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'Schitt's Creek' star Dan Levy shares what he learned from working with his dad

Dan Levy opened up about working with dad Eugene Levy on "Schitt's Creek" and his recent act of kindness while hosting "SNL."
Image: Eugene and Dan Levy on the Today Show, February 7, 2017.
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Dan and Eugene Levy made show business their own successful family business for years when they worked together on their Emmy-winning comedy “Schitt's Creek."

In a recent interview with TODAY, Dan Levy explained what he thought made their working relationship so great.

“You have to really respect the person you're working with and I think when you do, it makes for a very easy go of things,” he said. “I have so long admired what my dad had done and … I think he really let me have space to find my own footing.”

Dan added that initially when they started working together, he didn’t have much experience, but his dad helped him grow into it.

Saturday Night Live - Season 46
Eugene Levy joined Dan Levy when he recently hosted "SNL."Will Heath / NBC

“I think what I learned from him, just from a comedy standpoint, is that … there's so much generosity, I think, to great comedy,” he said. “You have to just give people space. There's just such a joy in knowing that you have each other's back.”

The elder Levy, of course, is somewhat of a legend, coming up through Toronto’s comedy scene at hot spots like Second City and starring on sketch show Second City Television. Dan’s on-screen mom, Catherine O'Hara, also starred on “SCTV.”

The younger Levy told TODAY that he didn’t have a “huge background” in improv.

“I did a couple classes at UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) with some people who were bank tellers wanting to really find their voice,” he said, laughing. “The experience was interesting, but even on set, you realize like, all the great moments, all the great comedy, comes out of people feeling free to just try things and experiment and find their ... voice and their footing in a safe space.”

Saturday Night Live - Season 46
Will Heath / NBC

Levy, who spoke with TODAY while promoting a new campaign for Tostitos Habanero chips, said that in the upcoming ads with “Saturday Night Live” star Kate McKinnon, they were able to capture that same feeling on set.

“It did feel like an incredibly sort of encouraging arena to try things and try things we did,” he said with a laugh.

Dan Levy and Kate McKinnon appear in an ad for Tostitos chips.
Dan Levy and Kate McKinnon appear in an ad for Tostitos chips.Courtesy of Tostitos

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Levy is all about encouraging others — so much so that after he had hosted “Saturday Night Live” earlier this year, he left a note behind for the next week’s host, Regina King.

The move made headlines and inspired other “SNL” hosts to do the same, but this week Levy wanted to set the record straight:

“I feel the need to clarify this… I didn’t start (the tradition),” he told TODAY. “I kind of continued it.”

Saturday Night Live - Season 46
Dan Levy opened up about sharing an act of kindness while hosting "SNL."Will Heath / NBC

Levy explained that there had been a note from Woody Harrelson to Phoebe Waller-Bridge from the year prior in the dressing room and he thought it was a lovely idea.

“So I asked if I could leave a note for Regina because the process is such a strange experience,” he said. “Strange, wonderful and intimidating experience that like, a little note from the person that had just done it felt like such a sweet vote of confidence.”

Of course, “Saturday Night Live” is currently in its 46th season, so it’s entirely possible that even before Harrelson left a note for Waller-Bridge, hosts may have scribbled something down for their successors the following week.

The next host of the show might not exactly need any advice, however. “SNL” alum Maya Rudolph returns to host on March 27.