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Whitney Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Whitney

This is an interview with Chris D'Elia on October 12, 2011 about the show Whitney.

Question:
So Alex is a much more stable adult than some of your more recent characters like on Workaholics and Glory Daze. Do you find it more difficult to be funny while playing a normal character than one of these crazy, over the top characters?

Chris D'Elia:
It's a different thing. I think that when you're playing an over the top, say, child molester, yeah, it's more wow and in your face. And I think if you have a handle on the character it's a little easier to make people laugh with it. But I think the humor from Whitney comes within the - it's not the, "Wow, oh my God, what am I watching" factor, it's the, "I can identify with that." And that's why I think it's funny. So if you can kind of hook into the real life of it all, I think that that's what makes people laugh as well, in a different way as in a much different way than the character I played on Workaholics or Glory Daze on TBS, we'll say.

Question:
It seems like with every episode, Alex and Whitney are always competing with each other. Why is everything a competition with them, do you think?

Chris D'Elia:
I think that what it is Whitney comes up with a nonexistent problem that she just creates in her own world and in her head, and then Alex kind of has fun with it and just kind of goes along with it. And then he's just a guy about it, he's like, "All right, if this is what she thinks, then I'll just go along with it and I'll try to make it better and fix it, even though it's not really a problem." So I think it's less about him being competitive with her and more just about him having fun with it. And she's the competitive one. But I will say in a few episodes, you'll definitely see Alex's competitive side come out because it has to do with sports. He gets way too competitive and kind of flies off the handle.

Question:
Speaking of that romantic competition in the upcoming episode, I wanted to know how well would you do in a real life situation like that?

Chris D'Elia:Question:
How much does Alex reflect your views of modern relationships?

Chris D'Elia:
Actually, I think his views on relationships are pretty similar to mine. I mean, Whitney wrote this with me in mind, and so I am playing, I guess for lack of a better word, a version of myself. But I think I do believe that nowadays especially, that people can be happy couples and be unmarried and just be a couple. I think that's okay. We live in a society where everybody's like, "Oh, when are you getting married?" And then you get married, it's like, "When are you having kids? When is this and when is that?"

It's like, but it's okay to just be. And I think that that's what Alex and Whitney are doing and they're enjoying themselves a lot more than a lot of married couples. I mean, not all of them but some of them. You know, it's not about being married or not married. It's about just being and being happy with the person you're with and taking it day by day. And that's exactly how I feel.

Question:
So you're known for being an actor and a comedian, but if you weren't performing, what else could you see yourself doing?

Chris D'Elia:
I think I'd have one outfit and I'd be on a bench somewhere. I've stuck with this profession for a long time. I've just recently gotten some success in the past few years, but there were ten years there were I was just kind of just, I mean, kicking around. I was really just and people were like, "Oh, you stayed with it, that's so great, it's such a great success story." But it's like, I just kind of didn't know what else to do.

I don't know what I could do. I really don't know, and I've thought about this a lot. Like, there's no way I would have 9 to 5, absolutely now. I would need to do something creative. So I don't know what I would do. I mean, I've always been somebody who wanted to be in front of strangers making them laugh, so standup is just kind of what I felt like I was born to do. I guess I have no answer. But let's say fireman, because fireman sounds good. Let's say fireman.

Question:
Whitney airs every Thursday night. What are you usually doing at that time?

Chris D'Elia:
I like to watch it. I know some actors are weird about watching themselves, but maybe I just like myself too much. I like to watch it with I mean it doesn't even matter with who. I just like to, just kind of sit and watch. Because you work so hard on these episodes, it's just like there's something cool. I like to check Twitter while I'm watching it and see what people are saying. That's what I like to do.

Question:
Last week when you guys were doing impressions of each other, it looked like you guys were honestly laughing. Is there a lot of ad lib that's done on your part?

