There was a lot of talk about the Future of Network TV Comedy during NBC’s TCA panels yesterday. At today’s Fox panels the producers of the new comedy Weird Loners had their chance to weigh in on the subject.
For NBC, the theme was that ailing network’s hope of reviving the traditional multi-cam comedy, with comments on the subject from entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and Bill Lawrence, executive producer of the returning NBC comedy Undateable.
Weird Loners, from creator/executive producer Michael J. Weithorn, EP/director Jake Kasdan and EP Melvin Mar, is sort of a single-cam answer to Undateable. Kasdan said that the issue isn’t the number of cameras, but the quality of the comedy. The producers appeared on the panel with cast members Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Nate Torrence, Zachary Knighton and Becki Newton.
Kasdan — who said he has only worked on single-cam comedies — called 2015 a great time for comedy. “I feel like the reason that it’s tricky for comedy in general, is the same reason why recently it was tricky for dramas,” Kasdan said. “ You need a few good (shows) to pop and emerge and stick and become a thing. You just need good shows to lead the charge.”
Comedy veteran Weithorn (King of Queens, Family Ties and many others) said what’s funny has not changed over the decades. He described the key to laughs as finding an emotion or state of being that people will recognize and “dialing up and heightening it to the point where it comes off the screen … It’s been the same since I started 30 some odd years ago with Family Ties: If this show succeeds it will be because of that, or in spite of it.”
Michael J. Weithornsaid the title is ironic, referring to the fact that we are all “weird loners” when it comes to the difficulty of finding true love and connection. He decried the tyranny of a society that sees people who aren’t perfectly mated by age 35 as damaged goods. For himself, he joked that the show reflects a sort of heightened reality of his own life: “I actually have not been working in television for a number of years. I was tired of living as an actual weird loner.”