Mad Love [Mondays, 8:30/7:30C] is a bit different from the usual CBS sitcom in that while it features Ben and Kate – a couple who are beginning a romantic relationship, the new, wonderful relationship comes at the expense of their respective best friends, Larry and Connie, who despise each other at first encounter.
I had the opportunity to take part in a conference call with Jason Biggs [Ben] and Sarah Chalke [Kate], who are very much in love with the show and happy to tell everyone why.
Hi, I’m here with my sister. She’s my writing partner, and thanks for taking our call today.
Sarah Chalke: That’s so cute; you guys work together. How fun. I want to work with my sister.
It’s really fun.
Chalke: That’s pretty great.
Jason Biggs: I used to punch my sister.
Biggs: Not anymore though. Now we’re like best friends.
Chalke: But some days you did.
Biggs: But I – we used to fight a lot.
Chalke: We never fought, not once, not one sight in my 25 years on this planet.
Oh we try to get along.
So let’s start. In the beginning, how did you guys get your roles in the show? Was there an audition process? Did someone call you and offer it to you?
Biggs: I slept with a creator.
Chalke: Yes. And it was – Matt really I guess thought Jason was good enough for the part.
Chalke: So, yes.
Biggs: I did – I’ve met with Matt — Matt Tarses, the creator of the show, and his sister Jamie, the Executive Producer of the show a long time ago when it was sort of we did one incarnation of the show. And then it sort of became something else and everyone, myself included, wanted Sarah Chalke so badly to play the part of Kate. And we begged and begged and begged. And I even went – and I went and begged because I so badly wanted to work with her. And I took her to Sushi and begged her some more. And I’m pretty sure that it was…
Chalke: The Tuna Tataki?
Biggs: …yes, the Tuna Tataki and the seven bottles of sake that she downed. I don’t even drink. I don’t drink.
Chalke: It was lunch. I had water (unintelligible).
No, I was so excited to do it. I mean I know Matt for a decade. He wrote on Scrubs and I just, I love his writing so much. You know, he’s so funny. He’s such a unique and creative, fun sense of humor and then also I think put so much heart into the shows he really cared about the characters. And so when it was the combination of him – I know Jamie Tarses for a long time too. And then when I found out Jason was doing it, Jason and I crossed path maybe four years ago and met very, very briefly. We did the same play in New York City.
Biggs: At least. At least four years ago. That was…
Chalke: At least four. I would have been 21 at that time.
Biggs: Yes. You were…
Chalke: I was 14.
Biggs: It’s funny. I don’t know if you were legal to drink yet. You were, I mean, you were drinking a lot. But I don’t know if you were 21 yet.
Chalke: I wasn’t – I’m very young.
Chalke: Very. So I had – we (unintelligible) play. Jason did a play called Modern Orthodox in New York, and then he was leaving and someone was taking his part and I was taking over for Molly Ringwald. So we met briefly at the cast switchover and that was it. And I…
Chalke: …think he’s hysterical, and so when it was him and then Tyler Labine who I know since I was 16, a fellow Canadian which should definitely help to have a fellow Canadian on the show because for ten years on Scrubs I would say words in Canadian and they definitely would be like…
Chalke: “…That’s actually not how you pronounce.” I’m like, “That’s how you pronounce it in Canada,” and they were like, “No, you’re just an idiot, that’s not.” So last week I had to say Dr. (Zeus) and everyone was like, “Who’s Dr. (Zeus)?” And they were like, “It’s Dr. Seuss.” And so – and then Judy Greer who I love and know for years, we’ve wanted to do a show together. So it seems like we all kind of have been pinching ourselves lately, going like to please how can we get through this longer.
Biggs: That’s the – by the way, that’s the short answer. If you want, we can give you the unabridged version. We just thought we’d condense it for the…
Chalke: Yes, since there’s more people that…
Oh, that’s fun. So what do you think sets this show apart from other shows that are on now and in the past that revolve around couples?
Chalke: Jason, why don’t you give them a long answer?
Biggs: Okay. Well for one, this is the only show that we are on. So…
Biggs: …I think, you know, I like to think, you know, what I love so much about this show is that it’s – I think it’s incredibly funny, but it’s also got – it’s just a lot of heart. And I think, you know, I think with sitcoms, you know, inherently, you tend to, you know, you tend to explore some things that are a bit heightened and kind of, you know, you kind of, you know, for the sake of comedy, you know, tend to get broad sometimes. But I feel like, so far, we have explored story lines and ideas that are pretty grounded in realty, you know; very – so far, we’re kind of exploring sort of early relationship stuff. And it’s all been very relatable certainly to me. I mean I get it and it’s been fun to play for me. And I don’t know; I just feel like the show has a lot of heart.
