Straight Talk with Adam Pally

No matter whom his gay character inspires or offends on Happy Endings, Adam Pally's primary goal is to be as funny as possible.




That said, you recently showed your support at a gala for the Point Foundation, which offers academic scholarships for LGBT students.
Oh, that’s very important to me. I really believe in the Point Foundation, because it’s got to be hard to be out at a young age and still striving to achieve the same things as everyone else. There’s persecution all over the place, so any time that I can get involved with something that helps on that level is great. But once you start thinking about that stuff in your comedy, you lose your edge.

Whether or not you think about it, you may have the power to influence or even change conservative viewer opinions on gay issues. Modern Family, your show’s lead-in this season, has certainly done that.
Sure. But I’m an actor who gets to play this awesome part, and it’s so great to go into work every day, so if that changes peoples’ minds about gay issues, then it’s a bonus. I’d hope that those peoples’ minds would be changed because they’re stupid. But I really try not to get too deep about that side of the character, because it’s out of my control anyway; I don’t write the show. I just try to make Max the funniest, most real person that I can.

Max is unlike any other gay character on television, but do you have any favorite gay TV characters that inspired your performance?
Chandler on Friends was one of my favorite gay characters. Newman on Seinfeld was a great gay character. I also loved Adam Brody’s character on The O.C.

Max’s closest TV cousins might be overweight stoners Brian Posehn and Steve Agee from The Sarah Silverman Project. It’s not spelled out on Happy Endings, but I feel like Max is also a total stoner.
Well, Adam is, so I feel like some of that probably bleeds into Max. Those guys are like heroes of mine. They’re so funny.

My gay friends are less like Max and more like Stephen Guarino’s Happy Endings character Derek, the type of gay guy that Max calls the “stereotypically flamboyant, cartoonish Sex and the City gay.”
My best gay friends are a couple who just got engaged, and both of them are just like that character. They’re super-fun.

Do you look to your gay friends for any insight to help flesh out your character?
When we hang out, I might pick up little things here and there — mannerisms and stuff like that — but I don’t really like to talk about it that much. It’s like my job, so I don’t like to bring it home.

A running joke in the show is that Max’s only stereotypically gay trait is that he sleeps with men. Was that part of the original plan for the character, or was that at all influenced by how butch you are in real life?
Oh, I definitely don’t think I’m as butch as Max. I like sports and stuff like that, but I like to check out the fashion world every now and then. And I enjoy a good musical. Max way out-butches Adam. Max is actually based on a friend of [series creator] David Caspe. I’ve met the guy, and he’s a super-nice and really funny. When we met, we were wearing the same shirt, actually. It was like a ratty, used flannel that I had got at a flea market, and I guess he had gotten his at a separate flea market somewhere. We were both like, “Oh, weird.”

As a somewhat hairy guy with a bit of a belly, do you mind being sexually objectified by the bear community?
First of all, I don’t mind being sexually objectified by anybody. But I don’t think I’m quite a bear. I think I’m probably more of a cub. You have to be a little bigger than I am to be a bear, but hey, we all have goals.

Tags: television