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Stephen Merchant's Porn Star Name Is Tabby King

The co-creator behind The Office preps us for the second season of The Outlaws on Prime Video.

Stephen Merchant in The Outlaws with Christopher Walken
Stephen Merchant and Christopher Walken star in the Prime Video thriller The Outlaws.
Prime Video

This story is part of I'm So Obsessed (subscribe here), our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.

When actor, comedian, writer and director Stephen Merchant was in high school he was cast as a "comedy reverend" in a play written by his drama teacher. His character judged a dance contest and, at the end, would open an envelope to announce the winners. But one performance, he got the idea to open the envelope and say, "The winners are a pint of milk and two loaves of bread… oh, I'm sorry that's my wife's shopping list." The parents in the audience, eager to laugh, did, and Merchant thought, "Well, I'm a comic genius." And you know what? He's right.

Stephen Merchant wearing a tuxedo in a dressing room

Stephen Merchant co-created The Outlaws with filmmaker Elgin James.

Amazon Studios

Merchant, the co-creator behind shows like The Office, Extras and Life's Too Short, has proved time and time again that he is funny and inventive. That might be one of the reasons why he's won two Golden Globe Awards, three BAFTA Awards and an Emmy.

His latest project is the second season of the Amazon Prime Video series The Outlaws which he co-created, and for which he wrote and directed many of the episodes. The comedy/drama series follows a bunch of people doing community service for minor crimes and how they get entangled in something much bigger and more dangerous. The show is focused on an ensemble of actors that includes Merchant and Christopher Walken. 

In case you've never seen The Outlaws, it is positioned on the same comedy/crime show spectrum populated by series like Barry and Better Call Saul. It has its own blend of humor, pathos and compelling characters. And luckily for us, the second season of The Outlaws premieres on Friday on Prime Video.

On CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast, Merchant explained how The Outlaws is partially the result of what happened when his creative process got interrupted by the pandemic.

"About 10 days into filming the first season, COVID struck, and like so many other productions, we shut down. We didn't know when we were going to resume," said Merchant. "So, ever the hustler, I said to Amazon, 'Listen, how about I write another season of the show while we're in lockdown. And then when we come back, we can shoot back-to-back, and we'll have made up time.'"

Merchant's deal gave him and the writers time to write a second season, which was filmed right after the first one. This process allowed character arcs to become more complex and the threats and danger the characters face to grow organically.

You can listen to my full interview with Merchant in the podcast player above. During our conversation we discussed Walken's brilliance and how Merchant was able to collaborate creatively with people like Ricky Gervais and we played Lady Gabby's icebreaker game from The Outlaws. The game formulates your porn star name by using your first pet's name plus the name of the street you grew up on. Merchant's porn star name? Tabby King.

Subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about their work, career and current obsessions.