There’s a fun feeling of familiarity on the new Comedy Central series “Detroiters.”
Creators and stars Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson packed the 10-episode comedy with layers upon layers of inside jokes and references that will tickle viewers from downtown Detroit to 15 Mile and beyond when it premieres Tuesday.
Best of all, the Second City Detroit alums shot “Detroiters” in and around the city, giving it an undeniable sense of flavor and place. For instance, the production office for “Detroiters” is inside Masonic Temple.
“It was wonderful and awesome to be back home and shoot it like this,” said Richardson, who grew up in Detroit’s Boston Edison neighborhood and stars on HBO’s “Veep.” “When we pitched the show, we said it has to be in Detroit. It was so important.”
“Detroiters” follows two bumbling, but well-intentioned thirtysomethings named Sam and Tim (Richardson and Robinson, respectively) as they try to take their struggling advertising firm to the next level. Along the way, the pair interacts with a number of memorable characters with distinct Detroit tendencies.
There’s an eyeglass chain-store owner who very much resembles millionaire Richard Golden, aka the D.O.C. sexy specs guy; a city councilwoman (guest star Wendy Raquel Robinson) with Monica Conyers vibes; a security guard, who aspires to be an ad guy (Detroit native, show writer and guest star, comedian CP (Christopher Powell); and former WDIV-TV anchorman Mort Crim playing Mort Crim. And that’s just in the first three episodes.
Future episodes include guest appearances from comedian and Detroit native Keegan-Michael Key; Trenton native and pro-wrestler Kevin Nash; WXYZ-TV anchorwoman Glenda Lewis; and former Detroit Piston power forward Rick Mahorn. Look for the NBA champion as a Mel Farr-type car dealership owner in the season-one finale.
“One of the things we would not compromise was shooting it in Detroit,” said Robinson, who once co-starred on “Saturday Night Live” and grew up in Clarkston.
“If we’re going to set it in Detroit where Sam and I started, we were like there’s no way we were going to fake it,” Robinson continued. “We were obsessed with Mel Farr growing up and it was a priority to get guests with Detroit ties. It’s our hometown.”
Meanwhile, on-location shots include Belle Isle, the Temple Bar, Ambassador Bridge, the West Canfield Historic District and the London Chop House. Richardson and Robinson are executive producers, along with “Saturday Night Live’s” Jason Sudeikis and Lorne Michaels.
Both men got their starts at Second City Detroit, where they met and took classes while still in high school. Richardson is a U of D Jesuit High School grad, and Robinson graduated from Clarkston High School. Key was one of Robinson’s improvisation teachers.
Later when the two moved away to work at Second City in Chicago, they met Inkster native Antoine McKay (“Empire”) and Robinson was one of his students, too.
“Chicago tries to claim us,” Richardson said, “but we’ll always be Second City Detroit guys.”
Comedic actress Kathryn Renee Thomas (TV Land’s “Teachers”) crossed paths with Robinson and Richardson while they were all at Second City Detroit. Richardson, who like Thomas worked at the Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck, also guest starred in season one of “Teachers.”
Thomas said the honesty and humor found on “Detroiters” is something that is highly valued and stressed in the city’s improv community.
“Second City Detroit was so special because it was so specific to Detroit,” Thomas said.
“It was all about the people who live there and Sam and Tim are really good at tapping into that.”
Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based TV critic and entertainment reporter.
Premieres 10:30 p.m. Tuesday