Ted Danson, Patton Oswalt and 9 Top Comedy Actors Reveal Favorite Scenes

9:30 AM 6/5/2018

by Scott Huver

Bill Hader, Dylan McDermott, William H. Macy, Zach Galifianakis, Thomas Middleditch and more also break down what they love about their characters and what else is making them laugh.

Ted Danson (left) and Patton Oswalt
Ted Danson (left) and Patton Oswalt
Colleen Hayes/NBC; Vivian Zink/NBC

  • Ted Danson

    'The Good Place' (NBC)

    Colleen Hayes/NBC

    What was your favorite scene from this season and why? 

    "It has to be somewhere around the humanization of Michael, where he's just realizing more and more that he just loves his human friends and wants to be like them … maybe the railroad track [scene] when he discovers actually his little ruse worked. It's such a wonderful part because you get to bounce around so much. The first year I would watch and think, 'Oh, Lord, either I'm doing the job or I'm really, really bad,' because Michael was kind of one-note. You never got to see him independent of anybody else because if you did, then that would have given the secret away: He would be twirling his mustache.

    So to only play a one-note, Willy Wonka kind of character was scary, and then once he flipped, you got to see behind the curtain, you got to see what was really going on — and that's the kind of comedy that I was more used to. The second year was like candy. It was just delicious, all the different things I got to play."

  • Bill Hader

    'Barry' (HBO)

    Courtesy of John P. Johnson/HBO

    What was you favorite scene from this season and why? 

    "I'm actually pretty hard on myself! Overall, the character of Barry starts off emotionally stagnant. He's shut off in so many ways, and figuring out how to play that in a way that you're not pushing that in any way but you're also not just sitting there and just kind of doing nothing — it was a hard balance. By the last episode of the show, you could see that there's been possibly some growth there, so I was happy with tracking that when I watched it all together. I was like, 'Oh, OK, that seems to track!' "

    What makes you laugh these days? 

    “The guy who directed the Thor: Ragnarok movie, Taika Waititi. The part he played of that rock guy [Korg] — that was hilarious. Every line he had made me laugh. It was a thing where I went, ‘Whoa, who’s playing that? That guy should have his own movie!’ I’m glad he’s in the Marvel Universe because I want him to just be on the poster next to all those other guys in the Infinity War thing.”
  • Dylan McDermott

    'LA to Vegas' (Fox)

    FOX

    What was you favorite scene from this season and why? 

    " 'Captain Dave's on a Roll,' that's my favorite episode because Dave is teary-eyed and he's vulnerable and he's alive. My favorite moment is the muay thai because I remember I had in my mind the idea of jumping on this guy with my legs around his head, my crotch in his face. I remember I pitched it, and everybody was just like, 'What the hell is this?' I said, 'Let me just show you.' I brought him down. That's my favorite moment because I laughed. My whole thing about this show, why I do it, is for me to laugh every day. If I make myself laugh, I know I had a great day."

  • William H. Macy

    'Shameless' (Showtime)

    Courtesy of Showtime

    How does your character's role as a dad shape him? 

    "Frank's philosophy of child-rearing is to stay out of their way. He says the best thing you can give your kids is neglect because it makes them stronger. In my own life, I agree with some of his philosophy. I think it's important as parents that we observe more and say less. I have teenage girls, oh Lord, 16 and about to turn 18. My wife [Felicity Huffman] has been very good at teaching me that when your girls start talking to you about something, for God's sake, shut up and listen because it's a minor miracle that they're even speaking to you. I, like Frank, think, 'Butt out, check in with them every once in a while, but go on your merry way. Everything will come out as it should.' "

  • Randall Park

    'Fresh Off the Boat' (ABC)

    Courtesy of ABC

    How does your character's role as a dad shape him? 

    "Louis is first and foremost a family man. It's a big part of who he is, and he relishes any opportunity to pass down life lessons and to help his kids as they grow. For me, it's been such a joy to literally — like, in real life ­— see these kids grow throughout the seasons. Working with these three great boys and just being so proud of what they've grown into — it's also parallel to my own personal life, being the father of a 5-year-old girl and experiencing her growing just so fast and just beaming with pride every step of the way. Louis was a classic sitcom dad in a lot of ways, but I feel like over the course of the seasons we've seen so many more layers of him. He's still a goofball, but there is this side of him that's extremely protective, strong and capable."

  • Iain Armitage

    'Young Sheldon' (CBS)

    Sonja Flemming/CBS

    What do you love most about your character that made you want to return to playing him? 

