LOS ANGELES – While many critics previewing the new Fox sitcom “Brooklyn 99” have raved about the cop comedy, star Andy Samberg noted recently, “none of that won’t matter, if the public doesn’t rave about it — and more importantly watch it every week!” “Brooklyn 99,” premieres at 7:30 pm. Tuesday (WFLD-Channel 32).
The comedian, actor and former “Saturday Night Live” mainstay sat down in a Los Angeles hotel suite the other day to chat about the show, how good he’d be as a real cop and what he loves most about Chicago.
Q: Your co-star Andre Braugher describes his relationship with you in “Brooklyn 99” as him playing the straight man — being “the string — Andy’s the kite,” who files around and makes everyone laugh. True?
A: That works for me, but I’ve been saying Andre is the granite rock that anchors everything, and I’m the yipping Chihuahua running around at his feet, trying to trip him up and make him laugh.
Q: Some critics have said that “Brooklyn 99” is the best new cop comedy since “Barney Miller.” Pretty high praise, yes?
A: I like to say it’s the funniest show since ‘Cops.’ But that’s funny for the wrong reasons. Our show is funny for the right reasons.
Q: Why do you think the show will work for audiences?
A: For one thing it has some strong procedural things. There’s a plot that is centered on solving cases, with detectives chasing clues and tracking the case and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. But it’s also an office comedy and reveals the wacky inner dynamics of those people who are locked in this precinct together. It’s the mix of the cop thing and some well-written comedy that I think makes it special.
Q: How much has your “Saturday Night Live” experience helped you with this new, scripted show.
A: Like everyone who has come out of SNL will say, that experience is invaluable for just about anything you will ever do — makes you able to handle any project in entertainment. It also taught me how to interact with a diverse group of people on the writing and the acting. That helps so much.
Q: Chicago is a huge comedy town, but beyond that, what do you love most about Our Town?
A: Hey! Chicago is THE comedy town. Second City, [iO] Theatre, Upright Citizens Brigade — all Chicago roots. What would SNL do without Chicago? [laughs]. But beyond comedy — and I know it’s trite — but I think of food in Chicago. I really enjoy the Chicago hotdog with the neon relish and sport peppers. I recently finally got to the [Taste Chicago] restaurant that Joe Mantegna opened here. It’s got real Chicago food. Real Chicago dogs. It’s just like being in Chicago. It’s great!
Of course, there are some incredible restaurants in Chicago. But along with going to such places like Next or Schwa, I’m just as happy finding a good old pizza place too.
Q: How good a cop do you think you’d be in real life?
A: Me? Terrible! Look the character I play — Jake — is super goofy, and I can really relate to that part of him. But on the other hand — his brilliance as a detective — that’s handled by the writers.
Jake is much smarter than me. I love pretending I’m that smart and can reel off that technical dialogue really fast. That’s the acting part!
Note of full disclosure: Bill Zwecker also is the entertainment reporter for Fox 32 News, which will broadcast “Brooklyn 99.”