Australian import Rebel Wilson, who is best known here in the U.S. for her funny roles in “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids,” is hoping audiences will experience similar laugh-a-minute enjoyment when they tune in to her new ABC comedy “Super Fun Night.”
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In the new half-hour comedy series, Wilson plays Kimmie Boubier, a woman who for the past 13 years has spent Friday nights with her two best friends and roommates, hiding from life. When the series picks up, Kimmie has just had a promotion at her law offices and gets invited to a party by one of her new associates, British attorney Richard Royce (Kevin Bishop). Infatuated with the Brit, Kimmie convinces her two best friends that it’s time to shake things up and convinces the girls to head out to the club where the party is being held for a “Super Fun Night.”
Sound like a show that is up your alley? Or still need convincing? Here are five things to know before checking out “Super Fun Night”:
1. The idea for the series is based on real-life “Fun Nights” that Wilson spent in Australia with her sister Liberty.
“The original concept of the show is I used to do this thing with my sister Liberty called “Friday Night Fun Night,” Wilson says. “She worked at a candy factory at the time, and she would just bring home the off-cuts. We’d sit at home on the couch eating and watching DVDs. I started to think, ‘Maybe there’s more fun than this,’ even though at that time I did think that was really fun. And so I strategically tried to go out into the world and force myself into social situations. That’s where all the true stories come from in the show. ”
2. Even though the show is a comedy, Wilson wants to use it as a venue to reach out to other girls and women who are not the most popular and whose social lives could use some perking up.
“The purpose of the show, to me, is to inspire girls who don’t think they are cool, or popular, or pretty, and all that, to get out there and have fun and exciting lives,” she says. “To do that, you need to present a realistic version of what it is like for a girl who looks like me and isn’t the coolest. There are some sad storylines coming down the line, but I think we have to present that, so when we present the wins for my character, it is more gratifying.”
The series, of course, has its share of requisite fat jokes and embarrassing situations for Kimmie. So much so that executive producer Conan O’Brien said he is often tempted to step in and defend her, but he says that he often then discovers that some of the saddest material was written by Wilson herself.
“I think great comediennes know the balance inherently,” O’Brien says. “[Look at] the situations that Lucille Ball put herself in; the situations Tina Fey put herself in. It is not our place to tell Rebel. She knows what she’s doing. She has an unerring ability to hit that balance. You sometimes cringe, but she is so likeable that you are in it with her. When she achieves her goal, it is exciting.”
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3. Meet the Rest of the Cast:
~ Liza Lapira plays Helen-Alice, one of Kimmie’s two besties and one of her roommates, who is afraid that Kimmie’s promotion will result in the end of their friendship. Helen-Alice had seen a similar thing happen with her cousin, so she is worried. Also, Helen-Alice gets panic attacks in social situations, so she is not sure she is up to going out with the girls, but she tries to be a good friend.
~ Lauren Ash plays Marika, the second of Kimmie’s two BFFs and also a roommate. Early on, it becomes clear that Marika really loves Kimmie and would do anything for her. There is a possibility that Marika is a lesbian, but as the series begins, she is such an innocent, she hasn’t yet explored what she is or isn’t.
“If we do that, first of all, we wanted to make sure that that was a realistic thing, and we think it is,” says executive producer John Riggi. “We think that you can still be in your mid-20s and be unsure about who you are or what you’re doing. So right now, to tell you the truth, the writers and all of us talking about it, we like the idea of the confusion. We think we’re getting jokes out of it. It fits in with the stories we’re trying to tell about them, which is they are three friends that go through everything. Thick and thin, they’re together. If Marika winds up being a lesbian, I can promise you it will be handled respectfully.”
~ Kevin Bishop plays handsome British attorney Richard Royce, the son of the firm’s senior partner. Kimmie thinks he might be attracted to her, especially after he mentions that he likes girls with a “bit of chunk.”
~ Australian actress Kate Jenkinson, who is not in the pilot, will be added as Kimmie’s “frenemy” Kendall, a rival lawyer she’s known since college. They’ll clash on the job and after hours.
“Our replacement nemesis is a very good friend of mine from Australia,” Wilson says. “We were on a sketch show together, Kate and I and Jason Gann, who does ‘Wilfred,’ so we’ve been improvising together for years and years. I really wanted to bring what I do in the movies into TV — that really spontaneous, improvised stuff, so every single scene, we’ll also be doing improvised versions.”
4. Wilson has a policy of no-holds-barred physical comedy when it comes to Kimmie, who constantly embarrasses herself. In the pilot, that involves having the zipper on her dress break, exposing her neon-flashing bra and matching panties on the street of New York City.
“When I’m playing the character, I’m just kind of in the character,” she says. “I don’t think of my own personal vanity or anything like that. Once I’m in the zone, I just do whatever, which can get me into trouble, but it can also be really funny.”
5. Despite being the latest Australian import to star in a TV series, Wilson is losing her accent for the part and speaking “American.”
“I started out in the theater as an actress doing all different characters in all different accents,” she says. “When I first came to America, I was doing movies and thought I would be American all the time, but the way it worked out was that I was playing more international characters. So when I had the opportunity to do this TV show in America, the concept was three girls living in Manhattan, who have known each other since they were 13 or 14 years of age, so I just really thought I had to make this character American.”
“Super Fun Night” premieres Wednesday, October 2, at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.