    “I didn’t really watch too much of The Big Bang Theory because it’s not really appropriate for me, but I did watch a clip to kind of see [Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons]. Also, [the producers] don’t really want me to watch those too much because you’re not the same when you’re younger as you are when you’re a grown-up, so they wanted me to be my own Sheldon. And I was just really excited about doing it because it’s a fun challenge, and it’s just kind of fun to be Sheldon. All the other characters are talking about Sheldon and his quirks and oddities, but I’m actually playing Sheldon, so it’s kind of hard sometimes to play him because he’s a very strange character. He’s a challenge, but I like it.”
  • John Goodman

    'Roseanne' (ABC)

    Adam Rose/ABC

    What do you love most about your character that made you want to return to playing him? 

    “Well, he’s a better guy than I am, that’s for sure! I like a guy that can work with his hands because I can’t. He’s got tools. I don’t have any. He drives a motorcycle, which I won’t let myself do anymore. He doesn’t screw around. Yeah, he sure drinks a lot, though, but I guess he needs it. Even though living paycheck to paycheck, they seem to make each other very happy. That to me is the key to the whole meshuga. He’s unique among the characters that I play because I’d never played anybody for that long and with that much pleasure.”
  • Eric McCormack

    'Will & Grace' (NBC)

    Chris Haston/NBC

    What do you love most about your character that made you want to return to playing him? 

    "When I was a kid and starting in the theater, I love roles that were as different from me as possible — I wanted to go into the costume trunk and be a pirate. I got a chance to do that through my 20s and into my 30s, then this television came along. I had a few of those opportunities, but as time went on, I started to realize that it’s the roles that are the most you that you fit into, that fit like a glove, that feel real and you don’t have to stretch across, particularly on television, where you want what you do every moment of every week to be real and something that people believe. Will feels so natural to me. It’s not something that I have to ramp up to. I walk on that set and I’m Will Truman, and it never feels false. And I relish the opportunity to obviously be funny again but also to be funny in that body.”

    What makes you laugh these days? 

    “Ted Danson [on Cheers] could be funny as hell; he could be sexy; he could be weak. There could be moments of absolute frustration when I think of some of the things he did with Shelley Long. There are moments where I stole moves and exasperation from him.”
  • Zach Galifianakis

    'Baskets' (FX)

    Byron Cohen/FX

    What scene are you most proud of creating on set this season? 

    “There’s one that sticks out just because it’s so physical. It’s in the costume shop. There’s a recurring theme of a skeleton scaring everyone. There’s just a lot going on, and it was tricky to film, but when I saw the outcome, it’s everything that the show is, which is a little nuts at times and then emotional at times. I wanted to see if we could get away with that in this type of show. That scene is a microcosm of the show itself. [The TV system] wants everybody to like you, be likable, and I always find that very strange. I want the audience to see growth in Chip. And Dale is still kind of a mess and hasn’t really figured out, or is not really self-aware, but I’m hoping he becomes a better person, too. Those are the trajectories for me is that they both, through their struggles, just try to be better people.”
  • Thomas Middleditch

    'Silicon Valley' (HBO)

    Courtesy of HBO

    What scene are you most proud of creating on set this season? 

    "At the end of [the first episode of the season], there’s this big, long gulping speech. It was one of those things that, on the day, I was just doing a bunch of random stuff, expecting that they wouldn’t put that in. But they actually extended the gulping to make it this really gross prolonged thing — which I am a big fan of — in the edit. Overall, what’s been fun to have organically come out of Richard’s character are the pettier bits of him. He’s got ego; he’s got envy; he’s spiteful. But within that, he also has to be the good guy and moral compass of the show. But to have those negative aspects also be a part of his personality is definitely, as an actor, fun to play with.”

    What's making you laugh these days? 

    The Death of Stalin. In classic [Armando] Iannucci style, there are some great one-liners and some great little humanisms. At one point, they’re lifting up the dead body, all these sycophantic, worrisome Russian politicians, and they’re just arguing about how to lift and who gets the head and the feet. It’s just so morbid and stupid and small in this incredibly high-stakes thing.”
  • Patton Oswalt

    'A.P. Bio' (NBC)

    Jason LaVeris/Getty

    What scene are you most proud of creating on set this season? 

    “One of my favorite moments was an episode where I’m staying with Jack [Glenn Howerton] and I have this weird sleepwalking thing that I do, where I talk and scream in my sleep. We shot a much longer sequence where I had this whole storyline going on — the show is so top-heavy with funny characters, it had to be sacrificed — where I imagine I’m an abolitionist helping out the Underground Railroad and I kind of tell this whole, long [story] and it was really, really funny and really, really fun to do. He’s an authority figure with no authority, but unlike me — who’s much more anxious and has a lot more self-doubt and self-loathing about whatever lack of power I may or may not have — he’s reached this near-Zen level with it, which makes it more fun to play.”
     
    What's making you laugh these days? 
     
    “Everything that Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson did on the last season of Broad City I thought was really amazing. It genuinely made me laugh, watching those two. And Andy Daly on Review is hilarious for me.” 

    This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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