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Jason Sudeikis talks Thundergong! plus nods to KC & mental health in 'Ted Lasso'

jason sudeikis
Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 06:28:09-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KSHB 41 News got the chance to sit down with Overland Park native and Hollywood star Jason Sudeikis, who's back in town to host Thundergong!.

The event benefits the Steps of Faith Foundation.

In 2021, Sudeikis is perhaps best known as the star of the hit show "Ted Lasso." He’s also an executive producer and writer.

Since it began, Thundergong! has raised more than $1 million for the Steps of Faith Foundation, which helps the uninsured and underinsured in need of prosthetic limbs.

Billy Brimblecom Jr., now executive director of the foundation, was working as a drummer when he lost his left leg to Ewing Sarcoma. He said he needed tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a prosthetic. Friends, including Jason Sudeikis, stepped in to help.

“We got together and did what was an early version of what this thing has become to help him buy his own leg,” Sudeikis said.

Years later, Sudeikis said it was Brimblecom's idea that something similar could help other people, thus creating Thundergong!.

The concert, with moments of comedy and variety mixed in, includes a list of music and Hollywood stars, and Saturday Night Live friends. Comedy is part of Sudeikis and Brimblecom's bond, too. More than 20 years ago, Sudeikis and Brimblecom met doing improv in Kansas City. Relationships like that, Sudeikis said, have been key to him.

“Anything that I’ve been lucky enough to have some form of success within a professional capacity, it’s been the personal side of things that either preceded it, or occurred after it," Sudeikis said.

For years, Sudeikis has been sharing his spotlight to shine a light on causes important to him, like the Steps of Faith Foundation. His spotlight has been growing even bigger with the success of "Ted Lasso" — the show and Sudeikis won big this awards season.

KSHB 41 News Anchor Lindsay Shively asked Sudeikis why he includes so many nods to Kansas City in "Ted Lasso."

“There's an old writing adage of write what you know,” he said. “This one has really resonated with folks, and it has been really, for lack of a better word or a bigger word, but it’s just been incredibly neat to see people respond to it, and I’m proud of the fact that folks from back home enjoy all those little touches."

Sudeikis said it’s something he's done since his days on SNL, like putting friends’ names in sketches and more.

“I don’t know how to do it any other way,” he said.

It goes beyond Ted Lasso being a football coach from Kansas and references to Kansas City barbecue. Lasso wears a local shirt on the show made by a friend of Sudeikis', and his former high school basketball coach learned he was even a bit of inspiration.

“I think it’s neat to know that, and it’s good to — even for me as a relatively new father — to know that those, not even just the influence I have on my own kids, but the influence I have around their friends,” he said. “The biggest impression you might make on someone is when you don’t even realize it.”

"Ted Lasso" is a comedy that doesn’t shy from deep topics. Shively asked why a comedy would focus on topics like mental health, panic attacks and more.

“I think comedy can come from anywhere,” he said. “I thought we want it to be funny. That is ultimately what we wanted to do, but getting to work in a place like Second City in Chicago, we would always talk about, 'What is this sketch about? What is this scene about? But then what is, what else is this about?'”

Sudeikis talked about what it was like for the writers of "Ted Lasso."

“We in the writer’s room, we would talk about those things on a deep personal level for ourselves and find that even though we all came from these different places, and we found ourselves around this table or in this Zoom room for the season two, which is what I think you’re referencing, that there’s a lot of overlap there,” he said.

Sudeikis added that the more people communicate, the more they find similarities.

“With that specific stuff, like panic attacks and whatnot, it’s an attempt to explore whatever masculinity, or toxic masculinity, or machismo or whatever you want to call it," Sudeikis said. "To house it inside a professional sports team and have a group of people, predominantly male, going through things that have been for generations pushed to the side, or pushed down or pushed away, you just want to bring those to light.

“All this stuff that we talked about on the show resonates and reverberates beyond just our writers' room and our actors, our producers’ imaginations, it’s prevalent in society. You just write what you see, write what you know and then write what you see."

If you missed Thundergong! it's not too late to join the fun.

KSHB 41 will air the concert in its entirety on Dec. 15 at 9 p.m.