David Alan Grier says the secret to longevity in the comedy and acting game is being fun to work with.
I caught up with theater, comedy, and television veteran along with his longtime friend—Emmy Award nominee Martin Mull (Veep, Roseanne)—on the red carpet at the Fox Summer TCA 2018 last week.
“You have to be fun to work with,” Grier said. “I mean, I’ve been an actor for 30 years. And those actors that I have the fondest memories of are the ones who were not only good at what they did, but who were fun to work with.”
Grier and Mull will be back on your television screen this fall in Fox’s The Cool Kids, where they are joined by co-stars Vicki Lawrence (Mama’s Family, The Carol Burnett Show) and Leslie Jordan (American Horror Story, Will and Grace).
They play a group of friends who live in the same retirement community who believe that growing old with dignity is for chumps, so they are determined to make the last years of their lives the craziest ones yet.
Grier starred in all three seasons of The Carmichael Show and had a standout performance as the iconic Cowardly Lion in the Emmy award-winning 2015 television production The Wiz Live—for which he earned two Image awards and two Critics’ Choice Award nominations.
His brand of funny is personable. It draws you in and makes you comfortable while having you doubled over in laughter. He knows what he’s doing, and that’s what makes him a tremendous asset to whatever project he is involved in.
Similarly, Sinbad (A Different World, The Sinbad Show) brings his years of comedy and television experience to Rel, a comedy show based on the life and comedy of comedian Lil Rel Howery. Howery plays a successful, hardworking father and husband on the West Side of Chicago, and Sinbad plays his prideful and recently widowed father—simply called “Dad.”
In the show, Rel is recently separated and rebuilding his life after his children move to Cleveland with their mother. He finds support in his father, best friend Brittany, and fresh out-of-jail brother.
Lil Rel and Sinbad are joined by stand-up comedian, Instagram sensation, and frequent Wild ‘N Out guest Jessica “Jess Hilarious” Moore—who plays Rel’s best friend, Brittany—and Jordan L. Jones—who plays Rel’s younger, brother Nat.
Rel says the show is loosely based on things he has been through and things he has put in his routines. He was very clear that the show is done in front of a live studio audience.
“I love to tell people that because it’s not a laugh-track. This is actually people laughing,” he said.
He said it’s good to watch his character be vulnerable, rebuild and “own his B.S.”
“A lot of times, people love to play the victim, but in this you see Rel see that he wasn’t a victim,” he adds. “He is a big part of why this is happening to him.”
Lil Rel and Sinbad told me that their relationship on set is not unlike the characters that they play. I asked Sinbad what fatherly advice he has passed on to Rel—especially as far as comedy is concerned—and his answer had everyone in stitches.
“I hope you make it. It ain’t on me. You gotta keep it real like that. ‘I hope you make it.’ It is what it is. It be what it be. In my dad’s generation, that’s how they talked to you. He’d say, ‘You can practice, but you still may not make the team.’”
Rel will air on Sundays at 9:30 p.m. and has a special premiere Sunday, Sept. 9 at 8:00 p.m. following an NFL doubleheader, and then again on Sept. 30 in its regular time slot.
The Cool Kids will air Fridays at 8:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 28.