In its first four seasons on FX, the instant cult classic It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has touched everything from racism to children. The comedy — which follows four thirtysomething bar-owning vagrants (and one comparably degenerate role model played by Danny DeVito) in their sinful adventures — can be described as Seinfeld with no condom, though that label hardly does justice to its depraved brilliance. In anticipation of their Season Five premiere (September 17 at 10 pm), the show's lead actors/co-creators are coming to the House of Blues this Tuesday as part of a sold-out six-city tour with their live version of "The Nightman Cometh" — a fan-favorite musical from Season Four about the joy of sodomy. To learn more about their stage charades — described by cast member Charlie Day as a "hybrid between Al Jolson and Bel Biv DeVoe with just a little bit of Aaron Copland and a dash of Yanni" — we probed Glenn Howerton, the very funny man behind It's Always Sunny's drunken, crack-smoking, trust-fund scumbag Dennis Reynolds.
Even though you know you're already a television star, what kind of rush is it to sell out massive live venues in a matter of minutes?
It's a whole different experience, since we rarely get first-hand interaction. We knew the show had grown, and the interest was there, but none of us could have been prepared for the Troubadour [in West Hollywood, where the cast test-drove the musical this past April]. You would have thought we were the Stones — people were singing every song along with us.
You're touring "The Nightman Cometh" because it's a fan favorite. What is it about a show like yours that makes people get science-fiction-nerd crazy about the minutiae of every episode?
I don't know if anybody can set out to achieve something that takes on that sort of non-conventional crowd. You can only hope. I think part of it is how the show was never shoved down people's throats. Instead, people found out about it because someone else showed it to them. It's like when you know a band and want to tell everyone you know about them — it breeds this sort of fanaticism.
Have you had any high schools request the "Nightman Cometh" script for their senior play?
That would be amazing, but I don't think you'd be able to do a show about the rape of a young child at too many high schools. After the second season, though, I heard about acting schools using scenes — and a screenwriting class was using a script. I thought that was so fucking cool — especially considering that they were using "Mac Bangs Dennis's Mom," which was like the second show I'd ever written in my life.
Since you all have a creative role in addition to being actors, how much of your personas are real — even in just the carnal sense?
I've definitely gone through phases when scumbaggery was a part of my life, but nowadays we're all surprisingly different from these characters. I've definitely been a drunk, too — and we all continue to drink every now and then — but we're not like that. I'm actually getting married soon. This is our sick twisted fantasy life.
Absolutely nothing is sacred to you guys — from incest to stalking to retarded people. Who died so you could commit your sins?
The funniest people who you remember were always tackling taboo shit — that's what's always made us laugh. It was never our intention to be shocking for the sake of being shocking. We just thought this was funny and nobody else was doing it.
Philly really is a pretty lawless city. Is that part of the inspiration for the sheer depravity?
It was the perfect setting — we especially liked the fact that there were no shows like it that took place there. Philly's a scrappy city that kind of lives in the shadow of New York; it just made sense to put these characters there. You can kick these guys around, but they're never gonna stay down. As depraved as they are, they're also oddly optimistic.
What advice do you give people who have never seen the show but are getting dragged there by significant others?
Based on what I saw at the Troubadour, almost everyone will be pretty diehard. Hopefully some of them will even show up in spandex.
What's a question that I'm forgetting to ask that your crazed super-fans are going to write me nasty letters about?
Don't put that shit on me, man. They might want to know about the fifth season, though, and they're not going to be disappointed. We're always taking it a step further, and it's definitely Danny's best year so far.