Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello began collaborating as comedy and life partners after meeting in 2007 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and Magnet Theater in New York City. Their early efforts included a webseries for Broadway Video’s Above Average Productions and a one-man show, The Paul Downs Experience, at the UCB in 2010. Since then, you’ve seen their work together or individually in the Comedy Central sitcom Broad City, miniseries Time Traveling Bong, a showcase special for Netflix’s The Characters, and the 2017 feature film, Rough Night. Behind the scenes, they’ve worked on The Other Two, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens, and The Babysitters Club. Their most recent achievement is Hacks on HBO Max, which they co-created, co-write, and on which Downs co-stars. Paul and Lucia sat down with me to talk about comedy mentoring from one generation to the next, how they and others have become stars without first becoming stars within the UCB orbit, and how getting into character to surprise a monster truck rally in Maine somehow also gave birth to the idea behind Hacks, perhaps the best new TV comedy of 2021. So let’s get to it!