The new CBS comedy series Mad Love is about four New Yorkers, two who are falling in love, and another two who are forced to get to know each other, as a result. Ben (Jason Biggs) is a lawyer and hopeless romantic who meets the beautiful Kate (Sarah Chalke) by chance and instantly thinks she is the woman of his dreams. As they try to build a relationship, Ben’s best friend and co-worker Larry (Tyler Labine) and Kate’s roommate Connie (Judy Greer) begrudgingly have to spend a lot of time together and, even though they have a lot in common, neither can get past how much they despise the other.
During a recent press day to promote the show’s premiere, co-stars Jason Biggs, Sarah Chalke, Tyler Labine and Judy Greer talked about what sets Mad Love apart from other relationship sitcoms, collaborating together on this project, and how lucky they feel to be airing after How I Met Your Mother. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
SARAH CHALKE: I love that Kate is kind of a hopeless romantic. She seems like such an eternal optimist. She meets Ben and it’s love at first sight. And, I love working with (executive producer/show creator) Matt Tarses because he’s so funny and smart, and brings so much heart into his writing. That’s what makes me connect to characters when I’m watching them. Hopefully, it will make the audience connect to them as well. We’re really finding out so much about them, every week. One week, I found out that Kate is from a farm and the animals didn’t like her. They ran away from her. She scared them. She is a bit of a klutz.
TYLER LABINE: I play Lawrence Ebenezer Munsch. Larry, as we affectionately refer to him, is a cynical, caustic fellow who is angry at the world, but is Ben’s (Jason Biggs) best friend and is fiercely loyal, and that is why he has to put up with the likes of Connie (Judy Greer). He will go to the end of the world for his friend, which includes being around Connie.
JUDY GREER: I’m playing Connie Grabowski. I think her name is Constance, but I don’t know if she has a middle name or not. Connie is a little bit lost, in this first season. She is not sure what she wants to do with her life. She’s not sure who she should be with. She doesn’t have a ton of faith in love, but she’s really desperately looking for it, and she wants to find it. I think that she truly enjoys her rapport with Larry, even though she finds him disgusting and repulsive. I think she’s smart enough to know that they would be really good together, but she can’t really wrap her mind around spending the rest of her life with a guy who burps and farts. Normally, that stuff comes out so much later, but not with Larry.
LABINE: The burping and the farting are all foreplay for Larry. That’s the preamble to the relationship.
What are some of the elements on the show that set it apart from other relationship sitcoms?
CHALKE: I think Matt Tarses, who created the show, wanted to take the traditional romantic sitcom idea and throw it on its head a little. He has a bit of a love/hate relationship with romantic comedies. He loves to love them, and hates that he loves them. He wanted to have two people that fall in love right away and it isn’t really the will they or won’t they situation. They’re just put together, right at the beginning, and then, from there, discover the bumps in the road, as they have their first kiss, first time they say “I love you,” and their first road trip. The stakes are so high ‘cause they like each other so much and they want it to be great so badly, and then the reality is that there are going to be issues that come up. With Larry and Connie, they’re our best friends and they’re thrown together, and you think that they’re just going to be oil and water, but you grow to see that they absolutely love to spar and they are each other’s match, when it comes to wit, and they will eventually fall in love.
Jason and Sarah, it safe to assume that things don’t go so smoothly in the relationship?
CHALKE: No, they don’t.
JASON BIGGS: There are bumps in the road. I think part of the fun of the show is that most sitcoms lead up to a couple maybe getting together, which is the case perhaps, since we’re focusing on two separate relationships with Ben and Kate, and Larry and Connie. But, for our relationship, we start already together, and it’s about where you go from there. This first season is spent exploring what it’s like to first meet someone and fall in love, and you have those blinders on. The emotions are so heightened and everything is so exaggerated that, when even the smallest little bump in the road comes up, it’s a very big deal. So, that’s what we’re exploring through the course of this first season. We mine it all for comedy, of course, but at its core, it’s very real, relatable scenarios. And then, on the other hand, you’ve got this other relationship where, in a more traditional sitcom sense, maybe they are the couple that you’re wondering, over the course of time, whether they’re going to end up together or not.
CHALKE: I think they will, in Season 9 ½. That’s my prediction.
GREER: I don’t think she does.
LABINE: I don’t think she should have children.
GREER: She’d be an awesome mom, but she’s just not going to do that. She doesn’t have any money.
