Talking improv, diversity, and chemistry with KEVIN FROM WORK’s Jason Rogel
ABCFamily’s latest comedy, single-camera series KEVIN FROM WORK, has a different feel from what we’ve seen on the network lately, as far as half hour comedies go, and I’m really into what I’ve seen so far! In tonight’s all new episode, it sounds like Kevin is inspired to help Ricky after performance reviews come out. To celebrate the new show and to talk about what’s coming next, I spent some time chatting with one of the stars, Jason Rogel (Ricky). Check it out!
Two minutes in, and I was totally sold on these characters. I wondered as you’re reading the script for something like this, is that how it was for you? Were you reading it and saying “Okay, I love this; I need to be a part of this?”
Yes, absolutely! The first time I read the whole pilot, the audition script was one thing, but the whole pilot, seeing all of the characters, oh my god? How kooky they all are; I fell in love with the Patti character, oh my gosh, so hilarious. Just all of them. Brian’s crazy neediness for Kevin; Roxie’s carefreeness. The whole show is filled with such zany, kooky characters; it’s so hard not to love all of them, you know.
I love how everybody interacts with each other, too. It seems like these really are coworkers; like it really is a brother/sister relationship. Everybody seems like they’ve been together forever.
Absolutely! I think a lot of that has to be with our real life off camera relationship. It’s crazy. Now that we’ve gotten to see the first couple, or the first few now, it’s neat for me to see our relationship on camera. It’s crazy. You really can tell that there’s a chemistry between all of the cast members, you know?
Had you known anybody before hand, or was this a situation where you all met and fell in love with each other immediately?
I hadn’t personally met any of the cast before. I know that Noah and Matt Murray had worked together in Canada, but other that, we all met at the first table read together, and from then, we all really just fell in love with each other. We were all so excited for this project to succeed, and we all believed in this project and felt the same way. That drew us into that bond, you know?
Now that the show has aired for a few weeks, what have you been hearing from people? Have you had a lot of interaction on social media?
Social media is hilarious. Just how instantaneous people’s responses are. What characters they’re falling in love with. I haven’t been a part of a show like this before where you know, people are just responding to the lines and what each character is doing. It’s all new to me, and I think it’s amazing to see what people are loving and what people are reacting to. Especially with ABCFamily. ABCFamily shows like PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, have such a huge social media following and it’s just crazy to be a part of it!
What can you tease for us about what we’ll see in the next couple of episodes?
Well the next episode coming, episode 4 is my favorite, or one of my favorites so far. You get to actually find out a little bit about Ricky’s background. I can say that I have a twin sister. She is played by Ellen D Williams. In this next coming episode, Ricky…I’m trying to say this without getting in trouble [laughs]. Let’s just say Ricky’s in a slump and you find out that it leads to trouble at home and that’s when you meet my twin sister. Beyond that, what people have to look forward to, is that all of the characters finally meeting each other and interacting with each other, it’s great. It’s hilarious. You get to see our off camera chemistry on camera. It’s crazy. It’s amazing; we all inter-cross storylines.
It doesn’t feel forced that the work group would meet the friend group – handled organically.
Totally! We’re all connected to Kevin, so it just does make sense that eventually, the sister shows up at the office and Patti will show up at the office because of Audrey. It is, it’s very organic, and the characters [laughs], the characters are so crazy that when they run into each other, it’s magical. [laughs]. There’s such a spark. I eventually meet Patti and it’s crazy; I can’t wait for audiences to see it!
What is it like working with Amy Sedaris?
Oh my god, she’s brilliant. I was a fan of STRANGERS WITH CANDY, so I was super excited to find out that she is playing our boss. When we first came onto the pilot, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought she might be a little kooky or zany; she’s so sweet and chill! Quiet and professional, and then the minute they call action, the crazy Amy Sedaris comes out. It’s brilliant. Everything she does, all the takes, all the improv, she’s so on. It elevates the script and the show altogether. She’s a lot of fun to have around; I wish that we had her more.
You mention Amy’s improv – being a new show, and wanting to set the tone, how much improv or freedom did you all have right from the start to make the character your own / try alt-takes?
Right from the beginning! McG, our producer and director of our first two episodes, and Barbie (Adler), our creator, were all very for us trying stuff out in the beginning, especially in the pilot. For my character in particular. He was kind of written as a smaller guest recurring in the beginning, and McG would just let me try stuff out and they kept adding stuff, and all of a sudden Ricky was sprinkled everywhere. I came to find out that we were picked up, and Barbie was like “listen, you’re going to be in the whole season.” From all of the experimenting we did in the pilot with the Ricky character, it just kind of added more and now he’s become one of the regulars on the show with the rest of the cast. Also, beyond that, we’ll shoot stuff as written, and then they’ll also give us a couple of passes if we want to try something or try alternate lines. Everyone on the show, like Punam, just everyone, has really great timing, so we’ll all throw out some improvs. Sometimes, they’re like, NOPE, we’re good, Network won’t go for that [laughs], but most of the time, it just adds. Everyone is so in tune with their characters that we know what improvs will go with our crazy characters.
There has to be a comfort level of being able to play within the character right from the get go – I’d imagine you feel more at home than you would if you had to wait a bit.
Oh for sure!! With McG and Barbie, creating that environment where we can try these things out, and because it’s a new show, and because these characters are new to us, and we’re still developing them, it gives us our freedom, and helps us shape the character throughout the rest of the season!
Why are you telling people that KEVIN FROM WORK is a show for them to be watching?
For me, personally, I’m proud of how diverse our cast is. ABC and ABCFamily, Disney, they’ve always been great with reflecting the diversity of our country on their television shows, so first and foremost, I’m really proud that we have an ethnically diverse cast and that’s reflected in the show. And then also that it’s a fresh new take on the romantic comedy. More than that, it is nice to see that it is continuing to show people of color, us, me, everyone!
And I really like, too, that it feels organic. It’s not like “we’re diverse for diversity’s sake!”
Right, right right!! I was just going to say, it’s not like, “oh we have the Indian girl; we have the Asian guy.” It’s that we happen to be people in this workplace and our ethnicity or our sizes or our body types, nothing is specifically called out. We’re just these great characters in this environment!
Don’t miss all new episodes of KEVIN FROM WORK at 8:30/7:30c on ABCFamily after all new episodes of YOUNG & HUNGRY!