Undateable, the buddies-at-the-bar sitcom evocative of Cheers airing on NBC, is off to a great launch going live this season. That bold step is thanks to the talented cast, most of whom are stand-up comics. Chris D’Elia, Brent Morin, Bridgit Mendler, Bianca Kajlich, David Fynn, Rick Glassman and the lovable Ron Funches star in the show from producer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Spin City, Cougar Town) and producer-creator Adam Sztykiel (Due Date, Made of Honor).
A visit to the set of Undateable proved that the cast and creative teams are up to the task of making the high-energy comedy more exciting by going live, as they did for one episode last spring. Laughter was echoing from stage 18 at Warner Bros. Studios because it took on the atmosphere of a funny frat house for men and women who were earning their degrees in Class Clowns 101.
Ask any of the performers and they will verify that Class Clowns rock. But producing a weekly show is serious business too, so there are upsides and downsides to a soundstage full of unruly pranksters.
Chris D’Elia says, “The upside is that it’s more fun to work on a live show with this cast because it’s a team effort and all of them are silly. The downside is that you never know what’s going to come out of their mouths, and it’s live so we all have to be on our guard that anything can happen at any moment. We keep a loose vibe. The appeal of going live is that I’m sure people are tuning in to see if we mess up, and how we get out of it and still get the story across.”
There are times the castmates will try to trip each other up on purpose. “But if someone changes a line and makes fun of me, I’ll just do it back to them with millions of people watching us,” insists D’Elia, who plays the man-child Danny.
Undateable is about a group of friends living in Detroit, who gather at a bar and help each other figure out their lives. Danny Burton (Chris D’Elia, Whitney) and Justin Kearney (Brent Morin, Chelsea Lately) are mismatched roommates, and their oddball buddies hang out at Justin’s unsuccessful bar. Those include Danny’s sister, Leslie (Bianca Kajlich, Rules of Engagement), Shelly (Comedy Central’s Ron Funches), Burski (Rick Glassman, The Comedians), Brett (David Fynn, Game of Thrones) and waitress Candace (Bridgit Mendler, Good Luck Charlie), who is like a little sister to the gang.
Rick Glassman says, “We all want to laugh and make other people laugh, but one of the drawback of that we don’t want to stop. We could make a show that’s four hours and we’d still have the drive to make everyone laugh.” Bianca Kajlich adds that the unbridled comedy energy “sometimes makes it hard to get the work done, especially in rehearsals. But when the work does happen it’s great.”
David Fynn says for this third season, “The show is really hitting its stride. We’ve got the poopy jokes down pretty well, but we still don’t concentrate as well as we should.” His buddy Ron Funches explains, “The camaraderie of the cast does not allow for anyone to become individually cranky. Everybody will just descend on you and pretend they’re pirates on a poop ship until you get a better attitude. Everyone makes it fun to go to work.”
Preparing for the live show is described by Funches as “like being on a football team. We practice all week and then we have a game on Friday.”
You might think that producers Bill Lawrence and Adam Sztykiel consider themselves the coaches of that football team, but Lawrence jokes that “we’re just the cranky old guys in the owners’ skybox watching the players.”
Lawrence welcomes the show’s comparison to the TV classic Cheers, explaining, “We hope people care about the characters and stay tune to track their relationships and hang out with them.” Undateable is live, Fridays at 8 p.m. on NBC. #