Rob McElhenney

In the credits of the long-running FX comedy It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Rob McElhenney is listed as the show’s creator, but McElhenney will be the first to tell you that the designation doesn’t mean much. The demented show is the joint creation of McElhenney and co-stars Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton, three actors who met each other on the Los Angeles audition circuit and decided to see if they could make a show for themselves on a shoestring budget. Starting from a well-produced but cheaply made home video, Sunny is now at the beginning of its seventh season on the cable network, and it has already been renewed for an eighth and ninth, putting it in the upper echelon of long-running comedies on TV. Before the seventh season started, the usually trim McElhenney generated headlines by gaining 50 pounds to play his character Mac; photos of a chubby McElhenney wearing flowy Tommy Bahama shirts surfaced on the Internet in the months leading up to the seventh season première. After the season’s first episode aired, McElhenney sat down with The A.V. Club to clear up why he decided to gain the weight, why the trio keeps wanting to turn sitcom conventions on their ear, and how they managed to create a world around five people who are intent on destroying themselves in a seedy bar in Philadelphia.

The A.V. Club: In various interviews by you, Glenn, and Charlie, you’ve said that you decided to gain the weight because you noticed that people in other sitcoms were getting thinner and better-looking. What examples have you seen of that?

Rob McElhenney: I think you turn on any television show, specifically in the last like five or six years—even the Friends were getting better-looking as the years were going by. The Big Bang Theory was another one. I was watching that show and I was noticing that the nerds were getting better-looking; their clothes were getting nicer. They looked more handsome. I just couldn’t understand that decision. I understand it as an actor, which is, you want to be able to jump off that show and be able to go work on other things. But to me, if you’re dedicated to what you’re doing in the moment, right now, it just doesn’t make any sense that you would be more attractive as the years go by. If anything, when you’re in your late 20s, early 30s, and then mid-30s, you’re getting less attractive 

AVC: It always seems like the women get thinner as the years go on, too. 

RM: Of course! And then the plastic surgery kicks in, and then you have a new stylist so your clothes look better, and then you have the most expensive guy in Beverly Hills doing your hair so your highlights look nicer. Look, ultimately, I understand it from a business perspective. There are certain elements of the entertainment industry, specifically movies and television, [where] it’s about glamour. Our show has always been the opposite of that. So I think it works for some shows. It just doesn’t work for us, as far as I was concerned. 

AVC: Does that break the reality of some of the shows, like Roseanne getting a facelift halfway through her show?

RM: Yeah, that’s a great example. Roseanne, which was just a brilliant, brilliant show about a blue-collar woman, but the truth of the matter was, at a certain point, Roseanne Barr became Roseanne Arnold, and she was no longer blue-collar—she was white-collar. And look, I’m not knocking anybody who wants to look better or take better care of themselves. I just thought for the characters, specifically for our show, it just didn’t make any sense. 

AVC: Because these are people who don’t take care of themselves and don’t really give a shit? 

RM: That’s right. And also, in a lot of ways, it was sort of my own insecurities coming out, too, where I realized, when we started the show, I just did not give a fuck about any of it. Because I’d already been struggling for so long, and I just thought, “I’m just gonna try and do something that I think is funny and something that I think works.” Then I think as the years went on, and there was season three, season four, and I think even four into five, I would catch myself saying, “Oh, well, we’re going to be shooting soon, so I have to maybe not eat that cupcake, and maybe I can start to just look at little bit better when we wind up shooting.” As I noticed that that was kind of inching in, I realized, “Wait, that is the complete opposite of what we’ve always strived for.” I was approached by a muscle magazine, or a fitness magazine, to do a before and after, where I would be super-fat from the show this season, and then I would work out really hard and then you’d see that I got into really good shape, and I even thought about that. I was like, “Oh, that’s cool, because then I can show people that I can get back into shape.” Then I thought, “No, that is literally completely antithetical from what I was trying to say with what I was doing,” which is, “Oh, well, look, yeah, it was funny to let myself go, but that’s not really what I am. What I really am is this.” 

AVC: Which is someone flabby, just like anyone else in his mid- to late 30s? 

RM: Yeah. And by the way, I’m not saying that we’re trying to present a realistic look at the world with our show. I mean, certainly we take it to an extreme. For me, there was something kind of interesting. Ultimately, if it was just about getting fat for the sake of it being funnier, then it would be kind of a stunt, and also kind of mean. That wasn’t really what my intention was, either. 

