Chevy Chase talked to the Huffington Post - UK recently and gave some interesting thoughts on NBC's Community, the Emmy-nominated comedy he stars on. Here are some highlights from that interesting interview.
Q: As you are a comedy genius and writer yourself, is there much improvisation on this set?
CC: Donald (Glover) likes to improvise. He's very funny when he does. The issue with a show that's 23, 24 minutes long is that you can't really get up and out of your light and start improvising, but words-wise you can, as long as you don't do it for too long, because then you're screwed later in editing, and putting it together. There are areas you can. Donald is very good, for instance, in taking something and in the same amount of time, making it funnier with his words. I am good at improvising in another kind of way - I'm very facial and whatnot - so there is a good amount of improv but it's all based on a very set storyline and idea, that Dan, who has never slept in his life, came up with.
Q: Why did you decide to do a TV show after doing so many movies?
CC: It was a big mistake! I saw this pilot script, thought that it was funny, and I went into the room where they were casting and said, "I would love to play this guy." Then they mulled it over. Then they hired me and I just sort of hung around because I have three daughters and a wife, and I figured out I might as well make some bread, every week, so I can take care of them in the way they want. My wife has just been in the Antarctic, and Cuzco in Peru, and Lima, and Machu Picchu... she likes to travel. That was about a month of travelling, and that will take about a year of work.
Q: Do you enjoy doing TV?
CC: Well, what else have I done, besides a lot of movies? I prefer movies because the money is better and certainly because you really know where you stand when you are making movies, and I have made a lot of them: 50 something, I don't know. The hours in this kind of show are not commensurate with the actual product.
The hours are hideous, and it's still a sitcom on television, which is probably the lowest form of television. That's my feeling about it. I think the reason I have stuck around is because I love these kids, the cast - they are very good. It's not like I am working with the great innovators of all time, but at the same time, they are my friends and I am out, and one of my daughters is out here, and wants to be in the business, so she is living with me. I will have some time off and I will be looking for a film, which I think will be my next thing, my next move.
Q: Who does make you laugh? What were your comedy inspirations?
CC: Who made me laugh when I was growing was Chaplin and the Marx Brothers, and then moving on, there were so many that I was a writer for for many years: I was a writer for the Smothers Brothers, Lily Tomlin, then I started on Saturday Night Live as the head writer, the first year we started it. So then I was in that, and that made me famous more as a performer. I must say that the funniest people I ever worked with were John Belushi and Gilda (Radner) and Dan Aykroyd, and that first cast.
Q: What do you think about the writing of SNL now?
CC: Now? I don't watch it all that much.
Q: What about the writing for Community?
CC: For this one? As I said, it's completely different. That kind of show that I wrote for, that style of show, which is a variety, comedy, sketch show, and the fact that it's live and late at night, allows you to do so much more than you can ever do in a sitcom. I don't know much about how I would change the situation comedy world, but it is exactly what it says: it's situation comedy, and the situation can get old, and sometimes the ones that are at the very top, which just have three people in them,The Big Bang Theory or whatever it is - it's three people, that's basically what the premise is, and we can do that day and night. None of that really interests me. What interests me is being alive and being with friends that I care about and being as creative as I can given circumstance.
Q: Do you have a favourite role in the past that you played?
CC: I think Fletch, in the movies, is probably my favourite, because I was allowed to do whatever I just did. The director, who's no longer with us, Michael (Ritchie), allowed me to just go, and so I pretty much improvised throughout that movie, and that was the most fun I had, and that was most like me, because that's the way I am. Then I think the Vacation movies, because I can't think of anybody funnier to work with than Beverly D'Angelo. She is just brilliant and I love her dearly - we are still great, great friends, and I see her as much as I can manage. I don't think those were particularly great achievements in cinema, but they were what they were, and I had great fun.
Q: Is there an age where you are going to stop?
CC: Right after this interview.