This year, one of the brightest new stars to hit primetime was also one of the youngest: 13-year-old Thomas Barbusca, who plays the delightfully entitled Chip Pemberton on new FOX comedy The Mick.
Starring Always Sunny in Philadelphia alum Kaitlin Olson as a trainwreck taking care of her rich sister’s kids, The Mick was one of the fall’s most highly anticipated, and best received, new comedies. Everyone tuning in to see what Olson would be up to post-Sunny was immediately hooked on the slightly off-kilter sitcom, which features several incredible younger actors in challenging comedic roles. As the short-tempered Chip, Thomas Barbusca has gotten to meltdown, freak out, and go completely crazy on set, and he’s loved every minute of it.
The Laugh Button caught up with Barbusca before he gets busy filming season two of The Mick – between the mandatory state tests he’s still stuck taking, even though he’s the star of a hit sitcom. At least he’s not still trying to balance set life with school life, though. “This is about my third or fourth year doing home-schooling,” Barbusca explains. “It’s the only thing that works out [now], because my schedule is really crazy.”
While being between seasons of a major network comedy is a lot to handle for anyone, let alone an (almost) 14-year-old, he’s handling it well, and staying busy.
“I’m mostly just hanging out, though I’ve done a couple of auditions. I also just filmed a thing with my friend – he did the first project I ever worked on, and now he has a movie coming out, called Search, and he asked me if I could do a cool cameo on it.”
But Barbusca’s not searching for his perfect project anymore – thanks in part to The Mick scripting such a flexibly hilarious character in his bossy, beyond-his-years Chip, he’s already found something he excels at, and he’s into it.
“Comedy is my main thing right now. I’ve done some dramas, like Grey’s Anatomy and other stuff in that area, but right now comedy is my favorite thing in the world. So being on this show, with a comedy legend, and great comedy writers and producers – it’s really cool.” It’s not his first funny project, though; it’s not even his first offbeat comedy, since he appeared in last year’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp series and brilliant parody web series Tween Fest. You might remember him best from a frequently aired Geico ad, though, that ran right before The Mick premiered.
It’s crazy to think that just a year ago, one of primetime’s standout character actors was doing commercials. Even wilder that, with his serious comedy skills, he’s never taken an acting class – “I do have a private coach,” Barbusca explains,”and he’s taught me a lot, but most of it has been natural.”
It makes sense that he settled into his role so easily: it was written with him in mind, although not intentionally. Two of the show’s co-writers, the Chernin brothers, both imagined him from the start, which shows talent is genetic.
“When they were writing the character, John was thinking of Wet Hot American Summer and my character Drew on that, and Dave was thinking of my Peter Pan Geico commercial, and they didn’t realize that they were talking about the same kid. When I came into the room, they realized.”
Once they got him in the room, it wasn’t hard to sell Barbusca on the show – he’s a big Always Sunny in Philadelphia fan.
“Definitely one of my top five shows ever! Everyone on that show is super funny. I always wanted to work on that, especially with Kaitlin – now I get to work with Kaitlin on our own show, with all the producers and writers from that. “
Sounds like a pretty good deal to us.
The Mick airs Tuesdays on FOX.