Casey Wilson and Adam Pally are two of the funniest people in a cast full of funny people on ABC’s Happy Endings, which just kicked off its third season last week. The two UCB Theatre alums have seen their ABC sitcom grow into one of the most consistently funny show on TV over the past two years, and with a lot of long-running sitcoms ending their runs in the next year or two, Happy Endings is right on the verge of becoming the best sitcom on TV, no contest. I recently participated in a roundtable chat with Casey Wilson and Adam Pally, lobbing questions at them with a roomful of other reporters. WARNING: The PR people for the show fed all the journalists a ton of spoilers just before the interview so there’s plenty of stuff in here that’ll ruin plotlines and moments from the new season if you’re the type who hates having that stuff spoiled. Enjoy!
Journalist: So Casey, we go very quickly from [Penny’s love interests] Brian to Nick. What about Nick’s character makes him the better boyfriend for Penny?
Casey Wilson: I don’t know. Brian’s character I think he really likes the fact that she was involved in an accident with him, so maybe the recuperation period caused her to [move on] and then she meets Nick… Penny loves Nick, he’s very cute. [laughter]… They just click and she just loves him… although you said the other day, [laughs] you were like, I’m out of my pay grade.
Pally: Yeah, you’re batting too high in the order.
Wilson: I was like, Penny or Casey? And it’s true, but so rude.
Pally: And I was like, “Both.” But as a friend, I’m saying…. [laughter]
Journalist: And Max is taking care of Penny during this accident, but not taking great care?
Pally: Max is a nurse very similar to Kathy Bates in Misery, I would say. I think he enjoys the company and also enjoys Penny not being able to screw up his schemes.
Journalist: We also hear, though, that Max has a crush on her actual nurse…
Wilson: It’s actually a dark story line.
Pally: Yeah it gets real dark.
Wilson: Max literally poisons Penny, and then tries to make out with the masseuse and Penny crawls out of a window and passes out on the street and strangers….
Pally: Yeah. And then we make up like right at that moment.
Wilson: We only have 22 minutes. We can only go so deep.
Pally: That’s how they write every episode… there’s a big thing in the writers room that says we only have 22 minutes.
Splitsider: How involved in the writing process are you guys? Do you pitch ideas ever?
Pally: Slim to none. I would say…. we pitch stories and stuff, and sometimes, they do take off our ideas, but really, they do such a great job and the stories are so funny and so original, that most of what we get to do is improvise on set with dialogue and jokes. So you feel totally fulfilled as an actor and writer because you’re getting to play around, but the writers really story-wise do such an amazing job.
Wilson: Yeah, and they’re packing the script with so many jokes. It’s an unbelievable joke count.
Pally: Yeah, so it’s really - not that they would want it, but it’s unneeded.
Wilson: We’re trying to book a round up there.
Pally: Yeah, I go in all the time like, “Do you guys need anything?”
Wilson: We asked for an office, they’re like, “Uhhhh.”
Pally: “Listen, I need to punch some stuff up.” They’re like, “yeah that’s why you’re not getting an office.”
Wilson: “Punch up that webisode you directed.”
Pally: Yeah, that could use some punch-ups.
Journalist: Adam, any chance of a return of Mandonna?
Pally: Oh God, I would hope so. I mean, it was so fun, I mean, there’s a couple other tracks I’d like to tackle.
Pally: Maybe Max is in a couple different bands like that, so we’ll see.
Journalist: It’s season 3 and we’re still learning stuff about your characters….
Wilson: Each one of us in an onion.
Pally: Peel back those layers, and it’ll make you cry.
Journalist: Could you tell us a little bit about [SPOILERS:] when they all first met on this reality show, what that looked like for your characters - physically, what you guys looked like back then?
Wilson: Penny has the Rachel haircut.
Pally: Yeah, even then, she thought she was the Rachel.
Wilson: Penny has the Rachel and a Juicy Couture jumpsuit with UGG.That sort of horrible look. The pants are loosely tucked into the UGGs.
Pally: She looks like Snooki going through an airport.
Pally: Max has that very late-nineties Patagonia freshman-in-college look with a faux-hawk and a wristband. He’s just doing anything to pass for straight at that point. His style is not yet as refined.
Journalist: Did you guys base it on any actual reality shows? I feel like this might open a door for you, but…
Pally: Open a door for her to be on a reality show? Because she’s been trying to knock on that door forever. [laughter] That door will not open for her.
Wilson: And I really am…
Pally: She’s the only person that went into acting because she couldn’t get into reality.
Wilson: I went to Reality School.
Pally: She kept pitching her life, and they were like, “Not interesting. Make something up.” [laughter]
Journalist: Now that Penny has a more consistent love interest, Max reacts not that well?
Pally: Max isn’t psyched about it. Max is a little jel, I would say. The attention’s off of Max, and he doesn’t like that. I think also Max, though he’s gay, there’s a real strong love for Penny and he’s jealous of her attention to anyone else or anything else. He likes to be the apple of her eye, I would say.
Wilson: That’s pretty serious. Everyone take that in.
Pally: Everyone take that in because I play that every day on the show.
Journalist: So when Penny got her replacement gay, our beloved Derek, you get a replacement Penny….
Pally: I do get a replacement Penny. Yeah.
