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Associated Press
Clockwise from foreground left, Eliza Coupe, Damon Wayans Jr., Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton and Adam Pally star in “Happy Endings.”

Funny in six directions

‘Happy Endings’ gives pals plenty to work with

– “We got lucky. We clicked,” said Adam Pally, one of the half-dozen stars of “Happy Endings,” ABC’s comedy about six friends being funny in Chicago. “We’re all playful and don’t take anything too seriously. The six of us are troublemakers!”

“It’s very much a team,” Elisha Cuthbert chimed in, “and I think that comes across on camera. We just really care about the well-being of our show and each other.”

Isn’t there even one member of the cast Cuthbert doesn’t like?

“I don’t like any of them,” she answered, deadpan.

“It’s a combination of like minds,” said Damon Wayans Jr. “We spend so much time with each other, it’s like we became a family.”

Wayans plays Brad, the metrosexual exec who, as this third “Happy” season begins (at 9 p.m. Tuesday), has been laid off from his job. Or so thinks Jane (Eliza Coupe), Brad’s whippet-slim, high-strung and lovingly dominating wife, who likes the idea of her man at home waiting for her after her own workday.

“It’s very important to us to not be a boring married couple on TV,” Coupe said. “So we want our characters to give and take like a real relationship would be, and be best friends, like a real relationship should be. And it’s really important to us to make sure they’re weird and quirky!”

Penny (Casey Wilson) is resuming her eternal search for Mr. Right, but something about her is new in the season opener: She is in a body cast (don’t ask). Meanwhile, Max, the sarcastic and openly gay slacker played by Pally, falls in lust with Penny’s hunky physical therapist.

Rounding out this sitcom sextet are Dave (Zachary Knighton), who, on the series’ very first episode, was ditched at the altar by his panic-stricken fiancee, Alex (played by Cuthbert). But after last season, during which the couple existed in a laughably awkward limbo within their circle of friends, they are resuming their romance this season.

“When the show started,” Pally recalled, “Elisha and Zack were our emotional core, because the show was about their relationship and how it affected the rest of us. But as the show evolves, the writers have opened up their two characters and let them be as funny as everybody else. And Elisha and Zack are amazing comedic talents.”

Since premiering in winter 2011, “Happy Endings” has found loyal fans yet remains somewhat of a secret to many other viewers.

The distinctive formula of “Happy Endings” is a blend of physical comedy, sight gags and comic cutaways with Mach-speed wordplay.

(“Why are you using a travel agent?” Max asks Penny, who’s planning a trip. “The only travel agent you need is a time-travel agent to take you back to a time when people still used travel agents.”)

“Nobody on our show talks the way people talk in real life,” Wayans readily acknowledged. “They don’t talk that fast, or make so many pop-culture references. Sometimes when I get the script, I go, ‘Who is this?’ and I have to Google to find out.”

“ ‘Happy Endings’ lives in a world where everything is fast-paced. Everybody’s up all the time,” Pally said. “The hardest part of the job is keeping our energy up!”