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Ken Marino spoils his rom-com sitcom 'Marry Me' for us: 'It all works out'

If you’re watching the pilot for NBC’s new comedy, “Marry Me,” you might want to keep track of just how many proposals take place. Leads Jake and Annie are very in love, but have a tiny bit of trouble taking that big next step.

Ken Marino Marry Me "Marry Me" premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.
Credit: Colleen Hayes, NBC

If you’re watching the pilot for NBC’s new comedy, “Marry Me,” you might want to keep track of just how many proposals take place. Leads Jake and Annie are very in love, but have a tiny bit of trouble taking that big next step. The show, from “Happy Endings” creator David Caspe, stars Casey Wilson as Annie, and “The State” regular Ken Marino as Jake. Marino has some pretty good taste — he may have more cult comedies to his credit than almost any other actor, from “Party Down” to “Wet Hot American Summer,” not to mention a much loved spot as smarmy competing detective Vinnie Van Lowe on “Veronica Mars.” We checked in with Marino about what to expect from his new rom-com sitcom.

In the pilot, Annie and Jake seem like they might have some big problems in their relationship. How will they get past that?
I think they work through it in the pilot. Annie gets hung up on signs. By the end of the episode, spoiler alert, it all works out. I don’t think she’s concerned about signs in future episodes. As a matter of fact, I know she’s not concerned about signs in future episodes, because we’ve shot seven or eight already. … In the episodes to come, we have slightly different issues.

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What kinds of issues?
It’s not a show about will they or won’t they. It’s not a show, like, are they going to be together, are they going to stay together. That’s not what the show is ultimately about. Really, it’s a show about a couple that gets engaged and they enter the next chapter of their lives and how they and their friends and their family all deal with that. It becomes more of an ensemble comedy.

Well, it’s right there in the title. Seems like they’re going to work it out.
Yeah. You know, a lot of people ask, well, it’s a romantic comedy will they/won’t they kind of thing. They will.

So you’re just confirming it now, early on.
I feel confident that they will. Unless I get on David and Casey’s bad side.

Uh oh. They could replace you.
Annie decides she wants out.

With comedians like Casey Wilson and Tim Meadows on the show, is there a lot of improvisation?
They write such funny and tight scripts, but David definitely wants us to open things up and play. He likes the idea of just being spontaneous in the moment and on the day and finding new stuff while we’re shooting. If something new comes out of it — a new joke, a new exchange — I think David’s theory is best joke wins. So when you’re in the editing room, if some improv just landed really well, he’ll put that in.

How similar is it in tone to “Happy Endings”?
I think what they’re trying to do is ground it a little bit more. I think it’s going to have a lot of the same joke per minute style of “Happy Endings.” Maybe pull back on that a little bit and replace a little bit of that with a little bit more sweetness between Casey and me and exploring their relationship as a couple. What I love about the show is that I think it’s going to be super funny, and then have some heart, but then cut that saccharine with some pretty subversive jokes.

Any big "State" reunions coming up?
We’re doing a reunion at Jack Black’s Festival Supreme. We’re doing a 40 minute set of some new material and some classics. I guess we’re old enough to call them classics. Not classics like they’re great, but classics like they’re old.

Have you been surprised by the continuing interest in the group?
Incredibly surprised. It makes me happy because of course "The State" means an enormous amount to me and has helped mold me in a real way as a comedian, and as an actor. The fact that people still remember it is flattering.

What's your favorite State sketch?
One of my favorite sketches, and to me it’s like a pure state sketch that doesn’t have hints of other influences or other sketch shows, is "$240 Worth of Pudding." I’ve always liked that one, with Barry and Levon. It’s just two velvet-suited '70s dudes talking about how they’re going to dip their ass into $240 worth of pudding, which is a big pile of pudding behind them. I like that one. I enjoy "Mailman," which is about a guy who talks to a mailman and says hey, stop delivering tacos and start delivering the mail and they have a very quiet heart to heart about that. I’m a big fan of "Porcupine Racetrack," which is a musical number about the slowest porcupine in town at the porcupine racetrack.

Follow Lisa Weidenfeld on Twitter at @LisaWeidenfeld.

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