Denis Leary is working hard in advance of season six of his critically acclaimed, highly successful show on FX, Rescue Me. The show returns Tuesday, June 29th at 10 PM EST/9 PM CST. Leary, along with Rescue Me’s Lenny Clarke and Adam Ferrara, just began the second installment of the Rescue Me Comedy Tour this past Saturday at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. The show also features musical guests The Enablers with the Rehab Horns. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Leary Firefighters Foundation.
Leary has also released a new comedy single titled “Fuck You” that is available now for purchase exclusively through iTunes.
Rescue Me Comedy Tour 2 Dates:
6/2/10 Washington D.C. Warner Theatre
6/5/10 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Casino
6/8/10 San Diego, CA Humphreys Concerts By the Bay
6/10/10 Los Angeles, CA Club Nokia
6/12/10 Las Vegas, NV The Joint at The Hard Rock
6/15/10 Minneapolis, MN State Theatre
6/17/10 Milwaukee, WI The Riverside
6/19/10 Chicago, IL The Chicago Theatre
6/22/10 Cleveland, OH The State Theatre
6/26/10 New York, NY Town Hall
6/27/10 New York, NY Town Hall
The below is an edited transcription of a recent press conference with Denis Leary. Rock ‘n Roll Ghost was on the line the entire time but unfortunately was not able to get in any questions.
We’ve heard that Maura Tierney is going to be returning back. How much are you looking forward to her return and coming back on set?
Denis Leary: Well, she’s coming back. We’re shooting Season 7 at the same time; her arc will be in Season 7. This summer, in June, will be Season 6, and then a year from now (will be season 7). So, her episodes are a year away, but she’s really great. I can’t say enough about her. We love her. She worked on a movie with Peter (Tolan) called Finding Amanda that Peter directed.
I’d heard for years about how great she was. She is all that. She came in at the tail end of her treatment. The story line for her character follows a cancer story arc that she was willing play. Because of her experience with it and because of her talent as an actress it’s a very heavy story line, it’s also in the tradition of Rescue Me, incredibly funny.
She was willing to play this very dark, dramatic arc that has real, real humor in it that could only come from somebody who had the experience of going through treatments for cancer. I just can’t say enough about the performance that she gives in the show. I wish it was actually coming on this summer because we’re so excited about what she did.
You’ve got Lenny Clarke and Adam Ferrara teaming with you on this eleven-city tour. What’s going to be happening behind the scenes with you all?
Denis Leary: Parts of it we do by bus because it’s really a lot of fun, and it’s much easier to travel, obviously, than having to go to the airport all the time. But, I think most people would be surprised. I’ve known Lenny for 30-something years and Adam for at least twelve now. So, it’s very funny and it’s non-stop, constant bickering because all we do is insult each other and make fun of each other.
Now, Whitney Cummings, who’s a young female comedian, who did our benefit in Boston, the Comics Come Home Benefit that we do every year for the Neely Cancer Foundation up there. I’m desperately trying to get her to do a few dates on this tour, because I think she’s a fantastic comedian. I’m hoping that the presence of a woman will calm everybody down. So, we’ll see if she brings any better manners out of it, but it’s ugly. It’s really ugly.
Do you know how the series will end? Have you always sort of known where it was going?
Denis Leary: We always had a feeling for it, obviously. I pitched several different endings. John Langraf, who’s the head of FX, always tried to steer us away from certain ideas, but we submitted the idea about a year ago.
We just finished writing it, myself and Peter and Evan Reilly. We wrote the final two episodes. We began shooting them Thursday. Now we know. I think it satisfies people. Not that we were out to please the audience, but we wanted to do something that was organic and, obviously, fit the characters, and fit the tone of the show, which is a group of firefighters who deal with life and death all the time.
The show has obviously dealt with the question of mortality over, and over again. So, it will deal with the mortality of the characters and it will deal with it, hopefully, in the traditional Rescue Me way, which is with some biting drama and some really, really funny comedy.
