Now We’re Talking: Tug Coker and Tommy Dewey on the uproarious season 2

Now We're Talking

The story of Now We’re Talking is as interesting as the series itself. Tommy Dewey and Tug Coker created the hilarious comedy that originally premiered on go90, then fell into a void when that platform collapsed. Now, after years of hard work, CW Seed has come to the rescue and finally released the show’s second season. Much like their characters on the series, Tug and Tommy have never given up and now they’re winning over audiences all over again.

I recently caught up with the dynamic duo to discuss the journey of their show, the best parts of Now We’re Talking season 2, and their thoughts on making this incredible series that defied all expectations. Learn more in my interview with Tug and Tommy below and then get to streaming Now We’re Talking on CW Seed today.

Brittany Frederick: You guys had years of separation between filming Now We’re Talking season 2 and being able to release it. What has this transition period been like for you? Because it’s not easy, but it also made the show even more relevant with current events.

Tommy Dewey: Once go90 imploded, we took a second to lick our wounds and then thought, “We can’t have made an entire season of television that no one gets to see.” So it has been however many months of just exploring options, running those options by Warner Brothers because obviously it is a business at the end of the day and they’ve got to re-sell it in a way that makes sense.

It’s just been checking in once a week. “Hey, who can we call? Who can we send the screeners to?” That sort of thing. And then when there were bits of interest, going down the line in terms of negotiating to see if it would work.

But like you said, it became weirdly timely. It’s about sports and it’s about guys hitting midlife and being complete idiots and falling on their faces and not having a real sense of the world, but it’s also about media. Without spoiling anything, the season tracks problems within an upstart digital media company and my God, there’s a new story every day about the struggles of an upstart digital media company. So it’s dropping at a time that feels like it’s current.

BF: It’s worth saying season 2 was filmed before what happened with go90 but it feels very reflective of that regardless.

Tug Coker: One of the things that was fun for us was, as Tommy alluded to, the struggles of a digital platform. We experienced that with go90, but luckily enough, we are now able to make a show about the struggles of a digital platform. Art was mimicking life in that standpoint, and so that was a fun journey for us.

But revisiting the show now, we’re even more encouraged because we’ve been cutting up the clips for social media and we’re biased obviously, but the show still makes us laugh. Every week there’s something in sports media…Thom Brennaman last month saying his unfortunate thing. Skip Bayless talking about depression in a way. Ozzie Guillen last month basically saying he hates one of his former players, Nick Swisher.

The content is perpetual in this world of sports media. So in that way, I think it will always feel timely even though the names of the people mentioned might change.

BF: The fascinating thing about this season is that your characters completely switch places. Tommy, who was such a jerk last season, becomes more self-aware and we see Tug become more like Tommy used to be. How much fun was that for you two to play?

TC: I love that you picked up on that because that was, in terms of character arc, that was the main driver for us…Tug is headed to a dismal place that Tommy has been, and it nearly killed him, you know? Tug has been mostly an upstanding guy doing the right thing. Tommy has never had the fulfillment of that. And likewise, Tug has never let his hair down to be an asshole and enjoy whatever freedom comes with that. That was really key to breaking the story.

TD: Something Tug and I have talked about a lot with the show is, the idea of being in transition in one’s life. It’s such an easy demarcation for an athlete, right? You’re playing a sport and then you’re not. For Tommy, he realizes have I been a jerk to everyone I’ve ever come across, and how do I atone for that to live the next 40 years?

And Tug is just so, so set in his ways about maximizing his potential. How do I be great at something? He’s willing to let go of his morals to find success. I think that’s a metaphor for so much of what we see in the media today. I may not even believe the things I’m saying, but the things I’m saying attract an audience, and that invigorates the person and they lose their sense of self in that quest to become famous.

TC: In this hot take era, you lose the forest for the trees. It’s just about what gets eyeballs on it.

I will say, just furthermore, a guidepost for us was what happens when you age beyond the thing you are best at. There’s certain careers, sports being one of them, where that is an inevitability, and it can go either way. You can look at it as an opportunity to maybe be more charitable. We see Tommy establish a charity, albeit clumsily and foolishly.

So you can look at it [as] hey, I’ve cleared out some space for myself to do something different. Or it can be doom and gloom. “Oh my God, I didn’t take advantage of that time in the right way to reach the mountain top and now it feels just like it’s a scramble.” And we see Tug in that kind of mania in Season 2.

READ MORE: Why you must watch Now We’re Talking

BF: Behind the scenes, you took a major risk in expanding the show from a short-form comedy to a full half-hour sitcom. There’s much more that goes into that than just making it longer. Can you walk me through what was behind that decision and how it was executed?

