After spending Glee’s first two seasons melting the hearts of viewers who only knew him as a host of Nickelodeon’s Guts and star of Yes, Dear, it seemed like Mike O’Malley was destined to take a more backseat role this season — until last night’s episode, when he announced he’d be running as a write-in congressional candidate against Sue Sylvester. In real life, O’Malley prefers coaching his three kids’ sports teams (he was on the way home from son Seamus’s soccer game as we spoke) to political grandstanding, and fills in his time between Glee tapings as a consulting producer and writer for Shameless. He still gamely chatted with Vulture about Burt’s upcoming season, and even offered us a political mix tape.
Burt is running for congress on an arts education platform. That’s a nice dream!
[Laughs.] It is a nice dream. I think what good television does well is that it shows characters evolving. You wouldn’t have thought this guy would be accepting of his son two years ago, and here we are now, because he’s chosen to be open-minded. He still has that same staunch fervent desire to protect his kid and stand up for him. I think the older you get as a parent, the fewer the opportunities to do that because you’re not as involved in your kid’s life. I have three kids, and I’m a coach for a lot of their sports, so I’m around them a lot, but I see friends of mine with older kids and they don’t really interact so much, other than giving them a place to live. This is an opportunity for Burt to participate in Kurt’s life in a very specific way.
And on a very big stage. Are you a very political person in real life?
You know, I was a solid B student my whole life, so I can’t get into too many arguments and win them. But I find it easy to defend what it is I think is right. Politics isn’t something that really interested me; I, of course, care about what’s going on in the world, but so much of political discourse now is not necessarily about doing what’s right.
Last we spoke, you were hoping you'd get to sing on the show and mentioned wanting to do a National song. Are you any closer to that goal?
I’m constantly suggesting to Ryan and Brad and Ian that I should sing, at the very least either when Kurt wins or loses the school election, the idea that maybe there’d be a karaoke bar celebration, or a dream sequence when he’d sing. I wouldn’t want it to be totally preposterous, but I like to think that deep in Burt’s genes is where Kurt’s talent came from. It’s just that I haven’t scratched the surface of my singing talent yet.
Perhaps you, too, have a crazy falsetto that’s just waiting to be discovered
Jeez, can you imagine? If Bono can do it, then I can do it.
There was much ado earlier this year when Chris Colfer voiced his surprise at hearing that his character would be graduating after this season. Do you know what his graduation means for your character?
Well, I don’t know. I don’t know what the future is, who’s graduating or what. Other than the wedding episode last year, I kinda come in, do small scenes with one or two people, and then I go, so I’m not really around for all the other stuff. I’m No. 19 on the call sheet, so there’s a whole other experience going on there and I’m just popping in like a guest. I am just so out of the loop of what’s going on. I’m happy to continue to work on any episode of Glee and if Burt wins the seat, then I’ll just be a local politician, and if Kurt goes to L.A. or New York or London to pursue an acting career, I’m happy to go there and support him there.
You can start international car dealerships. Which reminds me, I’ve always wondered, are you actually good at fixing cars?
I am excellent. Do I look good? As my father said once, there was an intersection at one point where cars were no longer about engines and became more about computers, and I think cars are harder to fix nowadays because of that. I can change a tire, but I couldn’t change a fuse on the computer panel on my car.
The recent political discourse would be much more amusing if it involved singing. What would you like to hear each candidate sing?
I think Barack Obama would do "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough," because I think that’s how he truthfully feels about leading. Oh God, I can’t think of anything but the songs my daughter sings nowadays. Let me call you back in fifteen minutes.
[O’Malley calls back fifteen minutes later.]
Okay. Ron Paul: “Tax Man.” Herman Cain: “Taillights Fade” by Buffalo Tom. I want Rick Perry’s song to be “Love Is a Battlefield,” ’cause I just want him to sing about love. Barack Obama should actually do “One Wing” by Wilco. Let’s give him a modern song. Mitt Romney, he’s from Boston but he’s certainly not gonna sing “Dirty Water”; how about “The Seeker” by the Who? Or maybe Mitt could sing Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues.” I want to hear some “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People from Michele Bachmann, one of the most catchy songs of the last three years. More people in this country need to be buying Wilco and Buffalo Tom and Foster the People. And bring back Pat Benatar. She danced around in a mummy outfit for that video and she looked good doin’ it.