Steve Byrne is the creator, along with Rob Long (“Cheers”), and star of the new TBS’ comedy series “Sullivan & Son”. Steve is known best for performing stand-up. The show is executive produced by Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley. The show also co-stars Dan Lauria, Jodi Long, Owen Benjamin, Brian Doyle-Murray, Christine Ebersole and Valerie Azlynn. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Steve about the new show and what we can expect.
Mike Gencarelli: Being a creator of “Sullivan & Son”, tell us about its origin?
Steve Byrne: It all starts and ends with Vince Vaughn. He has been such a great friend of mine for many years. He told me one day “Why don’t you develop something for yourself”. My focus was always on stand-up. I never wrote anything before and I told him that. He told me “Well you can do it” and that is kind of how the conversation went. He just said “You can do it”. So I went out and bought a bunch of books on script writing and studied for few months. Then I spent another few months writing the inital pilot. I turned it into him and Peter Billingsley and they liked it and suggested with meet with some writers. So we met with Rob Long and we just hit it off right off the bat. Originally the show was suppose to take place in a diner and Rob said “You should make this a bar show”. Well I said “If you sign on, you did one of the best bar shows ever, if you want to do it then hell yeah! Let’s do it!”. So that is how the whole thing came about.
MG: Going from stand-up to sitcom, what do you enjoy most?
SB: What I love about sitcom is that I am not by myself. Stand-up is a lonely profession. It’s a few weeks a year living out of suitcase and constantly being by yourself. You are the life of the party for two hours a night but then you just go back to the hotel room by yourself [laughs]. So it can be a pretty depressing. But being with this great ensemble cast, there is such a genuine chemistry we all have. When we brake for lunch, nobody goes off into their own dressing room. We all sit down and eat lunch together. We got some real good veterans on the show like Dan Lauria, Brian Doyle-Murray, Christine Ebersole and Jodi Long. Everyone has been tremendous to work with. It has been the highlight of my career.
MG: Does it still feel like stand-up due to the live-audience aspect?
SB: I think the only element to stand-up that could be parlayed to doing it in front of a live studio audience is us comics feel more comfortable. I never get nervous. You can put 200 people in front of me or put 5,000 people in front of me. I feel very comfortable and I’ve been doing it for 14 years of my life. The only thing I have a problem with people saying with have a laugh track on our show. We don’t. We earn the laughs that we get. We don’t tamper with them. It’s not our fault that the audience is enjoying themselves at the taping [laughs].
MG: Working with your friends, you find it hard to keep it serious? or is that the magic of the show?
SB: [laughs] There has been times when we try not to goof off too much. I think towards the end of shooting it started to feel like summer vacation. We knew the end was near and people got giddy and had fun. But when push came to shove and they said action, everyone delivered and always tried their best. Hopefully people enjoy the show.
MG: What do you have planned next? Stand-up tour? Season two?
SB: Hopefully we keep the numbers we have and get to come back for another season. Ultimately my primary motivation is to drive people back to my live performances and stand-up. Hopefully the show goes well and I get to do it for many more seasons to come with my pals. I also had a third one-hour special in the can that I was getting ready to film, before the show got picked up. So at some time, I would like to film that.