For a series about to start only its second season, FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has come a long way. The pilot, made by actors/writers/executive producers Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day, was shot on digital video and edited on a home computer for a grand total of $200. Even with limited publicity and starring relative unknowns, the seven-episode premiere season was able to build a word-of-mouth following that caused network execs to order a 10-episode follow-up and spurred Danny DeVito to take on a recurring role. TVGuide.com spoke with one of the series' jack-of-all-trades, Charlie Day, about the raucously irreverent show, which returns tonight at 10pm/ET.
TVGuide.com: This show came from relatively humble beginnings. Are you at all surprised with the success?
Charlie Day: Every day. We made the pilot in an apartment, basically, and now we're in our second season, so it's been really incredible. I just hope we can continue making funny episodes and growing the audience.
TVGuide.com: Rob, Glenn and yourself handle writing, producing and starring duties. Now that you guys have established yourselves, isn't it time to delegate some chores?
Day: If it got to a point where they said, "Hey, guys, let's make 20 of these as opposed to 10," I think we'd be in a situation where we'd have no choice but to hire some more writers. But in a way, I look forward to that. Now that we've made enough of them where people get what we're doing, it doesn't have to be such a unique vision.
TVGuide.com: Your character, Charlie Kelly, is sort of the abused younger brother of the group. When you were creating the series, how'd you get stuck with the short end of the stick?
Day: [Laughs] I hadn't thought about it like that. I think my character does have the opportunity to do some of the goofier things, but for whatever reason, because we write them, we write to our own comedic strengths. I knew that I wanted to play a more pathetic character than the other guys, so we wrote to that. It's not exactly who I am, but I'm sure there are definitely elements of myself in the character.
TVGuide.com: What's it been like working with Danny DeVito?
Day: He's awesome. It's been a real joy. The man is a machine. He's tireless, has a great work ethic and a great sense of humor.
TVGuide.com: In the season opener, Charlie and Frank (DeVito's character) become roommates after getting off to a rocky start. Will their relationship blossom as the season goes on?
Day: Yeah. There are some twists and turns to their relationship, but there's a lot of funny stuff that happens when the two of us are together. When I first started working with Danny, I was impressed with how well he understood the tone of the show. He was a fan and just got it. That's pretty evident in our scenes together.
TVGuide.com: The first three episodes of this season mine humor in areas like the handicapped, Muslim extremism and sexually propositioning the elderly. Are you guys trying to push the envelope?
Day: Well, you know, it's a funny thing about that we never set out to push any envelopes. It was sort of a network idea during the first season where they said we should think about taking on riskier topics. At first we thought that was lame and everybody would smell that a mile away, but then we gave it a try.
TVGuide.com: Like the episode where Mac and Dennis try to pick up girls at the abortion rally?
Day: Exactly. They pushed us in that direction, and as we were going down that road we suddenly realized, "This is funnier. Sometimes the funniest stuff also seems to be the riskiest stuff." But at the end of the day, all we're really trying to do is make the funniest show we can.
TVGuide.com: Fox recently rebroadcast some of the first season's episodes, and they were heavily bleeped. Do you think the material works better on a cable channel like FX?
Day: Sure, I think it works better on FX. If we knew we were going to get censored, we would have written the show to get bleeped during more intentionally comedic times. But unfortunately, we got bleeped when they deemed it necessary. Actually, a few of our episodes we couldn't even get on Fox.
TVGuide.com: Which ones?
Day: Like, the abortion one. They basically said which ones we could and couldn't have on. We were grateful for the opportunity to put whatever on [Fox], so we didn't try to argue with them.
TVGuide.com: So they were cool with the "Charlie Gets Molested" but not "Charlie Gets an Abortion"?
Day: Apparently, America doesn't have any problem with molestation. As long as those babies are alive, they're here for you to molest them.
TVGuide.com: I guess I should add a disclaimer to this interview that the thoughts expressed here don't necessarily reflect those of TV Guide.
Day: That's probably a good idea.