Baby, it's cold outside, but it's much warmer now than when I talked to "The Exes" star David Alan Basche, best known for playing uptight, neurotic Stuart Gardner for the last three seasons of the hit TV Land series. It was a frigid 3 degrees (according to Basche's Weather Channel app) when he called from New York, where he lives with his wife and daughter. We talked about his favorite apps, how he's similar to his TV character, how his Shakespearean training helps on the TV Land set, and the important lesson he learned from his young daughter that's tattooed on his wrist.
How's the weather treating you?
It's literally 3 degrees this morning. But I think I was tweeting that my weather app said that, with the wind chill factor, it's 17 degrees below zero.
With the recent cold front, have you been glued to your weather app?
Well, I'm not a constant checker kind of a guy. I've even stopped constantly checking my show's ratings. I just figure it's going to be what it's going to be. But I definitely have reason to check, because we have a little 5 year old who left the house today completely unrecognizable -- I think the only part of her body showing was the eyeballs -- so by necessity we have to know that it's too cold to walk to school this morning.
Also, I fly a lot, because "The Exes" shoots in Los Angeles, so I fly home every weekend. So I'm checking weather because of travel, and I heard that 4,400 flights were cancelled, and I'm hoping it warms up before tomorrow.
Which app do you use to check weather?
I like the Weather Channel app. It's pretty basic, but it gets the job done, and if you want to get into it more, you can animate the apps and watch the weather come screaming at you, which is both exhilarating and terrifying. My daughter is getting more interested in weather and meteorology, so I have a feeling that very soon we're going to have to get a more sophisticated app.
On "The Exes" you play a very uptight, neurotic character. Do you relate to Stuart?
Well, I do. I have to be honest. Stuart is kind of the cook, the cleaner, for those guys. I do relate to Stuart. As I'm talking to you, I'm making homemade meatballs for my kid. So I do like to cook, and I will admit that as I'm cooking I'm cleaning the kitchen, so I am a little like Stuart in that sense. I'm not scrubbing the kitchen counter with a toothbrush like Stuart probably would, but then again, that's comedy.
Outside of "The Exes" you've done a lot of Shakespeare. Has your Shakespearean training ever served you on the TV Land set?
Oh, absolutely. I'm a New York theater guy and a trained Shakespearean actor, as pretentious as that sounds. But I believe that if you can do Shakespeare, then you can do anything. For me, right now, Stuart's a clown. A sitcom is really clowning. It's classic commedia dell'arte for me, so I really believe that I see famous Shakespearean characters that are clowns and have them in my mind, and that sort of language doesn't stop the comedy; it helps it. And what I remember is that that sort of comedy needs to be big and broad to translate to an audience.
Not that there's much security in most jobs anymore, but actors have always had it particularly tough, jumping from project to project. How long did it take for you to feel confident about your future on "The Exes"?
As soon as I have that feeling, I'll be sure to call and let you know. The truth is I'm somewhere in the middle. Actors never have that feeling, because there is never a guarantee. It's art, so it's imperfect, and it's also commerce, so unless you're a really big star, there is no guarantee that the network is going to make all your episodes or play all your episodes or order a second season.
What I do know is that TV Land has been more of a cheerleader than other places I've worked before. They love "The Exes," and it's our third season. The first two seasons we did 10 episodes, and this season we'll do 20, so you look for those signs. The ratings have been higher than they've ever been, they're promoting us more, and we're doing more digital content and social media, so all signs point to go.
What's the mood like on set?
Right now we're trying to enjoy ourselves. Donald Faison, Wayne Knight, and I are having a ball. Of course Kelly Stables and Kristen Johnston, and now with the addition of Leah Remini, we're really having a lot of fun and just trying to make the best comedy that we can. I hope it's a long time; I could do three, four, five more seasons of this. For me, it's very joyful and very fun, so fingers crossed.
Is Leah Remini joining the cast?
Leah came in for a few episodes, and now she wants to do more than that. We're so thrilled with that and happy to have her. So we'll see. Especially while Kristen Johnston is dealing with a diagnosis of a serious illness and getting better already, thank God, it was great to have Leah come in and be a part of the cast.
On set does it ever feel like girls versus boys?
Yeah, only in a fun way. Yeah, we joke, because if all three guys are on set, including director Andy Cadiff, it usually takes 40 minutes to do anything, because we need to talk sports and get that out of the way. Usually Kristen is yelling, "Come on, already, we don't give a shit about the sports." And Kelly is giggling and waiting patiently, because she's a sweetheart. But it's a little bit of a boy's club, and that's nice.
I've read on Wikipedia that you have a tattoo that reads "There is no perfect." Can you explain why that's meaningful?
One of the ways that I'm like my character Stuart is that I'm a perfectionist and have been all my life. When my daughter was born, I realized that I had better throw that out the window. And that this little being was not going to be categorized or cleaned up or kept in one place and she's -- my wife and I are so lucky -- she's a healthy, happy, thriving, little girl. I started to clean up toys for a little while, and then I realized that I just have to leave her alone and that there is no perfect. I just have to be here as a dad, and I'm not going to be the perfect dad, but I'm going to be the best dad I could be. But I just couldn't remember that and kept trying to do everything perfectly. So I had to have a memento on my body to really let me stay in that place of being messy and letting go.
When you're filming in Los Angeles, are there any apps that you use to stay in contact with your family?
There are so many sexting apps out there for long distance couples ... just kidding. We both Skype and are on FaceTime a lot, particularly if my daughter wants to see me or say hi to Wayne or Donald or Kristen on set. And Kelly gives her jelly beans when she's in LA, so she wants to talk to Kelly. So we definitely Skype from my dressing room or FaceTime or text a pic of my daughter with a pancake on top of her head, and that non-phone conversation is important with time differences.
What are some of the other apps you use most?
I would say Sonos, because it controls all music in my house from my iPhone, so my lazy ass doesn't have to, and I would say IMDb, because it keeps me in touch with all my peers and what's going on in my business. Lumosity because it helps me remember who I am and where I am and which sock goes on what foot. And I would say Nespresso. They have their own app. My wife bought me a Nespresso machine, and it's almost like you press the button and then they knock, which I love. Action Movie: It's an oldie but a goodie. You can take old movies and turn them into action movies. You can have a car crash into someone's face or a boulder drop on someone's head, and it's really pretty cool.
One of my favorite apps is Dropcam. People use it for a security camera or nanny cam, and we used it a while back as a baby monitor. Our kid is five and doesn't need that anymore, but when she's sleeping in New York and I'm on set working in LA, I can hit the Dropcam app, and it connects me to the camera, and wherever I am I can see my daughter, safe and sound, sleeping. And it really warms my heart. It's one of my favorite apps.
Watch "The Exes" on TV Land, Wednesdays at 10 (9 Central).