AVC: That was how it was portrayed when word first came out, that you just wanted to see how funny it’d be for Mac to get fat. So you’re saying it wasn’t that way?

RM: No, never. Never. Our show has always been about deconstructing the sitcom. Whenever you go in and you look at the traditional sitcom, it’s always about making the characters more likeable, making them more nice, making them ultimately, to me, a little bit fake. We just thought, “Well let’s just do the opposite of that. Let’s try to make them as deplorable as possible. Just to see if we could do it, and to see if the audience would be interested in watching it.” It seems as though the more deplorable we made them, the more the audience kind of loved it, and I think that was just because it was fresh and interesting, and something new. Yeah, so ultimately, when I decided to do this, it wasn’t about, “Oh, well, let’s just do it for the sake of doing it because I think fat people are funny.” That’s just abusive and mean. It was more about the character specifically, a guy who talks about mass and gaining mass all the time, and thinks that he is muscular, when in fact, he is gaining mass. It’s just there is zero muscle and he’s just a slab of beef. 

AVC: Where did that characterization come from, then?

RM: Oh, I don’t know. I think ultimately I was just trying to keep it quiet for as long as possible, just because our fans are young people, and young people spend a lot of time on the Internet. Honestly, what I would have loved to have done—and it was possible in a different age and a different time—was to just show up, [so] when people tuned in on the episode, they just saw it for the first time. But I knew that that probably wasn’t realistic. So I tried to keep it as quiet as possible for as long as possible. Then what happened was, we were shooting on the streets in Philly, and a bunch of people were taking pictures, and I think a couple of kids tweeted it, and then from there, I think people were basically just giving their own opinions on what was going on. 

AVC: When the word got out, did you think, “Hey, this is going to create some buzz around this season”?

RM: Well, I think it was unfortunate at first that our intention was never to specifically take any group of people and poke fun at them. I mean, ultimately, hopefully what people get from our show is that we’re poking fun at ourselves. I think that we as the characters are just a cross-section of the American public anyway, and ultimately we’re just taking a look at American culture, but never taking any group specifically and poking fun at them. So one of the moments that I felt I was uncomfortable with was when I heard a few people saying, “Oh, well, he’s just poking fun at fat people.” That was just never the intention, so that was unfortunate. But I think that people started to understand. Mostly it was our fans, who understand what we’re trying to do with the show, and they, I think, started shaping the conversation a little bit more in various blogs and that kind of thing. 

AVC: Did you want the conversation about your gaining weight to be what was leading into the season?

RM: Oh sure, sure. Yeah. I think it’s always good to have any kind of buzz, especially for a show going into its seventh year. Our fans have always understood what we’ve been trying to do with the show, which is to just do what’s not being done on CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox, and I think this would be an example of that. So ultimately, I think it was good that people were talking about it, and ultimately, just like we’ve always done with our show, you’ll have some people who it incenses, and some people who are confused by it, and some people who think I just got fat and then wrote it into the episode to account for it or to hide [it]. But ultimately, I don’t care about any of that. 

AVC: Glenn and Charlie said on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast that the key to the show is that the joke is on the characters, not on anybody else. That was your intention here? 

RM: Yeah, and if you really take a look at me, it’s not just my weight. I grew a giant, disgusting beard, and I didn’t wash my hair for three months, and I was just gross. Just gross in every way. And I was literally just accepting and embracing the lack of vanity, which I think is also a key to the success of our show, which is that we just recognize that it’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own vanity. And this is a way to kind of break down those walls. 

AVC: Glenn mentioned that you wearing the Tommy Bahama shirts was actually funnier than just having Mac’s old T-shirts stretched over his belly. 

RM: I wound up wearing all these small T-shirts, but what we realized is that there’s a whole brand of shirt that was constructed for men to hide their bellies, and that would be the Tommy Bahama. We were making fun of them for three months while we were writing the episodes, and then wardrobe went out and got a bunch. I tried them on and they are the most unbelievably comfortable shirts you can put on your body. And I took a few home. 

AVC: When you thought of this, who was the first person you brought it up to? Was it your wife and co-star, Kaitlin Olson, or did you bring it up to everybody else? 

