Former Chicagoan and sitcom star Adam Pally is out to prove he can take the lead.
If people could be broken down into components, Adam Pally says he’d be one part Seth Rogen and one part Paul Rudd, plus hefty servings of Janeane Garofalo and Chris Farley. “I’m a bit of a maniac,” Pally explains. “If I wasn’t living a very domesticated lifestyle … there’s a lot of Farley in me. And sometimes that comes out. When it does, I pray that no one is in my path.” But that magic recipe is the basis of Pally’s appeal: He’s a wild, quick-witted goofball who, despite his admitted flaws, is easy to adore, thanks to his self-deprecating humor and mischievous smile.
Pally’s over-the-top persona is part of what helped land him a regular role on Fox’s hit sitcom “The Mindy Project.” The actor, who spent part of his formative years in Chicago, plays Dr. Peter Prentice, whom he describes as a “frat-boy gynecologist” with a heart of gold. If that sounds a little frank, well that’s the thing about Pally — he is, for better or worse, unabashedly himself. “I don’t know if you can tell from my appearance and my weight, but I’m a vegan,” Pally says, poking fun at his distinctly un-Hollywood physique. “That means you eat all the meat you want, right?”
The actor has been in 11 episodes of the show, and says his character’s story arc is far from over — and far from predictable. “[Peter’s relationship with Mindy] is different than I think they expected,” he says. “They genuinely like each other’s company. I think it will be an interesting dynamic, especially with Mindy going around dating all these people.”
While Pally, 31, is increasingly known for his witty banter with Kaling, fans will recognize him from the ABC sitcom “Happy Endings,” which earned a major cult following. Though the series was canceled after three seasons, it didn’t go down without a fight: Fan support almost led to a pickup by USA, and now, VH1 is airing reruns of the series. “[Working with Kaling] is a very different environment than ‘Happy Endings,’ ” Pally says. “ ‘Happy Endings’ was like the inmates running the asylum. It was like six lions fighting over one steak. [Now], Mindy cooks up this really great steak and gives everyone the perfect piece.”
When Pally isn’t delivering perfectly executed zingers on TV, he’s working on making a leap to the big screen. His latest project, “Search Party,” is due out Sept. 12. “It was the most fun experience I’ve ever had,” he says. “I fought hardest for that role more than any other I’ve ever gotten.” The movie, a cross between “Old School” and “The Hangover” that’s rife with comedic heavyweights like Alison Brie, Krysten Ritter and TJ Miller, stars Pally as the unlucky protagonist who has to go to Mexico to rescue a stranded, naked friend and be back in time for a board meeting. “Hopefully it shows Hollywood that I can be a leading man in comedy, because that’s what I’d like to do,” he says. “There’s not a ton of chubby leading men.”
Here, the funny man and father of two ditches the kids for a food-filled Sunday in the city.
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The first thing on Pally’s agenda? “Definitely ditch my kids, that’s No. 1,” he jokes. He leaves them with his Aunt Sheila in Evanston.
Back downtown, the actor grabs a slice at his favorite pizza spot: Lou Malnati’s (439 N. Wells).
Pally does a little shopping in Wicker Park, picking up a couple of pairs of Warby Parker glasses at Apartment Number 9 (1804 N. Damen).
He takes a nostalgic walk around the Peninsula Chicago (108 E. Superior), where he proposed to his wife, “just to reminisce about what a mistake I made,” he laughs.
Dinner at Moto (945 W. Fulton), his favorite gastronomic eatery.
Back at The James (55 E. Ontario), his favorite hotel, Pally stops in Burke’s Bacon Bar for cheesecake lollipops.
Photo of Adam Pally by Jordin Althaus/Fox