Chris D'Elia:
That's a huge compliment. There's not that much ad lib. I mean, we have a lot of really great writers that work tirelessly on what's the best joke or thing to say. And I think that's I take that as a compliment because it makes it feel like I think that what people are responding to when they say that is Whitney and I know each other. And so I think our playfulness, because we know each other we weren't two actors that were just hired and then put in a room together that try to act like we know each other, we do know each other. And I laugh during takes and it's not out of character.

It's in my character because that's who I am with Whitney, you know? I mean, we're not in a relationship together, but that's what we do. We talk and we laugh and that's what people do, and so I think that people respond to that and think that sometimes it's ad lib. I will say I'm not spot on line by line, because of my unprofessionalism, and so maybe that comes off because I'll throw in something that wasn't in the script. But that's every now and then. But I think that if that's what you count as ad lib then yeah, maybe a little bit, but mostly it's, I mean, 95 to 98% is just the writers' work.

Question:
What do you find are the benefits of having a live audience for the show versus the other stuff you've worked on where it was no live audience?

Chris D'Elia:
I like both. I like the challenge of no live audience because I can try and make the crew laugh, and I know if I hear giggles from the crew, because they're supposed to be quiet, then I'm definitely doing a good job. The audience is great for Whitney and I, because we're both standup comedians and we're used to that. We'd go on stage every night and so - for standup. So having that audience there really feels good for us because we can know a joke is funny because the audience is laughing at it or not. And so if the joke bombs the writers will rewrite it real quickly and then we'll do another, well, alternative version of it. So the energy is a lot higher on a multi-camera, that's for sure. And we feed off that as comics, it's great.

Question:
We've already seen Whitney's silent treatment in the show. Will we see any of yours in episodes to come, maybe doing your classic Keanu Reeves on her?

Chris D'Elia:
I played the German character for a scene, to spice up our sex life. And that's definitely from my standup act. The writers know me and Whitney, obviously, has known me for a while so she writes for me. There's a scene where I play where I'm playing drunk - where I am drunk in it, rather, and I have a lot of material about that. And so they're kind of trying to write towards my strong points, which is great, and they try to do that with all the characters and actors.

But they write a lot of physical stuff for me too because I do I am kind of more of a physical comedian. But yeah, so every now and then they are dropping some stuff in like that Whitney's always really cool at passing the ball and letting me do my thing too. She doesn't have this whole mentality where she's like it's my show, I want to be great. It's way more about all of us which is so nice and refreshing.

Question:
What's going to be on the gag reel, the extras that probably is not going to be on the show that you are excited for us to see?

Chris D'Elia:
A lot of laughter. We just have a good time, man. It's like, her and, not just her and I, everybody on the show it's like I say, at least every few seconds that we're going to start laughing. I mean, we try and make each other laugh. We're trying to mess each other up. We're trying to make each other laugh so we have to cut and do it again, because that's when we feel like the energy is best and that's fun. So on the gag reel there's going to be a lot of busting up and laughing and messing with each other and little things like we can't get in the door and just goof-ups and stuff like that, so we'll see.

Question:
lex sold an Internet company. Will we see more from that geeky side or something?

Chris D'Elia:
I don't know. I know they're trying to paint Alex as a guy's guy, so I don't know if that'll come in more. I mean, there have been mentions of it, but Alex is kind of just out of a job right now, just kind of enjoying his time because he made some money off of his Internet company, so it's less about that geeky side right now and more about just him being a guy's guy.

Question:
How did you and Whitney initially meet?

Chris D'Elia:And then we both wound up at the Comedy Store where we would bring each other up on stage I would follow her, she would follow me, and we became really good friends. And we've known each other now for about five or six years and she put me on the first thing she produced, called Live Nude Comedy as a standup. I was in a segment on that and that was my first standup set that I ever did, and now she's casting me in these network shows.

She's been a good friend to me. And we've always kept our friendship, though, which is great. You know, it doesn't feel like she's my boss, even though she definitely is. It just feels like a very cool, fun time on set. And she's such a great person to know and great person to be around.

Question:
You said that she wrote the part with you in mind, but did you still have to prove yourself to NBC did you still have to read in front of the executives?

