Andrea Savage wrote the role she wanted
Frequently spotted in some of the sharpest TV comedies of recent years (“Episodes,” “Veep” as President Laura Montez), Andrea Savage gets a series of her own with “I’m Sorry” on truTV.
Inspired by her real life as an alumni of the Groundlings, Savage portrays a comedy writer who is occasionally hampered by an improv-honed, inappropriate mind as she and her husband (Tom Everett Scott) navigate Los Angeles’ awkward moments as adults and parents.
Reached by phone, Savage talked about her new series. The following is an edited transcript.
Q: How did this show come together?
A: I had an idea for wanting to do one of those single-point-of-view shows that was like kind of playing a version of yourself and based on your life. I developed a lot of shows over the years and script development, and I really was just getting a little weary of the mom roles that were coming to me as I was approaching 40 and was like, “Why does every mom role have to be married and sexless and boring, or a terrible mother?”
I was like, “I’m a mom, but I also do a lot of other things, and I’m layered and nuanced.” I have funny stories that have to do with parenting but also have nothing to do with parenting. I wanted to show a female character on TV that I had never seen before.
Q: Usually in half-hour comedies, there’s the wacky husband and the disapproving spouse. This series flips it on its head.
A: It was sort of (the idea), but also as we go along in the series, (we didn’t want to) give Tom the thankless spouse role either.
I didn’t want to show a couple that has a child who have been together for a while and are sick of each other. I really wanted it to be like they still like each other and get a kick out of each other.
Q: On the show, your husband works outside of comedy. Is that what the dynamic is like for you in real life as well?
A: It is. My husband is also in the entertainment business; he’s a talent agent. So in the show, Tom’s character is an entertainment lawyer, so it’s sort of similar in that there’s an understanding of the business, but it’s not the creative side. So my husband, like Tom on the show, he wears a suit to work every day. But he also understands the world and isn’t completely out of it. And he’s much more straight-laced than I am.
Q: Tom’s character also functions as sort of a comedy critic while you’re riffing with him. Is that also drawn from real life?
A: Comedy critic to a point, but like in the show, my husband gets very mad at me because he’s like, “You don’t think I’m funny.” And I’m like, “Well …” (Laughs.) That’s definitely in the show as well. It goes both ways, you know, like in life. Some are good and some are bad when you tell jokes. Why should all of them be good on TV? Because a lot of ones in real life really are terrible.
Q: The relationship with your writing partner on the show (Jason Mantzoukas) is such a great depiction of the comedy dynamic. Is that how it is with writing partners in the Groundlings or otherwise, where there’s this different sort of intimacy?
A: It kind of is. Jason is a very close friend of mine, and this is pretty much he and I in real life. We’ve worked together many times. We’ve never written anything together, but we’ve been in many projects together.
But, yeah, this is what it is like with someone who has a similar comic sensibility to you and your writing. It’s mostly really kind of being mean to each other, but in a loving way, because you love them. But it always manifests in taking the person down constantly. It’s (like) the way you show how much you respect the person is by really taking them down.
Q: Right, it seems like this openness where you could only be close friends and talk to each other like that.
A: Oh, my God, I always say, “If I’m being nice to you, I probably don’t like you.” (Laughs.)
Savage’s “I’m Sorry” was inspired by her own life.