Most character comedians insist on living as their characters, never letting the public see the actor inside. The Reno 911! Miami cast shed their personas as soon as their press conference wrapped. Cedric Yarbrough made a personal introduction and offered to speak more as himself, so we took the opportunity to go inside the comedy troupe.
Yarbrough plays officer S Jones of the Reno police force. In the film Reno 911! Miami, some of his antics include discovering his fellow officers pleasuring themselves in front of open windows, getting splattered by an exploding whale, and blowing up plenty of vehicles like a big action movie.
You just snapped right out of character when the press conference was over?
"Yeah, after something like that, it's so ridiculous, it's very easy to get out of, that's for sure. We're saying such crazy things but yeah, and everybody had had such a long day, we were definitely ready to take off the gun belts and get back to our regular lives."
So you're not method improvisers?
"No. Sadly and very true, we aren't that good."
Whose idea was it to do it in character, yours or Fox's?
"This was mostly coming from Fox and we were definitely on board about it. It's much more fun to be in character and do an interview in character, than to drone on like I'm probably doing right now and speak with your own words and your own voice as opposed to doing it in character, having a fun kind of sort of anti-campaign campaign type of way of doing it. We were definitely ready to do it. And frankly, that's what we do on the show. We have a lot of interviews. We do interviews all the time in character to the camera about a given topic, about what's going on in the department. So it's second nature at this point because that's what we've been hired to do anyway."
Do you crack each other up?
"Yeah, it's a lot easier now, going into our fifth season but these guys still crack me up. I still think pound for pound, it's the funniest... When we're in that morning briefing room and we're just throwing ideas at each other, it's the funniest room in America to me. I mean, these guys - everybody on the show is very smart for one, and everyone knows their characters so well. It's hard to keep a straight face. Sometimes something comes out of left field and it's so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh."
How much of the show and the movie are scripted vs. improv?
"The movie is a little more structured I should say, as opposed to scripted. It's a little more, there's more of a skeleton than the television show. 20th Century Fox doesn’t just give millions of dollars on a motion picture without wanting to know what in the world they're going to do, what you guys are going to do with it. So it's a little bit more but with that said, it's very loose. It's very much like what we do on the show.
The show can range from 88 percent improvised to 93 percent improvised. We just kind of go and see where we end up. But Thom Lennon and Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney, they do a great job of coming up with some really funny bits. We all contribute that way as well. We've got our own point of view. Which is such a great thing for an actor to do that, actually have a point of view on what their character is doing every day. So that kind of stuff doesn’t go well on Desperate Housewives or even The Office or a show like Scrubs. Those actors aren't improvising and doing it every day with every word that's coming out of their mouths is their own. So it's a great job."
How psyched were you to do the movie?
"Really, really psyched. I think that everybody on the show, I think we are movie actors. I think everybody on the show is extremely funny and would definitely translate to something on the big screen. The show is pretty much R-rated already and we have a great time on Comedy Central, but a show like this definitely, we bleep and blur everything that's filthy and blue. It should be on the silver screen. So I was extremely excited when I heard that 20th Century Fox and Paramount and Comedy Central was aboard to do this idea."
How much coordination went into the window masturbation scene?
"Oh yeah, that's our little ode to Rear Window there. That choreography wasn't... We kind of figured it out. I remember at one point we were in Hollywood kind of figuring out what type of masturbation you wanted to do. It was kind of a funny conversation, like, 'Okay, so, you'll be doing that and you'll be doing that.' With Ben Garant directing and our cameraman, they just kind of figured out a really cool way of doing it.
When they went on location and found the perfect hotel where you could see everything and figured it all out, the choreography kind of worked. I lucked out. I didn't have to masturbate. I was the voyeur. Which I kind of think maybe everybody thinks this about their own characters, but I think my character is the most normal. I don’t wear my retardedness as much on my sleeve so I'm kind of the normal one and kind of looking in all the time. Like, 'What the hell? Why am I working with these people?'"
How nasty was the whale goo?
"That was pretty bad. Ben got really covered with that stuff. It coagulated pretty fast. We were right there on the ocean so we had a nice, stiff breeze coming at us so it cooled down and his hair and face was covered pretty good. I got a good fair amount on me as well. Once we disposed of the whale, a lot of the guts were coming down on me so that was kind of a fun and disgusting and hard-to-wash-off scene."
Was it nice to have big movie explosions?
"Yeah, it was really cool. It's really impressive what we could do and what we could get away with. I get to ride in a helicopter and I was really excited about that. We exploded a couple things. We do a fair amount of explosions on the TV show, but not at this caliber so it was really cool. The city of Miami, those guys were so great about letting us blow up their city so it was cool."