Matt Walsh, co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade and actor in films such as The Hangover and the brilliant UCB Comedy Central series, is returning once again to television with the new half hour comedy “Players”, debuting tomorrow at 10:30 pm EST on Spike. The show -created, produced and starred in by Walsh- is the latest addition to Spike’s roster, sporting a cast of UCB alumni, most notably fellow co-founder Ian Roberts. In the show, Walsh and Roberts portray two feuding brothers, who attempt to run a sports bar together without letting their conflicting personalities get in the way.
Walsh appears as the sociable and easy-going Bruce Fitzgerald, who mostly lets his uptight brother Ken (Roberts) manage their group of worthless employees who pass time buying sports memorabilia on the internet, sleeping with B-list athletes and succumbing to latent alcoholism. The characters are diverse and interesting, but surprisingly, unscripted. As Roberts recently told Punchline Magazine, “All of the dialog is actually improvised. We rolled out very tight plot scenarios, but everything that’s spoken is come up with by the actors.”
Roberts and Walsh feel this allows the characters to develop more organically, as opposed to the stiffness that can come with scripting, as Walsh explains: “I think each character has a very distinct voice, whereas if it was just written by two or three people, the voices might sound similar. But I think when everybody’s kind of saying what they would say, you can see the differences in the characters’ voices a lot.”
It definitely comes across in the show -for being so early in the season the characters are fairly fleshed out and strong. Roberts told us that he attributes this in part to all the actors’ common background in UCB: “Those guys are amazing, because they’re all trained exactly the same way that we are trained, so it’s just such a short hand, so you don’t have to – you can feel completely comfortable, that there’s no doubt that they’re going to be able to come right back, and know the right thing to say.”
To catch the series premiere, be sure to tune in to Spike TV at 10:30 pm EST March 2.