And also, I can’t speak enough about the chemistry that this cast has. I just, I feel it every day coming to work. We all get along so well on a personal level and then professionally, it’s – I mean everyone is a consummate professional, but also we’ve already in such a short time come to learn each other’s rhythm and timing. And we have such similar comedic sensibilities and it just kind of works so brilliantly that I can’t help but think it’s translating to the screen in a way that is unique and doesn’t happen that often.
That also was the short answer.
Thank you so much for your time. Have a good day.
Biggs: You too guys. Don’t fight.
Chalke: Don’t punch each other on the face. Keep working together always.
Sarah, you touched on – well, first, let me say I spoke to your sister-in-law the other day, Jason, Samantha.
Biggs: What? You did?
Yes. She’s got some beautiful art coming out.
Biggs: Oh my God. Right on. You spoke to Sam?
Biggs: That’s crazy. I love it. How sweet. Small world.
Both of you I was interested in finding out – you both have great comedic timing. Is it something that’s natural to you guys or have you had to hone it?
Chalke: I got to teach Jason. And we had – yes, it was a little hard at the beginning.
No, I think Jason is hysterical. Yesterday we did a scene where literally he was supposed to walk into my office and I’m supposed to be standing there stunned. We’re filming the finale right now. And I can’t tell you why I’m stunned, but I’m supposed to be a little like caught off guard and sitting there. And I could not stop laughing when he came in because he was delivering his lines very funny, in a different way each time.
And I also probably have created far too long the Gag Reel because I can’t – I’m someone who has the biggest problem controlling my laughter in the middle of a take.
But I think I never got to take any, you know, like classes. I felt like – I feel like it was kind of a learn-on-the-job type thing for me. And I feel lucky, I got to, you know, start working with – actually our director this week, Gail Mancuso directed me for years on Roseanne. And that’s kind of where I was just sit there in awe at 16, not really haven’t done anything, watching Roseanne and John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf on like what they would do with the script from a Monday until, you know, Thursday tape night.
And it was just a lucky experience to get to watch such talented people that I respected so much. And – but I at that point felt much more of an observer in a sense than a participator because I was so young and I was so new and a combination of, you know, excited but also very nervous and scared. So – but yes, I thought that was, you know, it was a great learning experience.
Biggs: I would – excuse me.
Chalke: It just became natural.
Biggs: I, yes, I was born a genius, I guess.
Chalke: Yes. Yes. And on time, punctual.
Biggs: Yes. I’m…
Biggs: …a perfect specimen.
Chalke: What’s it like?
Biggs: It’s – I’d tell you, it’s pretty awesome.
Chalke: Pretty good.
Biggs: No, I, you know, timing is I think the most important component to good comedy. And I don’t think it’s something you can learn. I believe it’s something that you kind of, you know, have or don’t have. However, I do believe you can hone it and improve upon it and kind of play with it and learn how to sort of, you know, play with it and use it, but not necessarily start from scratch with it.
And Chalke’s just got it. I mean she’s like – she’s just got it, dude. It’s like insane. Yesterday she was doing the stuff; it was literally Lucille Ball. I was watching Lucy do this like physical comedy craziness. That’s the other, I think, important part of comedy, at least the kind of the comedy that I like is the physical side of it. She’s got the goods.
Jason, you had so many shows about guys trying to get romances and sometimes not doing very well at it and so forth. And I was wondering, if now you’re finally doing well on it in this show, but – your character is. But I was wondering, have you learned anything from this for real life over the years? For instance, as a teenager, did romances go well for you? Were you good at it? After you’ve done all these romantic movies and romantic TV shows and so forth, have you picked up little things about what to do and what not to do and so on?
Biggs: Yes and no. I’ve learned you need to wait for the pie to cool off, you know?
Biggs: For example. But, you know, listen, I mean as a teenager certainly, you know, yes, I mean it was certainly not smooth sailing. I mean I really can’t imagine there’s a teenager out there who has a, you know, who has a perfect sort of, you know, relationship, you know, no problems, like everything is – I was like talking to my niece yesterday who I can’t believe that she turned 15. Insanity. And, you know, she was telling me about her boyfriend situation and just as very, you know, it’s high school. And there’s like stuff and it’s not always great and it’s tough and it’s a lot of – it’s the time for a lot of firsts, you know.
It’s – so nothing was – I, you know, nothing was perfect then. But as I got older, of course I, you know, became a stud that I am now, you know. And, you know, when I grew into my body, if you know what I mean…
Yes. Because, you know, there were times where you were living with a girlfriend for several years and then times where you’re married and you were still playing guys who were not good at romance. So I was wondering…
…if you were maybe by then not too bad at romance in real life.
