Hank Azaria’s IFC series Brockmire, about a down-and-out alcoholic baseball announcer who hits rock bottom in both his life and his once-stellar career, has taken some mighty swings. The results have seen the dark comedy resonate not just among TV watchers but among baseball watchers as well: he already has appeared in character as Jim Brockmire on ESPN more than once.

It’s a strong hint that the series, and its main character, are genuine.

The Contenders Emmys 2018

“It’s genuinely funny, genuinely dark, and genuinely truthful,” Azaria said during a panel at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys event. “[The series] sorta uses baseball as a metaphor for America, and this aging guy in American trying to catch up to modern times.”

Season 1 centered on Brockmire’s fall, which landed him in a small town where a struggling owner (Amanda Peete) hires him to announce her minor minor-league team’s games. They bonded over their problems and sparked as he tried to rebuild his career. “I think the greatest strength of Season 1 is this very unique love story, very funny love story between these two horrible drunks played by Amanda Peete and myself,” he said.

Azaria, who has spent his career playing off-the-wall characters in film and TV, said the reaction to Jim Brockmire, and his own love for the project, have been pleasant surprises.

“I’m a little shocked at how good it’s come out — not because I didn’t think we’d do well, but you know, you just never know, right?” he said. “You do your best, you put people together, you hope the sum is gonna be greater than the parts — it rarely is.

“Honestly? This one is,” he said, turning to the packed DGA Theater crowd. “Money-back guarantee: If you see the show, i promise you, the first 10 minutes you’ll be hooked in.”

Check out the conversation above.