'Whitney': 10 Things to Know About the NBC Comedy
"It's an incredible time to be a woman in comedy," says the show's star and namesake Whitney Cummings.
NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt introduced stand-up comic-turned-TV star Whitney Cummings at Monday's TCA presentation as "this year's 'it' girl."
It's a nod to her role as both an both executive producer/star of NBC comedy Whitney and an executive producer on CBS comedy Two Broke Girls,a balancing act that she calls "surreal."
During a stop at the semi-annual press tour, Cummings, along with her cast and crew, opened up about the NBC comedy and its inspirations. Here are the 10 things that you need to know before the show's Sept. 22 premiere.
1. Whitney Cummings wrote the pilot with co-star Chris D'Elia in mind. The pair had come up together as stand up comics in Los Angeles, with Cummings joking that "he's the most talented young comedian working, besides me."
2. Don't expect to see Whitney and D'Elia's Alex character get hitched anytime soon. "Getting married would pop the balloon," explains showrunner Betsy Thomas, noting that the show is all about the characters trying to figure out if marriage is necessary.
3. "It's an incredible time to be a woman in comedy. It feels like its more of an advantage than a disadvantage," gushes Cummings of an era in which the big and small screen is dominated by funny women including Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph and Christina Applegate.
4. Cummings credits actor-comedian Paul Reiser as the inspiration for her stand up career. It was his book, Couplehood, that she says allowed her to see "the cracks in the sidewalk." Likening stand up comics to journalists, Cummings says the gig is all about observing and critiquing, a skill that her producers add has been particularly helpful as she writes this show.
5. If you let Cummings and her producers tell it, the character's committed but non-married relationship is a common and contemporary one. "This relationship is a modern relationship.. its balanced... that's the relationship that reflects the way we live our lives," notes Thomas.
6. There are pieces of Whitney in Whitney. Among them: "Her personality is a ball of energy and sometimes she can take things to the extreme. We've used that to inspire some of the things that she does," Thomas says, adding that her stand up background and observations have been similarly helpful in the writers room.
7. Mutli-cam comedies may not be en vogue, but its the format of choice for stand-up comedians Cummings and D'Elia. "A live audience... keeps you honest and i think it makes us all better," adds Thomas.
8. Cummings will continue to do stand up gigs. "I write on stage and [it's] where I get my ideas... it's what we live for," she says, acknowledging that the grueling 80-plus tour date schedule that she did last year is no longer feasible.
9. Cummings admits that she bought a pair of Carrie Bradshaw-style Christian Louboutins for her meeting with Sex and the City's Michael Patrick King to discuss -- and ultimately agree to collaborate on -- CBS' Two Broke Girls. She jokes that she had planned to return the shoes the following day, but couldn't when she realized she had sweat through them.
10. Cummings is getting comfortable with a balancing act. She spends her days at the Whitney set, and her evenings at home pouring over Two Broke Girls notes. "It's surreal," she says, of a career and lifestyle that she never "thought was in the cards."
Whitney will premiere on NBC Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9:30 pm.
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