CBS's "Odd Couple"-esque comedy with a potty mouth, "2 Broke Girls," pairs outrageous (and often raunchy) one-liners with a nutty cast of characters. Max (played by Kat Dennings) is a sharp-tongued, street-smart woman who knows how to pull herself up by her bootstraps. When she meets Caroline (played by Beth Behrs), a one-time trust-fund baby and billionaire heiress who's now penniless, an unexpected friendship is born -- as is a fledgling cupcake business that they start as a duo. In the meantime, they both work at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, diner and share an apartment. The series also has a money-centric dynamic that is unusual; the leads are trying to earn $250,000 for their business, and there's a counter at the end of each episode that tallies the amount they've made or lost. The sitcom, which is close to wrapping up its sophomore season, has already won a People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy and garnered three Emmy Awards nominations (winning one for Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series).
Dennings, Behrs, and the rest of the cast -- Garrett Morris (Earl), Jonathan Kite (Oleg), Matthew Moy (Han Lee), and Jennifer Coolidge (Sophie) -- gathered at PaleyFest 2013 along with creator and executive producer Michael Patrick King to chat about the ins and outs of the series.
1. An honest day's work
Because the show is based significantly on trying to earn a buck, the cast was asked about their most unusual real-life honest job -- as in, what was the craziest thing they did for work before hitting it big in Tinsel Town?
King said he was once a geriatric orderly; he literally bathed the elderly and didn't seem too thrilled to conjure up the memory. Dennings has been acting since she was 9, so she said she's never really had an "honest job." But when she was 12, she did a VHS commercial for a new drug for kids who wet the bed, playing a girl who wet the bed. According to Dennings, you can find it online. She's right! Watch the commercial here:
Behrs quit a job as a cocktail waitress without giving her two-weeks notice and was yelled at by management. She still feels bad for not giving notice, she said, but she was not willing to wear the sexy referee uniforms that they tried to put all the waitresses in.
Morris had a job in the 1940s that involved plucking chickens, and Moy made smoothies and burritos. Moy said he once made a man a burrito, and the customer put his palm on Moy's forehead, blessing him. "I got blessed that day -- it was great," Moy said.
2. Live and in person
When asked what the benefits are of shooting in front of a live audience, Kite explained the audience tells the actors and writers what's missing. The immediate response helps the cast and crew have a conversation of sorts with the audience, thus putting their performance in context -- helping to fine-tune the jokes, making them clearer and funnier.
3. From "Sex and the City" to "2 Broke Girls"
Dennings made her first big TV splash on none other than King's iconic hit "Sex and the City." You'll remember her as the filthy rich, snooty, and promiscuous 13-year-old Jenny Brier, who was planning an A-list bat mitzvah in the Season 3 episode "Hot Child in the City." The funny part is that Dennings was far from that character in real life. She was home-schooled and had very little access to TV. When she and her mom were driving home from the audition, they saw a massive "SATC" billboard and realized that the series was hugely popular. After she got the role, her family subscribed to HBO to see her episode and then canceled the subscription.
Watch Dennings in "SATC" (Warning: Clip contains adult language):
4. Hey, ladies!
How does King have such great insight and understanding into the world of women? That was an easy question for him: He has three sisters, all very close in age and whom he respects greatly, so his first impression of the fairer sex was that girls are awesome. When applying that sentiment to "2 Broke Girls," King realized there was something missing from how women are portrayed on TV. Women characters were often presented as entitled beings, and he was seeing young female characters in that prototype. He realized that shows were missing a market -- hard-working girls with multiple jobs -- that was closer to real life, and that's how the show was born.
5. Kite's audition win
King said Kite was a shoo-in when he walked into the audition. Why? Because he walked in embodying who is now Oleg. He showed up in Hammer pants, flip-flops, white socks with toes, and a tank top. Meanwhile, all the other hopefuls were in regular cook's clothes. "He created that look," King said.
6. What's that smell?!
An audience member asked about the girls' uniforms, which Dennings and Behrs both admitted stink! Costume designer Trayce Field understood that the show was going for a '60s-'70s retro vibe, and she created the girls' uniforms with that in mind. While they look awesome, the old-school fabric can't be washed very often, so the more the girls wear them, the more they smell! They smell worse with every episode, Dennings said.
7. Morris opens up about his 'SNL' stint
Morris was one of the original cast members on "Saturday Night Live." When asked how his experience on "2 Broke Girls" differs from his "SNL" days, he had a lot to say. It was similar in writing, he said, insisting that the current group of writers is every bit as good as Lorne Michaels's (creator, producer of "SNL") group of writers. But he did dish that nowadays, there are fewer ego trips and less stress day to day. While there are still a lot of crises, the professionalism is top-notch, and unlike back in the day, the series is not drug-fueled. He admitted to being a cocaine addict for 30 years, but he's been proudly clean for seven. Still, he mentioned that he enjoys marijuana from time to time; it helps glaucoma, anxiety, and insomnia, Morris said, inciting hoots from the crowd.
And guess who wrote Morris's skit about the hard-of-hearing translator on "SNL"? It was Chevy Chase.
8. Keep them on their toes
An audience member asked if improv is ever used on the show. No way, said Dennings, because it's not necessary; the writers are just that good. But there are a lot of last-minute switches in dialogue and jokes. Depending on the live-audience reaction, the actors are given changes in their lines to make the punch lines hit harder. They often don't even have a chance to rehearse the changes, King said, but they're so skilled at delivering the funny that the writers know when a joke falls flat, it's their fault -- not the actors'.
9. Do you love Dennings's lipstick?
Dennings said the question she gets asked most often is about her awesomely dark red lips on the series. Want to know what she uses? It's a Tarte brand lip crayon in Envy. To achieve a flawless effect, Dennings shared, you have to reapply.
10. Max wannabe?
When asked about her most interesting fan encounter, Dennings disclosed that there's a woman who regularly comes to live tapings dressed as Max in her diner uniform. While Dennings is, on one hand, flattered, she also said, "I'm worried she might wanna kill me."
"2 Broke Girls" airs on Mondays at 9 PM at CBS.