RM: Well, we were just knocking around different ideas for the new season. That’s when it kind of hit me. I was watching—I can’t even remember what sitcom. You know what it was, it was another show, and I won’t say what it was, because the actress wound up with plastic surgery from one year to the next. She went from being sort of a plain Jane character to a sexpot. And it didn’t make any sense for the character at all. By the way, she didn’t even look that great. She looked worse and she looked like she had done something to her face, and she had new hair, and new teeth. I just thought, “Goddamn, that poor woman was so rattled by what she saw in the previous season, and probably read online people knocking the way she looks, that she just decided that she wasn’t going to do that anymore and she wanted to look good on TV.” I thought, “Man, I would love to figure out a way to go in the opposite direction.” So I went in the next morning, and I pitched to everybody, “Hey, why don’t we all gain 50 pounds, and just all let ourselves go completely for this entire season?” And they all said no. But they recognized that it would be interesting and fun, and they allowed me to do it. 

AVC: What did Kaitlin think? Was her reaction different because she’s your wife?

RM: She thought it was cool, and a fun experiment, and funny. She was concerned about my health, and also whether or not she would be attracted to me, which she wasn’t. But she knew that eventually, I would shed the weight, and wash my hair, and trim my beard, which I did. 

AVC: You and Nick Kroll talked about the physical after-effects of being that weight…

RM: Mmm, unfortunate, yes. Unfortunate. Well, like, as certain parts of your body become larger, other parts of your body don’t become smaller, they just appear smaller. 

AVC: So you start the seventh season with a dead hooker in the hallway and Charlie throwing up blood, and you go from there. At what point last year did you guys decide to push it a little bit more and take the show into some dark places it may not have gone until recently? 

RM: Yeah. [Chuckles.] Well, ultimately, I feel like that season première is a shining example of what we’ve always tried to do with the show, which is—you know, people look at Sunny and they don’t understand it. They’ll take a cursory glance and say, “This show is offensive.” Now to me, personally, what I find offensive is the idea of making a movie in which Richard Gere is a john who picks up a prostitute who looks like Julia Roberts, and then cleans her up and then makes her his wife. It’s a nice, cute, fairy-tale story, but the truth is, it trivializes the sex trade, right? Now, it’s not about like getting up on a high horse, but it’s about looking at it and saying, “What’s more offensive? That or taking a real look, yeah from a comedic standpoint, but truly taking a real look at what it would be like to find a prostitute, to try to clean her up, to make her your wife?” So to me, that’s way less offensive, and ultimately, what we’ve tried to do since season one. And so people look at it and they go, “Oh man, that’s dark.” Well, yeah, it’s definitely fuckin’ dark. But that’s probably a little bit closer to the truth than what we wound up with in that Garry Marshall film. Now the question is, is that fodder for comedy? I don’t know. I just know that for us, we just try to find a comedic side to darker situations and hope that other people, you know, come along for the ride. 

AVC: At this point, when FX president John Landgraf hears “dead hooker in the hallway” or “baby funeral,” does he just say, “Hey guys, keep doing what you’re doing?”

RM: It depends. We have a very sensitive barometer for the show. For example, the baby funeral episode, to me, there’s nothing funny—especially now that I have a 1-year-old baby—there’s nothing funny about a baby dying, and there’s nothing funny in and of itself about a baby’s funeral. To us, what is funny is a person who gave the baby away, gave it up for adoption, or was a surrogate, and then still continued to try to claim it as a dependent, and then while she’s getting audited, in her mind and her friends’ mind, the best way to ameliorate the situation is to pretend as if the baby’s dead and to throw a fake funeral. Now that’s just situational. So that, to us, it’s just a matter of perspective. That’s funny. A dead baby is not funny. 

AVC: You guys even turn to each other, and mention that.

RM: I think that that’s fun for the audience to see the characters even recognize, like, “All right, we may have had a lapse in judgment here.”

AVC: But it’s the only way for the characters to dig themselves out of the messes they’ve gotten into.

RM: Exactly. I generally try to stay away from reviews and message boards and things like that, just because I feel like it starts to sway the way that we think about the show. But somebody emailed me a link to a message board where they were debating whether or not Sunny had gone mainstream, based on [the season première] episode. This one guy was so upset because he thought, you know, “Sunny’s gone mainstream and you know, I don’t like it anymore, it’s not for me.” I thought that was so unbelievably funny that, in this guy’s world, mainstream is a dead hooker, it’s vomiting blood all over a woman on a date, boiling denim that someone finds washed up underneath a bridge, that they then wear on a date. [Laughs.] Just how is that mainstream comedy? 

AVC: But it is interesting that the world of cable that you’re in has definitely changed in the seven years since the show started. Is that what gives people room to call Sunny mainstream, based on what else is out there now? 

RM: I feel like it’s a dangerous and dark world if Sunny becomes mainstream comedy. If you were to turn on CBS at 8 o’clock on Thursday and see an episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, I don’t know if I want to live in that world. 

