Despite having actor George Wendt as an uncle, Jason Sudeikis didn’t act growing up. Speech and debate was as close as it got to any kind of performance, he told Steve Edwards Tuesday on the Afternoon Shift. It was a high school teacher who nudged him toward the world of television — the same teacher who mentored actor Paul Rudd when he was a student growing up in Overland Park, Kansas.
Listen to Jason Sudeikis interviewed on Afternoon Shift
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Eventually, Sudeikis got involved at ComedySportz in Kansas City, but it was a Los Angeles performance of The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Hootenanny that convinced Sudeikis move to Chicago. He was inspired by David Koechner, and he wanted to learn how to do what Koechner did. Cast member Pat Finn told him the key was in Chicago, so Sudeikis moved to the Windy City later the same year.
The Saturday Night Live writer and actor has more than a decade of acting and comedy experience under his belt now. He explained to WBEZ’s Justin Kaufmann that he sees improv as both an art form and a process. He says it has value as an art form, but he’s “unwavering” in his belief that it’s important as a process as well.
Lately, Sudeikis has been hitting the small screen on Sunday nights in addition to Saturdays; he’s featured in some Eastbound and Down episodes this season. Sudeikis says the people involved are what drew him to the HBO show: “You see this group of people do this amazing thing, and then if they ask you to be a part of it, you just, I mean, you’d have to be an idiot to say no.”