Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Interview with Pat Walsh, Writer for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Here ye! Here ye! The fourth season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia premieres tomorrow, Thursday, on FX. Check your local listings.

In order to celebrate, Pat Walsh, friend of the Boob Tubers, generally standup guy, and staff writer for the show has granted us an EXCLUSIVE interview. He also has agreed to give us the pictures when he delivers his first baby for a cool two million dollars.

You may be familiar with Pat's work if you have ever visited his acclaimed blog, watched the final season of Rob and Big, on which he and his writing partner Sonny wrote, or took an NBC Studio Tour in New York anytime in late 2004, early 2005. If you like this interview, you will LOVE watching the episode of Sunny that he and Sonny wrote, which airs tomorrow night and is entitled The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis. And if you like Pat's picture, but wish you could see him move and talk, check out his acting debut in an episode airing later this season entitled Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life.

And now, please enjoy Pat Walsh: An Interview in Three Hilarious Parts.

For the wannabe writers:

Jeanette: Your friends and blog readers know that your rise to writing success took patience, wit and gumption in varying quantities. For those trying to fill your penny loafers, care to share, in a few lines, what you had to put up with to get to where you are?

Pat: Aside from the constant rejection that goes with trying to be a writer, let me break down what the past few years have looked like for me. I got held up at knifepoint, I had all of my belongings stolen from my apartment, I bought a '97 Saturn that exploded in a month, I lived at the corner of Meth Street and Stabbington Road in Hollywood, I strongly considered semen donation…I could go on. From the day I left college, I have been broke broke broke. This time last year I was temping at State Farm Insurance! But those miserable, lonely, pathetic times gave me stuff to write about. You know who's not funny? Rich people. That's why television sucks, because they'll only give shows to people with proven success. People with proven success are likely rich. And those people can't write shows anyone can relate to, because most of the country is poor. You know what is one of the best shows ever made? Roseanne. They were poor as shit, it was a huge hit, and yet you don't see people like that on TV anymore for some reason. (Also, there was a constant threat of spousal abuse on that show that I found fascinating.) What I’m getting at is that you need to be prepared for a real suicidey couple years if you want to do this professionally.

J: What advice do you have on getting an agent?

P-Money: They all love cocaine, so keep some on your person at all times. Honestly, here's the secret trick on getting an agent -- be a good writer. Connections can help you to some degree, but nobody's going to sign a crappy writer. Unless that crappy writer has cocaine, as we discussed.

J: What was it like coming in on the 4th season of a successful show, where a group of writers have already found their groove? Any hazing?

P: No one made us run through the quad naked or anything, but there's always some hazing in a writers' room. Writers tend to be pretty sarcastic people, and everyone gives everyone else a fair amount of shit. If you wear a pink shirt to work, it’s not going to be an easy day for you. You've got to have thick skin, and you’ve got to be ready to shoot back at all times. That said, you’ll never laugh more than you do in a writers’ room. I’ve been so spoiled on this show. Rob, Charlie, and Glenn are exceptional people, and they are super open to our ideas. That is great because a first year writer on a show is lucky to be listened to, let alone be allowed to write an episode, as Sonny and I did.

J: I was once at an event where Tina Fey's advice to potential writers was to keep on keeping on, no matter what. Seconds later, Lorne Michaels said that at some point if you're not having any success, you should take the hint. If Tina is a 1 and Lorne is a 10, where do you stand? Explain.

P: They're both right, but I'm closer to Lorney. (I call him Lorney.) You have to be persistent and believe in yourself, because no one else will -- absolutely. But to a point. Writing is a very, very difficult business to break into and 99.9% of aspiring writers won't make it. Just because you make your friends laugh doesn’t mean you’re Chris Rock. When I moved to Los Angeles, people told me it's a 7-year town. "Stick with it for seven years, and if you don't make it, try something else." I find that completely ridiculous. If you've been actively trying to be a comedy writer for two years, and you're nowhere closer to your goal, it might be time to rock that GMAT, Chuckles.

J: Sunny aside, what do you think we should be watching this season?

P: Oh man, have you seen the ads for Hole in the Wall? Fat people trying to fit through a hole, so as to avoid getting knocked into a pool. On television! Is that the four horsemen I see on the horizon? Fox owns FX, so I should probably stop knocking their programming. Do any new shows look good? That True Blood is interesting so far, and I certainly appreciate all the nudity. My faves are all returning shows: 30 Rock, The Office, The Shield, Mad Men, and Lost. I pray for another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, that’s top of the pops. Oh, and I love Tim and Eric Awesome Show on Adult Swim. Those guys have caused me to hyperventilate on more than one occasion, and I'm not a big LOLer.

J: Because your writing partner's name is Sonny and Paddy's Pub is named for you, you Irish brute, true or false, you guys feel you are only claiming what is rightfully yours by writing for this show?

