A few days ago Talk Nerdy With Us had the opportunity to talk with David Fynn of Undateable. David is not new to TV comedy after performing on several British comedies, as well as several American sitcoms and dramas, but he got his start in theater. Currently he plays British bar tender Brett on one of NBC’s most talked about sitcoms, Undateable. David was more than willing to share his experiences on the show and his thoughts on playing beloved character Brett. Read our interview below to get some behind the scenes info on doing a live show, learn how to interact with the cast of Undateable, know why Brett is British, and hear about a daring rescue by a man in a banana suit.
As you know, the big story for Undateable this year is that it’s airing live. Going live can be a big risk, so why do you think the network thought Undateable was worth the risk? What do you think it is about the show that makes it work so well live?
I think the answer is kind of in the question. I think it’s because it is a risk, that makes people more curious to see it. And, I think, the nature of our actors, even though we know it’s live, everyone is still comfortable doing improv, everyone is still very keen to do improv. I think that is what we have as a show, more than other shows perhaps. The other boys come from a stand up background, I come from a comedy and theater background and the girls are both live performers as well, so we’re used to being and performing live.
I just think that element of danger, that element of kind of anything could happen is exciting. If people watch the east coast or the west coast, they’ll see the show is almost completely different. They’ll see there are so many different things going on, so many more ad libs and people throwing lines in. We’re given lines by Bill and Adam, the head writers, just before the show that are intended to provoke a response in someone else. Like last week, there was a line where Chris said to Bianca “Oh God, I can’t believe you made me sit through Rules of Engagement. That was the worst night ever!” and she didn’t know it was coming. She had no idea it was coming. Then in the second show the line was about a movie that she did where she got naked and Chris brought that up, so she was even surprised by that.
So, we’re still given new stuff. Some of the stuff we are saying is given to us ten seconds before we start, some of the stuff we say is improv, so that anything can happen atmosphere is exciting. And it kind of makes it accessible as well, I think.
What is prep like for the show? How is it different from when you were pre-recording the program?
In terms of prep, technically we have to be way more disciplined, we have to hit our marks because there’s a whole control booth following our every move and they have to cut to us at the perfect moment, so we are way more vigorous with our blocking and we do more camera blocking. In a normal week, we’d start camera blocking on a Thursday afternoon, whereas now we start on a Wednesday morning. So, it’s just a bit more rigorous technically.
So now that you’re a few episodes into the season, has performing the show live become normal for y’all, or do you think it will forever be may be a little nerve-wracking and exciting because it’s live?
You do get used to it and you think “oh, this is becoming the norm now.” And then, five minutes before the show goes up, that adrenaline just hits you, just as powerful as the first time we did when we did the live episode at the end of last season with Ed Sheeran. The adrenaline just comes out of nowhere and absolutely nails you. (Laughs). The audience that comes to see it, they can feel that, they can feel the energy and they thrive off of us and that kind of propels the excitement. You can see that sort of frantic feel from the screen I think. Like last week Chris forgot to run into the crowd for the credits and you see Chris running across camera. The energy in the room is just so high, it kind of just carries you.
So when you finally leave set on a Friday night, are you completely exhausted or are you still amped up on all the adrenaline?
It’s a bit of both. We’ve been doing rehearsals all week but then you have the adrenaline. I usually feel it the next day. (Laughs). It’s not often you get that, because we’re doing an east coast and a west coast show. It’s not often you get such a high level of adrenaline and then you drop for three hours and then you go again. I think it puts your body through a lot, so I’m always a write off on Saturdays. We’ve got a bar and stuff on the stage, we’ve got a VIP lounge so the cast and crew all have drinks together afterwards. So, the adrenaline leaves you and you’re exhausted the next day and find you have a little bit of a hangover as well. (Laughs). Saturdays are definitely for vegging in front of the TV.
I can only imagine! So your cast works really hard to interact with the fans and I think you all are doing some new things this season. What are some of the ways y’all are doing this and why do you think it’s become such an important aspect of your show?
Because, again, the boys are all stand ups, they are so used to doing that. Before we even started the show, everyone was quite adept at using social media for the jobs. So, we talked to Bill about it and Bill really wanted to use it to our advantage for the live shows. You’ll see shots of us using our phones in scenes and we’re often on Twitter tweeting pictures of ourselves during the live taping or we’re on Periscope.
A few weeks ago I Periscoped a scene. It was from my point of view and I was acting with Rick and Ron and people could see it through my eyes. I think it’s a way of inviting people in. We have a really nice, solid base of fans and I think it’s really nice to talk to them and get feed back and see what they enjoy and I think that makes us special in a way, because we’re so accessible. We do Periscopes every day at 4:30 so people can talk to us every day.
