The name David DeLuise probably sounds familiar -- and it should. Not only did he enter family homes as Jerry Russo on Disney’s ‘Wizards of Waverly Place,’ but he also comes from one of the greatest comedians of all time aka Dom DeLuise.
I had the opportunity to chat with DeLuise about his upcoming guest appearance on this Wednesday's ‘Baby Daddy’ episode titled “From Here to Paternity.” He plays David, who is described as an “easygoing pastry chef.” Oh, and he also just might be Riley’s (Chelsea Kane) biological father, which is what the episode revolves around.
You’ll have to tune in to see if DeLuise’s character is the father, but until then read below to see what he had to say about his character, what it’s like on the set of ‘Baby Daddy,’ how his father influenced his acting and comedy talents and who his father thought to be one of the funniest actors of today.
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TVRage: Why don’t you start by telling me about your character on ‘Baby Daddy’?
David DeLuise: Well, my character’s name is David. So, I have that in common. And, I have a daughter named Riley, so there’s that. … You know, like my character on ‘Wizards,’ I’m very similar to me. Very high energy, very fun and loving food. The similarities between me and my character on the show -- on the show, I’m actually two feet taller than in real life, that’s pretty much the biggest difference. If you’re familiar with my character on ‘Wizards,’ I think everybody’s gonna see that I’m similar to that, [but] a little different. It’s as if Jerry Russo [his character on ‘Wizards’] didn’t have children. You know what I mean? Where would he be if didn’t have three kids that were wizards. He would be in a bakery, having fun and eating as many sweets as possible.
TVRage: Now, when you get a guest-starring role, like yours on ‘Baby Daddy,’ do you make sure to familiarize yourself with the show and the storylines and the characters before walking on set?
DeLuise: Yes, well, I have some friends that worked on ‘Wizards’...that work behind-the-scenes on [‘Baby Daddy’]. Everybody from ‘Wizards’ that has gone off to do other things, I’m very aware of their projects and what they’re doing, because we were like a family. That is what the set of ‘Baby Daddy’ is like. They’re all like a tight-knit family. Sometimes that’s great -- for them. But, when new people come in it’s like you’re just sitting there on set by yourself, but it was completely the opposite. Everybody was very encouraging and bringing us into the fold and really, really sweet.
So, I was aware of the show. I had seen some of it, but then, of course, like you said, when you’re about to work with people you go and do a little more research on it, so you can become more familiar with the style and the feel and all that. Jean-Luc [Bilodeau] had been on ‘Kyle XY’ and my brother Peter [DeLuise], who directs, had directed him. So, the three of us actually got on the phone to say “Hi.” (laughs) Jean-Luc told me some stories about my brother that I didn’t know that were very interesting. You know, there’s certain things you say to your younger brother, and there’s certain things you don’t. Not only did I get a job, and have fun, but I got some dirt on my brother, which was great and it was useful.
TVRage: You said that the cast of ‘Baby Daddy’ is like a tight-knit family, and I’ve spoken with several cast members and guest stars and they’ve all said the same thing that the cast is so close and really great to work with. So, it seems like you had a similar experience.
DeLuise: There’s a certain thing that happens, like any recipe. If you put in the wrong spice, or something, it tastes funny. This show, if it were an apple pie, everything has been put in correctly, so that it tastes delicious. It’s rare. I was on ‘3rd Rock from the Sun,’ a long time ago, but John Lithgow set the bar, and everybody there was so nice, sweet and fun. … I don’t know if everybody will understand this, but sometimes actors on successful television shows don’t want to be there. They’re unhappy. Actors can be like two-year-old children sometimes. When a two-year-old is not happy, it’s no fun for anybody. Like ‘3rd Rock,’ like ‘Wizards’ and like ‘Baby Daddy,’ everybody really wanted to be there and have fun. We want to go to work. You really feel that when it comes across. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s [‘Baby Daddy’] such a great show, because everybody is having fun and wanting to make the other person laugh or throw in a wrench, so...they’re playing, they’re having fun. That’s what’s so fun to watch.
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TVRage: Absolutely. I definitely agree that it comes through when you’re watching the show and I think that’s why it’s so successful. It’s great to hear that a cast gets along so well, because you hear stories.