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AVC: Do you think that you, Charlie, and Glenn would even be able to write for a network like CBS, or even Fox? 

RM: I think yes. Maybe. I think our senses of humor just start to deviate into the darker realms. But I think it’s possible. I mean, my favorite shows have always traditionally been network sitcoms and network television. So I think that there’s a chance. We haven’t done it yet, but who knows? Who knows what’s in store? I like the idea of being able to appeal to a larger audience. That’s good. Or at least have access to the larger audience. I don’t know about the appeal. 

AVC: Wasn’t Boldly Going Nowhere supposed to be for Fox?

RM: It was, yeah, it was supposed to be for Fox. And ultimately, that started to just get into the same issues, which was, “Is this going to appeal to a larger audience, or is this too niche?” 

AVC: What ended up happening?

RM: It was too niche. [Chuckles.] 

AVC: And it was just a matter of Fox looking at it and saying, “This isn’t going to fly”?

RM: No, it was actually all of us realizing it. They really believed in it, and it was really great working with them. We continued to make rewrites, and they offered us the opportunity to do reshoots, but it just never quite really came together for us. I think really the biggest problem was that it’s just too expensive to do a show like that on a network scale. Because you can’t have it look fake, because people can smell that a mile away. Personally, I didn’t want to make fun of our own audience by making it just campy. I didn’t want it to be campy; I wanted it to feel real, and the only way that you can make it feel real is making it look real. 

AVC: And science fiction is tough to make look real. 

RM: On a week-to-week basis, absolutely, and the best people can do it. You know, Ron Moore did it with Battlestar Galactica, but from a comedic standpoint, it would have just been too difficult to do on a weekly basis for 24 episodes. 

AVC: The idea was fun: just every mundane thing that would happen in between missions.

RM: Yeah, it was really fun working on it. If you ever saw the pilot, I think there’s really, really funny moments in it, but it still had that feeling of… you couldn’t get around the feeling of camp. It was because you just don’t have the money to make it look… it started to look like [the original] Star Trek, you know? And Star Trek’s not going to fly 40 years later. 

AVC: David Hornsby, who plays Cricket, created a new show on CBS, How To Be A Gentleman, along with an animated show he just sold to FX. What are network executives seeing in the show that makes them think that people on your staff can go create shows on mainstream networks?

RM: I think a lot of it has to just do with the uniqueness of Sunny. It has a very specific voice. Whether you like it or not, the characters are really rich and the world is really rich, and it’s definitely “off.” But I think that what people see is just a tremendous amount of potential because of it. I see that from some of my mainstream friends, like my writer friends. I got so many people this morning sending me emails, congratulating me on the première. Like people you just wouldn’t believe, because they just don’t make that kind of programming. Jim Brooks is a big fan of Sunny. When I found that out, it just blew my mind, because it just doesn’t seem like Brooks would really be into [the show]. Or [Lost writer/producer] Damon Lindelof, you know, guys that do these big network shows. So I don’t know. I think there’s just something pervasive about the world that we’ve created. 

AVC: A lot of people are giving Louis C.K. a lot of praise for Louie this year, and deservedly so, but it does seem like you guys set the model for that kind of show. Do you think of it that way? 

RM: I think we’ve actually gotten a lot of credit in that area that I don’t know that we deserve. I don’t think that we trailblazed insofar as making low-budget entertainment. I mean, they’ve been doing it in independent movies for 40 or 50 years. Roger Corman really is the one that pioneered that world, and we just happened to do it in the world of television. When it comes to comedy—well, low-concept comedy—our feeling was, you get a bunch of people in a room, you point a camera at them, you just record the sound, and that’s it. So why should that cost a lot of money? Because we didn’t know how to make a television show, and they just said, “Hey, why don’t you guys just give it a shot?” We just figured it out on our own. We didn’t have anybody telling us that we needed to spend a lot of money, so we didn’t. But I don’t think we are the trailblazers in that respect. 

AVC: But didn’t they figure out from you guys they could stay with comedies longer because they can do this kind of model? They can’t do that so much with dramas. 

RM: Dramas need to have a certain aesthetic that comedy just doesn’t really seem to need to have. So I think it’s going to be a lot harder to figure out with a drama, but I think people, when they’re looking for comedy, just give you the benefit of the doubt. 

AVC: Without you guys proving that that can happen, would they have made a deal with Louis C.K. to say, “Here’s a quarter of a million dollars for each episode, just do what you want with it?”

