When he’s not busy making the world laugh as a featured player and writer on “Saturday Night Live,” comedian Taran Killam spends his time with his other passions: gaming and comic books. As he prepares to launch his first foray into the world of comics with the upcoming release of issue #1 of “The Illegitimates,” he’ll be the guest of honor at an exclusive event at Loft One NYC. We had a chance to catch up with Taran in the days leading up to the shindig, discussing everything from his inspiration for the comic book to the backstory behind his Xbox Live gamertag.
Xbox Wire: Hi Taran, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. We’re glad to hear you’re enjoying Xbox One.
Taran Killam: It’s my pleasure, I love it. I just got the full demo of everything. I’ve had it for about two weeks and I’ve been kicking butt in “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” but I had no idea the Xbox One could double as my best friend!
XW: Yep, you can talk to it and everything! Let’s kick things off with your comic book. We’re huge comic fans and didn’t realize that you’ve been hard at work on a comic book. What’s it about?
TK: It’s called “The Illegitimates” and it’s about a super-spy named Jack Steele, who’s the world greatest spy and also a lady-killer. He gets on in years and is killed in a mission, and the agency he works for is running around and chaotic and they say “We don’t know what we’re going to do, what’s our back-up plan?” Their head of intel tells them that the back-up plan is that over the years they’ve been monitoring Steel’s sexual activities with femme fatales and female agents and they have been anonymously monitoring and nurturing the bastard offspring that he’s had with these different femme fatales and female agents. There are five in particular that they’re going to bring together to take their father’s place to save the world.
XW: How did this come about? Did you always want to do a comic book?
TK: I’ve been a comic book fan my whole life, starting with issue #1 of Jim Lee’s “X-Men” and it’s always been a huge part of my life. I love comic books, I love the art form. Another love of mine is James Bond, and even more than that I love the super-spy genre. I love gadgets and saving the world and sneaking into places like going to galas and tropical locations and fighting bad guys. Growing up, my family was very big James Bond fans. We had the VHS boxed set and I think at some point I realized that every movie stopped with him left alone with a girl, either on a beach or in a hotel or on a destroyed train. It just felt like the theory of ratios led me to believe that he wasn’t always using protection.
XW: Haha, that’s great. So, let’s talk Xbox One. What was your first reaction to it?
TK: It’s beautiful. It’s so fast, and I think that’s what was so impressive to me, how quickly it runs. It’s like, the days of load times seem to be gone for the most part from when you turn it on. I’ve kind of made it my New Year’s resolution to put everything on to Xbox One, because it’s really a one-stop shop. I’m a huge Netflix guy and I use Hulu Plus and it’s all now available in just one place. Even that you can connect your cable through it and use it to organize your DVR list using voice commands to find what you want is pretty amazing.
XW: Where do you spend most of your time gaming?
TK: I have my Xbox One set up right now in my dressing room at SNL. Between sketches and between rehearsals or during veg time and downtime, I’ll play there. I’m also getting a second one for my home.
XW: Very nice, that’s the way to do it! So, I hear you’ve got an interesting story behind your gamertag.
TK: Yeah, my gamertag is Wellesley. Xbox Live was the first time I really signed up for an online community and early on I don’t think I thought to come up with some sort of cutting-edge or sexually-based screen name. So I very innocently used the name of the street that I lived on. And I went through a struggle as I did with my own name. There was a period in my life when I was resentful of the name Taran, the only Tarans I knew were girls. Now I’m grateful for it and find it unique and feel the same way about Wellesley. It means something to me, you know?
XW: Do people ask you on Xbox Live if you went to Wellesley University?
TK: Oh, all the time. It’s like, “Nah, it’s just the street I grew up on.”
XW: So you mentioned you’re playing some “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” now. Are you playing anything else?
TK: Yeah, I’ve played “Assassin’s Creed” and I’ve played a little bit of “Call of Duty: Ghosts.” I’m excited to play “Ryse,” I just picked that up. The thing that’s taken over my life, still on the Xbox 360 though I am going to upgrade to the Xbox One, is “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.” I love the LEGO games in general and the Marvel super heroes are right up my alley. There’s a Maria Hill character that I can play and my wife [actress Cobie Smulders] plays her in the movies so I’ve been running around smashing bricks and finding character icons as my wife.
XW: Do you play games with any of the other Saturday Night Life cast members or are there any rivalries?
TK: Oh yeah. Bobby [Moynihan] and I are big players, we compare notes. Bobby is definitely my nerd brother in arms on the show. We got to do Comic-Con this past summer for Seth Meyers’ animated show “The Awesomes.” We got to meet Scott Campbell and we got to meet Jim Lee on the street. It was just the coolest. When we die and go to heaven, it’ll look a lot like San Diego Comic-Con.