Can you reveal any of the rejected endings?
Denis Leary: One was a diner with all the firefighters sitting around listening to a Journey song, and then just cut to black. But, apparently, they did that at the end of The Sopranos, so we can’t do that. Then it was going to be a group hug ala Mary Tyler Moore, which was going to be kind of an homage, but some of the guys didn’t want to be involved in a group hug. So, both those ideas went out the window.
Does the ending have more to do with a particular story arc, or is it something you wanted to move on to?
Denis Leary: Well, we have to deal with the fact that it’s almost ten years to the day after 9/11. That has really been the reason why people watch the show, I think at the beginning and throughout has been knowing that these guys are troubled by what happened on that day. Also, the fact that they’re watching the inner workings of a firehouse, what really goes on, what its heroes can be.
So, I think the interesting thing for us is that we’re going to end up leaving the air right before the tenth anniversary of that event. That reflects really heavily on the characters and what their futures might be, individually and collectively. So, I think it’s going to be really interesting, you know?
Could give us a little taste of what we’re going to get to see on the Rescue Me Comedy Tour? How long have you been developing the material?
Denis Leary: I’m thinking of this stuff anyways, because I’m not in the clubs, I don’t work in the clubs, obviously. I’m busy doing Rescue Me. On the last tour and whenever I do standup, which is usually every year I do three or four private charity events; I pride myself on not repeating any material that I’ve ever done before, except for the “Asshole” song.
When I go out on stage, I usually have bullet points and I run off at the mouth from these bullet points that I’ve written down and I kind of improvise my way through it. Then, after a few weeks, it starts to form itself into a typical set. Twitter, I think, is probably a glimpse into what’s on my mind. It helps me focus on a daily basis on an idea that I might only sketch out. The Twitter might actually be my note page: The Vatican, Ben Rapelisberger – as I’m calling him – you know those are probably things that are going to show up in the show when we get started.
What is it about Rescue Me that really gets firefighting across the nation and probably around the world – what is it that the show does so well?
Denis Leary: Well, I’ve got to be honest with you, that’s always thanks to two things. One is my cousin, Jerry, who died in the line of duty ten years ago. My cousin, Jerry, he was hell-bent on being a firefighter and he became a firefighter in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is my hometown, you know, old neighborhood, downtown. Anybody who knows firefighters knows that when a person in your family gets involved with the fire department, the crew that they get assigned to, they become part of your family. So, those guys from his crew were always fixing my mother’s porch or doing her kitchen over or whatever it might be. I was exposed pretty early on to what those guys do and how they do it.
Then one of my oldest friends in the world, Terry Quinn, became a firefighter in here New York about 1982 or something. So, I was around Terry’s crews, as well. I was kind of surrounded by firefighters. When I decided to do this show, Terry Quinn became the technical advisor and all of the guys that play our extra firefighters on the show are real New York City firefighters. So, we really can’t take a step, technically, in a fire stunt scene without one of the guys going, ‘No, he wouldn’t do it, he wouldn’t say that, they wouldn’t run this way, they wouldn’t go that way’.
In terms of a lot of the funniest conversations that have ever happened on Rescue Me are things that the guys brought in from work and said, ‘Last night, in the kitchen, this guy said this and then these other guys said this’, or I’ve actually been in a firehouse kitchen and overhead guys having the argument. So, I’ve got to give thanks to the New York City Fire Department because all of my buddies on that Department have really made the show what it is.
Any memories of coming through Cleveland – any funny stories or any funny memories?
Denis Leary: Yeah, the last time I was in Cleveland was in ’97, when I was doing the Lock ‘n Load Tour for HBO. Jeff Garlin was directing this show on the road and he was also my opening act at that time. I think we might have done one night in Cleveland, but in my mind, I think it’s two nights, but we had a blast. I’ve got to tell you, man, Cleveland’s one of those places when that kid on the bull starts saying, ‘Cleveland sucks’. I’m like,’I guess you haven’t really been out in Cleveland, pal!’ I love Cleveland. We’re really looking forward to getting there.
