5 Questions With Clipped Actor George Wendt

'Elder Statesman' Discusses Working With Young Comedic Talent

by | June 16, 2015 | Comments


On the set of TBS’s new comedy Clipped, premiering tonight, TV veteran George Wendt (“Norm!”) talked about his character Buzzy, the manager of a Boston barbershop where he — like the actor himself — is the elder statesman among a group of emerging talent.

Clipped, the brainchild of Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, features an ensemble of improvisers from every major comedy troupe in America (Upright Citizens Brigade, The Groundlings, Second City, Steppenwolf Theatre Company), along with High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale. It’s a workplace comedy, inhabited by the many eclectic personalities one would expect to find at a place called Buzzy’s, and zeroes in on that no-longer-a-student-not-quite-a-grown-up phase of young adult life. And then there’s Buzzy — an older, gay compulsive gambler who once owned the shop, but had to give it up to pay off a debt.

Wendt discussed all these things at a press roundtable, just in time to prime you for tonight’s premiere.

What’s it like to be the elder statesman in an ensemble like this?

Wendt: It’s weird. I remember Nick Colasanto on Cheers was. God, he seemed ancient to me, and I’m practically 40 years older than some of these kids; it’s nuts. I worried that I would be some kind of old blowhard, you know, “Back in the day…” but it’s just so much more fun to sit back and listen to these kids. The way they riff — they’re just so fast and funny — chops for days, all of them. It’s so energizing to be with young performers that are just so on top of their game. I almost feel I got vampire fangs sucking their energy.

Hopefully, they feel the same way — that they’re working with someone who has so much experience in this genre?

Wendt: Well, hopefully, yeah, but they really don’t need my help. But I think Max and Dave expect me to keep them in line a little bit, but everybody’s just completely cool… Next year when they all get big heads, then I’ll need to keep them in line.

Is there any learning curve when you’re on a multi-cam sitcom like this? Or do you just arrive and you’re like, “I already know what this all about?”

Wendt: It’s remarkably similar. The jokes just keep coming fast and furious from Max and Dave [who] rewrite on the fly. There was a lot of that on Cheers and these kids — you can’t throw them. [Max and Dave] just hand them a completely new attitude and they just turn on a dime and we roll cameras and they’re there; it’s really fun.

Obviously, Max and Dave have a lot of experience in creating gay characters from Will and Grace. What, in 2015, what does it mean to play a gay character and what kind of advice did they give you from what they’ve learned?

Wendt: I kept wondering that myself early on. I was doing press for something else and I said, “Doing all this press, if this comes up, what do I say?” [and Mutchnick] goes,”Meh.” You know? He kind of takes all the gay out of it, Max. Like one time I was doing something like [flipping my hands] and he goes, “No gay hands.” I think his feeling is it’s no big deal these days… I’m a pretty shallow performer at the end of the day. Really, it’s just me and I’m gay. Sorry, I’m probably not doing myself any favors.

What would be your advice to young performers on career longevity — how to keep getting hired, which is tricky enough?

Wendt: Honest to God, the best thing I could say is, “Have fun.” Just make every bit of it fun — the rejection, the audition process, the preparation, all of it. One of the truest notes I ever got was from my first improv teacher, Josephine Forsberg at Second City in Chicago. I was so green. I was just a complete idiot, and she yelled up, “When you’re having fun, we’re having fun.” Over 42 years, that’s probably the truest note I ever got.

Clipped premieres on TBS tonight at 10/9 p.m. and co-stars Mike Castle, Ryan Pinkston,
Lauren Lapkus, Matt Cook, and Diona Reasonover.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tag Cloud