DeLuise: It’s also so important to be really genuine and nice. There is something that happens when a guest star comes in, like myself. It’s possible that I’m going to be her [Riley] dad. It’s also possible that I’m going to come back and maybe do some more episodes and be there playing with them. In life, regardless of a television show, it’s nice to be nice to everybody.
TVRage: You come from a comedic great, your father, Dom DeLuise, who I must say I enjoyed in ‘Glass Bottom Boat’ with Doris Day.
DeLuise: Oh my God! Look at that reference. Wow!
TVRage: Yeah, I love that movie. I’m a big Doris Day fan.
DeLuise: You know, she called my dad, he was doing ‘The Dean Martin Show,’ and she said, “I love you,” and they didn’t know each other, she said, “I love you, you’re so funny and I want you to be in this movie.” So, my dad was obviously a huge Doris Day fan, and was like, “Oh my God, she wants me to be there!” So, he was nervous, but now he’s going from TV to one of his first films that was highlighting him. He does a great gag where he goes up the ladder and then he comes back down and his foot gets stuck in the bucket. And, he’s trying to get his foot out of the bucket for like two minutes. My dad could make any situation so funny, and effortlessly funny.
Sometimes when I’m working, and I think this happened on the set of ‘Baby Daddy.’ Michael Lembeck, his father worked with my father and I’ve worked with Michael before, the director of the episode … I did something, I think I forgot a line, or whatever it was, and my instincts kicked in. Then, after he [Lembeck] said, “I saw your dad.” That’s my favorite compliment -- if anybody sees a little of me in him.
TVRage: I’m curious, what advice, if any, did your father give to you about being an actor and working in comedy?
DeLuise: (laughs) Everything I know came from him. As soon as I came out into the world, he was like, “OK, we want you to cry on cue, and this is funny and that isn’t.” … My dad had his staple of jokes, which I now say. When you’re around someone and they have 20 jokes that they go to always, which are zingers with other people … my dad would say certain things and he would always get a laugh. So, I’ve come up with some of my own, and I’ve also stolen a lot from him and now my kids are like, “Ugh, dad.” Now, every once and awhile, I’ll see my kids saying a joke that my dad did that I’ve passed onto them, and I feel so proud.
(laughs) At the dinner table, my dad would always cook dinner and we’d always sit down and have meals together as a family, which I don’t think happens that much anymore, but should, we would play acting games. We would do improv stuff and there was a lot of “Can you cry on cue?,” “Can you make me laugh?,” that kind of stuff. Actor games, but I didn’t know they were actor games. I just thought we were having fun at the dinner table. I thought everybody did that. Little did I know that I was being trained for this business.
TVRage: Lastly, how do you think comedy’s changed since your dad’s days on screen? Is it very different, or do you find it similar?
DeLuise: Well, I will tell you this. Before my dad passed away, I was like, “Who do you think is one of the funniest people out there?” He said, “Chris Rock.” I was like, “Wow.” Chris Rock is really funny, but I really didn’t know that my dad would point him out to be what he thought was one of the funniest guys of the day.
And, he told me a story that [comedian] Jack Benny … when he would do his show, or his form of stand-up, he would say, “Look, I don’t want to say ‘sex,’ so every time I’ll refer to that I’ll say ‘a cup of coffee.’” Then, he would tell story and then “We had a cup of coffee, and then we had a second cup of coffee.” It’s really funny when you just imply certain things. The way you set it up can be hysterical, as opposed to going right to the dirty word, the foul word. I think that we as a society accept and we’re not taken aback by these extremely dirty words. It’s a matter of being really clever without saying awful words.
I would say like Louis C.K. can tell you a story that’s hysterical about playing hide-and-seek with his kids without saying vulgar words. It’s about getting back to trying to be creative, rather than doing the fart joke, although Mel Brooks, my godfather, laid people out in ‘Blazing Saddles’ with the fart scene. It’s just about trying to be creative and trying to come up with your own smart, funny take. [That] is something that we need to get back to with comedy.
Be sure to catch DeLuise’s guest ‘Baby Daddy’ appearance this Wednesday at 8:30/7:30c on ABC Family.