Andy Daly stars on the new Comedy Central comedy REVIEW, he plays Forrest MacNeil an eager, over the top, ridiculous, reviewer. I spoke with Andy about his background at the UCB, his thoughts on the EASTBOUND AND DOWN finale, and what we can expect to see this season on REVIEW.
You come from a background at the Upright Citizens Brigade, what was it like taking classes there during the beginning stages of the program?
Andy Daly: I was there at the Assscat show where Matt Walsh first announced they would do a one-day workshop, the first class they would do in New York. And I had just had my mind blown by that Assscat show and was like “yeah, I’m going to that.” So I went to that because I needed to learn what it was that they were doing during Assscat and how they all knew how to be on the same page together, and go through the same hilarious thing together. That workshop gave me a pretty good taste of what the training was and then after that they had another class, Amy Poehler taught it for four weeks and then Matt Walsh taught it for the next four weeks and I took that, and have just been totally immersed in their method ever since. The thing that I most wanted to know going into it was, how does a group of people all get on the same page that quickly and escalate the joke to each other, and I learned it.
How have you taken those skills from the UCB and applied them to THE REVIEW?
A big part of the training is teaching you how to find the game of the scene, another words what is it about this scene, the basic funny idea of the scene. And once you figure out what that is it’s a process over time of training your brain to learn how to escalate it. Ian Roberts has fondly referred to it as “if this then what.” So if this is true about the scene then what else follows from that? It’s a process of training of learning how to do that, so in an improvised scene like in EASTBOUND AND DOWN when we throw away the scripts and just go with it, which happened in just about every scene we did on that show. It was very helpful for me to know “okay, this is what this scenes about, this is what’s happening between these characters in this scene, and if those things are true then what, then what else would my character say. If this is how he feels, if this is what’s happening what’s going to happen between these guys.” And so to be able to improvise as opposed to other improvisers I’ve seen who are told “okay, let’s improvise this, and they bring in all kinds of new tangential stuff, background stuff, new storylines that are just not gonna be of great value in the editing room. It’s more valuable I think if you can figure out what scenes meant to be, and how you can help it.
The EASTBOUND AND DOWN finale aired a couple of months ago how did you feel about the finale?
I was heavily involved in season one; I had the great character arc as the jilted lover, then in season two I popped back in a couple of times and then in season three, one more time but in season four Terrence Cutler wasn’t involved, April (Katy Mixon) has completely ditched him and moved on with her life. I wasn’t involved at all in season four, but I loved the way the show ended and I think like most people I felt this way at the end of every season of that show, which is that is a great ending if it stops here, what they’ve done is perfect, man I wish they’d do more. But this time they will not do more.
Can you tell us about your new show REVIEW?
It’s a show about a guy who’s a reviewer, but he doesn’t review boring things like movies, or books, or food. He reviews life itself so his audience writes in to tell him “here’s something that I’m afraid to do, or whatever other reason can’t do, or just something I would love to see you do.” He goes out into the real world, it’s all scripted of course, but he goes out into the world and does these things and rates all of these experiences on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. He believes that is uniquely qualified to do this and he also believes that he is doing this for the good of humanity and that this is an important television show that’s going to really help people understand how to live their lives. And it’s that mistaken impression and that pompousness that leads to all kinds of disasters in his life, because he is so fully committed to the importance of this that no sacrifice is too great, so he ends up hurting himself and others pretty much every time.
There’s a bit on the show that you do about racism, how do you take not so funny topics and subject matter and make them funny? How do you know when you’ve gone too far with a joke?
I think a lot of comedians feel about offensiveness, that if they believe themselves to ultimately on the right side they can stand behind what they are saying with the piece, and then they don’t care who they offend. I think that makes a lot of sense, I’m very pleased with what our racism segment says there. This is based on an Australian series, and the Australian series tackles racism with a similar structure. Their character became sort of a pariah because he was a devout racist and he found a place where he could be a racist. For them it was an Australia day rally, and I don’t know what Australia day is, but for them it was depicted as this aggressive, nationalistic event. I our version we were sort of talking about what that would be in America, and we decided that it’s everywhere (laughs). You can fit in and be okay in suburbia with certain racial biases if you talk about them in the right way. So that was sort of the end we were going toward in that piece, that you know a lot of people can get by just fine without ever really examining whether or not they have racial biases, and that definitely forced the state of affairs in that segment.
Aside from the racism bit what else can we look forward to Forrest MacNeil reviewing?
Forrest learns what it’s like to go to an orgy, he finds out about addiction he gets addicted to cocaine. Also in the first episode he goes to the prom he explores what it’s like to sleep with a celebrity, what it’s like to make a sex tape, road rage, what it’s like to go into space. I think there’s twenty four lessons overall and they are all very exciting in their own way because they take Forrest to these insane and ridiculous places. What’s it like to get revenge is a pretty crazy one.
So aside from REVIEW, what shows do you really love!
I am completely obsessed with TRUE DETECTIVE right now, that has completely captivated all of my thoughts I can’t get enough of it, and if I could watch three of those a day for the next ten years that’d be great, yeah I’m loving that show, I’m loving THE WALKING DEAD, and I’m eagerly awaiting the return of LOUIE.
You can watch Andy tonight on the premiere of REVIEW at 10:00 on Comedy Central. And you can follow him on twitter at @TVsAndyDaly
Victoria Nelli loves TV so much that she is paying $30,000 a year to learn about it in College. When she’s not learning about TV she enjoys writing about her favorite shows, interviewing anyone in the industry that will let her, and ranting about how underrated Parks and Recreation is. She is very much aware of her Netflix addiction, and no she will not be seeking help anytime soon. You can follow her on Twitter @VictoriaNelli