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Envelope Emmy Roundtable

Emmys 2013: Top TV stars on surviving the comedy landscape

June 07, 2013|By Oliver Gettell
  • Mindy Kaling talked about her love of romantic comedies, the good ones anyway, at the Envelope Emmy Roundtable.
Mindy Kaling talked about her love of romantic comedies, the good ones anyway,… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

In the competitive world of TV comedy, it helps to have an ace up your sleeve, whether it's an intriguing concept, a great cast, smart writing or, even better, all the above.

At a recent Envelope Emmy Roundtable, five top comedic actors — Mindy Kaling of "The Mindy Project," Don Cheadle of "House of Lies," Jake Johnson of "New Girl," Jon Cryer of "Two and a Half Men" and Matt LeBlanc of "Episodes" — sat down with The Times' Mary McNamara and discussed what keeps audiences tuning in to each of their shows.

Johnson credited the strong vision of his show's creator. "I think our show works really because of Liz Meriwether," he said. "She's got a very clear voice with everything. It's really nice because she kind of knows what she wants even when we disagree with her."

WATCH: The Envelope Emmy Roundtable | Comedy

Kaling, who co-runs "The Mindy Project" in addition to starring in it, also gives her show much of its identity. Kaling said she wanted to do a show that was like a romantic comedy — but, unlike most recent examples of that genre, it would actually be funny.

Nowadays, she said, "If you say you like [romantic comedies], you're sort of saying you're an idiot because they're so bad and they're not funny, usually." A better model, she thought, was the TV show where she got her start.

"I liked that in 'The Office' there was a central love story, but it was a comedy show," Kaling said. "And I think that's why people like it."

As for LeBlanc, he said part of the appeal of "Episodes," on which he plays an exaggerated version of himself, is its blurring of the lines between fiction and reality.

"The entertainment industry is just that — it's entertainment," LeBlanc said. "It takes people's minds off their problems. So a look behind the curtain, if you will, is always interesting, I think. And I think we've had a lot of fun making fun of people that we've all met and people that we know in the business, and ramping up certain personalities."

He added, "At the end of the day, they're just characters relating to one other, you know, just like anything else."

For more from the panel, including input from "House of Lies" star Don Cheadle, watch the video.


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