We’ve got the Danny phone on set and released the number to the characters phone. We’ll pick the phone up during commercials and have a chat with one of the fans and then we’ll send them a picture of the cast on stage at that moment. It makes them one of the gang almost, it invites them to be one of the gang and I think that’s really fun.
So let’s talk about Brett. I have had a question since the very beginning of Undateable. Brett is a British guy working at a bar in Detroit and the show has joked about how strange this may seem. I’ve wondered, was Brett originally supposed to be British or did they decide to make him British once they chose you for the part?
No, he wasn’t. So I did the audition pretending to be American and they didn’t know. I got away with it, pretending that me, David, was American. (Laughs). I used an American accent and they didn’t know. Then I came out of the accent afterward and they’re like, “what’s that?” I said, “Oh, I’m British.” And they go, “Oh my God!”
Through the audition process, they asked me to read both ways every time. I think we shot the pilot and I said one word by mistake in a British accent because the character was American. I said one word in a British accent and they were like “oookay.”
Also, in changing it I think it warms the character a little bit because he’s quite sarcastic and he’s quite dry, I think the British thing makes it a bit less snippy, because British people are so sarcastic anyway. I think it kind of warms the character a little bit by making him British. But, yeah, they kind of changed it to suit me, which I think is very cool! And, I think, if we’re doing a lot of improv as well, it is difficult to impov in a different accent, so I feel more comfortable doing improv now.
What do you enjoy most about playing Brett?
It’s really nice to represent the gay community! I’m married myself, but it feels like quite a privilege. This year and last year have been so important for the gay community, with the whole thing of the legalization of marriage and stuff. I think it’s a really important time and I think it’s a nice challenge to be able to do that but not make it his defining characteristic. To show a person on TV who is part of the gang who just happens to be gay. It’s not “oh he’s the gay guy,” it’s nice to just be part of the gang and to have that as one of the many fun things about him.
So how do you think he as a character has grown or changed over the past few seasons?
Between seasons two and three it seems that he’s started getting laid. (Laughs). In the first episode, he talks about hooking up with guys. I think he’s just kind a bit more comfortable in his skin, because in the time line of the show, he came out right before episode one of season one, so I think some of the awkwardness is gone and he’s maybe a bit more liberal and a little bit more easygoing with it and not so paranoid when it comes to dating other men.
What is your favorite Brett moment or quote?
I really loved, there was a line that I had, and it was written at the last-minute, there was a line that I had last week: Danny and Justin are doing one of their goofy act outs and I say “how is it that I had a penis in each hand last night and yet I’m not the gayest person in this bar?” (Laughs). I was worried about it because I didn’t know if people were going to like it, but when I said it they loved it. So it was nice to have that surprise. That was one of my favorite moments so far. People often ask me what my favorite bit was. And there’s a moment where I sing opera at the end of an episode. Everyone was surprised that I could sing and I could sing opera, so it was just a really nice moment to finish season one with.
One of the major story lines of season three is Justin and Candace dating. So how will their relationship change the dynamics of this group of friends, or does it really at all?
Because that’s one of the biggest things that’s happening at the moment, it kind of inevitably effects the group of friends, especially effecting Justin’s relationship with Danny. Candace is different from anyone Justin has dated before because she’s so pure and sweet and he’s so pure and sweet. I think that kind of has an effect on the group. It’s a really nice relationship to see because there’s no cynicism in it. It’s nice that the cynicism and the jokes and the sarcasm has to come from all of us. That’s where we chip in with the relationship. I think that’s kind of fun. And also, inevitably Danny is always messing things up between them. Always. Chris D’Elia is always giving Brent a hard time. (Laughs).
I don’t know if you can tell us this or not. Can we expect any other relationships, maybe particularly with Brett, this season?
Well, we only see one ahead, so we don’t know ahead of time. You know when the camera cuts back half way through commercial? We see Brett with a guy and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s dealt with. Like I said, that’s not his defining thing and I don’t want to just play to a stereotype. I’m excited to see how it will be handled by the writers and the cast. It’ll be good fun!
Just one more question for you. On last weeks episode, Danny explained that “Bretting” was “taking a minor issue like nicknames or having a friend stay with you and turn it into an emotional mess like a thirteen year old girl.” So, what do you think “Daviding” would be?
Probably the same thing. (Laughs). As I get older, I’m getting more anxious about things. It’s an anxiety thing. I think Daviding would be taking a normal situation and put anxiety into it. Just normal things, like getting to work on time I get really anxious about now. I also think to David would be to drink too much at a Halloween party like I did last Saturday. I nearly fell into a swimming pool and had to get rescued by a man dressed in a giant banana suit. That actually happened this weekend. (Laughs).
Well that sounds like a great night!
Yeah, it was great fun actually!
Be sure to watch Undateable on NBC on Friday nights at 8/7c!