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TJ Miller: Comedy's Next Breakout Star?

TJ Miller: Comedy's Next Breakout Star?

You've got to love a guy who spends his first appearance in his first TV role wearing little besides his tighty-whiteys — and that's exactly what comedian TJ Miller does in ABC's new show "Carpoolers." Miller plays the son of one of the carpoolers, and I think he could be one of this year's breakout comedy stars: His character, Marmaduke, steals scenes left and right in the pilot, including one where he's interviewing for a job sans pants. When I saw what Miller was wearing for the show's panel at the TCA press tour (that's him at right), I knew I had to talk to him. Here are some excerpts from our chat:

Where did you come from?
I was at Second City in Chicago, and I was doing stand-up there. ["Carpoolers" co-star] Jerry Minor was also an old Second City guy. So I was touring with Second City for about a year and a half, and then this project came to my attention through management and I liked it. I obviously love [executive producer] Bruce McCulloch because of "Kids in the Hall." That was insane. I remember the first day showing up and meeting him — like, that's one of my comic idols. His show was in my sketch comedy education. So I came to it there and got the pilot out of Chicago and then the pilot got picked up and I got another film out of Chicago and so now I'm in LA, but yeah. I hope to be the rookie of the year this year for network television.

Are you ever going to wear pants?
Yes. And that's in my contract. No, I wish I had stipulated that ... We're going to see that he is going to have an even stranger fashion sense than could even be communicated there. To let you know, he's got this amazing shorts and terry cloth Hawaiian shirt combo that is all matching. So it's just a very eccentric character, and that's going to be seen visually, verbally, everything. So yeah, eventually I will get pants, but you may see me in my underwear again.

More from Miller, including what's up with that sweatsuit and his possible JJ Abrams connection, so

You've got a little Royal Tenenbaums going on today.
Yeah, just a little bit. Honestly, these [presentations] can be so stuffy, I was like, let's do this. And this is dressing down for me.

You guys sound like this is just a fun time on this show.
I mean, look how funny the people are. Jerry Minor is somebody that I used to watch at Second City, and he's one of the best improvisers around. Fred Goss is unbelievable. He's just so funny and so good off the cuff. Faith [Ford] is really funny and great — you see her work and then you see her on the show and you're like, wow, this is why she's one of the most successful television actresses ever. Allison Munn, you're going to see come even more out of the woodwork in the forthcoming episodes ... she's got a great comic timing, great comic persona. Tim [Peper], everybody. And Jerry O'Connell, of course, is Jerry O'Connell, so that's a really surreal, funny presence to be around too. He's a lot of fun, albeit a little ridiculous at times.

What's the movie that you're doing?
It is kind of top secret, but I will tell you that the trailer was in front of Transformers.

Oh, THAT movie.
It'll be good. It's gonna be a good movie.

Photo copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.

Jerry O'Connell at AKC National Championship Dog Show
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