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October 7, 2015

Rob McElhenney of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The TV Squad Interview - AUDIO

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 20th 2007 11:00AM
Rob McElhenney of It's Always SunnyWe're going to try something a little different here at TV Squad: audio interviews!

Last week, I got a chance to speak to Rob McElhenney, creator and co-executive producer of FX's no-holds-barred comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which will air its third and fourth episodes of the season tonight at 10 PM ET. We spoke about the third season, about getting Fred Savage to direct some episodes, the making of their "BJ" video, and how Kaitlin "Sweet Dee" Olson almost lost her role on The Riches because of Sunny. We also discussed few details that came out on the DVD of the first two seasons, like why they shot all of Danny DeVito's scenes at once and how they got the TV legend to leer at his daughter.

Instead of typing out the entire transcript and printing it (frankly, transcribing makes us tired), we decided to take advantage of this whole Net 2.0 thing that's going on and embed the audio of the entire interview, which is about 28 minutes. So, after the jump, I'll give you the embed and some highlights.

First off, here's the embedded audio file (you may have to click Play twice if you're on Internet Explorer). You can also download the file directly from here. FYI, the audio is NSFW.

Now, the highlights:

McElhenney is essentially the show-runner for Sunny, but the show is really the baby of all three of it's creators and stars: McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, and Charlie Day. Rounding out the cast is Olson and DeVito; they make a group of five people that, according to McElhenney, "never really change or learn anything or grow in any way. Therefore you can turn on any episode at any point and totally understand what's going on, because there's very little through line relationship-wise."

And while Sunny, whose third season premiered last Thursday on FX, doesn't cover any new ground character-wise, the boys have decided to try some different things. For instance, tonight's second episode, "The Gang Gets Held Hostage," finds the Paddy's Pub gang held captive by the dreaded McPoyle clan. Most of the episode takes place in the pub, an idea McElhenney got from an episode of Friends. Really.

"Almost the entire thing took place in Monica's, or what at the time was Joey and Chandler's apartment," he says. "And I thought that was really, really funny -- and that wasn't even my kind of show."

The episode is rife with all sorts of hostage film cliches, from slow motion running to ominous music. It's different than what fans might be used to, and that's just fine with McElhenney.

"There are going to be people who watch that -- fans our show -- who hate it," he says. "And the reason that they hate it, and we get this response a lot, is because they want it to be exactly like 'Underage Drinking' from our first season or 'Dennis and Dee Go On Welfare' from our second season, where it's structured the same way. And that's not what we're interested in doing. We want to keep mixing it up so we don't burn out on the same stale shit. It's like watching a band that you're really interested in and they come out with an album but you hate it because you want them to play all the old shit. And they don't want to play it."

Fred Savage directed that episode and four others this year. McElhenney called Savage "one of the best directors we've ever had on the show." But when his name was brought up as a possible director, their motivation to meet him wasn't just to give a job interview. "Honestly we met with him solely because he was Fred Savage, and we thought it would be cool to talk to this guy about The Wonder Years. But he came in with extensive knowledge of our show. an incredible energy and attitude. And we just said 'Man, this guy would be perfect.'" That, not Savage's extensive TV experience, is what swayed them. "I know lots of people who have been in TV for twenty years and they're just bitter old assholes," he says.

Other episodes this year -- you can pretty much figure out what they're about from the titles -- will include "The Gang Starts a Sweatshop," "The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation," and "Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire."

Even though the previous two seasons aired in the relatively low-pressure environment of the summer, McElhenney isn't worried that his show -- which is starting later to catch the dorm-dwelling college viewers the show loves -- is going to be going up against all of the huge fall premieres.

"We feel we're amongst the funniest if not the funniest show on television, and let's see what happens when we go up against the networks," he says. "I turn on the TV, and I see shit. That's my point of view, from a comedic standpoint, since there are tons of dramas on the air that I really really like. I look at comedy and I see Flight of the Conchords, and I see 30 Rock, and I see The Office. Those are funny shows. Other than that, I dunno. I don't know what else is out there for people with our sense of humor."

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Absolute greatness

September 20 2007 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

unbelievable show, unbelievable writing. This is the quality that all other shows should strive to be.

September 20 2007 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was going to listen to the interview and/or read the highlights but it was plugged as being too long for my attention span. I'm going back to randomly visiting websites for another couple hours while sitting in my eerily silent room. If only I had something to listen to...

September 20 2007 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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