Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, two of the minds behind cult classic Super Troopers, were kicking it between comedy sets in a hotel in rainy Tacoma, Washington when a thought occurred that had them both laughing.
“It just hit us,” Heffernan says. “What do firefighters do in the rainiest city in America?”
Of course, in actuality, Tacoma isn’t the rainiest city, but they do get rainfall that’s well above average. This notion struck the guys as funny. The members of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard had recently released Super Troopers 2 and following that success, had been trying to figure out a concept for new characters. They’d agreed that there was an audience for a new workplace comedy that featured first responders, but hadn’t quite nailed down the idea yet — they just knew they wanted the characters to have lots of downtime. A little too much, in fact. Firefighters in a place that was constantly raining totally fit the bill. And that inkling of an idea morphed into their current show, Tacoma FD.
Heffernan and Lemme say that they had been close to getting comedies on television before, but everything — the concept, the timing, and the setting — just clicked with Tacoma. That seems fitting, as Tacoma is known as “The City Of Destiny.”
Tacoma FD premiered on TruTV as the top cable comedy of the season — which brings a lot of attention to a cool, yet often overlooked Pacific Northwest city. To celebrate this success, we had the guys help us put together a little Tacoma FD-themed guide to the real life places that inspired the show.
Start your morning:
The crew at Tacoma FD likes their coffee, so take their cue by grabbing some brew to start your day right. Stop into Tacoma’s Bluebeard Coffee to grab a proper cup and a pastry to go with it. The space is the perfect place to get your plan together (and sit around for a moment to allow for hijinks to ensue), so take a seat and enjoy the breeze through their open garage door.
Get to work:
Tacoma Fire Department
Kind of. The fire department doesn’t have any official affiliation with the show, but they have shown support for the project to Heffernan and Lemme. Take a stroll down Fawcett Avenue and check out the actual firehouse. Just don’t bother them.
“Some of the guys from Tacoma FD got in touch to let us know that they are actually pretty busy,” laughs Lemme. They even offered him their services to consult, but due to production costs, the series shoots in California. “I have been in touch with them since and they appreciated the fact that we made sure to portray them as very good at their jobs.”
Step into a scene from the show:
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
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Today is the day! We are thrilled to share the new Pacific Seas Aquarium with you and yours from 9:30 am-6:30 pm Friday, Sept. 7 through Sunday, Sept. 9. Extended hours mean more chances to take in the awe as green sea turtles, scalloped hammerheads, and spotted eagle rays majestically glide overhead in Baja Bay. Get hands-on and up close with marine creatures in the Tidal Touch Zone and learn about the critters who live on the rocky intertidal shore. For a full list of habitats, follow the current to www.pdza.org/pacific-seas-aquarium. We hope to see you there!
The first episode of Tacoma FD features the guys tangling with an alpaca as part of their firefighter duties. Live out your own dreams of tangling with a wild beast by dropping into Tacoma’s 29-acre zoological park. It’s the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest, sitting within Point Defiance Park with an amazing view of Mount Rainier.
Though they don’t have alpacas, as far as we know, they do offer camel rides.
A stop before you break into comedy with your fragile ego:
The Museum of Glass
Heffernan and Lemme did a special screening of Tacoma FD here for the locals. On regular days, the Museum of Glass is a stunning contemporary museum and the West Coast’s largest active glassmaking studio. Stop in to see how they use fire to create works of art with glass and prepare to take some visually impressive photos. The museum plays host to great artist residences, traveling exhibitions, and unique events (like the Tacoma FD screening). So it is always worth checking out.
Grab some grub:
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
This homey chain is just the kind of sure-fire eatery that you want to drop in for a late lunch or dinner. During their visit to the area, Kevin and Steve made a stop here for some hearty fare and feel like this is exactly the kind of joint the characters would hit on the regular. Be sure to grab one of their famous and social media-worthy Pizookies.
Don’t ask questions. You need the energy. Just do it.
Do a quick comedy set:
Tacoma Comedy Club
Word on the street is the only way to get a TV show on the air is to visit the Tacoma Comedy Club and do a show — hey, it worked for Lemme and Heffernan, right? But if stumbling on stage Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-style to do a quick, improved set off the top of you head isn’t your jam (and also, because you will probably be arrested), you’re sure to see some stellar sets by actual comedians. The guys have done many a weekend gig at the Tacoma Comedy Club. And they’ll be returning on May 20th for a number of shows as part of a live stand-up tour presented by the network — you can get tickets here.
For a post show drink:
Engine House No. 9
There is no more fitting place to get a Tacoma FD experience than Engine House No. 9. First constructed in 1907 to provide protection for Tacoma’s North End, the building has seen its fair share of history. These days it’s an operating restaurant and brewery decorated with plenty of great firefighting memorabilia.
Then sleep tight:
The Villa Bed & Breakfast
No better way to end the day than by sitting by a fire. A planned one, that is. Stay a night or two at this charming bed and breakfast not far away from the Engine House No. 9 and Tacoma Comedy Club. Each of their rooms has a gas fireplace, soaking tub, and private veranda to help you take in the stars.
Tacoma FD airs Thursdays at 9:30 PM on truTV.