Rob Schrab wasn’t a Hollywood insider when he started his career in the industry, but the Emmy-winning and Oscar nominated writer and director quickly became a "go-to guy" for good work. Monster House, Parks and Recreation, and the Sarah Silverman Program are just a few of the projects he’s had a hand in shaping.
The Mayfield, Wisconsin native says a lot of the credit goes to the work ethic he learned as an illustration student at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Schrab will be returning to his alma mater this Wednesday to work with students and give a public talk, called Embracing the Dumb: The Rob Schrab Experience, as a part of the MIAD Creativity Series.
Before his career in Hollywood, Schrab was a part of Dead Alewives, a comedy sketch group, in the early ‘90s. Reflecting on this time, he says, “Doing improve back then, it was rebellious, it was wild, it was crazy. There was no wrong answers. We were just starting out, and that’s the thing that’s amazing when you’re just starting out with anything, is that you don’t know how to do it wrong yet.”
Schrab says there's something to said for the naiveté you have when you're young and pursuing something entirely new. “Not knowing what you can and can’t do, is such a treasure," he says.
But this innocence doesn't - and can't - last forever. “Unfortunately, as you get older and you do these things more and more, and the stakes get higher and higher, you tend to play things a little safer, which is unfortunate. I mean it’s human nature, you do what works and you try to avoid things that don’t work.”
Schrab says the pull is always there to play things safer, but he reminds himself and encourages others to "go for it."
"Try it, give it a shot," he says. "You’ll know when it’s not working out, but like a true artist can’t be told ‘no that’s not going to work,’ you just do it anyway because you can’t do anything else, you can’t help yourself.”