Chris D'Elia:
Yeah, as I always say in Hollywood everybody always hears, "Hey, I wrote this part for you," and then the common thing to think is just, "Oh, I wonder who's going to end up playing it." But she wrote it for me, with me in mind, and that doesn't mean anything. I mean, that literally means nothing in Hollywood. It's just I've heard that a lot of times and not have gotten the part. But she definitely had me come in and I had to audition three times, just like everybody else in front of the network, in front of the producers, in front of everybody. So yeah, I still had to test and get by, jump through all the hoops and all that, but yeah.

Question:
Were you still nervous that this was your part to lose?

Chris D'Elia:
I don't really get nervous anymore. I've been doing this for so long and it's just like I can honestly say that. It's weird. I don't believe people when they say that, but maybe it's because I do standup every night and it's just like, people just watch me every day, so it's like you're either going to want me or not, and it doesn't matter to me. Like, I only want to do your project if you want me to do your project. I don't want to do it if you don't think I'm going to be right for it. Then get somebody else. So no I knew Whitney wanted me to do it and I knew it was up to the network. And if they wanted me to do it, great, and they did and now I'm super excited to do it, you know? That's pretty much how it works with me.

Question:
Alex confides in his friends whenever there's a problem in the relationship. Whitney does also. Do you agree with Alex's approach of bringing in friends to deal with his issues?

Chris D'Elia:
I think that it's tough because with friends you never know, but I think I would probably do that. In my life, I would do that more with my family. I'm a big believer in the fact that you don't know about a relationship unless you're actually in it. So I don't know if that's the best thing to do. You definitely need to bounce off your ideas and your feelings on somebody, and if your family isn't close by, then a lot of people's family don't get their situation, but I'm lucky because mine does and I can always talk to them. But yeah, I feel like it's a good thing to do but you've got to always take it with a grain of salt, I guess I'll say.

Question:
So your one night stand with Whitney becomes a three-year relationship, if I'm not mistaken. Do you think that the quick pace contributed to her insecurities about the relationship, or does Neal and Lily's solid relationship also make her doubtful?

Chris D'Elia:
I don't think she's doubtful in our relationship. The only thing that she's doubtful with in the relationship is if she wants to ever get married. I mean, in the beginning of the episode - in the beginning of the season, she's just like, "Marriage, no way, I would never get married, it doesn't make any sense." But by the end of the episode in the pilot, she comes to realize why there are good reasons to get married and she sees the other side of it.

And every episode basically is her and I getting either closer to that or further away. You know, she knows she wants to be with me and she knows she wants to be with Alex, and she knows she wants to be with Alex forever, and Alex says the same about her. But marriage isn't necessarily the first thing on their mind if you're talking about that.

Question:
Do you think that Alex is a good boyfriend? Why or why not?

Chris D'Elia:
I look at Alex and I think, "Oh man, if I could be more like that, that would definitely be helpful in the relationships in my life," yeah. I think he's a good boyfriend, yeah. He's a TV boyfriend, he has to be good.

Question:
How is it different for you to prepare for a standup gig and a sitcom episode?

Chris D'Elia:
The difference is I don't prepare for standup. I just go up on stage with ideas that I think are funny and that's pretty much what I do. And then I go on stage and I try to work them out. That is me preparing. But the live studio audience, I've got to go up and I've got to be prepared when we're shooting, so that's what all week is for, just rehearsing and going over it and all that. I never do that with standup. I feel like rehearsing is performing with standup.

Question:
If you had to define your costars, Whitney, Rhea, Dan, Maulik and Zoe, how would you do it?

Chris D'Elia:
Every time I'm on a new show or a new set, I always am I wonder who the diva's going to be or who the jerk's going to be. But I'm still waiting. I mean, they're really good people. They're friends of mine, all of them individually, and I guess I would describe them as friends, really. I mean, they're really fun to be around, the set and the vibe around set is so fun, and that's a credit to them. And they're really good people and, I don't know, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and it seems to not be.

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