Jay Baruchel on playing within the surreal dating world of FXX’s Man Seeking Woman

Man Seeking Woman, which premieres tonight on FXX, comes from the mind and pages of Simon Rich’s essays within his book “The Last Girlfriend on Earth.”

But so much of the TV adaptation, which stars Jay Baruchel and co-stars Eric Andre, Britt Lower and Maya Erskine, throws surreal characters and moments at the actors that don’t seem of this earth at all. And yet. And yet it’s all played straight by everyone in the show.

Baruchel told The Comic’s Comic it “feels like a live-action version of The Simpsons.”

In tonight’s premiere, Baruchel’s Josh Greenberg gets dumped by his girlfriend (Erskine), and his other friend (Lower) sets him up on a date with a troll. An actual troll. It does not go well.

Earlier this week, Baruchel spoke about how and why they decided to treat all of the oddities in Greenberg’s dating world as completely normal.

“I think that the more sort of grounded and real or naturalistic, whatever word you want to use to describe it, the more that we keep our reactions in that realm, the crazier stuff we can do. I think if everybody was firing on all cylinders and constantly acknowledging the insanity in front of us the whole time, there would be no place for this show to go and it would wear itself out pretty quick,” Baruchel said. “I also think those two tones, kind of, they play defense against one another as well as heightening one another. I think our show can go all the crazier because of how sort of small and intimate and real it is and vice versa as well. So, yes, I think there is a massive benefit and I think the show would be way less funny if everybody was going crazy all the time.”

In that sense, it’s similar to while also more subtle than This Is The End, Baruchel’s big-screen portrayal of himself with Seth Rogen and friends trying to survive the apocalypse.

How does it feel playing with this version of reality in Man Seeking Woman on the small screen after just having played with surreal things in reality on the big screen and This Is The End?

“Oh, yes, that’s neat. I hadn’t actually thought of that,” Baruchel told The Comic’s Comic. “Yes, I guess maybe it just sort of speaks to my taste and what I find interesting and the generation I was a part of, or I am a part of, I should say. Yes, I don’t know. I love cartoons, I guess. The Simpsons is pretty much one of my top three favorite things ever, in any format, and so, to me, Man Seeking Woman, at times, feels like a live-action version of The Simpsons. It was neat when my mother, I showed her some episodes and, she said that of her own accord, and I told her that, well, one of our writer/producers is a fellow called Ian Maxtone-Graham who worked on The Simpsons for 17 seasons. So, yes, I think I love it.

“The answer to your question, what’s it like is, I adore it. It’s just– you never get bored. There’s always something new and interesting to find a way to play with and all acting professional, or otherwise, seem to come out of, seem to be born out of play acting when you’re a kid, whether you play house, or cops and robbers, or whatever. When you get to find a way, in adulthood, to show up to work every day with monsters, and aliens, and Hitler, and all sorts of crazy nonsense, yes, you feel like a kid again.”

Does it matter, though, whether or how much other people love it or even get it?

“Yes, but I have that same concern on any gig I do because I have yet to figure out the metric, the formula, to what is going to be successful and what’s going to connect to people or not, you know, because there are movies, or TV shows, that are resounding successes that really just don’t speak to me at all and, conversely, there are things that everyone hates that I seem to like. Then there is some stuff that everyone likes that I like,” he said. “So what I was saying is I have no clue. I did wonder if, yes, it might be too specific for some people, but I think that’s a good thing. That’s a cool thing. I think when you try to make something for everyone you will ultimately make something for no one. I think we have been very definitive and specific and we’ve been true to our vision and our ideas and we’ve done the best show that we could do and whether or not the degree to which it becomes a success, I have no clue, but that’s beside the point. You want to do cool stuff and you hope that people dig it. I know that whatever happens, we did something pretty spectacular.”

Man Seeking Woman premieres tonight on FXX.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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