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8 Quick Questions for Creative Couple Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone

Partners who play together stay together, as demonstrated in ‘God’s Favorite Idiot’

spinner image Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy perform in a kitchen on the Netflix show “God’s Favorite Idiot.”
“God’s Favorite Idiot” puts the creative partnership of couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy to the test.
Vince Valitutti/Netflix

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone are once again out to prove that couples who play together stay together. They met in 1998 during a comedy-writing class at the L.A.-based improv company Groundlings, and have been making audiences laugh ever since.

The couple, who married in 2005 and have two daughters, have written and produced films such as Tammy, The Boss and Life of the Party and cofounded On the Day Productions.

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Their latest project is the comedy series God’s Favorite Idiot, which debuted June 15 on Netflix. Created by Falcone and starring the dynamic duo, the series is a workplace comedy with a Bruce Almighty slant, following tech-support employee Clark Thompson (Falcone) as he navigates life after falling in love with Amily Luck (McCarthy) at the same time he becomes God’s messenger.

Since you’ve made a show about God, Ben, do you believe there’s someone steering the ship?

Ben Falcone: I do. I think there’s a benevolent force that is trying to help us all out. I am, by the way, so respectful of each and every person’s religion or lack thereof. But personally, I think there are too many coincidences to just account for a random cosmic explosion. 

spinner image Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy ride a motorcycle in the Netflix show “God’s Favorite Idiot.”
Falcone and McCarthy portray office drones suddenly plunged into fighting back evil in the new Netflix series.
Vince Valitutti/Netflix

What’s the best thing about working together? What’s the worst?

Melissa McCarthy: I don’t have a worst, and I would say if I did, because it would probably be kind of funny. We have written and worked together from day one. The first day we met — 25 years ago or more — we were working together and writing and improvising. It’s always been such a delight. No ego between us, never a matter of, “I wrote this; now you do that.” We always build together. It is the fun of the puzzle that we both love putting together. It’s a joy. Every time we get to do another project together, every single time we drive on the film or TV lot, we’re like, “Do you believe we get to do this?”

BF: I can’t believe we get on the lot each time.

MM: I hope it feels like that forever. I never want to stop having that feeling. I think it’s the importance of writing original content. So many people are like, “What on earth made him write that?” As an actress, I’m like, “Exactly.” Give me something where I don't know what goes on in that head of yours and I’m delighted. Ben gets me to do it.

Do you have a comic inspiration, maybe a comedy-duo inspiration?

BF: I grew up watching a lot of sitcoms. I made VHS tapes of tons and tons of sitcoms. Probably the one I watched the most was Cheers. It had so many characters, and I knew them all by heart. Then The Simpsons. When you get people landing jokes that hard — that can make me and my family laugh that hard — it always appealed to me. Nichols and May, [American improvisational comedy duo Mike Nichols and Elaine May] of course.

MM: I think of Madeline Kahn, something different was going on; Gilda Radner; Jane Curtin, watching SNL [Saturday Night Live] before I was supposed to be watching SNL.  I would literally look through a crack in the door. Carol Burnett broke my brain; Lucille Ball. I remember thinking, They’re generating this, these women. They weren’t given funny lines and then they said them. They’re making this so funny because they’re funny. And that energy — nobody else can say it like that; nobody else can give a look like Lucy. It was odd, and it was unexpected. It was flawed. I immediately fell in love with those types of characters. In life, those are the people I’m interested in and attracted to. That’s the fun of it.

spinner image Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy perform at a messy table in the Netflix show “God’s Favorite Idiot.”
Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy think the moral of the Netflix show “God’s Favorite Idiot” could be phrased in a variety of ways: “We can do better,” or “We’re all doing the best that we can.”
Vince Valitutti/Netflix

Is there something that’s never funny?

BF: Really dark crimes. I don’t want to tell jokes about that. We don’t do gross stuff.

MM: Anything mean-spirited.

What’s your go-to funny movie when you need a laugh?

BF: If I’m feeling like I need a little perking up, I'll look through the John Candy canon. I’ve always loved him as a performer.

MM: Mel Brooks. He’s so sweet and so funny. He did that perfect blend. Mel Brooks is just what you need to just be like, I’m going to turn off my brain.

BF: Young Frankenstein.

MM: Young Frankenstein, my God. It’s why I truly think comedy is so important. We just need to laugh, certainly now, maybe more than ever. There’s something about comedy: You can lovingly poke fun at someone and it doesn’t mean you’re making fun of them. If you could show it in the way that everybody laughs, maybe it could loosen people up a little. It’s not us against them. When you get it right, hopefully, you have a good laugh and then you don’t go out and ride somebody’s tail and drive them crazy and be angry. It’s kind of hard to be really mad if you’ve just had a good laugh.

Clearly, God’s Favorite Idiot has a moral to its story. Maybe, Why aren’t we doing better? 

BF: I would phrase it a little differently. I would say, “We can do better.” And some people are doing better, and let’s celebrate the positive increments and just keep striving to achieve more peace and happiness and respect.

MM: We’re on a hamster wheel: “We’re doing it right, you’re doing it wrong, and they’re doing this, and we’re doing that.” The goal would be, “We’re all doing the best that we can, and we’re not that different, and you should just lead with kindness.” 

Is laughter the secret to longevity in your marriage?

MM: I don’t know if it sounds cheesy, but he makes me laugh 25 times a day, usually once or twice until I get sparkly. I don’t know what else I could ask for in life. He’s the kindest fellow.

BF: We try to be nice to each other. One of the keys is, as long as you constantly try to be respectful and kind, it starts to feel like not so much work.

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Is there someone you want to involve in one of your projects?

MM: A billion. Who were we just saying yesterday?

BF: I could rapid-fire.

MM: I was like, “I would do anything to work with Ron Howard.” What a dreamboat and what a great storyteller. You rapid-fire.

BF: Viola Davis, Taika Waititi, Sandra Bullock …

MM: I want to work with Sandy again because I’m greedy and I’m not crazy. [McCarthy and Bullock starred in 2013’s buddy cop film The Heat.]

BF: She’s just wonderful. I want to do more stuff with our God’s Favorite Idiot team. They’re all so lovely and wonderful.


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