RM: Hard to say. I mean, if you have that conversation with Louis C.K. and you know, just based on his standup, that he’s brilliant, and he says he can do it, I would trust him. I think that there’s such an institution in this industry that just sort of dictates the way things are supposed to go, and then you realize that when you’re mixed up in the middle of it, that it doesn’t need to go that way. It’s just that people’s jobs are justified by certain structure, and if you eradicate that structure, then they might not have a job, and I think it frightens them. So if you take a swing in a different direction and it works out, then people say, “Oh, well, you’re creating a different model.” But really, we’re really not. 

AVC: Going into a seventh season, and also knowing that you have at least two more seasons after this, is the challenge made a bit easier by the fact that the show doesn’t have lots of arcs? 

RM: I actually think it makes it a little bit more challenging, because you can’t rely on those interpersonal relationships and evolving storylines. I think what happens with a lot of shows, drama and comedy, is that they rely on those relationships and they become almost melodramas, or soap operas. They’re so wrapped up in those story arcs with the characters, generally some kind of romantic relationship, and we’ll never really have that on Sunny. So it doesn’t give us any good jumping-off points. We have to start fresh each individual episode. I think it’s also what our audience responds to and likes about it, that it’s just a reset button at the end of each episode, and the next one starts anew. But what we try to do every year when we sit back down and actually write each individual episode is to keep the tone and the characters the same, but still try to stretch a little bit and do something different, so that every time you sit down to Sunny, whether you love it or hate it, you never know what you’re going to get. So we did an episode, like, three years ago, where we flashed back to what the bar could’ve been like in 1776, right? It’s one of my favorite episodes. People hate that episode. I mean, people just fuckin’ hate it. My response is, “Good, I’m glad you hate it. Because I’m glad it made you feel something, as opposed to sitting down and watching it and going, ‘Oh, here’s another one where Mac does karate, and Dennis is vain, and Charlie screams.’” This is something different. I like the fact that you sit down, and you might watch an episode and go, “Goddamn, I hated that episode.” But I think, I hope, that you still sit back down the next week and watch it again and say, “I can’t wait to see what they do this week.”

AVC: Is the whole thing with Charlie and The Waitress making fun of the romantic arc?

RM: Yes, essentially it’s that he’s never going to get the girl. Ever. It’s not the Ross and Rachel relationship, where each week you’re sort of dangling a carrot on a stick. You just know that he’s never going to get her. It’s just kind of funny to watch him try, and you know he’s gonna fail. In the same way, you know that the characters are never going to succeed They’re never going to succeed, ever, and it’s not a secret. I’m not giving anything away. Their actions will lead to their own demise in the end. 

AVC: So there’s never going to be a final episode where somebody wins the lottery or something like that?

RM: It’s just never gonna happen, and that’s not giving anything away. I mean, it’s like watching Titanic. You know the ship’s going down. You know the ship is going down at the end, and yet, you’re still interested to watch what’s happening. 

AVC: Besides Mac’s health problems, what other ways are you going to address the fact that they’re all getting older and still doing this stuff that’s harmful to themselves and to people around them?

RM: I think what really works about the show is that it gets sadder. Each year that goes by, the fact that these people are still working and living in this bar and doing the same shit, it just gets even more pathetic. I want to embrace that. Because that’s one of those things that you sit down in a network notes pitch and they always want to make the characters more likeable, but they also want to make sure, “Oh, they can’t be too sad or pathetic. You want to believe in them, and you want to root for them.” I want to go the opposite. I want to make these people as pathetic and depraved as we possibly can. In a weird way, you’re sort of rooting for them, but you never really want to see them succeed. 

AVC: Kaitlin’s character Sweet Dee seems to be the most manic-crazy one.

RM: Specifically with Dee, that’s another good example of where we wanted to go the opposite of most shows, where the woman is generally the voice of reason. She’s the one that puts her hands on her hips and goes, “Guys, come on, you’re crazy.” We just thought we did not want to create that character. I know women like Dee. She’s way more extreme, but I think it’s really fun to watch a woman who’s keeping up with the depravity of the other men, as opposed to being the voice of reason. 

AVC: In the first season, Dee wasn’t quite as depraved, and it kind of accelerated as time went on. How did that develop?

RM: That was just our own ignorance when we first got started, and also because we knew each other, and we didn’t know Kaitlin, and we didn’t know how to write to her strength. But also that we just didn’t know how to make a TV show yet. I even think by the time I wrote that final [first season] episode where we all go back to high school, that’s where we really, I think, found our stride with Dee, where we realized, “Oh yeah, she’s just as sad as the guys are. She’s just as pathetic.” She’s locked in with these guys, too. She has aspirations and dreams, and they’re never going to come to fruition, so let’s explore that. 

