The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Kevin McDonald (“Who Gets the Last Laugh”)

Kevin McDonald may not maintain as high a profile as some of his fellow Kids in the Hall, like Scott Thompson, who’s on NBC’s “Hannibal,” or Dave Foley, who’s on everything, but that’s because he spends at least as much time as a writer or in a recording booth for some cartoon or other as he does in front of the camera. Tonight, however, McDonald steps back in front of the camera as a guest prankster on TBS’s “Who Gets the Last Laugh?”, and he spoke to Bullz-Eye about his experience on the show while also discussing guest-writing for “Saturday Night Live,” playing Pastor Dave on “That ’70s Show,” and ongoing attempts to get the Kids back together again.

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Bullz-Eye: So how did you find yourself involved in TBS’s “Who Gets the Last Laugh?” Did they reach out to you?

Kevin McDonald: They reached out to me! Yes! I was in my nice blue house in Winnipeg, and I got the email from them, saying, “Would you like to do this?” And I thought at first that I’d be too Canadian to do this. Like, too polite. I thought I’d be too nice to pull pranks on people. That’s what I thought in my blue house in Winnipeg. But as it turned out, I could do it!

BE: Did you have to fight your every Canadian instinct to do it?

KM: Yes. [Laughs.] At first I did. Because we’re too polite and too nice, and we feel guilty. But then you get into it, and…it’s not even like the cruel part of me kicked in or anything…until it did. But it wasn’t even that. It was just, y’know, “It’s a job.” And once I started getting into it, it sort of became like a sketch, only with one of the people not knowing what the script was. And that was sort of the challenge, but I got really into it. I really enjoyed it.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Danny Masterston (“Men at Work”)

After 200 episodes of “That ’70s Show,” Danny Masterson would be well within his rights to stay away from sitcom work for the rest of his life, reasonably claiming, “I’ve done my time,” but to hear him talk about the experience of doing TBS’s “Men at Work,” which returns for its second season tomorrow night at 10pm, there’s no question that he’s doing something that makes him very happy, indeed. Bullz-Eye talked to Masterson in conjunction with the start of the show’s new season, and he chatted about how his character, Milo, has changed a bit, which guest stars he’s most enjoyed, and why he prefers sitcom gigs over hour-long dramas.

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Bullz-Eye: Just the fact that “Men at Work” has gotten a second season, period, has got to be pretty thrilling in and of itself, but how was it to go back to work for season two?

Danny Masterson: You know, it’s funny: we actually only took about six weeks off, so we didn’t feel like we had a whole summer hiatus. We just took six weeks, and then we kept going with the same director and same crew, so it just feels like a really long first season that we’ve shot. We just had a lot of excellent new guest stars, I guess.

BE: Yeah, the list is pretty impressive.

DM: Thanks! I think it’s sort of a benefit of having both Breckin (Meyer) and I both working since we were little kids. We’ve worked with a lot of people who are known actors, so it’s fun to sort of bring those friends in to work with you for a bit.

BE: When you guys came onto the series, how well-defined were the characters on the page versus what they became once they were actually cast?

DM: You know, I think they were pretty well defined. Breckin sort of based them off…well, he based my character, Milo, off himself. [Laughs.] And the three friends are based off of his three best friends. So pretty much everybody knew exactly who they were in the beginning. And then, obviously, as you’re going through the episodes, you sort of change your characters a little bit to make them suited towards you a little bit, just in terms of everyone’s own personalities. But I’d say 95% is exactly how Breckin wrote it to begin with.

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BE: Did the cast bond pretty quickly?

DM: Yeah, I’d say so. I’ve known James Lesure for…I dunno, maybe 10 years. I hadn’t met Adam (Busch) or (Michael) Cassidy before, but, y’know, right from the table read everyone was really excited to have a really cool job, so… I get along with everybody, and they’re all really great people. Three totally different personalities, but we’ve never had a single fight. I mean, it’s only been two years, obviously, so we’ll probably wrestle at some point. [Laughs.] But they’re really fun. Everyone’s really stoked to have a good job, we all enjoy it, and as long as the writing stays good – and the writing’s been really good – I think we’ll all stay really happy.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Jason Mewes (“King of the Nerds”)

Jason Mewes has been around the block enough times that he’s easily identifiable even when he’s not standing next to his onscreen hetero life mate, Kevin Smith, but the two are teaming up again to serve as judges on this week’s episode of TBS’s “King of the Geeks,” which airs 2/7 at 10 PM. Bullz-Eye talked to Mewes for a few minutes about his TV obsessions, his new gig, one of his old gigs, and an old gig that may yet be a new gig again. Confused? Read on and you’ll figure it out.

