Last year when TBS premiered My Boys (Mondays, 10 pm/ET), many people quickly dubbed it the new Friends. While that's a huge compliment to series regular Michael Bunin and his cast mates, he's taking it all in stride and is just happy to be working on a show that people are relating to. TVGuide.com talked with Bunin to find out how he spent his hiatus, who might pop up in the new season and why playing Kenny is sometimes frustrating even off the set.
TVGuide.com: What were you doing during the hiatus?
Michael Bunin: I have a weekly improv show with a troupe [The Red Shirt Freshmen] that's been running for about seven years, performing on stage once a week. Then about a year and a half ago, I learned how to play the drums, so I have this Irish band and we became the house band a few months ago at this Irish pub here in L.A., so I play once a week over there.
TVGuide.com: What's your band called?
Bunin: The Mighty Regis. We have at least one song that's a tribute to Regis Philbin. We get on stage and we just do characters and a whole show.
TVGuide.com: So that keeps you busy.
Bunin: Absolutely. You know, I did a lot of theater before I moved to Los Angeles, but when I got to L.A., it was hard to do theater, because you want to have the freedom to audition for other stuff. There are five of us in the [improv] troupe, but if one of us books a gig, we just perform with four; we don't have to worry about having an understudy.
TVGuide.com: Well, I couldn't wait for My Boys to come back. It was such a refreshing change and we only got a small run at first.
Bunin: My brothers were like, "What are they doing? They're running you out too fast!"
TVGuide.com: A lot of people seem to feel like it's the new Friends. Have you heard that?
Bunin: I have heard that, and I think two things about that: 1) I think it's a compliment. Friends was a highly successful show, so anytime anybody says it, my first thought is to take it as a compliment. 2) I don't want to respond to it too much, because the last thing I want is somebody walking around going, "He thinks he's on the new Friends." So it's a weird line to walk. We're not reinventing the wheel, we're not a high-concept show, we're not Lost. What we are is a show about a group of friends.
TVGuide.com: I think that's why people relate to it. A lot of the things you guys are talking about I talk about with my friends.
Bunin: Honestly, we hope people watch this show and go, "That's how I am with my friends." We want to do something entertaining that people relate to.
TVGuide.com: Every character is hilarious in his or her own way. I love Kenny's awkwardness.
Bunin: It's a ton of fun to play him. We are so well taken care of by the writers, everybody plays a really interesting [character], and ideally that will continue to grow. Kenny's really fun to play, there are a lot of things [in him] that are similar to me in real life, but on the show they're blown way out of proportion. Some actors always have to be the toughest guy in the scene, the coolest guy in the scene. Me? You could put egg on my face in every episode, I don't mind. I enjoy it, I really do.
TVGuide.com: I think people hold a little soft spot for him.
Bunin: I know, that's my fear!
TVGuide.com: I think the chemistry between Kenny and Mike (Jamie Kaler) provides for a hilarious friendship. Do you have a friend like that?
Bunin: For the majority of my best friends in life... if I'm telling a story and I mispronounce a word, they'll turn it into like a three-minute teasing session. So the answer's yes. All my buddies and my brothers, it's done in a friendly way, but we love to poke fun at each other.
TVGuide.com: You guys have a lot of fun guest stars, too. I think one of my favorite Kenny episodes was with Laurie Metcalf.
Bunin: I had so much fun working with her. She's always good and it's not like "I'm Laurie Metcalf" in every episode. She manages to play a different role in everything she does; she's really very sweet and very talented.
TVGuide.com: Who would you like to see visit the set?
Bunin: I'm always making jokes that we need to get Jennifer Harmon or Doyle Brunson, two professional poker players, to be in the game some time. [Laughs] It's still new for me to have a series-regular position, so anytime any name is mentioned, I'm always like, "Yeah, get that person!" One time I suggested they bring in Alex Rocco, who played Moe Greene in The Godfather, to play my dad. [I have] an autographed picture of him, and he wrote on it, "Hey Mike, you don't buy me out, I buy you out, Moe Greene," and I cherish it. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Will there be any changes to the show?
Bunin: As of now, [as far as I know] everything is staying the same. It's still going to be a half hour and it's still going to be single camera, not done in front of a live audience, which I really like. A lot of the stuff that happens on the show is sometimes based on things that might have happened to one of us in real life. The coffee thing… I do take girls to coffee, but I don't think I'm like Kenny.
TVGuide.com: It's OK, we know it's your character, not you.
Bunin: But now every time I ask a girl to coffee, my friends are like, "Oh yeah, Bunin, are you ever going to take this girl to dinner?" and I'm like, "We're actually just friends going to coffee!"
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