Interview: Getting to Know ABC's New Comedy Handyman


Here at, we’re always on the lookout for new products and techniques that hit the home improvement world, but we were excited to discover something else that fits right in our wheelhouse. ABC’s new show Family Tools follows the exploits of a hapless young man, reluctantly handed the reins of his father’s successful handyman business. It debuts Wednesday, May 1st at 8:30pm. The show has an impressive cast of TV veterans including Leah Remini (The King of Queens) and JK Simmons (The Closer). Heading them up is Kyle Bornheimer as Jack Shea, an aspiring handyman with good intensions and no clue, and we got a chance to talk to him about the show.

DoItYourself (DIY): In Family Tools, you play a newly minted handyman. You’re working with a pretty incredible group of talent. Of everyone in the cast, who’s the most likely to really know how to swing a hammer?

Kyle Bornheimer (KB): From the way JK Simmons handles himself around the classic cars they give him in the show, it's apparent he's the most likely cast member to be invited to Harrison Ford's Fix It Parties.

DIY: What’s your own history with tools and DIY?

KB: I like home fix-it projects, but similar to what my profession requires of me, my relationship with tools and DIY involves tricking anyone who may be watching into thinking I know what I'm doing.

DIY: Experience or not, what’s a renovation or DIY project you’d like to try in your home (or the home of a neighbor as an experiment)?

KB: Easy - I'd like to install a book case where when you remove a certain book, the book case turns into a doorway to a secret passageway. I haven't worked out where that secret passageway would go to yet. Maybe just the garage.

DIY: Handymen typically learn their trade at the elbow of an expert. As an actor and comedian, is there an elbow you look up to?

KB: If you're asking me the tallest person I've worked with, that would be Will Ferrell. He's about four inches taller than me. So I guess I learned at his chin.

DIY: We just talked to Bob Vila (The Godfather) about the explosion of home improvement shows on TV, with entire networks devoted to it. Why do you think it’s become such a big thing?

Kyle Bornheimer Picture

KB: I'm going to try to sound really smart here: there's always a large percentage of the population who are naturally inclined toward DIY, who are good with tools etc. - couple that with the age of 500 channels serving a variety of tastes and hobbies, it’s inevitable home improvement shows would find a strong foothold. I also think the real estate boom from a few years ago fueled it. Fix it, home-flipping, architecture, interior design - they all are well represented on television. I'd also say that there is a percentage of gen-X folks in their 30s and 40s who are reconnecting with self-sufficiency and adult-y things now that the trend of extended juvenilia is, thankfully, over. It's why we're all drinking Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, too.

DIY: Do you watch any of those shows?

KB: There's a show called How It’s Made that is not exactly a home improvement show but could be considered in the same genre. I watch it a lot. It basically just takes you through the process of how, say, a pencil is made. It's absolutely as boring and as hypnotic as you might imagine. I can watch four episodes at a time. I like fishing shows for the same reason—it puts me in a state of calm.

DIY: Home improvement shows have evolved from strictly educational to reality entertainment. In what ways would you say Family Tools is the next step in that evolution?

KB: I will be sorely disappointed if our show is in any way educational.

DIY: Our readers will be tuning in to enjoy the show, but they’re always looking to learn some DIY. What are they going to take away?

KB: Do the opposite of anything you see me doing in the show.

DIY: What is it about handyman work that lends itself so well to comedy?

KB: There are at least 25 different tools in my toolbox right now. That is 25 ways I can screw something up. At least 23 of those will be funny to anyone watching me.

Family Tools premieres May 1st at 8:30pm on ABC.

(Photos by ABC/Bob D'amico)