Donald Faison: I'm A Laugh Whore
Donald Faison has been making America laugh since 1995's Clueless, but his new TV gig actually lets Donald experience the sound firsthand since The Exes is filmed in front of a live studio audience. On the show -- about four unlucky-in-love building-mates -- Donald plays Phil, a sports and lady-loving dude who is still trying to mend his broken heart.
I caught up with Donald to find out what brings him back to television, his new life as a laugh whore and what Scrubs-related lesson he learned the hard way.
Insider.com: What was it about The Exes that appealed to you?
Donald Faison: I'd never done a studio audience before, and that really scared me. It's a lot like doing a play and doing theater kind of scares me too -- when you fail, you can feel it in the audience. When we did Scrubs, if you messed up, it was fixable in post, so that's why I did the show.
Insider: And how has working with a live studio audience been?
Donald: I've become a laugh whore. Which wasn't the plan. The plan was to learn the craft and to get my comedic timing better. But once I found how to make the audience laugh, I just kept on doing it because it's addicting -- especially on a comedy. It's necessary, so you try to get as many laughs as possible.
Insider: Do you find yourself in unofficial laugh competitions with co-stars Kristen Johnston and Wayne Knight?
Donald: Yeah, that's what a laugh whore does.
Insider: Who's winning?
Donald: Wayne is the king. I'm not gonna say that Wayne's a laugh whore, but, you watched Seinfeld, he knows how to turn a joke really well. For me to sit here and say that I can compete with Kristin Johnston and Wayne Knight is bullcrap.
Insider: Aside from getting the chance to learn how to be a laugh whore, what attracted you to this character?
Donald: The appeal was initially this experience, but Phil's a great character. Me and Phil Chase would absolutely be buddies. I love that he's a lady's man. I love that he uses that as his defense mechanism. Because he's been hurt, he feels like if he ever gets tied down again, this will keep him from actually being hurt. I like that. I find that to be what a lot of men do once we've been hurt. I like that Phil needs Hassel and Stewart and he needs Holly to feel complete.
Insider: For people who like the pilot, what would you tease about the subsequent episodes?
Donald: The show just gets better. I think we made a good pilot. After the pilot it gets better and better.
Insider: You starred on one of the most iconic series and in one of the most iconic movies of my generation -- when fans approach you, what is it that they most often want to talk about?
Donald: People don’t even talk to me about Clueless anymore. Scrubs has definitely eclipsed Clueless with my fans. I get a lot of, "Can we Eagle?" Which is crazy. And a lot of people on Twitter, say if I ever see you I'm just gonna jump on your back and Eagle. I'm like, "If you jump on my back I'm gonna flip you." [laughs]
Insider: So should we use this moment to let your fans know the Do's & Don'ts of approaching Donald Faison?
Donald: Yeah, I will Captain Kirk you. It's not cool to do that. I remember this one dude was like, can I please get an Eagle? This was the first time I realized Eagling was a bad idea because I said yes before turning around and he was like 240 pounds! I realized I had to pick this guy up because I didn't want to say, "You're too big for me to Eagle." So I put him on my back. My fiancee took a video of it, and you can see my legs buckling when he jumps on my back. I run down a hallway, he screams Eagle, and that was the last time. That's when I realized it's not a good idea to Eagle anyone until I see if I can lift them.
The Exes premieres tonight at 10:30 p.m. on TV Land.