‘Home Improvement’: Here’s Why Tim Allen’s Tim Taylor Grunts So Much During the Show

by Alex Falls

Tim Allen is known for many roles from his long career. Buzz Lightyear, Santa Clause, and many others; but perhaps his most recognizable role of all was entirely based on himself. Home Improvement was an extremely popular TV show on ABC during its heyday. Allen starred as Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor who hosted the DIY show within the show, Tool Time.

ABC wanted to build a show around Allen for years before Home Improvement. They pitched shows based on movies such as Turner & Hooch and Dead Poet’s Society. However, Allen wanted to focus on an original idea based on his own interests. That’s when the idea for Home Improvement came about and the rest is history.

The show went on to become one of the biggest sitcoms of the 90s. Its success turned Allen into a household name. After running for a successful eight seasons, Allen and his co-star Patricia Richardson made the choice to walk away from lucrative paydays and bring the show to an end. They felt the series had run its course and it was time to move on to other projects.

In Home Improvement, Tim Taylor represents the average man. A loving family man who enjoys the simple things in life and who’s passionate about power tools and helping people help themselves. Allen put a lot of himself into the role, including one of the character’s signature tics.

Tim Allen’s Grunting

One of Allen’s most common comedic touches on the show was grunting. It could express confusion, hunger, or happiness for wielding power tools. Allen’s grunting was such a defining characteristic that it was featured prominently in Home Improvement‘s opening titles.

The grunts are a recurring gag from Allen’s previous stand-up work. Before Allen hit it big, he performed the stand-up special Tim Allen: Men are Pigs for Showtime in 1990. This special is what put Allen on ABC’s radar.

In the special, Allen performed an extended bit about how men are a lot like apes. They’ll grunt to express themselves for everything. Allen revealed a 2017 interview with the Detroit Comedy Scene he came up with the grunt gag during a performance in Ohio. He said the crowd was turning on him and he could hear grunts coming from people eating and mumbling in the crown. “Out of frustration, I started grunting parts of the transitions between observation so they would better understand my stories and for a spell, they actually got really responsive. I never forgot this moment,” Allen said.

Allen’s grunts became a comedic signature on Home Improvement. Now, Youtube videos compile every grunt from the show. Although Home Improvement came to an end after season eight, Allen reprised his Tool Time character for one last time in an episode of Last Man Standing.

Currently, Allen hosts a new tool-related program on History Channel. More Power reunites Allen with his Tool Time cohort Richard Karn for a close look at the tools and materials that influence our everyday lives.