LABINE: No, she’s broke, and Larry is rich. That’s another plus for Larry. He’s a successful lawyer. Well, Ben is successful and Larry is his partner.
GREER: Just ‘cause Larry is a lawyer doesn’t mean he’s rich.
LABINE: It means Larry makes a lot more than a nanny.
GREER: But, Connie probably has a lot of perks ‘cause she works for a really rich lady who’s super-stupid.
LABINE: Larry knows all about the perks of working for Tiffany (Sarah Wright). Her boss and Larry get along quite well.
GREER: As you’ll soon see.
Sarah, coming off of Scrubs, how has this sitcom experience been for you?
CHALKE: For me, it’s been ridiculous. I’m having the best time. I can’t quite believe we get to do this. I pinch myself on the way to work, every morning. Jason and I had never worked together before, but we’ve been having a blast. He’s so ridiculously funny, so talented and has such good comic timing. Every week, we just have more and more fun, figuring out each other’s rhythms. It’s just been so fun. Judy Greer and I have been friends for years, and always wanted to work together on a series, and now we get to. And, I’ve known Tyler [Labine] since I was 16. We did a movie, called Robin of Locksley, together where I was Maid Marion and he was Little John. It was a different take on Robin Hood.
Did you want to go back into a TV show right away?
CHALKE: It certainly felt like a big decision, of what to do next. When it was this project with Matt [Tarses], who I’ve known for 10 years – he wrote on Scrubs, at the beginning – it seemed like such a great fit. And then, when I heard about the cast, it’s such a dream cast to get to work with. In terms of in my life, when it’s great, I love to go to work. When it’s a fun environment with creative people and you get to tackle a neat character, that’s what I love to do. I love the environment of doing a series where you really get to know everybody so well and you get to do a character for a long period of time, and find out something new about them and really dig deeper. The experience is different, of course, ‘cause Scrubs was single camera and this is multi-camera. We’re a bit of a hybrid, though. We shoot it like How I Met Your Mother. We actually shoot for three full days, so it gives you a little more flexibility than a traditional multi-camera because we don’t have a live audience tape night. You can actually spend three hours in hair and make-up, getting on a ridiculous costume, and we can go out onto the New York Street set and shoot chunks there. I also have a little guy now who’s one, and it’s neat ‘cause he can come and visit. We’ve got a little nursery set up at work. I wouldn’t have jumped into something, if I didn’t think it was the right fit.
BIGGS: Not a lot. With this format, because it has a very specific rhythm and cadence, improvisation can mess with the flow. There can be small moments, but for the most part, any sort of improvisation is something that would happen in rehearsal, or it would be a suggestion on our part, or something that we came up with while the cameras weren’t rolling, and then it would be incorporated into the scene prior to the cameras rolling. When we’re doing it and the cameras are rolling, you want it to be as natural as possible, from a performance standpoint, but because it is a sitcom, you need to hit specific beats. Once you start interfering with that, it can be problematic. That’s been something we’ve all been learning. All four of us, comedically, are so in sync with each other, and it’s been that way since day one, but the pulse of the multi-camera sitcom is something that we’ve all been adapting to. Sarah has done a lot of single camera and so has Tyler, and Judy and I do a lot of feature stuff, which is basically the same, so we’ve all been taking that journey together.
CHALKE: Matt [Tarses] also does set a really collaborative tone, so if we want to make a suggestion and try something different, we’ll get one exactly as it is on the page, and then we’ll try our version.
How do you feel about airing after How I Met Your Mother?
CHALKE: It’s such a great show, and we feel so lucky. I was so psyched when I heard that that was our lead-in. They have such a loyal fanbase for a reason. It’s such a fun show. It’s so creative. They take so many risks. The cast is unbelievable. It’s such a gift to go on after them, and to be sandwiched between them and Two and a Half Men.
Judy, do you still have time to do your voice-over work for Archer and for Glenn Martin DDS, along with this show?
GREER: We’re not doing new episodes of Glenn Martin yet. They’re finishing up the last season right now. And, I squeeze Archer in every week. Our Mondays and Tuesdays on Mad Love are a little on the lighter side. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are when we shoot, and those days are longer. But, the voice-over stuff has been great. This season of Archer is so fun. They really are good about working around our schedules.
Will there be more of Cheryl on the remaining episodes?
GREER: Yeah. We’ll go back to the office, and there will be a lot of office stuff.
MAD LOVE premieres on CBS on February 14th