Since leaving “Saturday Night Live” in 2013, Jason Sudeikis has remained busy with multiple movie roles, a recurring run on Fox’s “Last Man on Earth” and a regular role as the voice of the title character in Fox’s “Son of Zorn.”
Now Sudeikis, who grew up in Overland Park, adds executive producer to his credits with Comedy Central’s “Detroiters,” premiering at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
And he’s on the lookout for a good pitch for a show set in Kansas City. Seriously.
“Detroiters” follows real-life Detroit-area best friends Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson, who play small-time ad men in Motor City. In the premiere episode they try to land an advertising account with a Chrysler executive played by guest star Sudeikis, who got to know both men through their work with the Second City comedy troupe.
“We did a charity show in Kansas City, my hometown, another jewel of the Midwest,” Sudeikis said. “And, yeah, we just hit it off immediately.”
He said he was most impressed by their gleeful brand of comedy.
“There’s a lot of snark, a lot of anger in the world, a lot of people cutting people off at the knees and sometimes off in the middle of sentences and whatnot,” Sudeikis said. “They have a childlike innocence to them but with grown-men intelligence. They’re incredibly clever. They’re incredibly quick.
“When I watched that pilot or even images of it, for me it looks like George C. Scott and Sidney Poitier doing, like, a ’70s comedy, like ‘The In-Laws’ or something,” Sudeikis continued. “It feels timeless, but at the same time relevant, because they just have a classic vibe to them.”
He also liked the nontraditional setting of Detroit.
“We’re missing out on that,” he said. “They should do a show in Kansas City.”
With him as a producer?
“Yeah, in theory I would love to,” he said.
“There are so many stories out there to be told,” he continued. “And in the way Sam and Tim went about the desire to work in Detroit, that’s something I have for Kansas City for sure.”
Sudeikis said any TV show must include Kansas City as part of the concept.
“I don’t know what it will be. I haven’t seen it yet,” he said. “There are stories specific to Kansas City that I’ll know it when I see it. If there’s a young guy or gal going to UMKC who has the script of a lifetime, they should send it to my manager.”
As for Sudeikis’ other jobs, he’s starring with Anne Hathaway in the upcoming film “Colossal” (in theaters April 7), and he’s a series regular on Fox’s hybrid live-action, animated comedy “Son of Zorn.” Sudeikis voices the He-Man-like action hero Zorn, who’s adjusting to life in American suburbia. (“Zorn” is on Sunday nights; Fox has yet to announce whether it will be renewed for a second season).
“Zorn” co-creator Reed Agnew said producers were looking for someone who could imbue Zorn with the sense of a cartoon hero who craves a Hot Pocket more than the power of a king.
“He’s relatable. And we give him these tropes that are hopefully relatable to us. We can see ourselves in Zorn, hopefully, and maybe feel sorry for him,” Agnew said. “You believe he’s a hero. He has a deep, sort of very strong tenor (to his voice).”
Sudeikis said there are pluses and minuses to voicing an animated character. Animation allows an actor to “get out of your head, out of your body,” he said, but he misses the surprise and agitation a living, breathing scene partner offers. His character interacts with the three leads — Tim Meadows, Cheryl Hines and Johnny Pemberton — who film in Los Angeles.
“I’m just in a box hollering at myself and acting like a goofball alone,” Sudeikis said. “They (the three actors) make it seem like I’m right there, and that’s a credit to them as actors and to the writers and the magicians who do the special effects.”
“Zorn” marks Sudeikis’ second TV series with executive producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, directors of “The Lego Movie” who also produce Fox’s “The Last Man on Earth.” The show stars Will Forte as one of the last humans in a future world beset by a plague.
“I like Lord and Miller, and I like the way they go about doing their business and the voices they back with the showbiz clout they have,” Sudeikis said. “I’m glad to be in their stable of go-tos.”
In the “Last Man on Earth” first season finale, Sudeikis was introduced as the astronaut brother of Forte’s character. Sudeikis appeared heavily in the show’s second season.
“It was just a very obvious choice because of the time we spent together (on “SNL”) and how well we know each other,” Forte said of casting his friend. “It just seemed like an incredibly great opportunity and good thing for the show.”
Sudeikis makes his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his fiancée, actress Olivia Wilde, and their two children. He said he gets back to Kansas City about twice a year, usually for June’s Big Slick charity event and sometimes at the holidays.
“It’s fun having the kids and bringing them back,” he said. “I brought the little boy back before the little girl was born and it’s fun with him getting to catch fireflies and swimming in a friend’s pool and eating hot dogs, all the things I did as a kid.”
Sudeikis visits his parents, Dan and Kathy, who live in the same Overland Park house where he grew up. He samples assorted barbecue restaurants, including Gates Bar-B-Q.
But Sudeikis’ timing is never quite right for one other endeavor: picking up his diploma from Shawnee Mission West High School.
“My diploma was blank during graduation because I had to go to summer school,” he said. “There’s a story I never picked it up (after summer school in 1994). My old principal told some friends I’m still supposed to go pick it up. Maybe next time I’m in town, but it’s always on holidays or in the summer when the schools are closed.”
Where to watch
“Detroiters” is on at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on Comedy Central.