AVC: What does getting the eighth and ninth seasons at this juncture mean to you guys, as far as developing the show is concerned?

RM: When they asked us if we wanted to do a few more seasons, we said, “Yes, but we want to do less episodes.” So next year, we’re going to do 10, and then the following season we’re going to do 10. I think this helps us in a number of ways. One, it just frees up a little bit more of our time to pursue other things, which we’re interested in. But also to keep the quality of the show up. Most shows get into problems later in the series because they do 22 to 24 [episodes] a season, and no matter how talented your writers and cast are, that’s just going to get old after a while. We’ve had the luxury of doing less episodes than a network, and now, even though we’re getting into the eighth and ninth seasons, if we only do 20 more episodes, you better believe that they’re going to be 20 really good episodes, because we’ll have the time to really develop them. 

AVC: How much more can Charlie work than he’s working already?

RM: [Laughs.] Charlie? Well, we’re in here right now. I’m writing a movie, he’s writing a movie, we’re working on an animated series, and we’re working on another show. So our whole philosophy right now is just, “Now that we have all these opportunities, let’s not rest on our laurels. Let’s try and work as hard as we can to continue the success.” 

AVC: Is it weird seeing Charlie become a legitimate movie star?

RM: No. To me, it’s weird that it took so long. 

AVC: Really?

RM: Yeah! I mean, I remember when I first met that dude, I was like, “Okay, this guy is a huge fuckin’ star, and if nobody else is figuring that out, I’m gonna write something for him so that I can take advantage of it.” And that’s what we did. It’s crazy to me that it took four or five years before he really started getting roles in movies. 

AVC: So when you get to the end of that ninth season, is that the end, or do you guys want to continue after that with Sunny?

RM: I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, we’ll have to talk again in two years. To me, if we can keep making them and people keep liking them, and we keep laughing while we’re doing it and having fun, I don’t know when the end will be. 

AVC: And because of the way the show is, you don’t need to have a specific endpoint. 

RM: Yeah, it’s just going to end at a certain point. It’s just going to come to a collapse. And I think everybody knows that it’s not going to end well. It can’t. 

AVC: One or more of them will probably end up dead at some point? 

RM: Well, I mean, you know. I don’t want to confirm or deny, but I don’t see how this world could possibly end well for them. 

AVC: What other topics are you guys going to explore this season?

RM: We have a high-school reunion episode; it’s a double episode. I think it’ll be our season finale, where we go back and see some of our roots, and run into a lot of the characters that we’ve established over the course of the seven years, which is really fun too, because in a weird way, we’re world-building. I never really thought of the show as doing that. I’ve talked to Damon Lindelof about that a lot, and he spent many years doing that on Lost, and they were literally building a universe, and he really enjoys that. I thought, “Oh, we never really do that for Sunny.” Then it sort of inadvertently happened, year five or six, and we realized, wow, we’ve created such a rich, dark, very dark world in the city of Philadelphia with all these characters. You’d sort of see that when we would do the live show and people would show up in costume, and they’d be dressed up as the various characters that populate the world, and I thought that was really cool. 

AVC: You get people dressed like the McPoyles?

RM: People dress like the McPoyles, people dress like the Green Man, people dress like Artemis, people dress like Charlie’s son from [“Charlie Wants An Abortion”].  There was a whole Asian contingency when we did it in San Francisco that were dressed as fops. I’m saying there were maybe 25 kids that came in dressed as fops, based on the 1776 episode. One episode. It just struck a chord with those guys, and I like that. We also do an episode where many, many years ago when it was raining, we created a board game, just because we had nothing else to do. And now we’re pulling it out, they’re dusting off the board game and we’re going to play a round of it. 

AVC: It’s just like Monopoly, right? 

RM: It’s very, very close to Pictionary and Monopoly and Candy Land. 

AVC: Anything else you’d want to mention, without any big spoilers?

RM: The cool thing about the show is, there aren’t really any spoilers. It is what it is. You either like it or you don’t, and if you don’t, I don’t give a fuck. By the way, I don’t want to dog shows that are like that. I happen to really, really love those kind of addictive-type shows. I don’t know that Sunny’s really one of them; or if it is, it’s for a different reason. But ultimately, our goal is to just do what we think is funny and hope that other people agree, and it seems like it’s been working out.