Calling comedian George Lopez’s new sitcom Saint George is like nicknaming a big guy Tiny.
Lopez still has a bit of the devil in him, as a performer and also in his personal life.
The FX comedy, in which he plays a recently divorced dad trying to make a fresh start, premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, just one week after the funnyman made a spectacle of himself, passing out on the floor of a Canadian casino after having too much to drink.
“A lot of show titles make sense,” Lopez says. “You can see Everybody Loves Raymond. You can see How I Met Your Mother. As for Saint George, needless to say I’m not sure I will become a saint anytime soon.
“But opposites are great for comedy.”
We chatted with Lopez this week about the show.
After having mastered the sitcom formula with George Lopez (ABC, 2002-2007), what made you want to come back and do another? And why at this time?
I was doing a nice run of films after the sitcom was over. Valentine’s Day (2010) was good and there were some other movies. But I always liked the immediacy of TV. I made a movie called The Spy Next Door (2010) with Jackie Chan and that’s when I made my decision to go back into TV.
It was in New Mexico and it was freezing. Half of my trailer was warm and half of it was cold. The cold part was the part I got dressed in. As I was waiting in that trailer for Jackie Chan to beat up 15 guys in a warehouse, I decided that maybe waiting around to act wasn’t particularly good for me.
So I’m excited about getting another opportunity.
The business model for this show is called a “10/90.” You made 10 episodes and, if the network wants more, it will be a big block of 90. Do you have enough stories in you to fill that order?
I’ve succeeded in becoming very honest about my life. George on the show, like me, has issues. Issues with the divorce that he’s trying to resolve. Issues with his child on the show. I will explore my imperfections, which will probably take me past the 90.
How does this show differ from your first sitcom?
One was a network family show. This is a cable family show. On this show, the humor is edgier. Society, I think, has gotten edgier. This show mirrors where we are in society. It might be a little shocking, some of the stuff. I wouldn’t say it’s the craziest show on TV, but it is very different from the first one.
Why have all the episode titles for Saint George been lifted from classic rock songs?
I am such a fan of classic rock. So all 10 episodes are named after classic rock songs. Our first episode is “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” which is about dating. There’s “Carry On, Wayward Son,” where my mom has an accident in the house and I decide to go play golf instead of taking care of her.
There’s one called “Superstition,” where Danny Trejo has to go to the doctor because he has never had a prostate exam. There’s one called “I Wish,” which was a great Stevie Wonder song, and that one is about a birthday party for the son and cultural differences in his birthday party.
There’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” which is about the mom and her issues with people of different races. There’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which is about disciplining your child.
There is a wealth of classic rock titles. But if we get the order for the 90, we may have to bleed into the disco era of the ’80s.
What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your show business career?
It’s hard to pinpoint the actual proudest thing, but one of the things I’m proudest of is having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There hadn’t been a successful show with a Mexican-American star in the history of TV. Freddie Prinze was Puerto Rican-Hungarian and Desi Arnaz was Cuban. As far as a Mexican-American, there had not been one.
So getting the star on the Walk of Fame on the day of the 100th episode was pretty great. As a 15-year-old, I would go to Hollywood and see the stars. Everyone imagines their names there, but nobody really thinks that’s going to happen.