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'Champaign ILL' star Adam Pally: World needs a variety of comedy

By Karen Butler
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Adam Pally and Sam Richardson play former members of a dead rap star's entourage in the new comedy "Champaign ILL." Image courtesy of YouTube Premium
Adam Pally and Sam Richardson play former members of a dead rap star's entourage in the new comedy "Champaign ILL." Image courtesy of YouTube Premium

Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Champaign ILL and The President Show star Adam Pally said comedy is essential in 2018.

"It's a mirror to our actions in society. ... You can't just assume that what you are doing is correct," the Mindy Project and Happy Endings alum told UPI in a recent phone interview, adding he thinks people seem more offended by jokes these days, in part, due to a lack of education.

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"People are just dumber," Pally said. "To me, the antidote is to keep doing every kind of comedy more and more and more, kind of to train the audience."

Pally and Veep and Detroiters actor Sam Richardson star in Champaign ILL as Ronnie and Alf, arrogant moochers who spent 15 years enjoying an international lifestyle of debauchery financed by their childhood friend Lou, who gained fame and fortune right out of high school.

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When Lou dies suddenly and the party grinds to a halt, Ronnie and Alf head home to the families they have long ignored in the titular city where they grew up to figure out their next move.

"The artist didn't even become unpopular," Richardson said in a separate conversation. "Just the entity was gone for them. So, they didn't even see a decline. It's like, all of a sudden, the gravy train stops. ... They're no longer who they thought they were."

Richardson said he enjoyed pushing out of their comfort zones these flamboyant characters, who are accustomed to fine dining, private flying, designer clothes, luxury accommodations and loads of illegal drugs.

Because it is almost as if they've been in "outer space" for half of their lives, their inability to accomplish mundane tasks such as paying a cell phone bill or furnishing an apartment can easily be mined for humor.

"You see them at the height of their game. Then you see them have a full fall," Richardson said. "Then you kind of see them start to see themselves as being people again. But then these guys are also fully in denial. Otherwise, it wouldn't be funny... It is a journey."

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Comedy doesn't need defending

Pally said he thinks making people laugh -- whether through standup, sketch, political satire, physical comedy or any other type of humor -- is a noble pursuit that doesn't need defending.

"I think you can be honest and still be funny," he said, pointing to Adam Sandler's Netflix stand-up special, which focuses on the general absurdities of life, not current events, as an example of well-done entertainment. "He was able to go, 'This is just funny.' And you liked it or not. ... And I think we need that."

Pally is keenly aware of how quickly people jump on social media to criticize others without always thinking their comments through or having their facts straight.

He recalled how when the trailer for Champaign ILL first came out, several college-age Twitter users from the actual city complained that the show didn't look like it was filmed in their hometown. The show, which debuts Wednesday, was actually shot in Georgia.

"They grew up in a time when no one told them that just because their favorite show is Atlanta and it's shot in Atlanta doesn't mean every show is shot in the city it (takes place) in. Star Wars was not shot in space," he laughed about the Twitter trolls trashing talking the Champaign ILL preview.

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He gave as another example how some people recently fumed on Twitter when rocker Dave Grohl dared to play Nirvana songs with the surviving members of the band, as well as Foo Fighters and Joan Jett, at a charity concert.

Grohl was a drummer and songwriter for Nirvana, which disbanded in 1994 after the death of its lead singer Kurt Cobain.

"How come they didn't know that? How come they didn't Google that?" Pally playfully ranted about the online critics.

Champaign ILL may have an outrageous premise, but viewers can connect to its characters through the universal themes of failure, perseverance and redemption.

"We were able to take this big comedic idea and underneath it put the realism of what it feels like to kind of be lost in your own life," Pally said. "Even if it's science-fiction or Star Wars or Marvel, it still needs to feel relatable."

The show co-stars Moonlighting icons Curtis Armstrong and Allyce Beasley.

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