Ted Danson explains the secret to comedy, why actors keep working
Ahead of CSI‘s Sept. 28 season premiere (10 p.m. ET on CBS), Ted Danson joined EW’s Kyle Anderson for a SiriusXM Town Hall to talk about his lengthy career. Listen to two highlights below.
In the first clip, after an audience member asks him about being mocked on Seinfeld (he has neither as much money as George Costanza thought he had, nor a plane), Danson reveals the secret to comedy: “I’ve discovered that you don’t have to be the one telling the joke. As long as you’re in the room with funny, you get credit for funny,” he says. Thinking back to taping Cheers with multiple cameras in front of a live audience, which meant actors had to stay alive even when they weren’t the focus of a scene, he explains, “So you have a very funny joke, right. All of the sudden, you’d notice everybody in the cast is crossing behind you just at the right moment of the funny—so they were part of a very funny joke, they were part of that shot. If you had a dumb joke, it was like tumbleweeds. You couldn’t find anyone. All of the sudden, they’d all duck behind the bar to pick something up, or run off someplace else. You would be all by yourself with your non-funny joke.” (He goes on to reminisce about Cheers costar Woody Harrelson insisting he come to the premiere of his film Doc Hollywood, which includes a joke about Danson, and how he got him back in the film Ted.)
In the second clip, Danson admits that walking through airports is how an actor knows where they are career-wise. “Here’s my motto: Keep working. Because otherwise what happens is, somebody will have watched a rerun of Sam Malone when I’m 34 to 44, and then they’ll see me on the street now and go, ‘Geez, you look like s–t,'” he says. “But if you keep working, people realize, ‘Oh, no, that’s alright. I saw CSI. Alright, I get it. He’s aging.'”
The SiriusXM Town Hall with Ted Danson repeats Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on EW Radio (SiriusXM 105).