Daedrian McNaughton recently had a chance to interview Duane Martin who stars in Paul Reiser’s new NBC comedy “The Paul Reiser Show” as Fernando, Paul’s charismatic friend who is a successful entrepreneur and restaurateur.
Martin is married to actress Tisha Campbell-Martin who also guest stars on “The Paul Reiser Show.”
Martin has had a successful career as an actor, writer and producer in Hollywood. He wrote, produced and starred in “The Seat Filler” with Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child and “Ride or Die” opposite Vivica A. Fox. “The Seat Filler” was chosen to close the eighth annual Urbanworld Film Festival in August 2004. He also starred opposite LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union in “Deliver Us From Eva” for USA Films/Focus Films.
The Paul Reiser Show airs Thursdays (8:30-9 p.m. ET) on NBC.
How well do you think you fit into the Paul Reiser show?
Duane Martin: The way I looked at it was I didn’t know what Paul was trying to do until I saw everyone and I heard everyone’s voice. Because, he went across the water to get Omid. He didn’t want anyone else but Omid, right. And then he went and got Ben Shenkman who’s a well know theater actor, film actor. And then there’s Amy who’s like this knock out – you know very, very smart and charismatic you know woman who’s – you know, his wife is a psychiatrist so she had to fit that mold. Yes. Andy is like – his improvisation skills are incredible. Characters. It’s like everyone played a different instrument, and what Paul was trying to do was create a jam session. And no one sounds the same. And I really believe that you know, NBC – I think they know what they have, and I think it’s sort of like how Seinfeld was. It’s like Seinfeld hid – you know, swam around for awhile before people really got him and go this brand of comedy. And then when they got it, it was magic. And the same thing with Paul. What Paul put together – you know, this show has to get an opportunity to gain an audience because people are not going to get it at first sight. They’re going to get it and love it and stay. And we have so much to offer, because everyone on the show can carry an episode. So it’s a really exciting team, exciting cast. And you know Paul really – you know, he really has to get a lot of – a great deal of credit for putting something together like this. Because, a lot of people in his position would’ve went on and did the Paul Reiser Show with a bunch of unknowns and people who don’t challenge each other for comedy and just kind of like walk through the rest of the next five years, six years on television.
What is it like to work with a guy like Paul Reiser?
Duane Martin: Well, Paul Reiser is a comedy genius. I mean, he’s one of the few comics that has made the transition to big films, big TV career, he’s a musician, and Paul plays his own instrument. Like when you look at any other comic, there’s no one else like Paul. He has his own rhythm and his own brand of comedy. And I’ve always admired that. And it’s sort of like you know, Jordan coming back. You know, when Jordan – Michael Jordan came back and wore number 45 after retirement? It’s like Paul comes back. You want to play with him, and that’s how I saw it. It was an opportunity for me really you know, be alongside of somebody that I considered you know, one of those guys that’s going to be in the Hall of Fame. And you know, I’ve had my own shows and carried my own shows, but to go in and support somebody like that who’s got his mojo back. I mean, you see how – you see his timing. He’s funny. He’s really on top of his game right now. It was just – it was a honor for me. I would get stuck sometime in scenes watching him and don’t realize like my line is next.
How different or similar is your character from your real life?
Duane Martin: Well you know, they – Paul kind of kept Fernando away from me. And they – and Jonathan Shapiro, they figured, “Okay, Duane’s not Hispanic, okay. So, we can’t do – he can’t be that. But what we,” what they did like was, “Let’s feed him the information because those guys are kind of sort of like the same.” We’re both entrepreneurs, and I have several businesses and I’m very driven and self motivated and so is he I hear. And they just didn’t want to distract me. They were like, “That’s the kind of energy we want. That’s the kind of energy we need, but we don’t want you to try to get caught up in trying to be that guy. So let’s – we’ll just feed you the pertinent information and put you in the situation. And then we’ll fine tune it as we go along.” And that’s what we did.
Why should people watch the show?
Duane Martin: I’m going to say because the show gets gooder and gooder.
It seems like a family affair when it comes to your career. Having your wife guest starring on the show also. Will you encourage your sons to get involved in the industry?
Duane Martin: You know what? I’m – I’ve figured it out that I don’t have any choice in that matter. Like if he says that’s what he wants to do, then I’m going to put – I’m going to give him the best resources to do it. You know, if he wants to be you know, a fireman, then I’m going to make sure that he gets all the information and all the books about being a fireman. So, I don’t want to choose that for him. And you can see most of the time when someone does something that they love, they excel at it. So, I’m just kind of going to move out of his way.
Do you cook at all?
Duane Martin: I make a mean hot dog.
Have you learned anything at all from the role about being in the kitchen?
Duane Martin: Yes. I learned that I don’t need a hairnet. You know when I’m around the food? So that’s so that I can still look like me. That’s the only thing really.
What do you do to be more eco-friendly?
Duane Martin: My wife is the stickler for that recycling and all that kind of stuff. We have labeled garbage bins and stuff like that in the house, and she’s teaching the kids and… You know, I just – my job is to put it on the counter. And then she distributes.
The characters are based around actual people in Paul’s life. Have you actually met the people that you’re portraying?
Duane Martin: No, I didn’t.
What is good comedy to you?
Duane Martin: I think it’s exactly what Paul put together. You know, he put together this orchestra you know. It’s like no one’s playing the same instrument so it doesn’t sound like people are challenging each other for jokes and laughs. It’s like everybody is doing their own thing and in harmony. It just – it sounds right. If you just – you know, if you didn’t look at the show and you just close your eyes and you listen, you would really realize the genius that it took for Paul to put together a crew like this. Because, it hasn’t been done yet. And, I think you know the downside in something like that and being the fast first, is that it takes people a second to catch up because he’s so far ahead of where everyone is. I mean, we’re seeing a lot of – there’s no other show like this on television. You see a lot of shows that are very familiar to the public you know. You get it. You get the people who are there. You probably – people at home probably would’ve put these people together as well, or something like this. But Omid was saying, you know there’s – you know, you can’t – they say you can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends. But at some point in your life, that’s not true. Because your kids go to school and their friends parents you have to hang out with. And you don’t – you just can’t choose them, and that’s who we are. We’re like this mixed bag of nuts and we are – we like the same things and we address them and see them from different angles. And, our excitement about the same things are – they sound different. So, I think it’s – you know, I think stacked.
How do you feel about single camera versus three camera with an audience?
Duane Martin: It’s very different for me because I come from the you know four camera world in the sitcom world and it’s a different rhythm. It’s – you have to trust your castmates you know. And when you got a cast of – like this with the comedy IQ of this cast, they’ll let you know if something’s funny or not, or they’ll give you a joke, or they’ll give you an idea to get you there. And that’s why this one was – it was a great transition for me because I would look at Omid or Paul and go, “Was that it?” They were like, “Take out the the. I think it’s funnier without the the.” And then you do without the the, and you go, “Whoa. That was it.” You know, so it was fun and it was a cool transition for me.