Brooklyn, New York was well represented at TBS’ FYC event in Burbank, Calif. Sunday.
The cabler held a joint screening and panel for its comedies “The Last O.G.” and “Search Party,” both of which film in the Big Apple and use its setting as a way to inform the characters’ worlds. On “The Last O.G.,” Tray (Tracey Morgan) gets out of prison after 15 years to barely recognize his gentrified borough neighborhood, while on “Search Party,” the characters are representations of the new residents post-gentrification.
“People want to say gentrification is all bad, but no, it’s good. Clean the place up. I’ve got grandparents, I’ve got people that work and walk there, and they’re safer,” Morgan said to Variety. “I’m not going to get too into politics. Politics is a pile of tricks!”
Moderated by Jack McBrayer, the panel featured “The Last O.G.” stars Morgan and Tiffany Haddish, as well as “Search Party’s” Alia Shawkat and John Early. “The Last O.G.” cast member Allen Maldonado was in the audience and even took his turn at the microphone during the audience Q&A to ask his co-stars what they loved about working with him.
“We all know these people — these are real people. It doesn’t matter what color you are, you know these people. You know women who’s got a man locked up and are trying to get back in the kids’ lives. Why do you think people are identifying and relating to this? Why do you think people gravitate to this? These are real stories,” Morgan said.
While “Search Party” screened its second season opener, “The Last O.G.” went with its fifth episode that featured the funeral of Shannon’s (Haddish) mother and the introduction of Tray’s prison girlfriend (played by guest star Chrissy Metz), who Morgan and Haddish referred to as his “transition chick.”
“I was a transition chick, and I bet those guys are pissed they didn’t keep me around!” Haddish said.
The power of the ensemble casts of these very tonally different comedies was a powerful topic of conversation. McBrayer pointed out there is a “30 Rock” reunion on “The Last O.G.” because Dante Hoagland, who plays Morgan and Haddish’s onscreen son, previously played Tina Fey’s son at the end of the NBC comedy. Meanwhile, “Search Party’s” Early shared that he’s just happy “they don’t have a Kim Cattrall” on the set.
“I deeply respect Kim Cattrall as an actress, but everyone saw her Instagram post!” he said.
But the differences in tone for these two comedies were important to discuss, as well. “The Last O.G.” leans more on traditional humor of jokes in the dialogue, in addition to comical situations and reactions from its characters, while “Search Party” is darker, revolving on a storyline about a murder cover-up that unravels its characters to the point of nervous breakdowns and then ends its season on another murder.
“The first season was very ‘Nancy Drew’ in the style and the tone, and in the second season they referenced Hitchcock,” Shawkat told Variety. “So this was about paranoia, not so much innocent discovery, but I love that each season gets to change so much and doesn’t stay stagnant and people can’t tell what season it is. These characters change all of the time.”
While Early shared the moments where his character was “in the streets in [his] underwear” after not being able to cope with the stress were cathartic as an actor and, he thinks, for the audience as well. “I always would assume that in political nightmares like now you’d want full escapism, but there is something about doubling-down in the darkness,” he said.
Haddish’s material on “The Last O.G.” was often more serious and “straight-woman” style than she is used to, which posed challenges but also new joy for the actress.
“The thing that was fresh and exciting about this show is that I get to be a different character than what I normally am,” Haddish told Variety. “People are normally used to seeing Tiffany Haddisn be the loud, ratchet, wild, turning up chick, whatever, and the character I play — Shannon, she has that side of her — the Shay side, the younger years. But as an adult she carries herself in a different way and so I was really excited to show that side of me. Because I do have that side.”
Morgan, specifically, expressed interest in seeing more of how Shay became Shannon in the recently announced second season of the new comedy.
Noting that he wants to try his hand at directing a second season episode of “The Last O.G.”, Morgan said, “I want to direct one where we see Tiffany’s struggles. Josh didn’t meet her kids until they were three, so the strength until then when she was working at Yankee Stadium with the big belly and Madison Square Garden until she became this big, powerful woman.”
As for the rest of what they hope for season 2, Morgan shared he’d like to see Tray, who “did damage to his own community when he was selling crack” continue to do better for Brooklyn and for his kids.
“Hopefully Whoopi Goldberg is going to play my mom,” Morgan said, but then noted he was just doing a bit. “My mom is going to be white. Meryl Streep is going to be my mom.”
Haddish said she’d like to see Shannon become more open to Tray spending time with their kids, as well.
“Search Party” was also recently renewed — for a third season,– and Shawkat said next year she’d like to see Dory “own herself a little more,” while Early said he would love to watch Elliott interact with the media.
“I think there’s going to be a little bit more of a public element, naturally, because she got arrested,” Early reminded about Dory at the end of season 2. “So I think that just sounds like so much fun to me, comedically — seeing them all on-camera. I think they’ll each have such a funny reaction to being in the press, and I imagine they will screw themselves over when they should be very tight-lipped.”