‘Home Improvement’ Star Richard Karn Reveals Inspiration Behind His Character Al Borland

by Thad Mitchell
(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

One of the most popular sitcoms of the 1990s, “Home Improvement” was the show with a little something for everyone.

“Home Improvement” starred comedian and actor Tim Allen in the lead role as Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. Despite the “Tool Man” moniker, Taylor had a tendency to create a disaster out of household items. The Tool Man was obsessed with giving regular tools and items “More Power,” which was also his catchphrase. The person in charge of cleaning up the Tool Man’s messes was Al Borland, played by Richard Karn.

Borland, a strong but silent type, was a practical, capable and excellent craftsman. He was the opposite of Tim Allen’s character, in other words. Together, Tim Taylor and Al Borland hosted “Tool Time,” a fictional, do-it-your-self reality show.

Much of the “Home Improvement” comedy and storyline centered on the two men and their lives at and also outside of work. The comedic chemistry between Allen and Karn was impeccable and it showed up on screen for each and every episode.

“Home Improvement” is the crowning achievement of Karn’s career and he’s seen accolades for his role as Al Borland. A kind, easy-going and intellectual man, Borland was the yin to the Tool Man’s Yang. Allen and Karn were excellent in the scenes they shared, feeding off of one another to create a comedic duo for the ages. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, with “Home Improvement” still carrying cultural reference some 20 years after going off the air. In a recent social media post, Karn explains how he was able to create Al Borland into the sidekick to the “Tool Man.”

“A little of me, a little of my dad and a little of the writers,” he says.

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Richard Karn was answering a question from a fan with the response.

“How close to Al is your personality?” the “Home Improvement” fan asks.

Ever since it went off the air 20 years ago, fans have wondered if we’ve seen the last of the “Home Improvement” gang. While it isn’t exactly a reboot, we did get something of a revival with “Assembly Required.”

The show reunited the former “Home Improvement” star for a reality game show. “Assembly Required” pits competitive builders against each other in a battle for prizes. Contestants on the show must build unique items using only items that they have in their own workshops. Allen and Karn serve as the show’s hosts and judge the finished products the builders come up with. The show wrapped up its first season earlier this year.

It is obvious from “Assembly Required” that Allen and Karn have the same comedic chemistry that made “Home Improvement” a classic sitcom.