TV’s ‘Raising Hope’ a hit for UIC grad

Lucas Neff is not a slacker, but he plays one on TV — “with depth and hilarity,” according to a Los Angeles Times critic.

Neff, a 2008 graduate in performing arts, stars in the Fox sitcom “Raising Hope.”

He’s looking forward to his second season as Jimmy Chance, the central character of the show about a young single father who lives with his baby daughter, his comically dysfunctional parents and grandmother.

The show got an early renewal last January, but Neff is modest about its success.

“It’s a hasty marketplace,” he says. “The show started off well enough, but I wouldn’t say we were a hit. Now it’s getting a chance to grow. I’m in a great position to learn.

“And the first season ends with a really strong finale. It’s a flashback to when Jimmy was 18. You’ll learn how the family ended up as they were in the pilot, and how they got Maw-Maw’s house. It’s got a joke every second.”

Maw-Maw is the grandmother, played with a touch of dementia by Cloris Leachman, whose house has been overtaken by the family of her daughter, played by Steppenwolf Theatre’s Martha Plimpton.

The finale airs May 16. As for the second season, Neff says he doesn’t know what plots are in store.

“We’re just really excited that it happened,” he says. “I’m enjoying my summer off, and I’m writing a lot. I write plays.”

Neff will be in Chicago this summer for workshop productions of two plays he wrote recently. The American Theatre Company plans a June 27 public reading of “No Longer,” which Neff describes as a modern riff on Shakespeare, with a female Hamlet and a lot of drinking set among Chicago’s South Side Irish.

The Steep Theatre will present “Corpses.”

“It’s a play about family life, isolation and death,” Neff says with a laugh.

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