When Danny DeVito joined It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia ahead of its second season, it wasn’t exactly a no-brainer decision. The FX comedy was getting some positive word of mouth, but it wasn’t a ratings smash. Fortunately, the comedy legend fit in perfectly with the outrageous vibe of the show, and now the gang is renewed for Season 15. It was clearly a great move in retrospect, but now we have some insight into why he signed on, courtesy of his co-star and the show’s creator Rob McElhenney.
The popular actor and comedy visionary was interviewed as part of a special comedy showrunners panel put on by The Hollywood Reporter. During the chat, the subject of rethinking stories amidst current events came up, and McElhenney circled it around to Danny DeVito. He said he learned a lot from the veteran actor who apparently joined the show because he wanted to stay relevant and be associated with young funny people. Here’s a portion of his quote…
For me, I remember Danny DeVito came on in the second season of [It’s Always Sunny] which was 13 years ago, and he's a comedic icon and a hero of mine, and [he asked] at one point on set, ‘How do you want me to say it?’ And I said, ‘Well, just say it whatever way you think is funniest.’ And he said, ‘No, I want you to tell me what's funny.’ And I remember going, ‘You want me to tell you what's funny?’ He's like, ‘Yeah, you're the young person, and the reason I signed on to this show was because I want to stay fresh and relevant, and if I don't, then I'm just going to become a dinosaur.’ That was a real learning experience for me. And as I continued to make that show and then others, I've surrounded myself with young people.
Danny DeVito has great comedy instincts. He’s proven that over and over again during a successful career that dates all the way back to the mid-70s. That being said, it’s refreshing to see someone with so much success willing to listen and reinvent himself. Every subsequent generation has at least a slightly different idea of what’s funny. You can either continue to appeal to your generation or you can evolve and keep bringing in new people with you.
That’s apparently what Rob McElhenney has decided to do too. He said he has people in the writers’ room on It’s Always Sunny who weren’t even allowed to watch the show because they were too young when it started. He feels that helps keep both himself and the show fresh and relevant. Given how cutting edge it has somehow remained for fourteen seasons, it’s hard to disagree with that.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia has been renewed for a fifteenth season. Production was scheduled to begin in August, but the creators have said they want to rethink the episodes and plotlines in light of the public health crisis and other issues going on in the world. So, who knows when the show may be back or what it might look like (or if they'll touch the quarantine plotline they already did), but whenever it does come back, expect cutting edge comedy that plays to many age groups.