Andy Richter: Nice Guy, Private Eye
Groff, who co-created the show with
"It was hard," Groff admits. "You do kind of have a good starting place with the conventions of the P.I. genre -- you have them as a shorthand with the audience that lets you get into things quickly, which is good. ... But then, yes, you [have to] give a satisfying little run through the story with enough of a twist so people aren't too ahead of it."
Groff readily admits that he's not going for "intricate,
As the series opens at 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday, Andy has just opened his own accounting business in a strip mall -- in an office formerly occupied by private detective Lew Staziak (Harve Presnell, "Old School," "Fargo"). When his tax business gets off to a slow start, he reluctantly (though cheerily) takes on some clients who wander into his office looking for Lew.
He doesn't really know what he's doing, but with a supportive wife (Clea Lewis, "Ellen") and help from the manager of the mall's video store (Tony Hale,
"I think what Andy Barker enjoys about it is he looks at it as -- both of them are altruistic pursuits in which he is utilizing his problem-solving skills to help other people," Richter says.
Or, as Groff puts it, "One way I think of talking about the character is his normalcy and his decency. If he's a hero, it's in being decent. He can't melt a toaster, but he can scold somebody for being impolite when they fire a gun at him."
And who better to play that sort of guy -- the sort of guy for whom "cheese and crackers" is a swear word -- than Richter?
"About five minutes into talking about this idea, we sort of said, 'Who would be perfect to play this character?'" Groff recalls. "And we said
"And then Conan almost instantly said we should call the guy Andy, not just because of the convenience of Andy Richter-Andy Barker ... but that it seems like a regular-guy kind of name."
Richter's luck with prime-time TV hasn't been the greatest. He starred in two short-lived
"I badly want the show to go," he says. "I really feel like it's the best television work aside from the Conan show that I've ever done. The best prime-time work I've done by far."