Michael McDonald is best known for his role in “MadTV” for almost a decade. He has created so many amazing characters for the show including Stuart Larkin. Michael is currently working behind the scenes writing and directing for ABC’s “Cougar Town”. Michael also has a stand-up comedy special on Showtime which premieres on Saturday October 9th called “Michael McDonald: Model.Citizen”. The special will also be hitting DVD on Tuesday October 12th. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Michael about his days on “MadTV”, his work on “Cougar Town” and his upcoming stand-up special.
Click here to purchase Michael’s movie and CD
Mike Gencarelli: What was it like working on a show like “MadTV” for almost ten years?
Michael McDonald: It is so rare that you get a job that lasts that long on television. A lot of people asked me “Didn’t you get tired of it”. For me I came to the party late. It took me a long time to get a big break and I wasn’t anxious to throw it away. I had an awesome time doing it and ten years seemed like a nice round number. My scalp actually just couldn’t take the wig glue any more and I had to give it up.
MG: How did you come up with such notable characters like Stuart Larkin?
MM: A lot of the characters I did on “MadTV”, I originally developed on stage at a local improv theater in LA called Groundlings. Stuart, to name one, was what I like to call little dark windows from the past. The relationship between Stuart and his mother played so brilliantly by Mo Collins, was based on the relationship I had with my mom. I would often just take things that happened and put that into sketches. When I originally gave the script to Mo, she read it and said “Michael, this is really sick” and my response was “Well, the year was 1975”.
MG: How did you get a cameo in every “Austin Powers” movie?
MM: I actually met Mike Myers at the Groundlings theater. He did a guest spot during an improv night. He very nicely asked me if I would like to be in the first “Austin Powers”. It was a very funny but memorable part. I was the guy that gets run over by the steamroller. Rather than run away from it, I sat there and screamed for five minutes until it finally ran me over. Mike was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to be in every one of them. All of them were small kind of inconsequential parts. I think it was his sort of inside joke.
MG: Tell us about working behind the camera in the TV series “Cougar Town”?
MM: Well I am actually calling you from the set of it now. The creator of the show is Bill Lawrence. He also created “Scrubs”. I worked with him on “Scrubs”, I directed and acted in about five or six of them. He asked me if I wanted to try “Cougar Town” last year. I was hired to just direct one episode. I was so nervous because Courtney Cox is so famous. She is actually really kind. I was just nervous because she was Courtney Cox from “Friends”. I kept calling her Monica the whole week. I would say “And Monica you are standing over here” and she would go “Monica? What going on?”. She just ended up teasing me about it all the time. We ended up hitting it off really well and now I am full-time. I write and work on the show full-time and I do stand-up on the weekends or on the hiatus.
MG: Do you enjoy behind the scenes more than in front of the camera?
MM: I have always written and directed along with acting. In the early days, it was really hard for me to get a job as an actor. So I needed to write myself into parts in order to get jobs and then hire myself. I always did that, even on “MadTV”. I actually really like doing a little bit of everything. I think it is kind of an advantage for me because I am able to talk to actors because I am one. Most of them know what I do, so they trust me. I like that part of it a lot. I think in a couple weeks, I may be playing a small role in “Cougar Town”. It is that of a wine vendor. Which wine is a big part of the show, so I am really happy about that.
MG: Tell us what we can expect from your Showtime special “Michael McDonald: Model.Citizen”?
MM: I am really excited about it. After I left “MadTV”, I hit the road and did the clubs. I missed performing live. I thought it would be a fun new thing to get under my belt. So after a couple years, I had enough material. Showtime approached me to do a special and it premieres Saturday October 9th. It is called “Michael McDonald: Model.Citizen”. There is a period between model and citizen, because I am both. I am really proud of it.
MG: What is the hardest part of doing stand-up compared to sketch?
MM: I always think that stand-up is probably the hardest thing that anyone can do. With sketch comedy you have wigs and professional writers. You can do a second take and do it right. With stand-up comedy, you have one take and that is it. It is a live performance. You are performing as yourself, there is no funny wigs, costumes,walks or talks. It is just you. Performing in front of a bunch of drunk people in a club is I think the most intimidating thing there is. But also it is very familiar to me because it is like a family reunion.
Click here to purchase Michael’s movie and CD