Biggs: Yes, I wasn’t. That was the thing. See, I use that to my advantage, see, because girls just assumed – and this actually really is true to some extent. Girls would assume that I was like a loser, like literally I would – when I was like single, I’d be like, you know, I would like meet a girl and they would literally like think that I was just a loser. And then I’d throw the (mac) down, you know what I’m saying? I’d be like, “Hey baby.” And I’d be all smooth and, you know, I’m a romantic. I’m a, you know…
Chalke: …caught off guard.
Biggs: Yes, yes. And they’d be like oh damn; panties come right off, you know. But no, but – and my wife is, you know, is so madly in love with me. You got to talk to her. I’ll put her on the phone in a little bit.
Anyway, I could think…
I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m sorry.
I watched – hi. I watched the screener of the episode, the first episode, and enjoyed it. You’re both really quite wonderful in it.
Biggs: Thank you.
Chalke: Well thank you so much.
Yes. And for both of you, are you the hopeless romantic types or feet-on-the-ground types when it comes to matters of the heart? And also, Valentine’s Day premiere, how perfect is that given the…
Chalke: It was really cool. We found that out – we felt so lucky. I think our premiere night was going to be a week later and then they bumped it up to Valentine’s Day and we were all super psyched.
I, yes, I’m definitely a hopeless romantic. No feet on the ground, neither one of them on the ground. I think that, you know, I always have believed in true love and I think that – and we were just actually talking because we talked about Valentine’s Day. We were talking about our first date. And my fiancé and I decided to go for a picnic. And we both I think are a little bit of romantic, so we brought – we both have brought like enough food to feed a wedding.
And so we got to the picnic and there’s like chocolate covered strawberries and champagne and wine and sushi, and like so much food is ridiculous. And then we’d hiked in with all the food to this beautiful like cliff point overlooking in Vancouver. And the skies opened up and they started pouring rain, and we’re both like, no, I’m so (cynical) like I’ll stay, like it’s not a big deal. I don’t care if it’s raining; it’s fine.
And so we sat there and like – and there wasn’t like anywhere to like go undercover. And the sun was setting. And by the water, there’s like a bit more light, so we didn’t realize how dark it was in the forest. And then we started walking to the forest and it was pitch-black and we got completely lost with our bags of food and we were soaking wet. And finally, we found someone’s backyard and we’re able to make it back to civilization. But it was just sort of like that wish to, you know, have this first kind of idealistic first date and kind of power through no matter what.
And we actually did an episode. Our second episode is actually kind of like that, like, we were trying to have this first date and we wanted to go perfect because the first date sets the tone. And (Connie Layer) kind of keeps (throwing) it up for us, and we just keep powering through no matter what.
Biggs: I consider myself a romantic as well. I kind of – yes, I would definitely consider myself an idealist when it comes to love and relationships. And, yes, I think I’ve kind of always wanted to be married and find true love. And I have. Yay.
Yes. But (unintelligible) as your first date with her, were you rained on during the picnic?
Biggs: I – what was my first date? It was a blind date actually. And it was sushi. But it was not a picnic. And no, I was not rained on. But we – yes, it was an awesome, awesome date.
I’m a little sick. So if my voice (goes) out, I’m sorry.
Chalke: Oh no. That’s the worst.
And you guys keep making me laugh and like, then I start coughing and then my dog looks at me like, what’s wrong, are you dying, so…
Biggs: What kind of dogs do you have?
He’s a little Boston Terrier and he’s sitting on my lap.
Chalke: Oh I love Boston Terriers.
Biggs: Oh my God, I love it.
He’s the cutest thing ever.
Chalke: What’s his name?
His name is Dude.
Biggs: I love it.
Yes, my husband named him.
Chalke: That’s really cute. Good husband.
Biggs: A Lebowski fan.
Pretty much, yes.
So this is sort of like a two-sided question that I’m going to try and get out. So, Jason, you’ve never really done like a TV series before. It’s mainly just been like some guest roles. And you’ve focused mainly on like film and everything. So what made you I guess decide to switch to TV?
And on the flipside, Sarah, you’re mainly known for your TV work with Roseanne and Scrubs and everything and even your guest starring role on How I Met Your Mother. Have you been able to help Jason or anyone else on the set or teach them like the day-to-day familiarities of TV works?
Biggs: So I – TV for me, I’ve been looking to do TV for quite a bit. The idea of getting to come in and, you know, kind of not necessarily – I mean, again, we don’t know because we don’t know this – how long the show is going to go — hopefully forever. But the idea of…
Biggs: Yes, please. But the idea of kind of not having an exact endpoint necessarily and having a chance to kind of explore storylines and characters, you know, and sort of grow with them is very appealing, you know, sort of, you know, unlike a movie. And also just on a personal level, to sort of – I mean and now especially this cast is so incredible and I have so much fun coming to work that like if this is a movie set – well as it is now, we, you know, we’re coming upon the end of our season here and it’s already getting quite sad. But like I said, hopefully, we’ll get a chance to do it again.
