West Hollywood’s Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard was taken over by CBS’ “Superior Donuts” Thursday night, as many members of the cast took the stage to perform. With more than half of the main cast already established as stand-up comedians, the historic comedy club was a packed house with its regulars, who just so happened to also be there in celebration of the comedy’s Season 2 order from the network.
Headlined by co-exec producer and star Jermaine Fowler (listed in Variety‘s 10 Comics to Watch 2016), stars Maz Jobrani, David Koechner, Darien Sills-Evans, Rell Battle and others from the show went up in front of the crowd, which included co-stars Judd Hirsch and Anna Baryshnikov.
“‘Superior Donuts’ is a family show; this is not,” quipped Battle, who hosted the evening filled with humorous commentaries that ranged from sexual experiences to funerals to marches under the Trump administration.
The show, however, was more sentimental to some. Fowler, who has had experience working with Whoopi Goldberg on an ABC pilot, titled “Delores & Jermaine,” and two seasons of TruTV’s sketch comedy series “Friends of the People,” expressed his enormous gratitude to CBS for giving the show a second season.
“This is honestly the best show I’ve been on,” he said to the audience. “A lot of pilots don’t happen.”
The series, based on the Broadway play of the same name, follows the owner of a rundown donut shop in Chicago (Hirsch), who recently hires an effervescent young employee (Fowler).
Following his stand-up appearance, Fowler, 28, told Variety what more he’d like to explore in the second season of “Superior Donuts,” how millennials (like him) add to the television landscape, and much more:
How does “Superior Donuts” fit within the CBS comedy family?
This is different from a lot of CBS comedies, and for that reason it sort of fits. It’s not your normal family sitcom, but at the same time these characters are slowly turning into a family. We aren’t the most loving people at times. You’re watching them grow, and for that reason I think people find the show very refreshing and easy to watch.
We see many artists from your age group making waves in television today. As someone from that generation, how would you best describe the millennial voice and their contribution to the medium?
The millennial generation is very vocal. They have their pulse on what’s happening. So a lot of the shows that we’re doing reflect that: Jerrod [Carmichael]’s show; Issa [Rae]’s show; Donald [Glover]’s show; our show. We talk about a lot of issues that are, to most people, taboo but in our generation this is normal. You’ve grown up in this time where everything we read on social media is about a kid getting shot, about sexism, gentrification. We’ve grown up in this generation and so the material that we want to display is going to reflect that. So that’s why shows have become in a way very, very, very, just … woke.
For example ‘Superior Donuts’ is about a black kid growing up in North Side Chicago. It’d be weird if we didn’t do any jokes or anything about police brutality or anything about sexism or racism or gentrification. To me it’d be like we are trying to hide something. No, I’m not proud that police brutality exists in areas that I grew up. No, I’m not about racism, but I’m proud that we get to talk about it and that we have these avenues to do so because it’s a reality for a lot of people.
What can fans expect from the show’s second season?
The first season was awesome. It was a great introduction to the characters and I’d like for the second season to expand on that. There are so many characters on the show. For the second season, I’d like to build on all that. I want the audience and fans to look forward to something when they watch the show, and I think the only way you can do that is really opening everybody up. I want to slowly build Franco and Arthur’s story up. Will Franco takeover the shop or pursue his dreams of becoming an artist? Those are real things that people deal with everyday.
As someone who is a huge fan of television, what key elements do you think make for a successful sitcom?
Number one thing key in an American sitcom is make it real. Keep it grounded. You’ve got to make the situation and characters probable and you can get the comedy from those places. My favorite shows have been “Martin,” “The Fresh Prince (of Bel-Air)” and “Titus.” They’ve done the craziest things, but all of their situations come from a real place.
“Superior Donuts” airs Mondays on CBS.