'Undateable': Chris D'Elia, Bill Lawrence explain how stand-up comedians transform the show

undateable-chris-delia-bill-lawrence-interview.jpg NBC's new comedy "Undateable" has something going for it that most shows never do: The entire cast was already a group of friends before the show was even created.

"Part of the battle in a sitcom is making it seem like people are friends and have chemistry," executive producer Bill Lawrence tells Zap2it and a small group of journalists. "And part of the idea behind this show is casting people that are friends in real life, in the modern landscape, and you only have a couple episodes to establish that. It kind of helps that all these guys and girls hang out anyways, you know?"

It also helps when the group of friends at the center of the show each come from a background of stand-up. Lawrence knows when to step back and let the stars take over and improv on the script. 

"The thing that really helps us on this show more than any multi-camera sitcom I've ever done, we do one take of the script and then we let all these comics say whatever the heck they want on this show," Lawrence says. "And you can sometimes see in the episodes people actually laughing, which you don't actually see a lot on shows. They're laughing because they're hearing things for the first time."

Lawrence even thinks some of his favorite scenes on the show were ones that were never in the script in the first place. "Some of the best jokes on the show are stuff that they came up with on their feet," Lawrence says. "I certainly didn't make up the visual of [star] Chris [D'Elia] pretending to give advice by vomiting like a mother bird into his hand."

D'Elia thinks it's the combination of the cast's prior friendships and careers in stand-up that make the show what it is. "Since we all do know each other, pre-existing on the show, we all know each other's rhythms so it's like very easy to adlib if we want to," D'Elia says. "We know what type of humor is coming and who's going to hold for what. And it's just easier that way because we do that in our regular life anyway."

So besides starring a group of stand-up comedians who were already friends, just what is "Undateable" about? According to Lawrence and D'Elia, everyone has that time in their life where they are undateable for any number of reasons.

"I think if you're not sure who you are and you're insecure, that's the number one thing," D'Elia says of being undateable. "You've got to use what you have and own you and if you can do that, you can probably get a date somewhere."

But "Undateable" isn't just about a group of friends getting advice on how not to be undateable for the entire first season. 

"We did 13 episodes and maybe one or two are about getting somebody a date," Lawrence says. "What the show's really about, and it will probably sound way too deep for a multi-camera sitcom, is that everybody on Earth -- men and women -- go through an undateable phase in their life, due to bad jobs or insecurities or money or the way they dress. Most of us get out of it. ['Undateable']'s about a group of friends that are stuck there."

Lawrence continues, "What the show is about is a group of people that would probably be very sad and lonely were it not for each other. Ultimately my favorite multi-camera sitcoms -- 'Cheers' and 'Seinfeld' and 'Friends' -- are all shows that you would say, 'Hey, these characters are kind of sad if they didn't have each other to lean on.'"

"Undateable" premieres Thursday (May 29) at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Photo/Video credit: NBC