P: True, and it doesn't stop there, Sonny went to college in Philadelphia! And my middle name is Always.

For the Sunny fans:

J: On a show like Sunny, where comedic boundaries are always being pushed, is there any writer's room discussion about how much is too much? Any juicy examples for us? Feel free to make something up.

P: The discussion is never "is this too much?" but "can it be made funny?" A great example for you is that this year we toyed with putting the gang back in high school for an episode (I'll leave details vague incase we use it for a future season). One of the storylines we worked on had the guys trying to stop school shootings. We had a take on it that was really funny, but it just felt…icky. There’s good icky and bad icky, and we always try to land on the good side.

J: This one has two parts. Stay with me. You and Sonny have been doing a crackerjack job running the Paddy's Pub blog. Does this qualify as the kind of new media that had Peter Chernin fearing that he would loser pennies to the dollar to the people that were creating it? It reads as if Peter Chernin's fellow suits have been nowhere near this blog, in that it just reeks of you and Sonny. Do you guys get absolute freedom with what to publish here?

P: Thank you, and we've had so much fun running the Sunny blog (ahem – The writing/producing/editing we're doing does qualify as "New Media," and we are getting paid to do it. I thank the WGA, even though I have to pay them a shocking amount of dues and they still have not provided me with health insurance. I guess it's one battle at a time over there. Second, we pretty much have absolute freedom on the site, yes. We were told there could be no "fucks," but I'm used to hearing that in my personal life anyway. We get crude, especially with Frank's advice column and Dennis' erotic memoirs, but they encourage that at FX. This is a network that showed a major character forced to blow a dude at gunpoint on The Shield. I will say it is massively awkward that our point person for all this content is a very sweet and innocent woman named Colette, and we have to have conversations that start with her asking "is there a funnier word for cock?"

J: Which character is the most fun to write for? And don't say Sweet Dee so Kaitlin Olson will sleep with you.

P: Oh geez, you're asking me to choose between my bosses! I talk a lot like Mac, Dennis, Dee, and Charlie in my personal life, so Frank might be the most fun because it's more of a challenge to write for a 60 year old pervert. Plus, DeVito's voice makes everything you write gold. I think back to season two -- the way he said "your whore mother" had me in stitches every time. The great thing about this show is that you know whatever line you write will be delivered in the most hilarious manner imaginable. This is the funniest cast on television, right down to the ringers they bring for an episode or two each year -- David Hornsby, Artemis Pebdani, Mary Elizabeth Ellis...I could go on. Come on Emmy voters, you're telling me Adrian Grenier is funnier than Charlie Day? You show me a man who has laughed at anything Adrian Grenier has said and I'll drag him into the street and beat him.

J: Give us at least one spoiler for this season. Go.

P: It's the most ambitious season yet, I can tell you that much. The episode I co-wrote – “The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis” – deals with post 9/11 paranoia and proposes a solution to the frightening situation with gasoline in this country. Other episodes...the gang will consider cannibalism. There will be episodes poking fun at Bachelor-type shows and Extreme Home Makeover. We’ll see what Paddy’s Pub was like back in 1776. And watch out for the episode with the musical -- we were on set for their rehearsals and I think that’s going to blow people away. These guys can really sing!

And finally, Pat Walsh, in the words of Bernard Pivot:

J: What is your favorite word?

P: Delicious.

J: What is your least favorite word?

P: Crotch.

J: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

P: Porno

(Editor's note: He's not kidding.)

J: What turns you off?

P: Boring people. And they are everywhere in Los Angeles. I feel like I'm in a zombie movie sometimes. "Oh, you want to be an actress, do you? Color me impressed!"

J: What is your favorite curse word?

P: Basically any profanity combo from the movie Tremors. That picture has some of the most glorious swearing the PG-13 rating has ever seen. A few choice examples: "Son of a goddamn bitch!" "What the shit?" and "There are two more, I repeat, two more motherhumpers."

J: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

P: "The sundae bar is right over there."


J.J. said...

Hole in the Wall.

Jeanette said...

Are you just going to comment at every mention of Hole in the Wall? That won't make it not suck. Even if Pat Walsh likes it.

Patrick Walsh said...

This guy sounds awesome.

Andrea said...

ohhhh Pat, HILARIOUS as usual! And now I'm really excited about the show--I haven't really seen it at all but I'm going to start watching tomorrow and catch up online as I can.

flick said...

This interview is proof that the future of the show is solid. As funny as the great season 4 premiere. Thanks, y'all.

marthacolleen said...

Having known Patrick Walsh since he was a wee tot, I find the language a bit unsettling, but his brilliance can not be disputed. He has always been amazing and I celebrate his sucess!! Hey Pat, send Marty your address and she'll send you a coupon to Domino's. You are my favorite starving artist of all time!

Anonymous said...

pat you are full of it and was never poor. your family is upper middle class so stop trying to be some dark cliche