When Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans Jr. were asked how they keep themselves from laughing during takes of their sitcom Happy Endings, Coupe was more than happy to spill her secrets. “I keep a knife in my pocket at all times and just stab myself at all times when I’m going to laugh,” she said. “And it gets a little bloody, it’s a little weird. But I’m stabbing my leg during most of the show. So I developed gangrene in my right leg, but it’s fine. I’m cool with it.”
“I have a little needle that I keep in my skivvies,” Wayans said. “And when I’m about to laugh, right to the urethra, you know what I mean?”
“Yeah, my leg’s about to be amputated soon,” Coupe sighed. “But you know, it’s worth it because I keep a straight face.”
During the conference call I sat in on with Wayans and Coupe, this kind of back-and-forth followed every single question, even the ones specifically directed to only one of them. Considering both of their comedy backgrounds (Coupe was known for her role on Scrubs and Wayans is the son of comedian Damon Wayans, and both acted in and wrote for his father’s sitcom My Wife and Kids), it’s hardly surprising. Their current roles are on Happy Endings as Brad and Jane, a couple who is as co-dependent and bizarre as they are deeply in love. Wayans and Coupe have even created a (not yet show-sanctioned) version of how their characters met. I cannot tell you exactly what the story is, as it took a turn for the far too explicit to publish (and there is very little I won’t publish), but I can tell you it started with Jane at a frat party, hooking up with three different guys. Simultaneously.
This sort of improv is encouraged on the Happy Endings set, where Wayans and Coupe both say they shoot a script that is far more R-rated than the final product would suggest. And while both expressed some disappointment at the constrictions of network TV, both were pleased that to be on a show where they are encouraged to improvise as much as they wanted. (Brad’s decided metrosexuality, for example, was not in the original writing of the character — that addition was all Wayans.) “I’m happy with Happy,” Wayans said.
As for Jane and Brad’s future, it’s unclear. Their desire to have a baby will be re-visited soon when Jane has a baby potentially thrust into her life. More exciting, however, might be the upcomming lineup of guest stars: Megan Mullally, Rob Riggle, Fred Savage, and a (male) star of Perfect Couples who has yet to be formally announced. (Since there are only three to choose from, I will now be taking any placed bets.) But when asked about what direction they want to see their characters take, both Wayans and Coupe were clear — they want to go badass.
“He could be Mr. T’d out,” Wayans suggested. “Leather jacket, feather earrings. Stuff like that.”
“I think Jane could enter the army,” Coupe suggested. “Or we found out she’s a secret agent. Or she just kills somebody.”
“And then you make me hide the body with you,” Wayans added.
And if that’s not true love, well, what is.