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For the most part, Tim Allen's image is that of a sitcom star, or more specifically a sitcom dad. However, he's been a ribald stand-up comedian for more years than he's been fronting TV shows. Allen's joy in getting a rise out of people definitely hasn't diminished with time, and it's something he likes doing with Last Man Standing's successful resurrection on Fox. In playing the conservative-leaning Mike Baxter, the conservative-leaning Allen continues having a good time riling people up, and Here's how he explained the show's "politics."
I've always said that, certainly, relationships are politics. The political discourse between a male and female energy is politics. And children, that's all political stuff. I like to mess around because I've been a standup fiery comic for 30 years. And I like pissing people off, and I said there's nothing, especially in this area, that pisses people off more than a very funny conservative. A smart, funny conservative that takes shots and is certainly self-effacing. The left-wing point of view is so pervasive that they don't even realize it's a point of view. It is just a point of view. I think this character likes that, he likes to have another point of view. It makes him sharper and more interesting. But we don't push it. I don't think we've mentioned pro or con Trump once now.
Tim Allen has been performing stand-up for over 40 years now, and it's hard to look back and think of a time when his comedy seemed extremely different. His political views might not have been announced and on full display at the time, but his sense of humor has usually been tied with provoking strong reactions from people. For instance, his real name is Timothy Dick, and if you think he let that fact go for his whole career without making some crass references...
With Home Improvement, Tim Allen's buffoonish Tim Taylor was wholly focused on the difference between men and women, which is a lot of what his stand-up career was built around as well. It's not like he lost that particular footing with Last Man Standing, but the current show's characters focus more on the split between differing ideologies and political beliefs. Allen knows that it's arguably easier than ever to piss people off, as it were, so he's going to take advantage when possible, while still pointing out that Last Man Standing isn't pushing any boundaries and also isn't built on Donald Trump references.
I think it's more now than I've ever seen it. My constant comment is, Bryan Cranston isn't actually a meth dealer. Keanu Reeves didn't kill 109 people. These are actors. I don't know where it got confusing. I've done interviews where I have to ask, 'Are you asking my character this question?' I did an interview and I said, 'Are you asking Mike Baxter this question, because you heard something about the Clintons that the writers had written?' Now, I'll put something behind it, because I think it's funny to make fun of people that are full of themselves. Liberals have a very small window of sense of humor about themselves, so I love poking at it. Two years ago, it was the conservatives, or whatever it is.
All things considered, there are probably some Breaking Bad fans out there that actually think Bryan Cranston at least knows how to legitimately cook meth, even if he doesn't actually deal it. However, comedy stars don't usually have to worry about their character comparisons confusing anyone, even if shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm purposefully blur the lines. (My bucket list just gained the entry: "Live to see Tim Allen join a season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, because what would that be?")
To that end, Tim Allen claimed that Mike Baxter actually reminds him more of his grandmother, as opposed to himself. It's apparently the shared disdain for "big government" that does it.
Last Man Standing has been a big win for Fox, both in general and specifically in its Friday-night time slot. You can watch it along with millions of others every Friday night on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET. For anyone needing some new shows to pay attention to, keep current with our fall TV premiere schedule and our midseason premiere guide.