There's always an audience for scripted comedy shows, says Chuck Lorre
Back in 2013, audiences who loved American sitcoms were introduced to the Harpers. With Two And A Half Men, a series about a hedonistic jingle writer Charlie (Charlie Sheen), his uptight brother Alan (Jon Cryer) and his troublemaker son Jake (Angus T Jones), co-creator Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory, Dharma & Greg, Grace Under Fire, and Mom) had a winner on his hands. It has been over a decade since the show went on air, and it has seen many changes since, including the exit of one of the key characters, Charlie Sheen and the introduction of Ashton Kutcher as Walden Schmidt, an internet billionaire with a broken heart. Although the show aired its last episode in 2015, it still is enjoyed by many fans all over the world. Excerpts from a conversation with co-creator Chuck Lorre and actor Angus T Jones:
What fresh element has this show brought to the sitcom genre?
Chuck Lorre: I’ve never had an opportunity to do something where we explore men’s issues — not boys, but men. Men who have lived a little bit and had a chance to foul up their lives. That was a big impetus too. Grace Under Fire, Cybil and Dharma & Greg — they explored a female perspective, which is interesting, but, this was something different.
Angus, how did you get into acting?
Angus T Jones: We lived in Texas and we moved here when I was about three. My parents thought since we’re here, why don’t we try. And then, I got my first audition.
Chuck, did you have Charlie in mind with the role?
CL: We wrote it for him. It was for Charlie or it wasn’t going to be. When Charlie read the script and said, ‘Let’s do this,’ he and I had a little pact. We decided that if we didn’t find an extraordinary, wonderful little boy to play his (Angus) part, we were going to walk away from it.
So what made Angus perfect?
CL: He’s an extraordinary actor — a natural. He well understood the key moments and he was a joy to work with. It’s a very rare thing to work with adults who have all those elements, but he had it going on at ten, so we were very lucky. If you watch most TV shows, scenes involving children usually begin with, “Go do your homework,” and that’s the last you see of the child in the episode. But we wrote stuff for Jake. He’s very much a part of the ensemble.
Chuck, before this, you had quite a long career in the music business. Does any of that experience still come in handy?
CL: Well, it’s fun to write about a guy who’s a jingle writer, but the marginal elements in the music business are where I was — playing clubs and weddings and bar mitzvahs. A lot of the stuff I wrote was successful — like The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle song. I wrote a song that Debbie Harey recorded, which was not my best effort. So to write about a character who’s a jingle writer (and I had written jingles as well) it’s not the greatest expression of artistry, but it does sometimes pay the rent.
How does the show stay relevant?
CL: Clearly, there is an audience for scripted comedy, because shows like Friends, Fraiser, Will and Grace and Everybody Loves Raymond got huge audiences week in and week out and in reruns, as well. Else, they would not thrive.
What episode are you proud of?
CL: Angus did an episode where he got hurt and Charlie had to rush him to the emergency room, and he just rocked. He had to play all kinds of fear and pain and then, the middle of it, he’s hungry. It was a great story and it was a great performance for Angus. It was hilarious and real.
Monday to Friday at 9 pm on Comedy Central.