all-time 24 frames Winners WGN Pirates Television Academy comic books San Diego Comic-Con thriller series free movies TV Marvel Nat Geo franchise dragons tv talk witnail TNT HBO green book Black Mirror Vudu true crime Pop Creative Arts Emmys Rocketman french twilight OWN aliens VOD Disney Channel game show Netflix Christmas movies critics talk show First Reviews period drama australia Horror cancelled television laika WarnerMedia political drama Funimation television LGBT christmas movies Tubi discovery natural history ESPN First Look dramedy spanish Disney Plus cops See It Skip It blockbuster Travel Channel Apple Holidays PaleyFest Mystery revenge psycho Sneak Peek supernatural GoT zombies book 4/20 Stephen King NBC comics Grammys what to watch Valentine's Day Amazon Prime ABC 21st Century Fox Baby Yoda Trailer Peacock The Purge New York Comic Con remakes Turner Extras APB Binge Guide Chilling Adventures of Sabrina screenings cats robots biography 2017 Super Bowl toronto boxoffice Comics on TV Watching Series documentary james bond Lucasfilm Biopics Awards TCA Awards blaxploitation latino TLC mission: impossible Adult Swim superhero italian archives FX Syfy fresh Pet Sematary joker trailers comiccon Fox News Disney+ Disney Plus The CW kids Schedule die hard Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Spike spider-man classics Drama Mary Tyler Moore docudrama Calendar 2016 Martial Arts MTV elevated horror The Walt Disney Company CBS Paramount Plus Esquire Paramount Network Animation streaming Spring TV rotten movies we love stop motion Film Festival slashers Superheroe Emmys Avengers emmy awards 99% Reality Competition Oscars 2018 mockumentary Countdown stand-up comedy ABC Signature TruTV MCU FX on Hulu psychological thriller criterion golden globes IFC Films Logo cooking Ovation Rom-Com children's TV History RT21 parents Infographic Apple TV+ GLAAD Amazon Photos Certified Fresh child's play boxing YouTube Red Pride Month Dark Horse Comics YA binge TCA 2017 space Spectrum Originals women YouTube composers BBC social media nature festivals comedies The Academy TIFF SDCC disaster Star Trek nbcuniversal Television Critics Association Mindy Kaling sequel Elton John ID hispanic Sundance rotten Sundance Now Red Carpet halloween Marvel Studios Video Games Crunchyroll jamie lee curtis Musical cartoon MSNBC Pixar dogs BAFTA based on movie cancelled south america Interview Pop TV police drama NYCC adaptation Thanksgiving Election The Walking Dead sequels venice Quiz Reality VH1 ITV hist Britbox nfl singing competition Endgame A24 crime thriller Kids & Family spanish language DC Universe Comedy Central miniseries mutant TV One 45 USA anthology Cosplay festival richard e. Grant Showtime Song of Ice and Fire facebook independent comic technology PlayStation Opinion sag awards strong female leads USA Network SXSW X-Men ABC Family DC Comics Film scary movies indie romantic comedy TV renewals Paramount spain movie Shondaland Anna Paquin DirecTV crime drama 71st Emmy Awards politics Premiere Dates Universal Family Musicals ratings National Geographic Christmas Classic Film Starz jurassic park scorecard Mary poppins sports Character Guide serial killer werewolf sitcom reviews CNN 2015 Toys fast and furious Trivia game of thrones Emmy Nominations video directors Hallmark Christmas movies rt archives dc indiana jones BBC America Tumblr medical drama breaking bad DC streaming service reboot Western war versus ghosts Nominations 72 Emmy Awards TCA Winter 2020 E! Fall TV Heroines obituary Disney streaming service Box Office Amazon Studios FXX Acorn TV Alien 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards zero dark thirty teaser vampires Black History Month award winner 20th Century Fox pirates of the caribbean 007 name the review Summer Food Network Disney Hulu crossover harry potter universal monsters Trophy Talk TCM chucky Polls and Games films best PBS Year in Review American Society of Cinematographers Podcast El Rey anime renewed TV shows zombie TCA adventure spy thriller Holiday animated batman cancelled TV series Country Cartoon Network Sundance TV football 2019 Bravo Hear Us Out BET Awards Lifetime Christmas movies Apple TV Plus IFC historical drama travel Awards Tour Action Rock japanese a nightmare on elm street Shudder Academy Awards cults GIFs Hallmark Tarantino Warner Bros. Best and Worst rom-coms CW Seed Amazon Prime Video Walt Disney Pictures hollywood Mary Poppins Returns casting Music Netflix SundanceTV The Arrangement diversity Teen quibi TV Land Star Wars TBS Fantasy Set visit Lifetime CBS All Access Cannes E3 Epix screen actors guild Mudbound movies Arrowverse unscripted golden globe awards asian-american Captain marvel stoner A&E Fox Searchlight documentaries Brie Larson Turner Classic Movies Masterpiece Marathons dark crime Nickelodeon LGBTQ deadpool worst Writers Guild of America Sci-Fi toy story CMT news concert finale DGA cinemax romance The Witch transformers Lionsgate Ellie Kemper BBC One theme song Comedy AMC YouTube Premium Chernobyl Women's History Month VICE FOX Superheroes Tomatazos Marvel Television OneApp satire HBO Go Winter TV spinoff Crackle canceled TV shows Comic Book black cars 2020 Sony Pictures canceled Ghostbusters cancelled TV shows video on demand halloween tv justice league worst movies Rocky foreign Freeform doctor who RT History ViacomCBS Discovery Channel HBO Max BET Columbia Pictures President dceu science fiction