Billy Crystal: ‘I Play a Bizarro Version of Myself’ in ‘The Comedians’ (INTERVIEW)

The comedian stars in the new FX series premiering Thursday night before the Season 5 opener of ‘Louie.’
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The Comedians FX Photo

(Photo: Frank Ockenfels/FX)

Billy Crystal is back on TV, and he looks mahvelous.

FX has lured him to the land of cable for the dark Hollywood satire The Comedians, in which he costars with Josh Gad, and for those of you who don’t know who that is, just ask any parent or child on the planet and they’ll tell you, he’s Olaf from Frozen! (He was also part of the original Broadway cast of The Book of Mormon and starred in the short-lived NBC sitcom 1600 Penn.)

Bio spoke with Billy Crystal in this exclusive interview about The Comedians, which Crystal told us is a project he’s “more proud of than almost anything that I’ve ever done.”

So, what was it about The Comedians that made the Soap and SNL veteran want to return to series television?

“It’s based on a Swedish show I was sent a couple years ago,” Crystal explained to Bio. “I was not looking to do anything at that point, but when I watched the first five minutes of the show from Sweden, it was so good, I said, I would like to do this.”

It’s a show-within-a-show premise that plays out in a behind-the-scenes mock-documentary format (think Showtime’s Episodes or The Larry Sanders Show), with Crystal and Gad playing versions of themselves in a generational clash when the veteran comedian is forced to work with the younger comic after the network decides they need to target a younger demo on their new sketch show, The Billy & Josh Show.

The Comedians FX Photo

(Photo: Frank Ockenfels/FX)

“They don’t like each other but they need each other — they don’t want to need each other — but they do,” Crystal told us. “And we have Josh Gad … he is phenomenal in the show with me.”

“It’s about the egos and the vulnerabilities of comedians,” he added, “it’s much more than what would seem to be there.”

Now that Crystal is getting FX-ified (remember, FX programming = edgy), viewers might get to see a new side of the likable movie star they’re used to seeing in mainstream successes such as When Harry Met Sally…, City Slickers and Analyze This.

“I’ve always had a certain taste that I’ve embraced, but this a chance to get a little edgier in some things,” Crystal told Bio. “I play a sort of bizarro version of myself, I do things in this show I would not do — I make fun of myself, I let them make fun of me — and it works, and it’s great.”

The Comedians FX Photo

(Photo: Ray Mickshaw/FX)

The Comedians also has some great guest stars in the line-up this season, including Steven Weber, Jimmy Kimmel, Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Torre and one definitely not to miss in Episode 4 – scene-stealing comedy legend Mel Brooks.

“For me, I love doing this show so much, because I get to do what I’ve always done,” Crystal summed up. “But now, at this point in my life and my career, to have this, is an amazing blessing.”

The Comedians premieres Thursday, April 9th at 10 p.m. ET on FX.