Thomas Lennon – From Cult Following to the Cadillac of His Comedy Franchise (Exclusive) Rocker Morning Show
Thomas Lennon's long strange trip through cult television shows to stardom started with The State on MTV, a very niche sketch show that would also introduce the world to Michael Ian Black, Joe Lo Truglio, Kerry Kenny, and Ken Marino. Although the troupe would split off to pursue their own projects, time and time again, they found their way back to each other adding to their cannon of comedy engines that could; films and shows that never quite achieved mainstream success, but always acquired a serious, and intense following. That is, until a handful of the original State troupe debuted Reno 911! on Comedy Central.
"It's "without a doubt... the Cadillac of our comedy franchise," said Thomas Lennon, who plays Lieutenant Jim Dangle, the hot pants clad head of the Reno Police Department. "Up until that point we were doing really, really culty shows like The State and Viva Variety."
Riding the success from Reno 911! , Lennon was cast in several successful films, including one of Rocker Morning Show host Mike McKelly's favorites, 17 Again. "17 Again was a fun movie," Lennon recalled. "I got to slap Zac Efron many, many times and we're still friends. After the movie, I got a call from Zac right around Halloween, and he was like, 'Do you think I could borrow the Lieutenant Dangle outfit for Halloween?' 'Like, the real Lieutenant Dangle outfit, with the real gun? Sure!' In retrospect, I shouldn't have given him the real gun, but you live and learn."
Thomas Lennon recently rebooted Reno 911! for the new streaming service Quibi. "It's tighter, faster, leaner. We get right in. There's no weird hotdog filler in the middle. The hotdog filler is in my shorts. There's as many things in the shows - as many crimes and calls and things, they're just shorter and faster." Quibi was created by media giant Jeffrey Katzenberg, and is available to try for free for the next few weeks.
"Jeffrey Katzenberg is fun to work for," Lennon says. "He's a nice guy, he's a funny guy, but also, he's a giant mogul and every once in a while he gets a little scary in a meeting. He goes from being the funniest dude in the world to I AM THE BOSS." But Lennon has a trick for getting over the intimidation when working with big names. "This is my test with everyone I meet who I'm a little afraid of... I always try to make a really weird joke just to dip my toe in the water, and if I make a joke, I'll be less afraid."
Download the Quibi app to check out the newest episodes of Reno 911! , and if you missed the exclusive Rocker Morning Show interview with Thomas Lennon, you can listen below.