Will Sasso Interview: Star of the Hit CBS Comedy '$#*! My Dad Says'
Born on May 24, 1975 in Ladner, British Columbia, Canada, Will Sasso is probably best known as being part of the recurring cast on the FOX sketch comedy series MADtv. The comedian portrayed a variety of quirky characters on the show including Eracist member Hugh, pop singer Michael McCloud, accident-prone handyman Paul Timberman, and Mexican luchador Senor Bag of Crap.
Among Sasso’s many celebrity impersonations are George W. Bush, Kenny Rogers, William Shatner, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Lance Bass, Steven Seagal, Bill Clinton, and James Lipton.
"I came from the predictable set of circumstances where I was the class clown wanting to make people laugh, and I did have the acting bug of wanting to perform."
Sasso’s other television appearances have included the recurring role as “Carl Monari” on the ABC sitcom Less Than Perfect, a role in Robson Arms, a Canadian original series, and guest starred on the CSI episode “The Chick Chop Flick Shop.”
Currently Sasso can be seen as Vince Goodson in the new CBS sitcom $#*! My Dad Says (pronounced Bleep My Dad Says), based on the Twitter feed created by Justin Halpern.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will, how is the show going?
Will Sasso: It’s going well.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): There have already been some casualties in the new fall season. Have you heard any feedback from ratings or from fans?
Will Sasso: I’ve received a bunch of positive feedback. I think people are really enjoying the show. I try not to pay attention to the ratings. As an actor I feel like there’s nothing I can do about that (laughs). I’ll let the executives and the network worry about our ratings. But, the people I’ve talked to say they are enjoying the show and that it’s a lot of laughs and that’s what we’re setting up to do.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Has the uproar from the Parents Television Council died down after the first few shows aired?
Will Sasso: To be honest with you, I really haven’t kept up with what that was all about. I understand that the PTC didn’t really care for the title or the implied word that is in the title but we didn’t hear it or talk about it at the job so I don’t know if they’ve calmed down or what.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are the characters in the show totally based on Justin Halpern’s family?
Will Sasso: No, just Ed (William Shatner’s character) and Henry (Jonathan Sadowski) are more based on Justin and his father. They’ve taken creative license with Nicole Sullivan and myself.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I spoke with Nicole a few weeks ago. How did it feel teaming up again with an old MADtv buddy?
Will Sasso: Oh, it’s like putting on an old familiar pair of boots. Actually that doesn’t sound very good. I’m sure Nicole wouldn’t want to be compared to an old pair of boots. But, it’s just that we know each other as performers because we established that more than a decade ago on MADtv.
We were together for several years so that never quite leaves you and is really an advantage when you’re playing a married couple that’s also supposed to be funny and have some chemistry. It has just been a delight and a dream come true and I can’t believe I actually get to do that with her and have it be on television. It’s too good to be true.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How would you describe your character’s relationship to his wife?
Will Sasso: Every week there’s just a new dimension to these characters. There’s how Bonnie feels about her husband, there’s how Bonnie feels about Ed (her father-in-law), how she feels about Henry (her brother-in-law), how Vince reacts to Bonnie, and how Vince reacts to his father. Nicole and I play off one another. We like to keep it funny. We want people to laugh and that’s sort of our concern, making sure we’re playing these characters realistically but also funny.
The thing you have to realize with a half hour sitcom is that it’s supposed to be a good time. To be honest with you, there are episodes where Vince is playing sort of the one whose getting taught a lesson by his wife and there are other episodes where Vince is telling Bonnie, “What you’re doing is crazy and you have to stop.” So it’s this weird back and forth thing. I read some “blast’ early on that said, “Yeah, he’s a shit upon husband.” But it’s different every week and that’s also because Nicole and I can play it any number of ways. We’ll both be crazy or one of us will be crazy or we’re both sane and Ed is crazy. It definitely changes.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): We’ve seen that Henry has issues with his father, but what about Vince?
Will Sasso: I think you’ll see as the show goes on that there will be plenty of issues Vince has with his dad. That will come out more as the series rolls on.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How is it working with William Shatner?
Will Sasso: He’s a gas and such a pro. I mean, he’s been in the business for over 50 years. He knows every nook and cranny of what can be done and should be done as an actor on television and feature films for that matter. Bill’s the man and a living legend, but he’s a very approachable and sweet guy. He’s all about each scene and he really cares. I think that comes across in his work. Bill has created a real three-dimensional character in his portrayal of Ed.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You have done impressions of him on MADtv. Have you ever said, “Hey, here’s my impression of you?”
Will Sasso: No, I’ve never done that (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That might be uncomfortable.
Will Sasso: Yeah, I think I’ll stay away from doing that (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you miss sketch comedy?
Will Sasso: Having done MADtv for five years you’re cranking out a lot of sketches. Nowadays you can do a bit here and there for this show or that, so I don’t miss the experience. I miss the people from the show and the fun. I may do some more sketch at some point, I don’t know.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was it intimidating for you at 22 years old to join MADtv?
Will Sasso: I just always thought that it was going away. I always thought that MADtv was going to get cancelled every season so it kind of blew my mind that it never did. That’s sort of how I kept it from intimidating me.
There was really no room for me to be intimidated, you know what I mean? You were thrown in there and you had to run. Aside from that I really enjoyed performing. That far outweighed any sort of intimidation. Sometimes you’d get a little nervous about a sketch and want to make sure everything goes perfectly, but I don’t know about being intimidated.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Were some of the characters your own creations?
Will Sasso: Yeah, handyman came from me basically just watching Bob Vila on television. I’d think, “This would be a funny sketch if it was a guy who was a handyman but ends up sawing his hands off.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I read that you had an early “unhealthy” addiction to television. What is that about?
Will Sasso: When I was younger my older brother and sister dictated what we watched on TV so I was always watching stuff that was a little older than perhaps what I would have preferred to watch. Instead of watching Sesame Street and The Muppets they’d be watching The Carol Burnett Show, Saturday Night Live, Three’s Company, and All in the Family.
I just loved television and always wanted to, as far back as I can remember, before I was even conscious of it, become an actor. I remember seeing John Candy for the first time and just thinking, “That’s what I want to do.” I was definitely addicted to all sorts of television (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And you always wanted to be funny.
Will Sasso: I came from the predictable set of circumstances where I was the class clown wanting to make people laugh, and I did have the acting bug of wanting to perform.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Life as We Know It was released a couple of weeks ago.
Will Sasso: Yeah, I had a great time doing that film.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Any other upcoming projects?
Will Sasso: I’m doing a cartoon that will come out on Adult Swim by the end of the year called Mongo Wrestling Alliance. A buddy of mine created and produced the show and it’s a really ridiculous take on wrestling.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Speaking of cartoons, you played a hamster on Family Guy.
Will Sasso: Yeah, it’s funny. Every time I show up on Family Guy I never know quite what I’m going to do. People will tell me that I’m this or that on the show and I’ll go, “I am?” I never know when the episodes will air.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will, what do you enjoy doing during your down time?
Will Sasso: I do all sorts of outdoorsy stuff just living in Southern California like hiking, biking, and surfing. Work keeps you busy and then hanging out with the people you love keeps you busy. The experience of living where I live keeps life pretty varied from one day to the next.
© 2010 Smashing Interviews Magazine. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written consent of the publisher.