THE BIG ASK ALYSON HANNIGANHow I Met Your Mother
How do you feel about your show being compared to Friends? When we first came out, we definitely got the Friends comparison. But I think if you group any five or six people together you’ll get that comparison. Actually, my friend said it’s sort of like Friends but it’s with people you would actually know. There are so many edits involved and flashbacks and it’s more of a new genre of sitcom. We had 59 scenes in the first episode. Friends maybe had 18 scenes in an action-packed one. So the format is definitely different. How did you choose this script over others? I knew I wanted to do a half-hour show. I wanted to do comedy so I read a ton of scripts. There were a lot of really bad comedy scripts when I was reading them and this one stood out. It was miles better than everything else that I’d been reading. And what really touched me is that it had heart. I really cared about the characters. Each character had an individual voice, which I found quite rare with the stuff I was reading. And you know I can tell if I have to keep going back in a script and go ‘‘OK, now which character is this? Wait, who is this guy?’’, then I know the characters are not very well defined. This was not the case. I knew who was talking without looking at the character’s name. I love the story and the idea and it really touched me as soon as I read it. Why did you want to do a half-hour comedy if they are so difficult to get right? I just felt I’d spent seven years on this wonderful one-hour show ( Buffy) and I just couldn’t do it again. And so I wanted to try something new and comedy I love. I love television and I love going to work every day and I love having a job for the majority of the year rather than doing one film every couple of years where you don’t know when you’ll find another script you like. And so half-hour was the logical next step. I never believed that sitcom had died, I felt that as long as you get good writers and a good cast, it’s going to strike a chord because people love to laugh. Lots of people were excited about the resurrection of Neil Patrick Harris. Were you a Doogie fan? I was, I was indeed. I also met him when he was still shooting that show and we became friends. I’ve known him for half my life almost and it was such a thrill to walk into the last audition and see that we were both up for the same show. Tell us a little about Lily. I really responded to the Marshall-Lily relationship. I love that they had been together for a long time, and became engaged, but they were sort of kids growing up into this more mature relationship. I love being part of a healthy relationship on television. You don’t see a lot of that, particularly with a lot of reality shows on. They say comedy is the hardest form of acting possible, but it seems to come quite naturally to you. Why? Um, I learnt quickly as a child that if I made my mum laugh instead of yell at me, it’d be much better. And I think that probably was the defining moment of my life. So that’s probably where it stems from. I was just a big troublemaker, and I needed to get out of trouble a lot. No, I was a very good kid. I don’t think she realised how good I was until I was gone. I was an only child so I was always the one who was going to be in trouble. You know I didn’t have any siblings to blame stuff on.