3 words: Matt Le Blanc. A name that is synonymous with side-splitting laughter and the man who’s best known for his role as Joey Tribbiani on everybody’s favourite 90s sitcom, “Friends”, a character that he played for a decade.
The 49-year-old multiple Emmy nominee may have fallen off the radar when he took a 5-year hiatus after “Friends” wrapped up, but he’s hardly forgotten. Who can forget him? He’s Joey Tribbiani, after all. “That show ‘Friends’ and playing the character Joey, I mean, I’m Joey’s biggest fan and I will always be his biggest fan. I love that guy. He was so much fun to play,” Matt said.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunity,” he added.
In recent years, Matt has been working on some television projects including playing a fictionalised version of himself in “Episodes”, a British/American television sitcom, and hosting “Top Gear”, series about motor vehicles. Not too long ago, he decided to take on another role – as Adam Burns in CBS’ new sitcom (a multi-cam comedy format in front of a live audience), “Man with a Plan”, in which he also helped conceptualise and co-produce.
“For me, coming back to a multi-cam comedy format in front of a live audience is really fun. I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I got back into it again. It’s just a lot of fun and I really enjoy it,” Matt said of his return.
We caught up with him over the phone as soon as we heard that CBS gave a full-season order (6 more episodes on top of the initial 13 episodes) for “Man with a Plan”. Here’s what went down:
Matt, you’ve taken on many roles in your career. How have those experiences shaped you as an actor?
I think it’s like any other job. The more experience you have, the better you get at the job. If you’re a roofer, the first roof you put on is probably not going to be that great. It might even leak. But if you put on a hundred roofs, you probably get pretty good at it. I think with experience comes knowledge. I’ve learned over the years, for example, that A is funnier than B. I’ve developed a shorthand on how to get to where I need to be in any given scene. Does that make sense?
Haha, yes it does. What are some new challenges you’ve had to face playing Adam Burns in “Man with a Plan”?
The kids are always growing and getting older. Being more involved in the kids’ lives than I was in the past because I was at work. Seeing just how much work my wife did and how good a multitasker she must have to be to deal with it all. I’m just realising how politically correct the parenting world has become and my character is not very politically correct. That’s fun.
Can you tell us who or what were your inspirations for your character and what do you have in common with Adam?
Since I’ve come back to a multi-cam format, the character has a little bit of Joey from “Friends”, a little bit of me, a little bit of other friends of mine that have kids and the stories I hear about them. He’s this guy who is struggling to keep the ship afloat. His wife wants to go back to work now that the littlest one is going to school full-time. I’m my own boss; I run a construction company with my brother. The two of us are in a position where I can kind of adjust my schedule to help my wife who wants to go back to work. I think that’s kind of fun.
You’ve been working with a great cast. Can you tell us what it’s like working with them?
The cast on the show has been fantastic. Everyone’s got experience. Even the kids are really fun and doing a great job. I’m really proud of them. The girl who plays my wife, Liza Snyder, she’s got a lot of experience on sitcoms. Kevin Nealon, who plays my brother, he’s on Saturday Night Live and he’s a stand-up comedian as well so he’s got a lot of experience. We have a good group. We have some great directors like Jim Burrows and Pam Fryman, who are two veteran directors. Jeff and Jackie Filgo, our showrunners, have been fantastic. They ran “That 70s Show” and they were staff writers on a show called “Mad About You” that starred Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt that I was a big fan of. They write good dialogues and have great ideas. The cast is fun. We have a fun, happy work environment. No egos allowed on stage.
Are there any parenting tips from “Man with a Plan” that the audience could try at home too?
Well, we did that one thing in the pilot where they installed a rolling Wi-Fi password at the house to ensure that the kids would do their chores before they got the Wi-Fi password. That was a smart one and people have asked me about that.
What were some of the changes that you saw in TV sitcoms over the years?
I remember when I was kid and watching “I Love Lucy”. Lucille and Desi, her husband, they slept in separate beds. Remember that? And now, that’s not the case anymore. Married couples sleep on the same bed on television. I remember on Friends when we would make a phone call. “Friends” was before cell phones really, and there was no texting. It’s funny to see now how all that technology could have made it into the show. Getting a text on your phone is a thing that happens in scenes now. That never used to be the case. You had to go to a payphone. I remember doing scenes with payphones and I had to put a dime in the phone and dial the number. The technology is the most obvious change, I guess. In terms of storytelling, I don’t think much has changed. Storytelling is as old as people sitting around the campfire in a cave. The base root of entertainment is the story. The written word will never go away. You get reality shows, competition shows, singing shows and dancing shows but I think people will always go back to the written word. I think that will never change. That’s something we grow up with. When little kids go to bed and their parents read them a bedtime story. The storytelling nature of human beings is timeless. All good stories have similar things. You have conflict and resolution. Those elements of storytelling still exist today.
How do you feel that after a decade, people still associate you with your character that you played for 10 years – Joey Tribbiani?
I love that people still remember Joey. It seems like every year there is a new generation that’s discovering “Friends”. I’m very proud to have been a part of that show. That was the highlight of my career I don’t think I’ll ever be involved in something ever again that’s that successful. That like lightning in a bottle. That doesn’t happen to anyone twice. I worked with great actors. We had great writing. It was receive well and had a lot of support from the network. There were a lot of things lined up to make that show exactly what it was.
Is it possible for your former co-stars in “Friends” to make an appearance in “Man with a Plan”?
I would imagine that’s possible. We don’t have any plans to do that as of yet but I think it’s possible.
And we’ll hold your word to it, Matt! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us and special thanks to our friends from RTL CBS Entertainment for making this interview happen.
Starring Matt Le Blanc, Liza Snyder, Grace Kaufman, Hala Finley, and Matthew McCann, “Man With A Plan” premiered on 28th October 2016. Catch in on RTL CBS Entertainment (HyppTV Channel 616) at 9pm (8pm JKT/BKK) every Friday.