Plus: Nicole Sullivan, Will Sasso praise the new cast
Nearly 20 years since Nicole Sullivan and Will Sasso goofed off in front of the world as early cast members on MADtv, the duo is returning Tuesday.
The pair will be guests on the premiere episode of the rebooted sketch comedy series, which stars a new cast of young comedians and will feature two stars from the original series in each new episode. But Sullivan and Sasso might steal the show with the return of a classic sketch that is just as relevant today as it was in the ’90s: their Bill and Hillary Clinton impressions.
“It was very weird because it’s been 20 years since we did that,” said Sasso. “We were doing Bill and Hillary stuff back when I joined the cast in ’97.”
Obviously, things are pretty different for the Clintons in 2016 — but the approach will remain the same.
“Nicole and I have always played Bill and Hillary sort of the way we believed them to be behind the scenes,” he said. “[It’s] totally heightened and completely for sketch, but we always played it like she knew about the interns and she knew all this stuff, and Bill doesn’t have a problem with any of it. That only added to the surrealness — here we are with Hillary Clinton one step away from the White House, and Bill Clinton is, I guess, the First Dude.”
“Will’s Bill is so good, and my Hillary Clinton is so s—y,” Sullivan said, laughing. “You need to know when you’re on and when you’re not, and that impression is so s—y, but at least I look more like her now. When you watch SNL, you’re like, ‘Well, [Kate McKinnon] is, like, 12; why’s she doing Hillary Clinton?’ At least I’m closer to her age.”
Also making comebacks: Sullivan’s racist country singer character Darlene McBride and Sasso’s impressions of Kenny Rogers and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even with the fresh acts for the new cast members, Sullivan and Sasso said working on the reboot reminded them of the original version.
“It really felt like I was back at MADtv,” Sasso told EW. “The [sketches] that I saw, there were a couple that made me laugh so hard. There’s this Cinderella thing, an HBO first look at the new Cinderella, that is so classically MADtv.”
“It’s the same! We’re right back in it, I swear,” Sullivan added enthusiastically. “It’s not different at all, which is why I love it. It still doesn’t give a s—.”
Sullivan and Sasso also endorsed the series’ new generation of eight comedians.
“These kids are so talented, and I swear I couldn’t fake that,” Sullivan said. “If they were s—, I’d be like, ‘Listen, the show’s going to be very interesting.’ These kids are so, so talented and so sweet. It’s about them for me; I’m so excited for them.”
“We felt like we were in such great comedic hands,” Sasso said. “As soon as we started shooting our first sketch together, we realized, ‘Yeah, you’re guesting on this thing, and this is their house, and they’re ready to roll.’”
Back when Sullivan and Sasso were on MADtv, the show was one of the very few sketch comedy shows on air — the only other major one being Saturday Night Live. But recently, sketch comedy has gotten much more love by networks with shows like Portlandia, Key & Peele, and Inside Amy Schumer. Sasso credits the internet with the recent spike in interest.
“The internet is a sketch show,” Sasso said. “A good sketch show, in my opinion, gets together a bunch of fun, funny people and collects their brainfarts, and shares them. And now with the internet, a brainfart can be as short as a Vine, you can look at it for two seconds if you want, like a meme, or it can be longer like a short or a narrative sketch.”
Sasso himself started a popular Vine account where he posted clips of himself playing original characters and doing his well-known impressions.
“Some of the best comedy of all time happened on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, SCTV, Saturday Night Live, Kids in the Hall — and these were all sketch shows,” Sasso said. “The stuff that I watched that made me want to be in the business, it’s still the funniest stuff in the world to me.”
“I think the more the better. It’s how we live, making fun of ourselves,” Sullivan said. “I also think nothing is MADtv. Porlandia’s great and Schumer’s great, there’s great stuff, but nothing is MADtv. MADtv is like, go f—ing wrap your baby in a blanket because we’re about to attack you both. We will take down anyone. I’ve done stuff on MADtv that was the meanest s— I’ve ever thought of thinking about. That’s what I love about MADtv: If you exist, if you breathe, we will take you down.”
MADtv premieres Tuesday, July 26 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.