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Fox rolled out eight stars from its comedy block at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Tuesday. And the awkward line from reporters gave most onstage a chance to show off some of the improv skills used on their series.
The sitcom panel — The Mindy Project‘s Mindy Kaling and Ike Barinholtz; New Girl‘s Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel; Ben and Kate‘s Nat Faxon and Echo Kellum; and Raising Hope‘s Lucas Neff and Shannon Woodward — wasn’t all jokes. Kaling talked about recent casting changes and switching the direction of her freshman series. She said the increased focus on the workplace required Anna Camp to go down to recurring — and, incidentally, make room for Barinholtz to get bumped up to regular status.
But this being the comedy panel, the laughs were the highlight. Here are five funny moments from the panel:
Gone But Not Forgotten: Mindy Project star Chris Messina, who pulled out of the festivities due to illness, was still there in spirit. Barinholtz got the sober TCA crowd laughing with his impersonation of the actor’s Long Island accent, which Kaling called a cross between “Raging Bull and Night Court.”
Six What?: Deschanel went slightly bug-eyed when Kaling mentioned they got six days (one more than typical) to shoot the recent Christmas episode. “We just get extra days and extra money for stuff,” Kaling replied. “Don’t you guys?”
Oh, TCA …: The session opened up with, of all things, a question for Zooey Deschanel about the “meaning” of her name. Unsure how to answer, she just got very literal. “I’m named after Franny and Zooey and my last name is French,” she said, referencing J. D. Salinger‘s shorts about the youngest members of the Glass family.
Technical Difficulties: Neff was not prepared to answer anything. And when he was told he could not defer a Raising Hope question to Kaling, he found his mic had fallen off. Deschanel got up to help him, when she was pulled back to her seat by her own mic pack. Neff started to get up, too, when Johnson screamed for everyone to sit down. Maybe you had to be there…
Kids Work the Darndest Hours: Faxon let his true feelings show when asked to weigh in on the comedic timing of eight-year-old Ben and Kate co-star Maggie Elizabeth Jones. “She comes in at 10 [in the morning] and goes home around 3:00 p.m.,” he said. “We all work around that and we really love it.”
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