Taking her inspiration from the semi-autobiographical comedy of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louie comes a new comedy from Andrea Savage, I’m Sorry, which premieres Wednesday, July 12th on TruTV, based on Savage’s own experiences as a parent. Savage serves as the writer, producer, and star, the show offers a different perspective on what it means to be in a long marriage. After they premiered the pilot episode for I’m Sorry at the ATX TV Fest in June, we got the chance to sit down with Savage, and her co-star Tom Everett Scott, about how the show reminds them of their real lives, and vice-versa.
Sorry I missed the screening. How did it go?
Savage: Apparently, I said a lot of things that are now being quoted like, “Chlamydia’s the least of my problems.”
Is it trending?
Savage: I’m not popular enough to be trending, but it’s out there.
The last time we talked, I believe you’d just finished shooting the episodes for I’m Sorry. You’d mentioned how you were wrestling with being too open vs. being too private when it came to what was going to make it into the episodes. Is that still something you’re dealing with?
Savage: I’m still wrestling with it. I have to be more open than I naturally feel is my personality. Because I am taking real stories from my life, and if I’m committing to that, and that’s what I do think makes the show really unique and special and unexpected and not formulaic, I’m going to have to open up somewhat about that these are real and acknowledge that and talk to the people who are in the stories and tell them. It is something that weighs on me.
Have you found that line where you can exaggerate a situation, instead of just cutting and pasting it from your life?
Savage: A little bit. There’s definitely things where I go, “I’m not putting that in,” [or], “That’s crossing a line and also that’s not okay. It’s not there.” With my daughter especially, there’s a couple things in this first season but they’re from years ago when she was younger, [but] I’m very protective of her, and I don’t want her to ever think that I’m selling her story out or in some way compromising her trust in me. So that’s something I’m pretty cognizant about. I try to keep the joke mostly on me. I never am trying to make anyone else really look badly.
Your character definitely seems to be the butt the jokes, at least in the pilot.
Savage: I’m always trying to do the right thing, which usually does not work out. Not every episode is formulaic like that. Actually, very few of them are similar to the pilot because they are all just real stories that’s just how those sort of manifest. Some of them I’m super active in, some of them I’m somewhat passive in. And it’s just events sort of happening to us, so it’s not always that, like, apology. I think that would get a little boring.
What got Tom involved to play your husband, Mike?
Scott: I got this amazing email from Andrea where she pitched me being in the show because she saw me as this character.
Savage: [I] didn’t know him. Just what I kind of thought he would be…
Scott: [Andrea] didn’t know me. We wanted to meet. She wanted to set up a meeting. We sat down, we had lunch together. We really hit it off. We started talking about the material. It was kind of a leap of faith, but not based off of nothing, I knew I had seen some of your videos that you had made. They really cracked me up, so I knew your sense of humor was great.
Savage: And you saw the presentation because we had already shot [it].
Scott: You know what? I didn’t.
Savage: Oh that’s right, you didn’t. But you had the script.
Scott: I had the script, [and] I thought the material was fantastic. It really made me laugh. That was the thing, it’s that it truly made me laugh. I knew that was going to be a funny thing, and I wanted to be a part of something that seemed so real. Because at this point in my life, trying to just stick to stuff that I feel I can play naturally, especially if it’s comedy, that’s just going to be the best odds. So it’s been kind of great.
Savage: And I was personally not looking for somebody who was like super, super entrenched in the comedy world like all my other friends, because I wanted it to feel very real and just let the comedy come naturally out of them. I did audition people and I felt like people were… even if they were playing straight, they were comically playing straight. So, I begged him to do it, and he weirdly agreed.
Scott: And it all worked out. Doing the improvs and the fun runs [is] stuff I’m not comfortable with, but I think the greatest stuff comes out when you really challenge yourself.
Savage: We just listen to each other and talk and just sort of stay in the moment.
How’s the collaboration been on-set? A lot of the characters are played by your friends who are pretty well-established in comedy.
Savage: The show is scripted, and we do the script a lot. It depends on who the actor is, when it’s Jason [Mantzoukis] and I, we get the script down and we do a couple sets. He’s probably the person I go the most off script with. Then there’s certain people where you’ll be like let’s loosen it up and they just say it exactly the same way and then you’re like, “Okay, well that’s going to be our looser [one].” I think what’s really good in the scenes that Tom and I are in is that we’re basically staying on story, but we just say it in a little more [of a] funny way, or a little bit more intimate, or [it] kind of just sings. There’s something more alive about it than when you’re just doing script. Even though the scripts are really fun.
Scott: So it’s for people who know each other and they get each other’s little jokes.
So you two have managed to develop a bit of a married rapport?
Savage: Yeah, it’s been good. I think my husband is similar to Tom, and I don’t know Jenny [Gallagher, Scott’s wife] super well, but I think she’s sort of similar to me.
Scott: She is similar. She’s really funny. You know, she is the one driving the comedic element at home for sure. My kids will tell me, “Mommy’s funny, you’re a… you’re a nice dad.”
Savage: Which is similar to what happens at my house. Well, I always tell my husband he’s not funny. We both live in LA in similar worlds, you know what I mean?
You also establish these characters and how they relate to one-another pretty clearly in the pilot.
Scott: I really think that speaks to the writing first, because it really is grounded in a real situation. And you don’t have to push for the comedy at all.
Savage: Yeah, that’s been the thing of being like, ‘Just say it.’ You don’t have to play for the joke. The less you play for the joke, the funnier it’s gonna be. But it was really important to me to put a couple on TV who’ve been together for a significant amount of time who love each other, and get a kick out of each other. And find each other funny and sexy, and not the way you see every other long-time married couple on TV.
You’ve talked about wanting to push the boundaries of how a 40-something mom talks, how she acts, and how she’s funny in general, and that comes out in her parenting style. Right in the opening scene, your kid asks a pretty frank question. It almost comes off as shock humor at first, then I realized I probably asked the same exact questions when I was that young.
Savage: And there are the people who ignore it, and just go “Oh, well uh huh.” My philosophy has been, and will always be, you know what, I am just gonna say what it is, and not put a stink on it. And just be like, this is what it is. But it’s hard to hear.
Scott: Well, in that opening scene, I’m playing the very uncomfortable parent role, but approving from the sidelines of your efforts.
Savage: Yeah, it’s like this is what we gotta do, but… ew.
It’s just one of those life moments that’s pretty common, I suppose.
Savage: And that’s what I think [about] profanity in general. I don’t like it when it’s just for shock value, or you don’t have a joke in that line, your only joke is that it says “fuck”. That’s not a joke. That’s lazy. I like to swear, and I think it’s funny, but it has the construct of the written joke [it] has to have so much more than just a swear word. Or something that’s just shocking.
Scott: It’s not funny that you’d just like, say “Fuck you,” it just needs a whole thing that builds.
On that note, how’s it been working with TruTV?
Savage: TruTV has been, and I know this sounds like this is kiss-assy, they’ve been amazing. They have, from the beginning, when they wanted to buy it and they were just kind of selling themselves, they were like, “We are looking for writer/performers that we can believe in their vision and we’re gonna let you do the show that you want to do.” And they have followed through with that. There were episodes that we turned in where I was like, “Oh, here it’s gonna come. There is no way they are gonna allow us to do that,” [but instead they’re] like, “That was hilarious. Let’s do it.”