Wilson: Her name is Nicole, but Max pronounces it “Nickle.”
Pally: Cause it’s five times as much as a Penny.
Pally: Um, yeah, and she turns out to be crazy… Five times as crazy as Penny.
Journalist: If you in real life had the opportunity to meet your respective character, what would you tell them?
Wilson: It gets better.
Pally: If I had the opportunity to meet Max I’d say, “Lower your voice, bro. You’re not outside all the time.”
Wilson: If I met the actress playing Penny, I’d say, “Take it down.”
Pally: Yeah. If I could meet Adam Pally I’d say, “You’re not there yet.” [laughter] “Slow your roll.”
Journalist: How do the characters deal with the fact that now their roommates are moving out and moving in with each other, is this a plot point coming up?
Pally: Yeah, I think it’s the natural progression of anytime a friend moves out, you’re upset but there is a layer of, you’re kind of psyched.
Journalist: But can Max live on his own?
Pally: I mean, he was before Dave was there.
Wilson: I’m waiting to see how the finances are shaking out. [laughter]
Pally: Max is like a cockroach. [laughter] He’ll be the only one standing after the bomb goes off.
Journalist: Last year we thought was the Year of Penny. It wasn’t that. Who’s year is it this year?
Wilson: The Year of Nickle.
Pally: Yeah, the Year of Nickle. I don’t know, I think it’s everyone’s year. I think last year was everyone’s year too…
Wilson: I think in Penny’s mind, it’s now she just has to say it’s the Decade of Penny because nothing was accomplished, I think she went backwards.
Pally: Yeah, and to me, every year is the Year of Penny, for Max. It’s like, “Yeah, the Year of Penny. It doesn’t mean anything but it’s the Year of Penny, sure.” It’s like the Year of the rabbit. It doesn’t mean anything. [laughs]
Wilson: I think the characters are so self-centered that they all think it’s their year.
Pally: Yeah, all the time. Which is one of the things I love about the show.
Journalist: What little quirks from you’re characters that we’ve seen over the past two seasons are you hoping that we see again?
Pally: You know what, that’s a really hard question to answer because those quirks for us are every day. Like, that’s what we read and what we act. All those mannerisms, I think, once you’re back in and doing the show, you kind of forget that you’re doing them… I mean, would you like to speak to Max? I’ll see if he’s here. [laughter]
Wilson: I think the paj-overalls should come back. I love the singing episode with Megan [Mullally]. Eliza [Coupe], who plays Jane, is a great singer, and I hope we get to do some singing together.
Splitsider: Are there any directions you’d like to take your characters that you haven’t yet?
Pally: To outer space
Wilson: I like the fact that Penny has a boyfriend. I think it’s funny to see someone who’s wanted something so badly and then gets it, and then one will end up hopefully finding issues or driving it into the ground. I think that’s a funny thing, so I’m happy she has a boyfriend.
Pally: I would like to see Max have a job and deal with a boss. I think that would be fun.
Journalist: What kind of job would you like to see him in?
Wilson: I could see you in like a 9 to 5.
Pally: Or something where you have report to someone consistently…
Wilson: …who doesn’t think you’re funny.
Pally: Yeah, someone where I’d be like, “Okay, fatso” and they’re like, “Whoah. I had a quadruple bypass.”
Journalist: Please tell me we’re going to see Derek again.
Pally: Yes… Derek is coming back. Derek has a fun story line with me where I’m having trouble finding my gay identity and Derrick takes me through the gay underworld on kind of a gay vision quest. [laughter]
Journalist: I thought Max was a cub.
Pally: He was a cub, but the years are passing…. he’s not quite a bear anymore, so he’s gotta figure it out.
Wilson: Not quite a bear, not yet a woman.
Journalist: But still single?
Pally: Still single, yeah.
Wilson: There’s a real funny story coming up with us… A friend of ours had a dieting tip that the writers heard about, and they put it into an episode where Penny’s coaching Max on how to not call a guy too much if you don’t want to call him, and how to lose weight, which is to take NyQuil and drug yourself around 4pm so you sleep through the night. So you don’t call anyone and you lose weight. And they become NyQuil addicts and never leave the apartment. And we think we look great. [laughter]
Pally: I like that stuff. I like when they treat Max and Penny like girlfriends. That to me is some fun stuff.
Journalist: The great thing about this is series is, although there’s a lot at stake and there’s a lot of comedy, it’s relatable. Do you ever find yourself [in moments where you’re] thinking this could be on the show?
Pally: I don’t, but all my relatives do. [laughter] Every Passover, I hear, “This should be one of your skits on the show. One of your little to-dos.” Yeah, I don’t. When I’m done with work, I’m done with work. I don’t think about it.
Wilson: I think about it a lot. It’s my job.
Pally: Yeah, I know. You take it seriously. I don’t take it seriously. I lucked into this, and I try to treat it that way so it’s fun. No, sure I think some of the stuff comes up and sometimes you think Penny would do something like that.
Wilson: I do. I think so many things’ll happen with my girlfriends that maybe the writers don’t think are funny, but I always think this could be on the show. But then we love the writers.
Pally: But then we don’t say anything. [laughs]
Wilson: Because I’ve forgotten by the time I get to set.
New episodes of ‘Happy Endings’ air Tuesday nights at 9/8c on ABC.