Mike Castle has made it to the big time—and television comedy fans can watch him every week on TBS.
Castle, a 2003 St. Barnabas Elementary School and 2007 Br. Rice High School graduate, stars on the new show “Clipped,” a comedy series that is set in Boston but has a Chicago flavor.
Castle stars alongside famous actor George Wendt, a former star on the show “Cheers” who grew up in the parish of Christ the King Roman Catholic Church.
“Clipped,” which debuted on June 9, airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on TBS, and Castle is enjoying his rise to celebrity status.
“It’s really cool,” the 26-year-old Castle said. “The whole thing is incredibly fun, and it’s very surreal, obviously.”
“Clipped” features high school acquaintances who reunite to run a barbershop in Boston. Castle plays an aspiring professional baseball player who, in the pilot episode, receives a call from a sports agent who wants to meet. He thinks it might be his big break, but his character isn’t the only one with big dreams, as all the characters are “just so full of want,” Castle said.
For the time being, however, they find themselves at the barbershop.
“It’s almost like a continuation of past friendships, but in a new sort of avenue,” Castle said.
Wendt stars as a gay barber whose boyfriend is played by Reginald VelJohnson, who played Carl Winslow on the ’90s sitcom “Family Matters.”
Of course, with such similar stories growing up, Castle and Wendt have bonded. In their younger years, both performed with Second City, the popular Chicago comedy club and improvisation school, and both have deep Beverly roots.
Wendt refers to Castle as “Barnabas,” Castle said, and they talk frequently about local Catholic schools, as well as drinking and social life on the South Side.
“We both have a lot to say about Western [Avenue],” Castle said.
He became interested in acting in sixth or seventh grade, Castle said, and he participated in the Piven Theatre Workshop, an Evanston-based improvisation program for aspiring actors.
Castle always loved live comedy, he said, and now he’s grateful that his acting skills have taken him to a higher professional level—and a nice paycheck.
“Doing TV shows and stuff makes it so you can do that and not be worried about money,” said Castle, who lives in Los Angeles with four friends.
Castle’s mother, Kate Liston, recalled that after her son appeared in fourth grade in the St. Barnabas performance of “Wizard of Oz,” his interest in acting grew. He was soon off to the Piven workshop, and he joined an improvisation group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Castle uses a thick Boston accent on “Clipped,” but, his mother said, speaking with different accents is a skill he has possessed since childhood.
“He’s always had a great sense of humor and always had a good ear for different types of dialects,” Liston said. “From when he was about 3, I think he could imitate about any type of dialect. He always had me laughing all the time. He was a funny little guy.”
Castle has also appeared in “The Ghost,” a 2011 movie, and “Family Trap,” in 2012. His other TV pilots didn’t go as well as the one for “Clipped,” his mother said. She didn’t want to get overly excited when her son was cast in the new show, but she’s thrilled to see the series find its footing.
According to Castle, “Clipped” just finished filming its 10th and final episode for the first season about two weeks ago; he and the cast will be informed in about a week if the show will be picked up for another season.
Ratings will tell if there’s sufficient audience for the show, but Castle’s mother is certainly a big fan.
“I go home and watch it every night,” Liston said. “I miss him, so it’s fun to at least see him on television.”
“Clipped” also stars Lauren Lapkus, a 2008 DePaul University graduate and Evanston native who is also in the recently released movie “Jurassic World.”
Lapkus plays a more serious role in managing a dinosaur amusement park in “Jurassic World,” although her character still has playfully humorous moments.
Lapkus shines, Castle said, in comedy.
“She’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” Castle said.
While Liston watched the series premiere with family in Chicago, where relatives received texts complimenting Castle, the emerging actor was his own biggest critic after viewing the debut. Some moments, he said, embarrassed him.
Still, Castle has received positive feedback from his family, and he knows such moments are special. When aunts and uncles shower him with praise, Castle said, it reminds him of his Beverly days.
“It sort of makes you feel like a little kid again, in a nice way.”