TC: We’re lucky enough to have had some success with season 1, enough in the sense that the network said, “We want you to make more.” Tommy and I are lucky enough to have a Writer’s Guild Award nomination. And then, for our interests, we just totally thought the content was so full and so rich, we just said why don’t we try to scale it up? Let’s make this a full half hour and let’s see these characters’ journeys a little bit more, in a more expansive manner. Luckily, everyone that was involved said go ahead, and we went to work.

Tommy has some history making Sons of Tucson, so we leaned on him to help us with that structure. But we were really excited to have the opportunity to make a full half-hour of television.

TD: go90 was just the right place [at] the right time for the short format version. But Tug and I are largely in the half-hour comedy business, and it’s the stuff we love watching. I think it’s a blast to experiment with short format, but it’s not the stuff we gravitate to creatively. So when that opportunity to make more came around, we said we’d like to expand.

We don’t want to make 40 more, because you’re still breaking story, at the end of the day.
I think at one point, there was a proposal on the table to make 20 more short episodes. And I was like, can we cut it? That’s still 20 stories. [Why don’t we make eight really good ones where we can drill down and build some more emotionality into it?

I think part of it is that we bring so much of ourselves to these roles. Those characters were in such good shape coming out of that first season. They were thoroughly cooked enough that they fit into a half-hour mold pretty easily. There was enough to go on there. Whereas I think you see some short format stuff where you feel like oh, it’s fun. That was a nice five-minute divergence. But luckily for whatever reason, there was a lot more to explore with these two idiots.

TC: Also, one thing that we have at our disposal is we’ve built relationships in our 15-plus years in the business. With a full 24 or 23 minute show, we were able to bring in so much talent that we feel like we’ve created one of the best casts on television. We get people like Andy Buckley, Kyle Bornheimer, Ryan Michelle Bathe. Not to mention all the athletes. That was just a huge boon for us, to bring more people on the show.

BF: Many of whom appear just so Tug, the character, can insult them.

TC: We set aside one day – we brought in athletes and broadcasters and they had no clue why they were coming. They just told us [production company] Uninterrupted brought us here, we’re supposed to be on this show. Tommy and I were like, we’re going to improvise. You’re going to make fun of us and we’re going to make fun of you. That’s it. And we just cobbled it together with them having no idea. They’re like, I signed up to be made fun of? Why would I do that? I was like, well, that’s the gig. (laughs)

TD: Conversely, the quickness with which some of them just unloaded on us. I’m like, you met me five minutes ago and you are just hammering us. (laughs) And I loved it.

There’s a show within the show called Spoiler Alert and there’s a run of insult comedy, for lack of any better term. Those broadcasters and athletes that came and sat down with us to do that just fully embraced it, because we had no time to shoot it. We were like, “Just destroy us. We won’t be offended.” And several of them did.

BF: This show is a labor of love for you as actors, writers and producers. What has the adventure of Now We’re Talking been like for you personally and what have you taken away from the experience?

TD: I think the hope is always when you put stuff out there, you draw a little bit of an audience and you get to build on that. This show may have run its course; I don’t know. I think we could probably dream up another season. There’s certainly something interesting to see about these guys maybe realizing they’re not going to reach any kind of mountaintop and figuring out another source of fulfillment.

But also, we’re idea guys and have plenty more where that came from. There’s this idea that there’s so many outlets and there’s so many ways to get your stuff out there now. I guess if you’re a YouTuber, that’s one thing; you can literally just turn on your thing and do a video and put it into the world. Tug and I missed that boat. Getting a produced, scripted show into the world, it’s still really hard. So I think we’re going have a glass of champagne and just enjoy getting something into the world.

TC: I think I definitely learned a lot of things. As Tommy said, you just hear that oh yeah, you can go anywhere with stuff nowadays. We definitely did not experience that. It was a battle to get the show seen, and we really believe in the show and the studio believes in the show. It’s just so interesting to learn about the business of entertainment.

It’s so much fun to be able to have some control over the thing you make. And so once you do that, it feels like a magic potion. You’ve got a little bit of an addiction to it. So Tommy and I are working on some projects together, we’re consulting with one another. We’re definitely anxious to do the next thing.

This thing started as a proof of concept. We decided let’s work together on something fun, and then we went out and funded a proof of concept ourselves. I want people to realize you can go out and do this. It’s hard, but we also had a blast. It’s been stressful, but the making of it is so fulfilling and hopefully people can take away to go take your shot. We met at a taco stand picking ideas, and here we are six years later and people are going to finally see eight half-hours of television plus some short-form stuff too. That’s cool when you take a step back and look at it.

Now We’re Talking seasons 1 and 2 are now available to stream on CW Seed.

Article content is (c)2020 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.