Mantzoukas and Kroll (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Mantzoukas and Kroll (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

It’s no secret that the “rat paths of New York” often lead to movie theaters, but did Jason Mantzoukas have to tell everyone they lead to one of our favorites?

Appearing at Angelika Film Center with his co-star Nick Kroll after a Friday screening of Adult Beginners, Mantzoukas asked for the house lights. “I want to see the rats that are in the theater!” he called out, revealing that he spotted one when he watched his pal Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Brick there.

“That was Joseph Gordon-Levitt,” Kroll offered.

Adult Beginners – Kroll’s first crack at leading man – is planted firmly in a genre that he and his character Bobby Bottleservice might’ve spoofed on Kroll Show. But Kroll actually wrote the story himself and co-wrote the script with Brooklyn couple Jeff Cox and Liz Flahive (Blades of Glory and Nurse Jackie, respectively). “Nobody was going to just, off the bat, three years ago make me the lead of a dramedy,” he said after the screening. “So part of doing this was to try to be able to show people that I could do different things, because I wasn’t going to get that opportunity on my own.”

The story – about a failed, would-be Rich Dick tech entrepreneur who goes back to his suburban childhood home to crash with his sister and her husband and ends up being their nanny – springs from Kroll’s own experience with his 12 nieces and nephews, and the New Rochelle setting speaks to his youth in Rye, New York.

Listen to the Q&A

“New Rochelle worked for the larger construction of the story because it’s a very economically diverse place,” Kroll told everyone. “I had a lot of friends who grew up in New Rochelle and it runs from very, very wealthy to very, um, um, lower-income housing.” He turned to Mantzoukas: “Is that a — did I say that right?”

“Yeah,” Mantzoukas said. “I was going to say grossos, but I get it.”

Also true to life is the fact that Kroll’s movie sister is played by Rose Byrne and her movie husband is played by her real-life boyfriend Bobby Cannavale. And Bobby Moynihan, who plays a department-store sale clerk, actually grew up in Eastchester, where his scene is shot (the department store is actually a bowling alley where he went to birthday parties).

And also true to life, apparently, is Mantzoukas’s complete and total lack of singing ability – evident in a scene where his character, Kroll’s fellow nanny and romantic rival, does a hilariously bad cover of Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Walk on the Ocean.” While wearing a slouchy beanie.

Of course, at some point in the Q&A someone asked whether Kroll Show’s characters will live on, which led Kroll to say, “Doing ‘Oh, Hello’ in New York over the years has been an amazing experience.”

“Why’s that?” Mantzoukas asked.

“Well, bringing characters to life that we all see at the Strand on a daily basis is amazing.”

Mantzoukas chimed in: “I saw a perfect ‘Oh, Hello’ guy at the coffee shop today, reading a Jimi Hendrix book, wearing a beret with cascading grey hair falling out of it and holding [the book] up this close to his face.”

“We did a screening on Monday at IFC Center and there were questions about the movie and there was this one guy who was like Gil Faizon [from ‘Oh, Hello’] but died black hair. He was like, [in Gil Faizon voice] ‘I don’t have a question, I have a comment.’”