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Kevin Farley on CMT’s comedy hit ‘Still The King’

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The second season of CMT’s hit comedy “Still The King” launched last week with two new episodes. The series follows the exploits of Burnin’ Vernon (played by 90’s country star Billy Ray Cyrus), a scandal-ridden one hit-wonder who reinvents himself as one of the country’s finest Elvis impersonators, only to discover that he’s also a father to a 15-year old girl. 

New episodes air Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

The series’ second season opened with Vernon emerging from prison and committed to making things right with his family and fans.

Perhaps Vernon’s biggest fan is his parole officer Mitch, played by Kevin Farley (younger brother of the late comedian and actor Chris Farley).

“My character is always trying to be part of Vernon’s family because he’s basically a lonely guy and he really likes Vernon,” Farley told me during a phone interview. “Naturally, his family is wondering why I’m always at the family functions. He kind of forces his way into situations where he shouldn’t really be.”

Farley’s character has been divorced for more than 14 years but can’t seem to bring himself to remove his wedding ring.

“Even after all that time, Mitch is still trying to get her back,” Farley says. “It’s sort of pathetic but he approaches life in a positive way. He thinks that if he keeps hanging out with Vernon Brown, his wife will come back to him.”

Cyrus and Farley’s co-stars on “Still The King” include Joey Lauren Adams (“Chasing Amy”) as Vernon’s wife Debbie and Madison Iseman (“Modern Family”) as his daughter Charlotte.

“Still The King” averaged 3 million viewers per episode during its first season, impressive numbers for a scripted comedy on CMT. The show is shot entirely in Nashville.

“Everybody in Nashville has been very welcoming to us,” Farley told me. “There have been a few series shot there. Once in a while, a crowd will gather on our set, especially when we’re downtown near the action. Really, it’s an easy and friendly place to shoot a show.”

The tone of “Still The King” is clearly shaped by the characters who, despite having horrible things happen to them, remain resolute that life will turn around. When I mentioned to Farley that the show’s tone reminded me of the series “My Name Is Earl,” the Jason Lee and Jaime Pressly comedy vehicle, which aired from 2005-2009, he agreed.

“The writing and tone of the show is a lot like that. We have these really strange characters but everybody is playing it real. A lot of crazy things happen on this show and we allow it to go that way. The writers on the show are all Second City alumni, as am I. We have a background in improvisational comedy and that comes out on the show.”

According to Farley, when the cast of “Still The King” are waiting for a shot to be set up, they pass the time by employing some the skills learned at Second City.

“There’s a lot of horsing around between shots. With that improv comedy vibe on the set, we come up with a lot of comedy bits and do a lot of singing too. We just make up songs in the makeup trailer.”

Two years ago, Farley produced a well-received documentary about his brother called “I Am Chris Farley.” The film tells Chris’s story, from his early days growing up in Wisconsin to his rapid rise to fame through Saturday Night Live and movies like “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep.”

“There have been a lot of salacious documentaries about Chris that have focused on some of the crazier things about him that weren’t exactly true,” the younger Farley explains. “I did that documentary so the world could see the real guy. A lot has been said about Chris but none of it is true. I’m glad I did that documentary to set the record straight on him.” 

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