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Andrea Savage on I’m Sorry’s Return and Male Tank Tops

Andrea Savage. Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for New York Magazine

As comedian Andrea Warren on I’m Sorry, Andrea Savage has found herself in the most impossible situations: In season one, her 5-year-old daughter says she doesn’t like her black friend’s skin color, and a fellow preschool mom thinks Andrea has blabbed about the mom’s ex-porn career. And in I’m Sorry’s second season, which debuts on TruTV tonight, there’s no shortage of similarly awkward scenarios. The first episode’s main plot involves Andrea trying to answer her young daughter’s many — and detailed — questions about her pubic hair.

It’s a credit to the writing that it all feels pulled directly Savage’s daily life. Savage says it’s as true as it seems, but that while her family doesn’t really have a safe word when it comes to material that she can’t use on I’m Sorry, she’d never use anything her family feels is too personal.

“With my daughter, a lot of this stuff is from years ago, and I really wouldn’t do anything that now she does or says,” Savage told Vulture over the phone ahead of the new season’s premiere. “Then with my husband, I tell him what I’m thinking of doing on the show, and if there’s ever anything that he was uncomfortable with, then he wouldn’t want me to do it, I would not do it. I’m not trying to out anyone, or I’m not like, ‘Listen, this is my experience and you can all go suck it!’ That’s not my intention.”

Besides, her husband it pretty open about it all, she says, and appreciates the show’s humor. “As far as how our marriage looks on the show, he’s portrayed in an extremely lovely way. I’m like, ‘You come up smelling like roses, my friend.’”

Of course, Savage is still happy to mine her marriage for gags at her husband’s expense, as evidenced by one of the jokes in I’m Sorry’s second season debut. Ahead of that episode’s premiere, Savage spoke to Vulture about her biggest pet peeve when it comes to men’s clothing, navigating the show’s humor with a young child actor, and her priorities for I’m Sorry’s new season.

This season starts with a rather controversial tank top: Your character Andrea is in the kitchen working when Mike [Tom Everett Scott] just sort of appears in this thing, and she’s so disgusted with it. Why did that feel like the best way to open the season?

I wanted something that really, to me, just represented what the show was and I really wanted it to be something with Andrea and Mike, something that wasn’t necessarily plot-driven. My husband basically did this to me. We were on vacation in La Jolla, and he went into a store and I went into another store with our daughter. He came out and he had something in a bag. I was like, “Oh, what’d you get?” He pulls it out and I was like, “You bought a tank top? Who are we now? We’re people with male tank tops? This doesn’t seem like something that we should discuss as a family?”

He was like, “Oh my God, come on.” It just was this funny bit. I don’t know. There’s something about it that I think made me laugh and it was just a little slice of life. It may get referred to throughout the season. We’ll see.

Do you have any other pet peeves about what your husband wears, or just men’s clothing generally? I, personally, can’t stand flip-flops.

To me, the surf tank tops — I mean, my husband’s 40, you know what I mean? It’s not the age to just suddenly start with the tank tops. I don’t love penny loafers. I’m not a big loafer fan. I do not like a pleated pant on a man.

You’re almost describing the costume for another character we’re introduced to this season, Amelia’s very stern-looking kindergarten teacher.

He wears a pleated suit, yeah, always a brown-ish suit. Mr. Castellotti, played by Brian Stepanek, who was so perfect. He embodied exactly what we would have imagined for this character. He even grew the mustache for us.

A lot of the humor this season is about Amelia getting a little bit older, where she’s naturally very curious about things she reads or overhears. In the first episode, she really grills you about pubic hair. Is it tricky shooting those scene with a child actor?

Ahead of time, Joey Slamon, who’s my co-showrunner, she and I give Olive [Petrucci’s] parents all the scripts ahead of time. It’s very, “We’re not gonna give you something and throw something at you at the last minute. We want you to be aware of everything.” There were a couple lines and stuff they had some issues with. We adjusted them. We never try to give her anything gratuitous to say, or just for a shock.

But with the pubic hair, this was a real, almost word-for-word conversation that I had with my daughter a while back. Olive’s parents are really cool in that it rings true to them, and they’re like, “These are conversations we’re having.” We try to be as respectful as we can. We are very protective of her on set. We really try to shoot her out of things, so we get her part and we remove her from set so she’s not party to that stuff. We’re lucky that her parents get the spirit of the show and that we’re not trying to be gratuitous in any way.

When we spoke at Vulture Festival in November, Joey mentioned how funny it is when your real-life mom comes to set. Can you tell me more about that?

My mom, she is so proud. She just finds it all delightful. The character’s very based on her, although I will say, there is a lot of stuff this season from my mom’s character that my mom has not done in real life. Let me preface that, because I’m like, “Now everyone’s gonna think everything is real,” and it’s not.

She does come to set, but doesn’t ever really quite remember that she can’t laugh out loud. She ruins takes constantly, just bursting out laughing. It’s dead silent, and then I have to stop and go, “Mom, what are you doing?” She’s like, “Oh, sorry, sorry.” Meanwhile Joey’s just like laughing at my mom. She’s delighted. I think part of my mom is like, “Oh, I’m a little embarrassed,” but also is proud of herself. She’s like, “What would you have without me? I give you so much material!”

For I’m Sorry, you’re wearing a lot of hats: You created the show, and write for it, and share the showrunning job, and star. Is there ever a time when one of those elements becomes more important than the other? How do you juggle that?

I feel like, one, because we room-write all the scripts, then I go through them many times, I really learn a lot of my lines ahead of time. Andrea, on the show, is a version of me. I feel like I try to be as prepared as possible when I get to set by knowing it all really, really well.

Every Sunday during shoot week, I have my assistant come over and I run through all my lines for the week. I really learn those couple days, and I do all the last-minute rewrites on Sunday, so that’s all done. By the time I’m on set, I will be honest, the acting is sort of a little bit on autopilot, because I luckily know it pretty well. There’s a lot going on on set. The producing part really takes over a lot of my mind space. I approve every camera shot, so all the frames and make sure we’re getting the right coverage. I’m working with the director to direct the other actors. There’s a lot happening: set design and props and wardrobe and locations and answering tons of emails and having little meetings in between all the scenes. It’s crazy. So really, the acting and writing we already put to bed by the time I actually step on set.

What was the priority for you coming back for this sophomore season?

I really just wanted it not to suck. Really: “That’s our big goal. Just don’t fuck up season two.” We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We wanted to keep it a purely episodic comedy show. I just don’t want this character to start becoming a caricature where you know how she’s gonna respond and you see it coming. I don’t want to do something just because it’s an awkward, crazy situation, otherwise it just becomes a little two-dimensional and a little caricature-y for me.

I’ve been trying to figure this out, but there’s like nothing on the internet confirming it: Will you and Laura Montez return for Veep’s final season?

I can’t say a thing. I can’t say yes and I can’t say no. My hands are completely tied on that one.

One last thing: The Oscars still don’t have a host, but I would love to see you try it. Would that ever be something you’re interested in?

I’d really have to think about it. It’s hard. Sometimes I feel like there’s no upside to hosting. You know what I mean? You’re just opening yourself up for people to just bitch. Inevitably people are gonna hate what you did. I like to be pretty open and say what’s on my mind. I don’t know if I’d be the right fit for that one.

At this stage it seems like the job nobody wants.

It’s a hard job to succeed in. I think people who are song-and-dance and that kind of thing, something like Independent Spirit Awards, I think would probably be something that sounds challenging and fun.

Andrea Savage on I’m Sorry’s Return and Male Tank Tops