When Kevin retires from the police force, he thinks life will be all about hanging out with his wife and kids and going on the occasional adventure with fellow retirees, Goody and Duffy, and his brother Kyle. A different narrative starts to take shape when he discovers his wife, Donna, has been protecting him from certain family info while he was out keeping the streets safe. It turns out that their oldest daughter, Kendra, wants to drop out of college and get a job to support her fiance, their middle child, Sara, is struggling at school, and their youngest, Jack, is a hypochondriac. For the time being, Kevin will have to postpone a life of leisure and work on keeping his family in shape.
Kevin Can Wait is the new CBS sitcom which sees the return of comedian Kevin James to network television while introducing us to a whole new crop of comedic talent including Chris Roach. He plays Mott on the series. Roach is a fast rising Comedian/Actor born and raised in New York. He has brought his unique and self deprecating sense of humor to some of the biggest and best known stages such as The Borgata in Atlantic City. Known for some of his work on television commercials, he has also appeared on Comedy Central, The Michael J. Fox Show, and had a recurring role as Rodney the loveable mental patient on the soap opera One Life to Live.
We caught up with Roach to talk about his role on Kevin Can Wait, the “Seinfeldian” moment when he got the call, his love for hockey, and the trials and tribulations of being 6’6″.
Congratulations on Kevin Can Wait, you’re off to a fantastic start with the launch of the new series.
Thanks so much. I’m very excited and my wife is excited too about everything haha. We’re actually living at my Dad’s house working paycheck to paycheck and then this show came along and it’s been such a surreal experience. It’s really been incredible.
You’ve been a comic for about a decade and a half, most people don’t understand the term “slow-bake” in comedy. When comedians get breaks like this people don’t realize how long and hard of a road it is to get to this point. It’s got to feel good.
It’s great. I was just performing a Wednesday set at a local comedy club in Long Island and Kevin James came in and watched from the back. That was the beginning of it all. I auditioned a few months later but it was initially him seeing me do that 10 minute spot on a Wednesday when nothing was really happening. I thought, “I’ll just work on some new stuff.” In comes Kevin James and Rock Reuben.
It’s always better to find out that people like a Kevin James and Rock Reuben are in crowd after your set right?
Haha, yeah. I don’t even want to know if a relative is in the crowd. Then it’s in your head. I’m doing jokes about my family and I don’t want to have them be like, “What’s he talking about?” I don’t want them to get offended. So, I’m standing in the back, about a minute before I’m going to go up and I’m looking at my notes, and out of the corner of my eye I see a group of people walk in. It took me a few seconds to focus because it was dark. And then I saw it was Kevin and like, “oh man.” Then I saw Reuben walk in and sit next to him. I was just thinking, “Stay calm, stay calm.”
So what was more important in that moment, your notes or what you were wearing?
You know what, I think I was looking at my notes saying to myself, “Don’t rush. Keep your timing. Show them who you are. Show your character.” I’m not a high energy comedian. Afterwards, I walked off stage and went into the back to hang out with the other comedians. I didn’t get to meet him [James] that night, I met him a few months later and we hit it off. Such a great guy.
After the audition, my manager calls me up and says, “Kevin James is going to call you in the next hour. Stay by your phone.” I was like, “Oh my god!” At the time, my wife and I were having our carpets cleaned. So there’s this guy in the house with a big machine outside and it’s making so much noise. So I said to my wife, “I gotta get outta here.” I’m going to walk out the door and this big guy who’s cleaning my carpets is blocking the doorway trying to tell me about this new product he uses. I’m like, “Guy, you got to get out of my way.” He was like, “No no no, it will only take one minute, let me show you.” I’m screaming to my wife, “Get over here now!” She comes running up the steps and tells him, “He’s got to leave right this second. Show me what you have to show him.” I literally jumped over his back to get out of there. It was hilarious.
It’s like a Seinfeld episode right?
Haha, yeah, he was standing in front of the rest of my life trying to sell me a five dollar can of cleaning powder.
