IFC’s new comedy shatters a baseball myth in its opening minutes: There is in fact crying in baseball. In Brockmire, it just takes a lustful wife with the appetite of a sexual astronaut, a lovelorn baseball announcer, a bottle of whiskey, and an on-air meltdown. Much of the premiere episode of Brockmire focuses on the worst moments of Kansas City play-by-play man Jim Brockmire’s (Hank Azaria) life and the aftermath. Brockmire is defeated on the floor of the press box, heartbroken by the off-the-field shenanigans of his cheating wife Lucy, and is an unbeknownst internet celebrity in the making.
In a way, it nicely bridges the gap from the viral Funny or Die short, in which a group of famous broadcasts give a faux documentary tribute to Azaria’s legendary Brockmire and mourn his demise, to the screwball redemption story of the TV series.
Azaria and his co-star Amanda Peet will deny anything redemptive about the boozy lost baseball souls they play in the series, but as minor league announcer and team owner, respectively, the characters find hope in each other on a diamond in bumblefuck nowhere.
Nowhere was actually filmed in Atlanta, where we had the opportunity to chat with Azaria and Peet in between takes as they filmed the final episodes of season one. With a group of journalists on hand, we spoke to the new teammates about functional alcoholism, hanging around ESPN broadcasters, and the chemistry of the Morristown Frackers.
What was your reaction when you finally realized that this was a go after all the hiccups and roadblocks along the way?
Hank Azaria: I said I wouldn’t really believe it until I heard “Action!” on the first day. And then when I did, I still didn’t quite believe it. It took about a week. But it’s been amazing. I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had in my life doing anything.
[Note: On that day of filming, several ESPN broadcasters and Joe Buck were present for a scene] What’s it like working with actual broadcasters versus just hanging out with them?
Hank Azaria: I was so happy, happier than I even thought. I love all those guys. I keep telling them, I’d be happy seeing them anywhere, let alone acting in a scene with me being themselves. And they did great. We’re all ready to cut their stuff in case they sucked as actors, but they were amazing. They’re great.
Amanda, what attracted you to this particular script?
Amanda Peet: You know, when I realized sometime around episode two or three that she was middle-aged owner of a minor league team in the middle of nowhere who’s an alcoholic, I was like, “Sign me up.”
Hank Azaria: Dream come true.
Amanda Peet: I mean, most of the roles I get are just to be someone’s wife, or to be someone’s girlfriend, or they’re just sort of… You know, the girl’s sort of just a plot device, but she doesn’t really have any substance and certainly isn’t funny. So when I started reading it, I started to get really excited when I realized she had a potty mouth and drinks too much and has no children.
What’s the relationship like between your two characters?
Hank Azaria: Yeah, the way Jim described it in the story is they both have the same exact level of functional alcoholism, so they’re destined to be together. And, I realized, doing this with Amanda, she’s really great.
This is a guy who has been through a hard time in his life. A really hard time, not a comedically hard time.
It’s funny, but genuinely painful things have happened to him and he’s not in a good place, and you know, he meets this woman who’s kind of almost the only thing for him, really. A woman who owns a baseball team, who appreciates him for who he is or who he was before he broke down. And who can match him, who can see past all his horrible debauchery, and they’re funny together. They enjoy each other on a lot of different levels. They get surprised by how much they actually enjoy each other on a deep level.
Amanda Peet: Both drowning, both drowning.
Hank Azaria: Yeah, they’re both… What’s that line? “We’re both sprinting to outrun God’s sniper rifle.” But they don’t really bring—I mean, she definitely helps revitalize his career and bring him back around. But one thing about it is there’s nothing romantic about this story, really.
Amanda Peet: What? Are you out of your mind?
Hank Azaria: No, I mean in the…
Amanda Peet: It’s so romantic.
Is it dangerous for them to be together? Or is it pleasant for them to be together?
Hank Azaria: It’s both. It’s dangerous for any two people with this level of alcoholism to be egging each other on. Really, they get in trouble, and yet they’re definitely helping save each other on some level.
Brockmire premieres April 5th at 10:00 p.m. on IFC. You can watch the first episode now on IFC.com.