Steve Byrne talks Sullivan and Son Comedy Tour: "We're like a four-headed monster"


Let's be honest: Summer television is awful.

It's packed with reruns, reality shows, and garbage that most self-respecting people with half a brain wouldn't be caught dead watching (big shout-out to The Bachelorette).

But every once in a while, you get a television show that's funny, smart, and saves you from actually having to spend time in the sun. Sullivan and Son, premiering June 24 on TBS, is one of those shows.

Starring veteran comics Steve Bryne, Owen Benjamin, Roy Wood Jr., and Ahmed Ahmed as a group of longtime friends who spend the majority of their time in Byrne's character's family-owned bar in Pittsburgh, Sullivan and Son is a rare bright spot in an ocean of god-awful scripted reality and off-season replacements.

Now in its third season, the program is gaining more traction than ever with fans. To help continue that momentum, the stars of the show are hitting the road for the Steve Bryne and the Cast of Sullivan and Son Comedy Tour, which hits Acme Comedy Co. this Friday and Saturday.

Before the cast steps foot in Minnesota, we talked with Steve Bryne about his experience touring with his friends, the direction of the show, and what it means to be an Asian-Irish-American in 2014.

[jump] You just got back from doing comedy out in Nashville. How was that?

I think that any place that I showed up to immediately became Korean town. Surprisingly, I don't think they have a lot of Korean-Irish cowboys.

With Sullivan and Son getting ready to kick off its third season, how much of the show is a reflection on your own life?

The premise of the show is all about a guy who quits his job to be with his family and friends. That's something I've dreamed about, because being a road comic is all about lonely rooms at the Marriott, mini bottles of shampoo, and crying.

Even though this is technically your third season, it's really more like a second season since you need the first one to introduce your audience to the characters. What do you have planned for season three?

That's exactly right. It really is like our second season, except now we know the characters much better, we've experienced what their lives are like, and we've created a couple of story arcs for this third season. There's a lot more character development than we've had in past seasons, and a lot of really great guest stars.

What types of guest stars?

The one I'm most excited about is Margaret Cho. She's been a huge role model for me in comedy, as I think she is for most Asian comedians. It's funny because the actress who played her mom on her show years ago plays my mom on Sullivan and Son.

So you're kind of like TV siblings?

We really are. Plus we've got Ken Jeong, who I like to say is the man who single-handedly set Asians back five and a half inches, plus Billy Ordell and John Michael Higgins. So it's definitely our best season ever when it comes to guest stars.

What's it like touring with your friends to promote the show?

It's been such a blast touring together since we're all really good friends, and I think you can tell that it's made our material better, too. I actually ended up scrapping some of the material I had been planning to do on my last special, because after touring with these guys I realized it could be so much better. This is our third time doing this tour together, and we've really become kind of a four-headed monster of comedy, since all four of us are regular headliners. It's awesome. The other thing that's funny about touring together is that we're on a sitcom about bartenders, so when actual bartenders recognize us we kind of get guilted into giving bigger tips.

Are people starting to recognize you more from the show, or from your comedy?

At this point, I think I'm still proving myself. A lot of people still don't know who I am, or what the show is, so the tour is about getting us in front of people who may not know us at all. TBS has been such good partners with us, giving us three seasons' worth of television. That being said, we're only on TV for 10 weeks out of the year and then we're gone. This tour hopefully keeps us in people's minds for some of those other 42 weeks.


Steve Byrne and the Cast of Sullivan and Son Comedy Tour

Acme Comedy Co.

8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, June 20-21

18+, $20

Get tickets here