Live-tweeting episodes, partying with contest winners over Super Bowl weekend, facing off with EW staffers in a Nerf gun challenge (see proof below) — there’s not much Geoff Stults won’t do to promote his well-reviewed Fox comedy Enlisted (Fridays at 9 p.m. ET). “I love this job, and I want it to continue,” he says.Doing whatever it takes it takes to get the word out about a new show comes with it, but it’s made easier when the audience responds. “If people show up, they’re tuning back in because they’re finding all the things that make us excited about the show,” he says.
It’s funny and it’s heartfelt, just like the timely Jan. 31 episode, “Homecoming,” which centers on a highly anticipated football game — the annual Army/Marine flag football game — and an elaborate plan to bring a deployed father (Superman Returns‘ Brandon Routh) home to surprise his son (so Chris Lowell’s Derrick looks good in the eyes of the boy and his mother, the soldier’s ex, who Derrick fancies). Meanwhile Pete (Stults), the former All-American, “dusts off the old rocket launcher” to quarterback the Army team. “He’s wearing his old jersey from high school, and you think he’s gonna be amazing, and it turns out to be quite the opposite,” says Stults, who actually played quarterback and wide receiver in a European league. (“I was really good at throwing the ball, I just threw it a lot of times at the wrong people,” he explains. “That’s why they moved me to receiver.”)
While Stults is happy to tell you about the upcoming war games episode featuring the Mondo Spider, he’ll also talk about the effect the series has had on military members. Flying to New York on Jan. 29, two things he was forwarded by the show’s creator Kevin Biegel got him emotional enough that his seat mate asked what was wrong. A combat vet had tweeted to say that because of the show’s Jan. 24 episode, which explored Pete’s PTSD, he asked for help. There was also a screen grab of a direct message from someone who’d gone from seeing the show’s trailer and assuming the comedy would be disrespectful to, after being sent episodes to view, thanking Biegel for doing it: “You have portrayed PTSD and what I’m going through in such a way that now I can explain it to my kids,” Stults paraphrased. “I don’t feel like I should be the face of PTSD in America, for any reason, but if one guy — and clearly now more than that — is feeling the way that they’re feeling about how we’re doing this, then that’s a win,” he says. “You see my character dealing with that in a way that most other people do: They struggle with it, but they’re forced to live their lives and be injected back into society and try to cope with it. So we’re doing that, and at the same time, we’re trying to be funny for the rest of America that doesn’t know anything about PTSD.”
“I’m very proud of this show, clearly,” he adds. “I was just standing out in Super Bowl Boulevard [Fox’s takeover of Times Square] freezing my ass off for three hours to promote it.”
And that, of course, brings us to him taking part in EW’s inaugural Nerf Gun Challenge. Is Stults as good a shot as his character? Technically, he placed second, behind EW’s Deven Persaud and ahead of EW writer Samantha Highfill. But as you’ll see in the first Instagram video below, he wasn’t always aiming for the proper target. (UPDATE: Viewable in the third video, the trash-talking of the spin-and-shoot third round. As Stults noted, Samantha is competitive.)