Taran Killam Interview: ‘Single Parents,’ ‘Night School’ and ‘Hamilton’

Single Parents Cast Photo
Kimrie Lewis, Leighton Meester, Jake Choi, Taran Killam, and Brad Garrett star in ‘Single Parents’ (ABC / F. Scott Schafer)

Have you missed Taran Killam since he left Saturday Night Live at the end of the 2015-16 season? Well, he’s back in the ABC comedy Single Parents, as a single dad joining a support group of other single parents.

Of course, if you’re a Taran Killam superfan you probably already saw the movie he directed and starred in, Killing Gunther. Or maybe you even caught him on stage as King George III in Hamilton. Killam spoke with reporters after a Television Critics Association panel for Single Parents.

Single Parents premieres Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 9:30pm ET/PT on ABC.

How difficult was it to be a parent during Saturday Night Live?

Taran Killam: “It was very challenging and the first four seasons I was on the show I was commuting because Cobie (Smulders) was still doing How I Met Your Mother out here. We only had one child at the time. Every hiatus week I flew back. It was two to three weeks working, coming home every hiatus possible. So, it was definitely exhausting and challenging.

The benefit of that at that time and starting my dream job is I was allowed to kind of focus my energy while I was there. Then when they moved out and we had a second child, it certainly became more challenging because you want to be home.”

Did you overcompensate when you were with the kids?

Taran Killam: “Yes. Where other cast members would go home at four in the morning on Saturday and then sleep until two, I was getting three hours and waking up for Sunday morning cartoons.”

Is there anything that terrifies you when you’re left alone with your kids?

Taran Killam: “Terrifies, no, because I have good kids. I’ll give them the credit, but what’s helping me with this show specifically is Cobie works a lot, I work a lot, so we definitely trade off for long stretches of having the kids by ourselves. It’s the loneliness. That’s something I read in the script that really spoke to me. You miss that person. It’s not just, ‘Oh, it’s trying, I have to make all the lunches, I have to do all the work.’ You kind of go into autopilot and that becomes manageable, but the good stuff, you feel you’re missing that partnership.”

Are the kids used to it?

Taran Killam: “They’re good. We’ve been very fortunate in that we now narrow the work windows to as small as possible, but I think it’s an adjustment. It’s hard to know. It’s a very different experience than I had growing up, but they like us and we like them. So far so good.”

You’ve directed a movie since SNL. If this goes many seasons, would you still direct movies?

Taran Killam: “The absolute dream scenario is yes, I would be able to do this for the majority of the year, be close to my family, have as close to a 9 to 5 schedule as possible and work on something I’m really proud of with people I enjoy. And then every second or third summer, take the hiatus to do a project of my own.”

Does playing a single parent on the show give you more appreciation for your life outside the show?

Taran Killam: “Without a doubt. Absolutely, 100%. These brief windows of research that I’ve been gifted through having a very successful partner have helped inform that as well. But another aspect of the show that’s important to me is I feel I’m hearing the word divide a lot and polarization and us and them. This is truly a show that’s just about coming together and needing each other. I think that’s a pretty beautiful thing to live in right now.”

Does it feel good not to have to write the show?

Taran Killam: “Can I just tell you that the script showed up to my house Friday and I just had to say the words. Yes, not being worried about having to produce and be responsible for your own content week in and week out is a huge alleviation. Even more so, J.J. (Philbin) and Liz (Meriwether) as accomplished writers as they are, feeling comfortable and feeling taken care of by these pros.”

What kind of character do you play in Night School?

Taran Killam: “In Night School it’s a little bit different than Will. I am Kevin Hart’s high school nemesis. Kevin’s coming back to get his GED at the high school he went to and I’ve become the principal now and do my best to make his life a living hell.”

Where did Hamilton fit in?

Taran Killam: “Well, I went to school for musical theater. I went to UCLA for musical theater for a year and then comedy took over. Once I got to New York, the mecca of musical theater, I tried to ingratiate myself to the theater scene as often as possible and became friends with Tommy Kail and Lin. They knew that was a passion of mine so when SNL ended, it was just very fortuitous and the best possible rebound job ever.”

What’s your favorite TV comedy of all time and why?

Taran Killam:Simpsons because it defines modern comedy in rhythm and joke writing.”

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