It’s a safe bet that you’ve never seen an alpaca being rescued from a swing set on any of TV’s emergency-responder shows including “Chicago Fire,” “9-1-1” or even “Live PD.”
Welcome to the world of “Tacoma FD.”
The new truTV series was co-created by stars Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan (both 50), two of the comic minds behind 2001’s big-screen police parody “Super Troopers.” The half-hour “Tacoma FD” — premiering March 28 (10:30 p.m.) — spoofs TV’s emergency-response shows as it follows a fire department in Tacoma, Wa., where the constant rainfall means less firefighting and more time for pranks and answering low-level “emergency” calls.
“We’ve wanted to be on TV for quite some time, and we thought, ‘What is the best way for us to do that right now. What do people like about us the most?” says Lemme. “Well, ‘Super Troopers.’”
“So we thought, why not that, but [with] fire stations and mustaches?” adds Heffernan.
They’re part of Broken Lizard, the comedy troupe behind “Super Troopers,” which grossed $23 million on a $3 million budget. That’s their most famous work, but they also co-wrote and co-starred in its 2018 sequel “Super Troopers 2” and “Club Dread” (2004) and “Beerfest” (2006).
While Lemme and Heffernan have been prolific since their college days at Colgate University, “Tacoma FD” marks their first series. “There are a lot of cop shows, but there aren’t really comedy fire station shows,” says Heffernan. “We know a lot of firefighters, and they always say, ‘Cops are funny but you know who’s really funny? Firefighters.’ A lot of them have gotten weird stuff out of trees. A lot of weird animals.”
To make the show as accurate as possible, Lemme and Heffernan’s consultants for “Tacoma FD” include Heffernan’s cousin, Lt. William J. Heffernan III of the West Haven (Conn.) Fire Department and their friend Brian Quinn (star of truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”), who used to fight fires on Staten Island.
Lemme stresses that they want “Tacoma FD” to honor firefighters and to not reflect poorly on their profession, so the show’s comedy situations arise from odd emergency calls and elaborate pranks the guys play on each other during the downtime of their long shifts — which is why Lemme and Heffernan chose Tacoma as the series’ locale.
“We wanted to create a show similar to ‘Super Troopers’ in the sense that a lot of the comedy in [that movie] comes from what the cops do with their downtime,” says Heffernan. “The best ways to do that for firefighters is, ‘Let’s set it in the wettest city in America’ so there aren’t as many fires to fight. We just hope they don’t get mad at us.”
As it turned out, one real-life Tacoma fireman did express his anger when he heard about the series.
“Once we announced the show, we got contacted by a member of the Tacoma FD who was like, ‘You bastards, we fight fires all the time!’” says Lemme, who adds that he and Heffernan later met the man at one of their comedy shows. “It was all in good fun,” he says. “He was yanking our chain.”
Both say the show can appeal to their longtime fans and to newcomers alike. Fans will be rewarded with familiar faces from their past work including “American Vandal” star Jimmy Tatro, who appeared in “Super Troopers 2.”
“Our [comedy] approach is relatively simple,” Lemme says. “We don’t try to pick on people.”
“It’s something we did in our movies, too,” says Heffernan. “We try to create a good-natured world people feel like they’d love to hang out in.”