It's rare that you get a chance to interview someone you genuinely find hilarious. I recently had that opportunity with Charlie Day from the hit FX show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Charlie plays a character cleverly named Charlie - and he's easily the funniest thing going on television. Charlie (the man, not the character) also writes and produces the show along with his friends and fellow actors Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton. Here's what he had to say:
Charlie, thanks for calling! First off, so much of the show feels like an authentic interaction between friends. What percentage of the show is improvised?
Charlie Day: If I had to come up with a number I'd say 75 percent of the show is scripted and a good 25 percent is off the cuff. Sometimes we get it right in the writer's room, and sometimes we get it close and then try to push to make it better. You never really know which one is going to end up improvised.
So why Philadelphia?
CD: That had a lot to do with Rob McElhenney. He had the original idea to make a show, Glenn and I never really aspired to do such things. Originally it was about actors in Los Angeles. But the network had the foresight to say "well, there's a lot of industry shows, let's take it out of L.A." Rob grew up in South Philadelphia, and I was pretty familiar with it because my dad grew up there and we'd visit for Christmas or Fourth of July. It's a good blue collar city, and our characters wouldn't be too on top or too on the bottom there.
What stresses you about making the show?
CD: A million different things. We stress a lot because we really care. We're here for every second. I stress about making sure that the quality stays the same but at the same time doesn't get boring. We stress about making things funny, and then we stress about "have we gone too far?" All the little details.
Is there pressure to go bigger with the comedy?
CD: I'm more interested in making television no one has ever seen before, and keeping the show surprising. One of the complaints I have about series that don't take things further is you always know what to expect.
How ideal is your situation with FX? It seems like that's the perfect network for you guys.
CD: If we were on NBC we would have been canceled by now. It's the perfect marriage with FX, they let us get away with murder. They had the foresight to stick with it and we've built it the old fashioned way, through underground and word of mouth.
What are your favorite comedies?
CD: The British version of The Office. I like the American one but it was the British one which kind of inspired us to go out and make our own show. This year I really enjoyed Flight of the Conchords. You never really know what's going to happen... and hopefully next year they'll push the envelope even more.
Are you getting recognized more due to the success of the show?
CD: Oh yeah, definitely. The people who know the show really love the show, and they know quotes and details. It's exactly what we wanted. It's been a really great time.
And with that, before I could even ask Charlie if we could start hanging out, the publicist ended our time. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is on FX Thursday nights at 10 pm. Please give it a watch. You won't regret it.