Interview with Steve Byrne from Sullivan & Son

Comedian & actor Steve Byrne recently spoke to the press about the new season of Sullivan & Son on TBS and his upcoming comedy special. He talked about the new season, about why he thinks the show was a success, and how much of himself comes out in his character. Check out what he had to say in preparation for tonight’s Season 2 premiere.

On the transition from Season 1 to Season 2

stevebyrnecall612asmallSteve Byrne: You know, the first season, we were tying to figure things out, figure out what works with actors and characters. And it’s kind of a, you know, a testing ground. But I think towards the end of the season, we started flushing things out and figuring things out and figuring out our strengths as opposed to our weaknesses.

And we really hit the ground running from the first episode back. And we just filmed a great one last night with Billy Gardell from Mike & Molly, and then it might be my favorite one. Prior to that, I thought the Ken Jeong one was my favorite one. So they just keep getting better and better.

It’s a lot funnier. I mean a lot edgier. We do push the envelope with the show. I should say Hank’s character pushes the envelope with the show. Carol and Owen’s relationship gets pushed to the line quite a bit.

And I’m just really excited about it. I’m really, really, really excited about it. I, you know, I’m really proud of this one. It’s going to be fun.
 
Jump with me to read more from Steve.
 

On what makes the show successful

Steve: I think what makes any show successful is I think any time it has its own voice and it doesn’t sound like anything else. And I think that we definitely cornered the market…in not being so politically correct and we’re not a cartoon. We’re actually real people speaking these lines.

So I’m just really excited about it. You know, you just never know if people are going to tune in or not, but fortunately for us, people did tune in. And you think about it, we only had ten episodes. We’re a cable show in the middle of summer. And you know, virtually half of our season was up against some pretty tremendous events.

We had two weeks of the Olympics and then the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. So I’m really excited this summer to see how we do because we won’t have those big hurdles.
 

On how much of his character is him & how much is the character

Steve: I think I’m pretty in step with Steve Sullivan. And look, the show, you know, the original pilot was based on what I was going through at the time in my life when I wrote the original version prior to Rob Long stepping in and making it 100 times funnier.

But I was a guy that was a standup comedian and I just toured the country 50 weeks a year, living out of a suitcase and I had a great professional life but no personal life. And I ultimately wanted to have a life that matters. I wanted to be around friends and family. I wanted to have a place that was home to me because home was just hotel rooms and eight ounce bottles of shampoo.

So, you know, that was really the core of it. And I do believe that I – I try to be guided by the moral compass that was instilled in my brain and my heart by my father when I was younger and all through my teens and everything. He’s been somebody I still call for advice. So I think I have a pretty good moral compass.

So I think that Steve Sullivan and Steve Byrne are pretty much in step. I’m not sure that I’m as patient as he is with friends or family but we’re pretty much in step with each other.
 

On who he’d love to see guest star

Steve: Well, you know, I started doing standup years ago, and I actually toured the country on this Jameson Whiskey Tour with Billy Gardell. And we’re both from Pittsburgh. We became fast friends on that tour. And he came by last season. He came around this season again. And that’s been a dream come true.

And then when I first moved to Los Angeles, Ken Jeong—you guys know him from The Hangover [& Community]. He and I kind of palled around together and hit up the comedy clubs and then he was in The Hangover and blew up. And we had him on the show this season, which is another dream come true because I’m trying to get as many of my friends on.

But I think that ultimately, [I’d] love to see Peter Billingsley or Vince Vaughn on the show because they’re the ones that kind of got this snowballing and going. And Vince is the one that originally said, you know, maybe you should create a vehicle for yourself.

And I’d love to get the opportunity to work with him on the show. I think it’d be awesome. I mean, he’s had every taping. He’s always given improv lines to characters for second and third takes. So to have him on would be a treat.

And Peter Billingsley has directed quite a few episodes, but I’d love to get him on the other side of the camera, because he’s probably one of the funniest guys. Everybody knows Vince is hilarious, but Pete’s got a great sense of humor, and I’d love to showcase that at some point.
 

On whether there’s much adlib or if it’s all scripted

Steve: We stick to the script actually. But what happens is, you know, we have a show where there’s four standup comedians, and the guys are constantly coming up with lines. So what we do is we do two tapings on tape days in front of a live audience. The first one’s a run through.

So every joke, every scene is one take. That’s it. Breeze through. Then you kind of get the pacing down and the timing of the jokes, and you understand where folks might laugh and as opposed to we got so used to the crew laughing during the week.

And then the second taping we do, we do every scene two or three times. And it’s in those second and third times that the comics will get to do their improv lines or Vince will run in and whisper something and that Brian Doyle-Murray’s here. And that’s where a lot of the improv takes place.

But prior to that, we do try to respect the script, because we know we have such an awesome crew of writers that we want to try to see what they’ve written to fruition.
 

On his new comedy special

Steve: You know, I didn’t know that we would get a second season. I don’t know if we’re going to get a third. But standup is something I’ve done the last 15 years of my life, and I love it and I never wanted to stop doing it. Even when we’re rehearsing, I’ll still go to the comedy clubs at night.

So I had been preparing for a third [hour-long] special. I wanted to do one every two years. And I had one in 2008, 2010, and I was—I had one already for 2012, but it got a little derailed with the show, thank God. And that’s an uptown problem to have.

But yes, I finally have carved out enough time to film one here in the fall. And you know, I think with each special, I keep getting strong and the writing keeps getting better, and the experience of being in the writer’s room, especially on Sullivan & Son has helped me really pay attention to the finer details, and I think all the little things matter. So I’m really proud of this next special, and I can’t wait to film it.
 
 
Thanks to Steve for taking the time to speak to the press. Don’t miss the season premiere of Sullivan & Son tonight, June 13, at 10/9c on TBS!

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