THE COMEDIANS: Stephnie Weir on FX's New Meta Comedy - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE COMEDIANS: Stephnie Weir on FX’s New Meta Comedy

April 9, 2015 by  

Comedians-EpPilot_Day4-ScVarious_0660_hires1FX is going meta with its newest comedy series.

THE COMEDIANS — which debuts tonight at 10 PM — follows Billy Crystal and Josh Gad, who play fictionalized versions of themselves, as they team up to work on a new FX comedy series. In the show, the duo don’t exactly mesh, and everyone around them struggles to put on a semi-decent show.

On the frontline of the madness is Kristen (played by Stephnie Weir), the fictional show’s producer, who is dealing with expectations from her stars, the network, and her own issues.

I spoke with Weir about the series, how her own writing background has impacted her acting, and more…What made you want to be a part of this show?
Stephnie Weir: Honestly, [the fact] Billy and Josh were attached to it. I was writing on another show [CBS’ THE MILLERS], and it was very difficult for me to go in and audition for this, time-wise. I thought, how is this going to work with my schedule if I get this? And then my manager was like, “They want you to go in and read with Billy Crystal. You have to do that.” That alone, of course I wanted to do that.

And something about reading her lines, and just the awkwardness of her bad choices: she had this monologue about sleeping with this director they’re hiring. Sadly, I could probably relate to it on a bad level. Not that I’ve done a ton of sleeping around, but those poor choices you make with such earnest intentions, I was like, “Gosh, I really know this character.” She’s a good egg. She just makes poor, unconfident choices.

Did your time writing on THE MILLERS change how you approach acting?
SW: Yeah, it did. You always have to find the line…on the writing side of it, you write a joke, you work it over, and you kind of want it to be read that way. And at the same time, there are times an actor will take a liberty with a joke that makes it much better or they find something new about it. And you almost have to earn those points to do that with someone else’s material. So I kind of knew going into this, [THE COMEDIANS executive producers] Ben Wexler and Larry Charles had said, “Feel free to play with it a little bit.” And so I [thought], as a writer, what would I want to hang on to, what would I want to see, and then as an actor, what can I personally bring to this? It really helps a lot, I felt, because you know where those lines are a little better.

Is writing an episode of THE COMEDIANS something you’re hoping to do down the line? Or are you looking to keep those two worlds separate?
SW: I would love to write an episode of THE COMEDIANS. It’s been batted around a little bit. I’d want to be more confident before accepting that challenge. But absolutely. And selfishly, as I was writing it, I’d feel very self-conscious as I was writing for Kristen. There’s a lot of pressure there: writing for Billy Crystal, and Josh, who are the funniest men in the world and being able to deliver on that level…it’d be a dream to be able to write an episode, and hopefully it’ll come to pass.

And the show in season 1 isn’t shy about poking fun at them and their careers. I’d imagine writing the show is a delicate balance of how meta you can be without crossing a line with your costars…
SW: Absolutely. What I found so endearing about both of them is they were really pretty open to receiving a jab about anything. You didn’t feel they were all that protective about themselves, which made it really freeing to improvise and play with them. If you’re trying to perform and play with them, and in the back of your mind is, “Oh, don’t step in anything! Don’t hurt anybody’s feelings!” it can kind of freeze you up. But with those two, you just follow their lead. I didn’t go after anybody’s mother, or anything like that.

I loved [Gad’s FROZEN character,] Olaf, and the fact that [Josh] plays that side up — a lot of people would be like, “You can’t touch that!” I really admired that. And I think that’s what makes this show special: they weren’t precious about themselves, and their careers. That takes a lot of guts and is very endearing.

There are also quite a few FX jokes in there, too. What was your reaction when you read th scripts and saw the network jabs you were allowed to get away with?
SW: I felt such gratitude, and kind of a sigh of relief. Working in this business, there’s a lot of, “We can’t do that.” Behind-the-scenes, there are a lot of good jokes that get lost because there’s this line you don’t cross when it comes to your network or whatever. But I think it makes FX that much stronger that they can laugh at themselves. It bodes well [that] they are very secure in their integrity; nothing is off limits. To include themselves in that herd speaks volumes to the network.

As for the show itself, Kristen is a producer on Billy and Josh’s show, which isn’t exactly the easiest job. How is she handling their warring needs, combined with what the network expects from the series?
SW: I think she has this talent of being able to say two completely different things to two people, and live with that. She struggles with her own conscience with the ticks. She does a lot of chest-clutching to handle her stress. But I’ve come across a lot of these producer people who have to keep a lot of people happy — sometimes at the expense of their own sanity. I feel like she just started to tap into that, where it’s almost like multiple personalities, depending on who’s sitting in front of you. And it’s hinted at that she has such a terrible dating life, so it kind of spills over into that, [too].

Do you think she feels their show is a good show, or does she just want to get the job done?
SW: Oh, I think she feels it’s a wonderful show. I really do feel like her character sees how special this union between Billy and Josh [is]. I imagine she’s had jobs in her career that you just clock in and leave it at that. You know it’s going nowhere and your heart’s not invested in it. But I think that’s what keeps her from running out the door and saying, “I quit, you can’t talk to me like that. I have some sense of self-worth” — she knows how special this is, and she plays some part in being the glue for this group, even though she’s very flaky, and incompetent at times. I think she genuinely loves them and the show.

THE COMEDIANS airs Thursdays at 10 PM on FX.

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