So should we talk about the New York Rangers or save it for the end?
Oh yeah baby! The Rangers look good. I loved that they opened up the pre-season against the Islanders. I have a lot of friends who are Islanders fans so the trash talking has been off to a great start. I’m just happy to see that the rivalry is alive and well.
And the Rangers are celebrating their 90th season. They are one of the original six.
Original six baby, that’s right!
Who have your peers been throughout your comedy career up to this point? Who’s really been around and maybe helped you out?
I have so many people to thank. There are so many people that took me under their wing and taught me everything that I know. Steve Marshall and Chris Monty. These are people I think the world should know. They are so funny. And then of course there is Joe Starr who plays Enzo on Kevin Can Wait. It’s really nice to have him there because not only has he been helpful to me in stand-up, he’s not only a great actor but a great acting teacher. So to have him there is like a double bonus.
As far as stand-up goes, a few years ago, Bobby Collins took me under his wing and I started going on the road with him along the whole East Coast. I learned a lot through him. And stand-up comedy really came in handy I noticed performing in front of a live audience for Kevin Can Wait. We tape it live Friday nights. That’s where I’ve been able to benefit from all my stand-up experience. You really learn how to ride out laughs and not step on the laughs.
As far as acting, I trained with Joanna Beckson. She gave me a lot of tough love. And she taught me what good acting felt like by stopping me every time I did something wrong. When it feels wrong it feels wrong. And when it feels right, it’s a really good feeling.
We are one degree of separation with a mutual friend and writer on Kevin Can Wait, Peter Hoare.
That rotten bastard.
He is a great guy. Peter is a great guy. We met at a Billy Joel concert we went to with Kevin [James]. And I sat next to him. I like that he likes his beer like I do. He actually wrote an episode we just taped last week and it’s very funny! Not only is he a good guy and great writer he’s a big hockey fan. A big Islander fan which I can forgive him for.
Watching those writers, it’s like a machine. We rehearse, then go to lunch and come back and they all going into a room and come out with like 10 new pages of funny material. It’s really incredible to watch.
Now Chris, you are a tall dude. My wife and are more on the tiny side and when a guy like you walks in at a concert we have to pray we don’t wind up behind you. How conscious of people like us are you or are you over it at this point?
If I had a nickel for every time a 5’ 2” Italian guy wanted to fight me… hahaha. Whenever I use to walk into night clubs, people would just get out of the way. It was like the sea would part. And I would laugh because on the inside I’m not that guy. On the inside I’m gentle. I get called a gentle giant all the time. But when I walk in a room, all of a sudden, people are like, “Oh, look at him.” And I’m like, “What?” Sometimes I have to be careful because I could hit my head on something. I’ve got to pay attention.
How tall are you?
What’s funny is that’s a small basketball player right?
I know, and I can’t play basketball to save my life. I was always horrible at basketball.
Did you play hockey growing up?
Yeah, when I play hockey I play defense.
When did you realize you weren’t going to be a professional athlete?
I think that was pretty early on haha. I was never really that athletic but I enjoyed playing hockey. My dream of course was to play professionally but realized when I was 16 years old, “Yeah, this isn’t going to work out.” I got a few broken bones. One in my foot. One in my hand. I got a few aches and bumps along the way.
Last question for you, what are you really enjoying about doing Kevin Can Wait when you take a step back and think about it? What’s the take away?
Oh wow. It starts on a Friday night. I can’t wait to get to the script. I can’t wait until Monday at the table read. There are times we are performing scenes over and over and I’m not even thinking about it being on TV. I’m just loving the fact that I’m doing it. I’m loving the scenes, watching how they are changing and working with Kevin. We became a family pretty quick. We’ve been going out to Karaoke bars. Just the whole experience of being there with this group of people has been incredible.
I just hope you are ready when people start dressing up like your character for Halloween. It’s going to get nuts.
Hahaha! Meet the Mott’s!
Be sure to watch Chris Roach as Mott in Kevin Can Wait alongside Kevin James Monday nights 8/7c on CBS.