So – but, no, I – and also I just, I love comedy. And I – the chance to do it week in and week out is just far too appealing for me. It was – and Matt and Jamie, they’re the creators of the show — well Matt created it and Jamie produces it — the opportunity to work with them, I love this idea, I love this character and it was just too much to pass up.
Chalke: And for me, I love the idea of, you know, getting to be with the same group of people and find out, you know, every episode for as long as it goes, finding out new stuff about your character and then – you know, last week, I found out Kate was from a farm and then the next day she’s like ridiculously clumsy. And in terms of the whole group, I mean Tyler has done a bunch of TV too, but whether – you know, no matter what format it’s in, you know, it doesn’t matter, like this is just such a fun, funny group.
And I think we’re all kind of – I don’t know; I’m learning from all of them too. Like every day, we just – it’s a very collaborative environment and Matt has really set the tone for that. And, you know, we do exactly as it is written on the page and then we can – once we’ve got that, we can try something fun. And I think that, you know, that when you really have a good time together, that makes a difference. And hopefully that comes across. But yes, I think we really, you know, have been just all learning from each other and having a good time.
I would imagine that it’s, shall we say, interesting to work with such an inveterate cast of scene stealers such as yourselves and Tyler Labine and Judy Greer. What’s it like on the set?
Biggs: Oh sorry. I thought there was a – more coming.
It’s – oh my God, it’s so – it’s incredible. It’s – I’d tell you what, it’s pretty difficult to keep a straight face around this group. Not only because when they’re performing, they are – I mean it’s such a talented group. I’m speaking about the three of them. They are so talented and so funny and they know – they’re so smart with comedy and they hit every beat and moment perfectly. So that’s – it’s hard to keep a straight face.
But also they’re very funny people without the – off the set. And we kind of all now know what buttons to push to get either under the other person’s skin in a comedic way or…
Chalke: Or to make some laugh on camera break…
Chalke: …and have a problem.
Biggs: And so it’s, yes, it’s very fun. But, yes, it’s – but difficult. And I think if we had to take a test, who could keep a straight face and who couldn’t, if there was pass/fail, Chalke would fail immediately.
Chalke: I would fail immediately. I actually have – yesterday I had to ask (Jeff), our first (AD) to just glare at me because I would – I’m like a nice Canadian girl and Jason just threw some picture of my long toes to make – to just see if I could actually just not be able to make it through (scene) and break laughing while I’m trying to discuss not being able to make it through (scene) and break laughing. Because I might have finger toes and they might be half lengths with my feet. So that was the photo which I will now show all of you – well, which I would show you. (Unintelligible)
Chalke: And – but I had to actually look at (Jeff) and say, (Jeff), please glare at me because that will make me feel bad and I’ll stop laughing because everyone has families and needs to go home, and I just can’t stop laughing.
And it’s, you know, I mean Tyler, I got to witness his sense of humor in Robin of Locksley where he played Little John and I played Maid Marian when we were 16 years old.
Biggs: And I think, you know, you get to witness, you know, everyone’s sense of humor that – I’m going to bed now. Good night.
Chalke: He’s now put the phone down on the table.
This question is for both of you. The show is a modern romantic comedy. Are there any characters that you modeled yours after or actors you find yourself wanting your character to be like? You know, how do you see your character?
Chalke: That’s such a good question. I don’t know if there’s any one specific person. I definitely feel influenced by people in my life and in my career and in my work. I mean I have such huge respect for many different actors that I find, you know, when you watch them, it just kind of makes you want to go to work and do a great job.
And Lisa Kudrow is definitely one of those people for me. I – we – Judy and I quote Valerie Cherish on pretty much a daily basis here.
Biggs: Kudrow is a good one for you. That’s actually a good one. I was saying yesterday, Chalke had this moment where she was literally Lucille Ball. It was insane because her physical comedy is off the charts.
Yes, I don’t know that I’m trying to model, you know. And I think for this entire cast, I mean I think part of the thing that’s so great about this cast is we all kind of bring something unique to the table individually, and yet collectively, there as a group, we gel and have such a great sort of chemistry and connection that – and like our rhythm becomes – it just kind of meld so perfectly.
Chalke: I don’t mean like I’m modeling the character after Lisa Kudrow because I think the character is very different.
Chalke: I just mean that somebody who, like her sensibilities and her timing really inspire me. And I feel the same way about Julie Louis Dreyfus because I feel like, you know, she is so funny and so real at the same time. And so I think it’s sort of like you just – you know, there’s a certain people you watch and go, wow, they’re incredible.
Biggs: I try to – I actually, now that I think about it, I try to model my character after Julia Louis Dreyfus a little bit.
Chalke: I can see it. I mean that’s kind of transparent.