Beth Lacke, <EM>Happy Hour</EM> Beth Lacke, Happy Hour

Fox's Happy Hour is back! (And you thought it had never left. Or existed in the first place.) To be fair, this freshman sitcom has a "few" formidable time-slot rivals, but still, it's worth sidling up to the fun-loving characters' always-busy in-home bar, if only to catch Beth Lacke as Amanda, that "beautiful mess looking for love." (The network's words, not ours.) She who favors Debra Messing recently gave TVGuide.com a call to trumpet the show's after-baseball return, tonight at 8:30 pm/ET.

TVGuide.com: Your last name is pronounced "Lake-y," as in having the qualities of a lake?
Beth Lacke: Yes. A cool body of water... that's me. The family is hoping that some day my success will allow people to know how to pronounce our last name. It's a yoke I bear.

TVGuide.com: The Fox bio describes Amanda as "a beautiful mess looking for love." I think your epitaph has just been written.
Lacke:
[Laughs] That is my life, yes. If I were to die tomorrow, that's what I would put on the headstone. But really, that's what they're calling me? It's hi-larious.

TVGuide.com: Not you, that's what they're calling Amanda.
Lacke:
No, see, we're one in the same. I'm theater-trained and all.....

TVGuide.com: How are you like Amanda? And how are you unlike her?
Lacke:
I'm not so much neurotic as opposed to... OK, I'm neurotic. I have a little bit of the body issues she has, but coming from a source of strength. She's also a little more outspoken and funny. I'm back home in Libertyville right now, and when we go to church everyone is like, "We're watching the show," and I'm like, "It's only a character! I'm nothing like her!" They're seeing more cleavage on television than they usually do in Libertyville, Illinois.

TVGuide.com: The elderly parishioners throw holy water on you?
Lacke:
Exactly. They're praying for my soul. So I would say that Amanda wears more revealing clothes than I do, hoping that men will be distracted enough by her cleavage not to notice her other flaws.

TVGuide.com: Amanda's "perfect ideal of womanhood" is Kelly Ripa. Who is yours?
Lacke:
I'm going to say Oprah, which I know is kind of a clichéd answer, but I'm just hoping to be invited to her show. I just want to be near Oprah. If I could just be within 20 feet, 60 feet, whatever the restraining order says.... What's not to like about Oprah?

TVGuide.com: I was poking around the Fox.com/Happy Hour message board and found this: "I think Beth Lacke is the hottest woman on TV... a vision of loveliness. I would love to know how to contact her and spend time talking to her."
Lacke:
[Laughs] You know what's funny is I don't even trust those. I feel like it's friends of mine giving me a hard time. There was one brought to my attention, a guy wanting to marry me, and I confronted all of my male friends. But if there is someone out there who is really lighting a match, meet me at Starbucks.

TVGuide.com: Then there's this posting: "Holy crap, that Beth Lacke has a man's voice! She tries to be sexy, but when she hits those deep lows, it makes me change the channel."
Lacke:
That would probably be my father or my mother, not liking my choice of the shirts I'm wearing on television. To each their own. Once, some guy in Vegas on some website said that he hated my voice so much, he wanted to strangle the life out of me. Hey, at least I cause passion in people! For me, part of my training is vocally as well as physically how I make a character alive. So I've made a choice, and not everyone likes it. God bless, and blog.

TVGuide.com: "God bless and blog"? I'm putting that on a T-shirt. On How I Met Your Mother, you guest-starred last season as the girl that is Ted's "perfect match"?
Lacke:
Yes, a doctor who did a lot of over-the-shoulder hair tossing. "I'm Dr. Claire O'Brien, and I have long hair!" One of the things that makes me laugh the hardest [about that] is that I showed up to play a dermatologist [wearing] the largest zit of my life on my cheek. That is a perfect illustration of how I am like Amanda.

TVGuide.com: I have to bring this up: I can't decide what is more eerie, how much you look like Debra Messing, or how much that kid on Help Me Help You looks like Jason Ritter.
Lacke:
I have heard that a lot, but it wasn't until they dyed my hair for this show.

TVGuide.com: But it's also in your line delivery, the way Amanda channels this Will & Grace-type sensibility....
Lacke:
Well, I'm sad to say I really have only seen not that many episodes of Will & Grace. I'm a single mom, and I don't have a lot of time to watch television, so I am going to assume that the passion with which people see this connection is valid and true. I will take your word for it. I am flattered by the comparison, because she is an extremely talented actress.

TVGuide.com: Happy Hour took a few knocks at the start of the season....
Lacke:
Just a few! [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Was that at all deflating for you?
Lacke:
It wasn't, just because I show up every day and, this sound really cheesy, but I feel so blessed to have a day's worth of work, and particularly with this group of people. We felt a connection as a group right away, so going into the reviews we were like, "This is going to be the biggest hit evah! We're having the best time!" But in the reviews, people were very "passionate." One guy said, "Hasn't television evolved in the past 10 years?" Well, I come from the Midwest where my mother says things like, "I'm just tired of all the emergencies on television. I just want to laugh," and there's a whole audience out there that just wants to laugh for a half hour. Do I feel like we're changing TV history? No. But you have to just live for the moment  which sounds like something from Oprah.

TVGuide.com: What are you all really drinking on Happy Hour?
Lacke:
It's all olive-tinged water stuff, but we have O'Doul's [non-alcoholic beer] on tap, so I've discovered a real love for the O'Doul's.

TVGuide.com: Last question: Where does one find an elephant that dispenses cigarettes out of its butt?
Lacke:
Supposedly, people are finding them! That actually belongs to Jeff Filgo, one of the show's creators. I guess if you search on the Internet....

TVGuide.com: Let me do a search right here. "Elephant +cigarettes +butt".... Hey, I found one on eBay for eight dollars. The "Smoking Elephant Cigarette Dispenser."
Lacke:
There's no "butt" in the title?

TVGuide.com: OK, it's actually billed as "Smoking Elephant Cigarette Dispenser from Ass."
Lacke:
Which a gentleman such as yourself would never say. Never. Never. If you could send one of those to the guy who said he wants to marry me, care of me, that'd be awesome!

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.