They have the right to remain hilarious. Former Saturday Night Live cutup Andy Samberg is ready for primetime in Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine as Jake Peralta, a hotshot New York detective whose unconventional workplace antics are disrupted by the arrival of a new by-the-book captain, Ray Holt, played by Homicide vet Andre Braugher. We interrogate the duo about their arresting new comedy.
TV Guide Magazine: What about this show and these characters did you initially connect with?
Samberg: Peralta's a hell of a lot smarter than I am — it's always fun to play above your pay grade in real life. He's really good at detective work, and he's just got an ease with logic and puzzle solving, which is not how I am at all.
Braugher: What I felt comfortable with immediately was that Holt's a gay police captain. My son said to me, "You're going to play a gay police captain?" because when he sees gay characters on television, they're all goofballs who are eventually in hot-pink hot pants singing "YMCA." But there's a backstory with Holt that's part of a larger, richer and more complex story. It's not going to be one aspect of his personality that they'll pump up and turn into an offensive stereotype.
TV Guide Magazine: But Andy wears a Speedo in the pilot, so hot-pink hot pants could be incorporated.
Samberg: I wear the Speedo, but Andre wears very short shorts in real life, and that is a fact. They look good, too; he's got some nice legs on him. [Laughs]
Braugher: You can do anything if it makes sense. I have no problem getting naked in any piece as long as it rises organically out of anything. But when you just have people like, "Hey, I'm just hot and I just happen to be naked and literal," I'm not feeling it.
TV Guide Magazine: Andre, we all know your extensive dramatic TV credits. Why was now the right time to transition to comedy?
Braugher: I was eager to do one, and I'm open to learning. I've spent 20 years studying drama, so my role models are Hill Street Blues, Cop Rock, NYPD Blue, Homicide, The Wire...
Samberg: Did you say Cop Rock?
Braugher: I did. I just threw that in. Guilty!
Samberg: Favorite movies of all time: Ishtar, Waterworld...
Braugher: What Dreams May Come! So I missed the Police Academy/Reno 911! spoofs. These guys have hooked into something that has really passed me by. I've been concentrating on drama all these years, and there's been a huge wave of comedies I've never caught. I have to confess, I've never seen an episode of Friends.
Samberg: You've never seen Friends?
Braugher: Yeah, so this is my problem. There's a huge body of cultural information contained within that show, but I have no idea.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you ever watch Andy on SNL?
Braugher: I've seen Andy's shorts, but I've never seen the show. I've seen it on the Internet because of my kids — "Lazy Sunday," "D--- in a Box." They're like,"Oh, look at this, Daddy," and I'm like, "This is fascinating!"
Samberg: In your defense, I haven't watched a cop drama maybe ever. Homicide was before I would have even known that I would like Homicide, which I'm sure I would because everyone said it's great.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you think Andre would have fit into an SNL digital short?
Braugher: In the background!
Samberg: You in a "Laser Cats" would have been funny, playing it really straight. We had some of the biggest people in the f---ing world on "Laser Cats." It's so crazy.
TV Guide Magazine: Andy, you were on SNL for seven seasons before you departed in 2012. Why did you decide to jump back into series television so quickly?
Samberg: Well, I did a couple of movies, a TV series in England for the BBC called Cuckoo, I made another Lonely Island album, and I did two voiceovers in animated movies. So I've been doing a ton, but I just couldn't say no to [executive producers] Mike Schur and Dan Goor — they're so good. And the deal they were offering was essentially the same as what they gave Amy [Poehler], who is my hero and someone I try to emulate with my every move. So it was the guys who made her show so great with her, and if we can come up with something that's half as good as Parks and Recreation, I'll be psyched.
TV Guide Magazine: So, Andre, will Holt be the new Ron Swanson?
Braugher: Yes, but without the mustache. I can't grow anything like that. I've tried for 50 years and I've failed miserably.
Samberg: There is no such thing as the new Ron Swanson. This is the first Holt.
TV Guide Magazine: Will you delve into these guys' personal lives on the show?
Samberg: I'm sure that kind of stuff will happen, but it's too early now. The focus out of the gate is the dynamic between Peralta and Holt. It's a slow burn. Holt knows he's grooming Peralta, and Peralta doesn't even realize it. It's clear that he should and does respect Holt — he just has to get over his bad habits. But I imagine if we have the luck of going deeper into the season, you're going to find out a lot more about everybody. So far it's been something that feels like it could theoretically take place in the real world, but it's also not sacrificing the silliness.
TV Guide Magazine: Is anything too silly for you?
Braugher: Nothing. I think I can trust these guys. They're not going to send me out on a limb and saw it off.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine premieres Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 8:30/7:30c on Fox.
For more on the new fall shows like Almost Human, Sleepy Hollow and Dads, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, Sept. 12!