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Arts and Entertainment

TV Junkie Interview: MADtv's Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald of Fox's "MADtv" does a weekend at the Brea Improv
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If you've ever watched Fox's "MADtv" during its nearly 15 year run, you will know who Michael McDonald is as his writing, performance, and directing were heavily featured during his 10 year tenure on the show. Just a few of his incredibly popular characters included Stuart Larkin, Bible Dude, and Rusty Miller to name just a few.After many years of sketch comedy, McDonald began working more on writing and directing projects and programs and is now a staff writer and go-to director for ABC's "Cougar Town" where he will be guest-starring this season. He has also been on every season of Bravo's "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," as Griffin is a personal friend of his.

In terms of his stand-up chops, we've been fortunate enough to see McDonald's Showtime stand-up special, "Michael McDonald: Model Citizen," which was very very funny.

McDonald will be doing five shows at the Brea Improv tonight through Sunday - check their website for details or call 714-482-0700.

Late last week we had the chance to ask Michael McDonald a few questions:

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The TV Junkie: So you're performing at the Brea Improv, you also shot your Showtime special in Orange County too.

Michael McDonald: Ah yes, I'm from Orange County, from Santa Ana, and they like me there, I'm playing to a hometown crowd.

The TV Junkie: This is a comedy club show but I also see that you will be performing at theaters on your tour. As you've eased back into stand-up, what are some differences that you have noticed?

Michael McDonald: I love doing stand-up now, and I really like doing theaters. Comedy clubs are more of an extreme, you can have probably the best comedy experience ever working in a comedy club, if you really get that connection with people and everyone is on board. You can also have a not-so-great experience too, if there's someone too drunk, or you get a heckler.

The TV Junkie: There are some comedians who are really great and dealing with hecklers, it's as if they enjoy it.

Michael McDonald: That's something I really don't care to do, to yell at someone who did come out to see me, this would mean I would be yelling at everyone there in the club to deal with just one guy. A lot of times it's fans who are just a bit out of hand - they're just really excited to see me, so why would I yell at them? You do get the people who really want to see me do "Stuart."

The TV Junkie: In your Showtime special, you had some hilarious bits about your relationship with your mother.

Michael McDonald: Oh yes, oh, she's the gift that just keeps on giving. If I didn't talk about my mother and do those stories, I would be missing a huge chunk of my act.

The TV Junkie: Tell us a bit about your work on "Cougar Town," I've been on set and there's a lot of camaraderie there.

Michael McDonald: I'm so fortunate to be working with such talented and friendly people, we do have a lot of fun there. I couldn't ask for a better boss [Courtney Cox].

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The TV Junkie: Isn't it amazing how that, after all these years, people still really want to see the cast of "Friends" on TV? You've got Courtney on "Cougar Town," Lisa Kudrow's "Who Do You Think You Are?," Matt LeBlanc on Showtime's "Episodes," and now "Mr. Sunshine" with Matthew Perry. When are we going to get Jennifer Anniston back on TV? When she was on "Cougar Town" you guys had huge ratings.

Michael McDonald: Yet, those guys are really popular. It was great to have Jennifer on "Cougar Town" but she's kind of moved on to movies now, hasn't she?

The TV Junkie: Yes, but, the movies haven't done so well - people are wondering how many more chances she'll be given. She gets paid a huge amount but most of those movies don't make a lot of money and they certainly aren't critically acclaimed.

Michael McDonald: I'll just say that I would love to see her back on TV too.

The TV Junkie: Is is true that you got into comedy when a friend took you to see the Groundlings?

Michael McDonald: Yes. I had been studying business, I was going to work in a bank, and then this friend took me to a comedy show. She said, "We're going to see the Groundlings." I went into that show and I was hooked immediately. I started doing classes and eventually made it into the regular cast for several years.

The TV Junkie: And then you went on from there to star on TV for the better part of 2 decades, and you've done movies and now you're directing. What an amazing success story! What about your friend?

Michael McDonald: She got into performing also, but I think she got out of it, not because she wasn't any good, but because, let's just say she married well.

The TV Junkie: I guess that's another form of success, right? Would you do it all again?

Michael McDonald: I don't know, I think if you presented me with all the thing I had to go through... because there certainly were some tough times, you know? But then I think about a lot of the things I've done, and some of the great people I've worked with.. I'll say "Yes!"

To see Michael McDonald at the Brea Improv tonight through Sunday - check their website for details or call 714-482-0700.

Below is a remix by DJ Steve Porter of bits from McDonald's Showtime special "Michael McDonald: Model Citizen":