Andy Daly on Wrapping Up the Wonderfully Dark ‘Review’
Comedy Central’s dark comedy Review is returning for a short third and final season. On the show, Andy Daly plays Forrest MacNeil, an idealistic dork who hosts a TV show, which is also called Review. “Life!” Forrest announces as each episode begins. “It’s literally all we have. But is it any good?” Rather than featuring judgments of books or movies, each segment of Review revolves around Forrest trying out new life experiences, each of which is suggested by his viewers. Forrest takes his responsibility to his audience seriously, boldly reviewing experiences like “divorce,” “addiction,” and “murder” that destroy his life. Season 3 reaches new depths of comedic darkness as the show wraps with a wonderfully funny and satisfying conclusion. Andy Daly took some time to reflect on his experience co-creating and starring in Review.
Now that the show is coming to a close, was there any Review idea that you wish had made the cut, but didn’t?
It’s funny you ask that. In our writing process, we had so many things that we wanted to do in this third season, we had so many story ideas and guest character ideas, but we just ran out of time. We didn’t have room to cram it all in there. But I’m hard pressed to name a specific review idea. There was a wall full of them. But what our process has turned into is that we have index cards with review topics that we splash all over the room and then we focus on the story we want to tell, the episode to episode season-long arc, and then plug in the reviews as we imagine them fitting into the arc. There were plenty that felt like they were fun, but just didn’t fit into the arc.
What was your favorite review to perform?
I think the road rage smash off with Jason Mantzoukas where the two of us had cars parked on an overpass on the 110 freeway and just went at them. Me with a baseball bat and Jason with a tire iron that were spiked with little drill bits for maximum impact so that we could definitely smash everything on the cars. That was the funnest thing of all time. To smash every bit of glass on the car while screaming at Jason Mantzoukas.
Forrest says yes to so many crazy funny adventures on the show. Where did you draw the line in the writer’s room?
We usually drew the line on things that were physically implausible. But sometimes it was hard to know where to draw that line. For instance, in the fifth episode of our first season we had Forrest go into space on a private space exploration shuttle — like SpaceX or Virgin Space, whatever those things are. But none of those things exist — yet. You can’t buy a ticket to go to space yet. Probably in five to ten years that will be possible. But at the time I was kind of worried. This show takes place in the real world, we’re really asking people to take a leap with the plausibility of this. But no one ever had a problem with it. I never heard from one person. Of all the people all across this internet who pick nits with this and that nobody ever said, “Hey, that’s not real yet.” So where you think the plausibility line is, is very much open to interpretation. But yeah, plausibility is important because we do want it to feel like this is taking place in the real world. That’s the only real line because we don’t mind putting Forrest through outrageous, ridiculous adventures.
In season 3, Forrest reaches new offensive heights. It was really funny, but was there any hesitation?
We did have one where Forrest was going to get breast implants. But it just seemed like all of the jokes ended up being jokes possibly at the expense of people in gender transition. It started to feel like — even though on paper it seemed funny to see Forrest with breasts and negotiating life, it was not going to be fun for some people. And of course in our episode, “Little Person,” we talked a lot about how to be on the right side of that — how to make it clear that Forrest is the idiot and the show knows he’s the idiot. So that was kind of the model for Helen Keller in season 3. Forrest was going to unnecessarily hamper his own ability to do this well by becoming artificially deaf and blind instantaneously. Before he can really do any research into Helen Keller’s life or what it means to be deaf and blind, he just makes himself incompetent from the get go. He starts out from a place of ignorance and false assumptions. So hopefully the way you feel watching the piece is that Forrest is the idiot and the show knows he’s the idiot. We’re not trying to make fun of anyone but Forrest.
Do you ever find yourself reviewing your real life experiences?
I resisted it for the longest time, but I have become fond of Yelp reviews. I’m not going to tell anyone what my handle is. I’m not like a person who does thousands of them, those people are obviously insane, but there are times I will take it upon myself as a citizen to let the rest of the world know they should or should not patronize a business. I kind of get into it. There are times that I get so into it that I feel pretty Forrest-like. Right about around paragraph four, I go, “Oh, this is too in-depth, I should wrap this up.”
Without spoiling it, I will say that the final episode was particularly devastating. But hilarious. Was it as hard to say goodbye to Review in real life as it was for Forrest?
It was very hard. I mean, going into this season I felt like I was ready, because it is very stressful to write and produce a show that you are starring in. And this is very challenging because each episode has three distinct stories that add up to one story that is part of a season-long story. We really don’t make it easy on ourselves making this show. Going into it I felt like “I’m ready to make a few great episodes and wrap this thing up as good as we can do it.” But when it really came down to it, we kept doing things for the last time and that was always hard. Like, the day that we said goodbye to Forrest’s office — well, it was last time we are shooting in that location, that was really hard. We’ll never be in this room again? We shot so many fun things in here! So all of these final moments kept happening throughout the shoot and they kept getting kind of worse and worse until finally on our last day of shooting, we shot the last thing we were going to shoot on Forrest’s stage and then we all went to lunch. And then we had a little bit of extra stuff we were going to shoot after lunch, and in the time it took to eat lunch the crew had completely taken apart the stage, there was no trace of it anymore and that was particularly devastating for me. It was like, “Oh no, it’s gone!”
Is there any message that you hope the audience walks away with after watching Review?
I think there’s definitely a work/life balance message to be communicated on this show. I think Forrest is obviously a person who sacrifices way too much for his work and as it happens his work is idiotic so that doesn’t help. If there’s one message, it’s to get your priorities right in life.
So what’s next for you, do you know yet?
I’m not sure, I ended that experience thinking it would be nice to be just be an actor on somebody else’s show, let somebody else sweat all the details so I’m kind of casting about for the perfect acting job. But at the same time, after a few months of not writing anything I had to write something, so I’ve written an animated pilot called Dalton Wilcox and the Journeymen. So fans of my podcast will have some idea of what to expect from that. So the process of figuring out if anyone wants to put that on television has just begun and hopefully someone will. Yeah, it turns out I love writing and acting, so I’ll have to find ways to keep doing both of those things.
New Episodes of Review return on Comedy Central March 16th, 2017 at 10/9c.