Bring Your Greasepaint: “Modern Family” Preps a Clown Funeral

As if the clan on “Modern Family” wasn’t providing enough laughs already, we’ve got three words for you: “Fizbo” and “clown funeral.”

PopcornBiz quizzed executive producer Steven Levitan about the latest dysfunctional dynamics to bedevil the Dunphys and the Prichetts and got an earful of teases about storylines in motion, wish lists for future episodes and his own daughter’s favorite shows (hint: “Modern Family” doesn’t seem to be on the list).

On the slew of guest stars who’ll be dropping by:

Coming up we've got Greg Kinnear, who is going to play a business associate of Phil's who kisses Claire on the mouth. We have Ellen Barkin as Mitzi Roth, Phil's rival real estate agent, and Bobby Cannavale playing Louis from the famous now-defunct clown team Fizbo & Louis…It was a bitter breakup – it's like Martin and Lewis, really – and then they get back together because of attending a funeral. It's a really good episode and Bobby Cannavale is great. He’s a clown mentor. It's very visually interesting, and the clown funeral is a great, great scene.

On how Fizbo found his way into the show:

Eric Stonestreet was Fizbo as a kid. In the first season we did this with everybody: we brought them in like couples at lunchtime and we had these lunch meetings with everybody. We'd just sit and talk about life and what they've done and look for funny dynamics between the two. This came out in that meeting, and we were like, 'Well, that's a story for sure – we haven't seen that.' As he was talking about the clown, going on and he goes, '…And there's actually three different types of clowns. There's an Auguste clown, and this kind of clown…' And you could see Jesse rolling his eyes, and we were like, 'Well, that's the dynamic right there: that Mitchell tolerates this in Cam.’

On building the family’s extended universe:

Kevin Hart’s in our episode that we're shooting next week, so we like to start sprinkling in people in their lives and bring them back. It wasn't going to be an actively recurring character, but he was devised as a friend of Phil's, a go‑to guy for Phil, and that's how we will use him whenever possible. I love Kevin. I did a pilot with him years ago, he’s one of my favorite guys, and I think it's exactly the right texture that our show needed, so we're extremely happy to have him.

On plotting to drop Jay into the middle of Gloria’s Columbian family:

Yes, yes! I would love to get to Colombia, frankly. I would love to see a trip where we went to Colombia. That is a goal of ours, but that's a big endeavor. I think it'd be a great thing to do. I would love to film there.

On Cam and Mitchell’s quest for a second child:

I'm going to not say anything to that question, other than it's part of the process of this season. There will be more developments this season.

On discouraging too much television viewing among the writing staff:

I actually tell the writers not to watch TV so it doesn't kill story ideas, because as soon as you start talking about anything, no matter what it is, if people are really avid TV watchers, they'll go ‘Oh, they did that on “Laverne & Shirley”’ or whatever, and you're like, ‘No, no, no – I don't want to know!’ So just try to keep the blinders on.

On his own TV -watching family frustrations at home:

My daughter loves all these other shows: 'How I Met Your Mother' and 'The Office' and 'New Girl.' And I'm like, 'How come you don't sit around and obsess over "Modern Family",' and she was like, 'It would be weird if I went into school and talked to all my friends about "Modern Family." It would make me look like a complete dweeb.' So instead, she said, 'I focus on other shows – I like your show, Dad, don't worry.'


"Modern Family" airs Wednesdays at 9 PM ET on ABC

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