Undateable, the NBC sitcom that stars some of today’s best stand-up comedians, including Chris D’Elia, Ron Funches, Brent Morin, Rick Glassman and Rory Scovel, is pulling off something special tonight. Tonight’s hour-long episode will be airing live on NBC at 9 PM. Expect surprise guests and perhaps some improvisation from its talented cast.
“Knowing that it’s live, knowing that there’s this pressure.. pressure either makes diamonds or bursts pipes, and we’re a bunch of diamonds. It’s just fun for us,” Funches told Paste contributor Laurel Randolph at a press event last week. “We’re show ponies!”
Of course Undateable isn’t the first sitcom to pay tribute to the earliest days of television by holding a live episode. 30 Rock aired two live episodes, Will & Grace and The Drew Carey Show did live one-offs, and Charles S. Dutton’s old, underrated Fox sitcom Roc did an entire live season in the early 1990s. And it’s not just a fad for comedy: ER and The West Wing both pulled it off, too.
Undateable might be better suited for it than any of these other shows, though. Almost every cast member is a stand-up comedian who’s used to performing in front of live, tough audiences every night. In fact the cast did a stand-up tour together back in March. “We have an entire cast of amazing live performers and that’s what kind of separates us from other shows. What better way to showcase it than do a live show?” creator Adam Sztykiel told Randolph.
“There’s four or five of us that perform live all the time. We do it live in front of an audience anyway, but this is just cool knowing that millions of people are going to see,” D’Elia added.
The plot and some of the cameos are being kept under wraps for now, but producer Bill Lawrence promises some surprises. “We’ve added some insane elements, whether it be live music or huge cameos. Someone may or may not get their chest waxed on live TV. And if he curses, it suddenly costs you 7 million dollars,” he said.
No matter how thoroughly they prepare, though, the simple fact is that you never know what you’re going to get with a live show. These pros should be able to pull it off without a hitch, but there’s no guarantee. Everything could fall apart. Sztykiel sounds okay with either. As he told Randolph, “I think if I had to choose between a perfect show and a disaster, I’d choose a disaster. Ideal is somewhere in between.”
Undateable’s live episode airs on NBC at 9 PM ET / 8 PM CT. As with most network live shows, it’ll be performed live a second time at 9 PM PT for the west coast.