Hard at Work; Speaking with the Cast of TBS’ 'Men at Work'

Hard at Work; Speaking with the Cast of TBS’ 'Men at Work'

Sitcoms are a dime a dozen these days and many don’t make it past the first few episodes, let alone an entire season. TBS has struck comedic gold, however, with their series Men at Work which just had its second season debut last week. Danny Masterson stars as Milo, a newly single guy who attempts to get back into the dating game with the help of his three best friends/co-workers, Tyler, Gibbs, and Neal. Shakefire recently sat down with all four gentlemen and talked about what it’s like working together on the show and what audiences can expect from the upcoming season.

Milo, Tyler, Gibbs, and Neal all work together at men’s magazine “Full Steam” in downtown New York City. After being dumped in the premiere episode last season, the show focuses on getting Milo back on his feet. Season 2 hinges on that same premise, but will take things one step further now that the groundwork for the show has been laid.

“We definitely upped our game in the second season,” says Michael Cassidy, who plays Tyler on the show. “The writers upped their game in the second season. And that may be a result of all the people on the show trusting the writers more, I’m not really sure. It’s definitely a funnier set of episodes.”

“Also, I think the writers start figuring out little character traits for each one of us that are extra funnier than normal,” adds Masterson. “I think in Season 2 they start refining those sorts of things. I don’t know if we have our full-on catch phrase yet but we definitely make more in-jokes.”

According to James Lesure, who plays ladies man Gibbs, what sets Men at Work apart from all the other sitcoms on television is that the show is “current and contemporary, and at the same time sort of reverent to good television gone.”

Season 2 will have its fair share of guest stars as well, including Peri Gilpin, Seth Green, Jason Lee, Marsha Thomason, Ben McKenzie, and the return of J.K. Simmons.

Speaking of Simmons, he’s a lot like his character on the show.

“He’s like a technician,” says Cassidy while doing his best Simmons impersonation. “He walks in and they start rolling and he knows every single motion. Everything he does is funny.”

Joking aside, having four lead actors in a 20 minute sitcom can be a difficult task, but Men at Work handles it with grace. Each character has a distinct personality, and the show has plenty of options when deciding how to approach any given episode.

One of them could be off screen doing their own thing or it could be two-and-two or even all four in a scene. The situations four friends could find themselves in are endless.

“Something we learned earlier on at the table reading was that we all are these strongly defined characters but when you pair us off we become kinda different people depending on who you put us with so there are a lot of options,” exclaims Adam Busch.

His character, Neal, brings one of the more diverse opinions to the group as he’s the only member who’s actually in a relationship. He may be the end result of what all his other friends are looking for, but the same can be said of them.

I know a lot of Neal that wishes he was single, but then I know Milo’s looking at Neal going, “God if I could just find a girl and settle down it’d be so easy,” says Busch. “We’re both kinda looking at the other side, jealous. It’d be fun to see what switches over the years, how it all gets turned around.”

Even with their differences in character, the four remain good friends even when the cameras aren’t rolling.

Rehearsals last three days a week and then at least another day filming so they’re going to be spending a lot of time together. The dynamic on set and in rehearsals is one in which they all share a common goal of seeing the show succeed.

“Everyone actually rehearses hard and cares about each other and wants the other person to have good jokes,” says Masterson. “We all suggest jokes for each other and there’s no ego involved so it’s been a very easy set. Really, we’ve all been acting for a very long time and your job is to go on set and meet a bunch of people. ‘Hi, nice to meet you. We’re best friends, and we’re lovers? Okay, cool.’ We’re all sort of pre-prepared in that and we all happen to like each other and no one’s a bitch.”

“The fact that a line comes up and someone doesn’t quite know how to attack it, there’s this whole support system of guys ready to jump in,” says Busch. “Everyone feels invested and everyone wants to be the best they can be. We’re all really different cast members and I feel like that’s what helps so much. We’re not all the same guys. We’re all learning from each other all the time. It’s really lucky.”

Despite what audiences may think, Men at Work rarely diverges from the script. Scenes are primarily done in two takes in front of a live audience and there is no adlibbing, either. The script is just that good. “We are blessed with good writers,” says Lesure. “We trust them.”

A lot of that trust also falls on creator and executive producer Breckin Meyer. Everyone is confident that he’s the right man for the job, though. “Breckin is really bright and talented and a funny guy. He grew up loving and watching television so I feel like we have someone with that sort of energy as well as being current too,” says Lesure.

Hopefully the show will remain current enough to be renewed for a third season. You can watch Men at Work on TBS Thursdays at 10pm ET.

Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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