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Bullz-Eye: When one of your most famous characters is turned into part of a superhero duo with their own comic book (Bluntman & Chronic), you’ve got pretty good geek credentials, but what is it about you, Jason Mewes, that makes you a geek?

Jason Mewes: Um, I would say…I could be considered a geek in the sense of my love of TV shows, comics, and action figures. I collect action figures, I collect Legos, I have a Batman pillowcase and sheet set, and, y’know, I play video games all day: “Call of Duty,” “Black Ops,” “Lego Batman 2: DC SuperHeroes”… And I guess a love of technology. I mean, I don’t know why I’m obsessed with technology, and some of it I don’t know how to use, but I want it. I have an iMac that I’ve had for a couple of years, but now they’ve got that new iMac and I want to go get it. I haven’t, but I want to, even though mine’s perfectly fine, because the new one’s all sleek and slim and amazing. I have the newest iPad, the oldest iPad, and when the iPad Mini comes out, I want to get that. So I don’t know, I guess I’d just say that my love of technology, games, comics, toys, all that…I don’t know if that makes me a child or a nerd. [Laughs.]

BE: How was the experience of being a judge on “King of the Nerds”?

JM: It was awesome. What they talked about, the content and the debating of each topic, was awesome, not to mention getting to sit there as a judge, but also the hosts (Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong)…I mean, “Revenge of the Nerds” was one of my favorite movies growing up. I know the whole song. [Starts singing.] “Clap your hands, everybody / And everybody clap your hands!” That was my favorite. And to be able to meet Lewis and Booger…that was a treat. So combining the stuff that they talked about and that we got to judge them and the hosts, it was amazing.

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BE: Not to divulge any spoilers, but were there any contestants who, when you saw them on the show, struck you as being potential Kings?

JM: Um, you know… [Hesitates.] There’s a lot of great people on the show, so…I don’t know which one’ll be the King. And I don’t really want to give anything away, because they get kicked off…well, they don’t get kicked off, but they leave the show. But…I don’t know, there was a young lady there, I’ll say that, who was really passionate and was really on her stuff. She knew what she was talking about. So we’ll see what happens.

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The Light from the TV Shows: Even executive producer Vince Vaughn can’t liven up “Sullivan & Son”

When the DVD screener arrived for TBS’s new sitcom “Sullivan & Son,” I couldn’t help but notice that the packaging for the disc featured five words placed prominently above the title: “From Executive Producer Vince Vaughn.” For some, this wouldn’t necessarily be that big a selling point. Hell, it’s not even that big a selling point for me, and I consider “Swingers” to be one of my favorite films from the ’90s. It’s not that I don’t think Vince Vaughn’s funny. It’s just that, in addition to the fact that his comedy track record is far from 100%, the simple fact of the matter is that you absolutely cannot tell how funny a sitcom is going to be by its executive producers…and, boy, is “Sullivan & Son” proof of that.

“Sullivan & Son” starts Steve Byrne as Steve Sullivan, an NYC attorney who returns home to Pittsburgh with his new girlfriend, Ashley (Brooke Lyons), in tow in order to help celebrate the 60th birthday of his Irish-American father, Jack (Dan Lauria). The birthday celebration takes place in the bar owned by Jack and his wife / Steve’s mother, Ok Cha (Jodi Long)…and in case the name didn’t give it away, yes, Steve’s mom is Korean. During the evening’s celebration, Steve’s parents reveal that they’ve decided to sell the bar, a newsflash which sends Steve into a tizzy of reflection as he tries to decide if his current path in life is more important than keeping the bar in the family. Unsurprisingly, he decides on the matter, talking his parents into selling the place to him, and although this utterly infuriates Ashley, who’d already worked out a 12-step program to have the perfect married life with Steve, it’s a decision which nicely sets up the premise of the series.

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