• It’s rare for such a young comedy series to go live
• Episode extended to hour for improv, guest stars
• Comedians accustomed to live performances
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For the NBC comedy, “Undateable,” it’s all about live and death.
The comedy about a group of friends who hang around a bar and talk about their love lives will air live —n both the East and West coasts — Tuesday, May 5.
The show has been on the air for two seasons. Going live is usually something reserved for a show that has been on for several years — “Hot in Cleveland,” “Roc,” Will & Grace.” But, in this era of uncertainty for network comedies, there are no guarantees a show will be around long enough to reach old age.
Series creator Bill Lawrence has one thing on his side.
“These actors have all known each other for at least 10 years,” Lawrence says during a break in the extended rehearsal schedule for the episode. The extra work isn’t just needed for the live elements but the episode will run one-hour long, twice the normal length.
The network planned to run two different episodes back-to-back, but once the idea of doing a live show was suggested it decided to expand the show to give the comedians — all masters in improvisation — more time.
The longer show means more time for special guests such as Zach Braff, Neil Flynn, Victoria Justice, Christa Miller, Donald Faison and Kate Walsh.
As for the death part, NBC won’t announce whether it will pick up the show for a third season until later this month. With “One Big Happy” wrapping it’s inaugural season last week, “Undateable” is the only comedy airing on NBC at this time.
Lawrence is banking on the live episode attracting viewers.
Here’s what the cast says about doing the live show:
, who plays Leslie, says the network has scared the cast into not slipping up and saying a curse word. One foul word would cost millions of dollars.
“There is a delay but you would still be fined by each network affiliate. It’s no joke. It would be like $7 1/2 million if we mess up.”
, the man behind bartender Brett, is comfortable with a live performance because he comes from a theater background.
“I am looking at this like a theater production. The only difference is that with a play you usually have six weeks to rehearse. With this we have about eight days. But, we are used to coming in and working on the fly because we will often get the final scripts on the day of recording.”
, whose Shelly is the 21st Century equivalent of Norm on “Cheers,” isn’t afraid about the show being live. He spent years as a stand-up comic before moving into TV and film roles.
“Why would I be so afraid of doing a good thing. I have spent my whole life doing shows — in a lot of horrible places — to get to here. So to now, to do a show with my friends is going to be great. It’s similar to doing my standup, but with other people’s jokes. It’s just me trying to take what they write and try to do it the best way I would do it if I was doing my stand-up act. “
, who plays Burski, plans to take advantage of places the writers have given him to improvise.
“Everyone on this show has such good instincts, we know if it’s funny enough we will do it. They have made the ending so we can go a little longer or shorter as needed.”
, who plays Justin, was initially excited about the idea of doing the live show.
“Then I was on a plane coming back from a gig and I couldn’t sleep. I sat there and actually thought about doing it in front of all those cameras and it scared the (expletive) out of me.”
• The man behind the character of Danny,Chris D’Elia
, isn’t afraid of failure because that’s just part of being a standup comedian.
“I’m not scared of it going wrong, I don’t really care. I just don’t want to disappoint the creators of the show, NBC. I don’t care if I end up looking stupid because they literally have me doing the stupidest (expletive) on this show.”
, who joined the cast in the second season to play Candace, is excited about the challenge.
“It’s sort of this ‘why not’ attitude. I love that in the spirit of this show they like to do things spontaneously. I think that’s the strength of the show. It always feels real and a brave place where you are not afraid to try something that might be stupid.”