soundtrack on vinyl
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“She’s super lovable and very smart, very aware,” Santino said. “She’s just really malleable, like she’s one of those people that sits down to have a good time and wasn’t restricted. She was super happy to just be herself and comfortable and that’s what we wanted her to be. That’s who we wanted to interview and I think it turned out great.”

Santino’s Popov, donning a gorgeous blue and red tracksuit (custom-tailored by Serj, an extremely reputable tailor who has custom-made suits for everyone from Shaq to Jay-Z to Bill Clinton), along with a short sleeve turtleneck and a chain around his neck for good measure, spends his time with Diggins gifting her a vinyl record of the Rudy soundtrack (which Santino describes as “beautiful” and says “every time I see the movie I wanna bawl my eyes out,” despite having no real ties or rooting interest in the Irish) and then discussing Diggins’ proclivity for spouting off movie quotes.

“She’s a big movie buff. She knows all the lines. I asked her if she could really recite all the lines from Friday and, no shit, she just pulled that out and was doing that whole scene. She showed me what’s up. She’s so much fun.”

Skylar Diggins performing a scene from the movie Friday
Property of Mandalay Sports Media

And although Skylar quickly denied being “Becky with the good hair” and politely declined Popov’s offering of a key to his hotel room, she played along with all of the jokes Santino threw her way, and the episode culminates in the two competing in a remix on the sport of bowling, featuring blindfolds, left-handed and backwards rolls, oven mitts, and more.

Nikolai and Skylar discuss Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and who might be “Becky with the good hair”
Property of Mandalay Sports Media

Overall, the episode is a lot of fun and will have you laughing all the way through, so be sure to download the go90 app or go to go90.com on Wednesday, when the episode will be posted. Also, be sure to check out all of the past episodes of Here’s the Rub in the same place, as each of them is truly hilarious and really fun to watch. FYI: go90 is a content aggregator similar to Hulu or Netflix with a lot of fun, new, and original content to check out. I definitely recommend perusing what it has to offer.

But How Can We Make Andrew Santino into More of a Notre Dame Football “Hot Take” Provider?

Oh, don’t think I interviewed Andrew Santino without asking him his opinion of the Brian Kelly situation, because of course I did. Of little surprise to me because he seemed like a smart, well-informed interviewee, he agrees with my opinion on this one:

“Unfortunately, I think it might be time to get rid of Kelly. I’ve never been a humongous fan but I think the colors have shown through...Kelly’s had his time, get some young blood in there, mix it up, and say goodnight. There’s no reason for him to be 4-8. C’mon, Brian.”

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“I say fire him. Andrew Santino, you can quote it,” he stated definitively. “I say fire him. He’s had enough money in his pocket, he’s done enough for the organization, you can shake his hand and say thank you and get some new blood in there - someone that’s gonna reinvigorate that team and recharge them.”

Santino summarized his feelings as thus: “I always get mad at programs with ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ But if it is broken, FIX IT! Don’t be afraid to fix it - life happens, you know what I mean? Sometimes you gotta fix it. I think you get rid of him and call it a night.”

So, you heard it here first: Andrew Santino says to fire Brian Kelly. And I completely agree with my newfound friend, who during our talk I learned grew up in Chicago (next door to a woman who was an ND cheerleader during the Rudy era), was a huge Bulls fan (surprise, surprise), attended Arizona State for college, loves whiskey (especially bourbon), is married, and likes to spend his free time attending sporting events, traveling, skiing and snowboarding, reading, writing, and doing “really simple white, old man stuff.”

He’s just a fantastically nice, uproariously funny dude, and I implore you all to check out his show and to look out for a comedy special he has coming out in early 2017 on Showtime.

With that being said, I’ll leave you all with Santino’s parting remarks to me:

“Hopefully the Irish will turn it around, and you’ve got my love as far as being an Irishman goes. Stay gold, Ponyboy. You know what I mean?”

I know exactly what you mean, Andrew Santino/Nikolai Popov. You stay gold, too.

Nikolai’s ability to turn his show into an excuse to get a massage is absolute gold
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