By the way, even if you did think that Cleveland sucked and you’re playing on the other team and you’re him, don’t you think you’d keep your mouth shut? Do you really want to give them any more ammunition? I don’t think so.
What is it about growing up in Boston or being from there that makes people good comedians?
Denis Leary: Well, I guess because we’re all hanging on the street corner. They used to call it ‘playing the dozen’. You hang on the corner and just everybody kind of makes snide remarks to each other, or, if people are driving by or whatever. You have to give credit where credit is due. In that particular comedy scene, Lenny Clarke and his brother Mike and a guy named Barry Crimmins were the guys that really started that place, the Ding Ho. And, they really were guys that basically said, ‘Yeah, you can work here, but it’s just like anyplace else. You have to get up and be funny. If you’re not funny, you can work behind the bar.’ It’s not like there’s no political correctness involved.
(Barry) Crimmins started that club and Mike Clarke, Lenny’s brother, took it over. So, the credit goes to Crimmins and Mike Clarke. Mike Clarke, especially when I was coming up – I was a little bit after those guys – he was bawled out in terms of telling you what he thought was funny and what wasn’t funny. He was not about that whole comedy room of the ‘80s which was kind of Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno juniors, guys that were just working clean and acting like Seinfeld and Jay Leno, because that meant you could work anywhere because you didn’t swear. Mike didn’t really buy into that. Mike bought into the whole idea, ‘I don’t care if you’re clean or you’re not clean, as long as you’re funny’. He encouraged guys to have different styles, which I thought was great.
What sort of other material are you preparing for the show? You mentioned a little bit about the Vatican. But, do you have some thoughts on the Tea Parties?
Denis Leary: Last year, I used very large plasma screens in the hall and on either side of the stage where I could display pictures and newspaper articles that sparked ideas for me. I’ll probably do the same thing this year. One of the things, obviously, we’ll be talking about is the Catholic Church and Ben Rapelisberger. Just the idea of talking about Ben Rapelisberger, athletes who are criminally involved in illegal pursuits, that alone could probably give me ten minutes of material. I think we can safely say whatever night you come, you’re going to be entertained.
Denis Leary: It’s way tougher than hockey. When we shoot the fire scenes, it’s a combination of our stunt team and our real actors and our real firefighters. A real fire where we would be supposedly – not us because we’re chickens – but real firefighters would be running in to do the job and getting it done in a couple of hours, at most. For us, we’ve got to keep doing the same thing over and over again, so it takes sometimes twelve hours, sometimes 24 hours in two-day shifts to shoot one fire scene. You’ve got to walk around with that tank on your back for a long time and it’s not physical exertion or anything, but believe me we have real firefighters.
The best story I can tell about this. We’re always surrounded by real firefighters when we’re doing our fire scenes. So, those guys obviously make us pale in comparison. We have one of our real guys who’s a big bear of a man. He’s a lieutenant in the FDNY. He came to work one morning. We knew he was working a shift the night before; he was finishing a tour. He came in and he had a bandage on his neck and a bandage on his hand. He starts telling us what we were going to do in this fake fire.
I go, ‘What’s going on with your hand and your neck’? He goes, ‘Ah, I got burnt last night. It’s nothing’. I was like, ‘What?!’ We hear from one of the other guys. They were on their way into a job and a pile of debris that was on fire fell on top of him, hit him in the neck, went down his sleeve, got stuck inside the sleeve of his bunker coat. He refused to go to the hospital. He fought the fire. Him and his crew put it out, then they went back to the firehouse, changed up, and came to the set of Rescue Me. Here we are, these baby-assed actors, about to act like firemen. I’ll tell you, it really puts you in your place.