‘Last Man Standing’ Star Tim Allen Discusses Importance of Finding Story in Sitcoms

by Allison Hambrick
Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

Tim Allen, star of “Home Improvement” and “Last Man Standing,” revealed the secret behind his success in the sitcom world. Allen is a firm believer that the key part of a situation comedy is the situation.

“I fight this because it seems so obvious,” said Allen in an interview with Pioneers of Television. “It’s called a situation comedy. It’s not a comedy situation, so it can’t be bit to bit to bit. Now to reference, Tina Fey, or 30 Rock. That appears to be a comedy situation. It’s vignette after vignette after vignette. The story is there. Community sometimes is the same way.”

While Allen certainly has a preference, he didn’t mean his words as insults to other comedy shows. Community fills a different comedic niche than Last Man Standing. Dramas can be much the same. You and SEAL Team are hardly comparable. Allen simply has his own idea of what he wants his shows to be.

“I struggle with this because I am not making a judgment either way,” Allen continued. “I prefer a story–I’ll make it funny. That’s what I do. I’m constantly having this conversation. They go ‘well, here’s the bits we got.’ Then we structure reality to fit a bit, and it’s a very subtle difference. Let’s get the situation right. Eve wants to join the ROTC. That’s not funny. We’ll make it funny. You’re comedy writers. My staff is very funny. Trust that you’ll find the joke. Believe me, we’ll find the joke. We’ve got comics on staff. I’m a comic. We’ll find the joke. I’ll go to funerals and laugh. So get the story first, then you’ll hook people.”

Worth noting is, Allen doesn’t think this means reinventing the wheel. The story doesn’t have to be complicated. The example he used is The Hangover. That film is built more on bits than story, but it still revolves around the basic premise of retracing a bachelor party gone wrong.

“My point is, we fight this all the time,” said the Last Man Standing actor. “Sometimes, the hard thing is to find a story because it’s right in front of you. Eight years of Home Improvement, we would eventually go back to the same stories. She misbehaved. Someone lied. It’s Old Testament stuff.”

Last Man Standing Star Talks Working With Children

In addition, Allen discussed how he feels about being a role model. Because he does a lot of family-oriented content, the Last Man Standing star is often put into situations with young fans. Unfortunately, this is not a situation he particularly enjoys being in.

“I think in my heart, I’m a different guy than I act so I have a conflict,” Allen said. “I don’t really like children or adolescents. There’s a certain age of kid that I really don’t like being around. When I get around [kids], I’m good with them. I don’t understand that. I really will protect kids and I loved having those three boys on Home Improvement.”

As for why kids like him, Allen thought it had to do with how he speaks to them. The Last Man Standing star doesn’t believe in patronizing young people.

“I don’t like ‘goo goo boo boo’ with children,” Allen stated. “I treat children not like equals, because I’m bigger than them and I know a lot more than them, but I don’t [talk in baby voice]. [I just] don’t like that and because of that, children are like cats around me. They won’t leave me alone.”