The Neighborhood returns tonight at 8:00 PM ET/PT on CBS for its long-awaited season three premiere. Cedric The Entertainer and Max Greenfield return as Calvin and Dave, neighbors trying to find common ground among a laundry list of differences; with a whole lot of laughs on the way.

CBS‘ Matt Weiss spoke with Cedric and Max about the show’s new season and some interesting COVID protocols.

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MW: Cedric, Max, awesome to talk to you both again. Both a little more clean shaven than the last time we spoke in the middle of quarantine and now tonight we have a new episode of The Neighborhood finally. So first off how does it feel just to be back at work and reunited with everyone after all this time?

CTE: For me man, it was awesome because I feel like with the pandemic we actually left abruptly without the normal kind of season wrap-up with a little party. The pandemic came in one day, we were at work and before we can even finish our season last year we were done and hadn’t seen each other for six or seven months.

It was awesome to be able to come back and then of course to have a show. For us, I think we all kind of realize that our characters were very much a part of what we like to do as artists creatively. It feels really good to be able to jump back in and start to find comedy in your character in what he does and how he does it. I’m enjoying it. Really feel blessed to be able to be back.

MG: I think everything was on the table. You’re just like, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Every day was a new day and being able to come back to work, getting everybody on our show to be able to come back to work, our cast, our crew, all the people that work on the CBS lot, it’s a big deal. Just on that level, just feel incredibly grateful.

MW: When you were actually filming, what kind of restrictions were in place?

MG: Cedric had a lot of rules specifically for me that I couldn’t look him in the eye. I had to call him Mr. The Entertainer. I’m not sure if these are COVID restrictions or if these are specific to me, but I think it was a good opportunity just really cements things that he’s been trying to get done for a few years. On some level they are helpful to him but on another level, I think they are certainly keeping me safe. [Laughs]

CTE: They are [Laughs]. Just keeping it real as being a humble guy that I am. I was able to bring in a reader this year because of the COVID restrictions. I don’t actually have to touch my script at all I have a guy who’s my reader and he reads for me and then when I show up I just act. COVID is the only reason I would do that. I wouldn’t do that as a regular person you know…

MW: Of course. [Laughs]

CTE: But no, it is the mask, it’s the shields. It’s very important because again we’ve been able to do seven episodes without incident and we’re thankful because from the NFL to all the NBA we saw how hard it was to actually come back to work with large groups of people who are kind of moving through their regular life in different spaces.

I mean your nose does get a little callus from the amount of nose swabs that one has to do because we test three times a week in order just to be at work. My nose has gotten a little tough. Inside my nose it’s like a boxer. I could just take one on the nose right now.

MW: Building up scar tissue.

CTE: Yeah, I’m ready for a fight.

MW: The Neighborhood tackles a lot of really heavy issues but does it with humor. Kind of like you guys are doing right now. I’ve seen the preview episode for tonight, there’s one part in particular where Calvin is saying he doesn’t want anyone else out there with him as he goes out into a protest and then he turns before he leaves and says “come on Dave.” I think that’s such a great example of what this show delivers. How difficult are those moments to come up with though, to find that kind of balance where you’re saying something important but you’re doing it with humor?

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MG: I write all of the episodes, every word, so thank you for asking that question [Laughs].

CTE: [Laughs] We do have great writers on the show though and I think one of the key things is that we know that we’re a sitcom but because we are based in this fictional world it is important for us from the very beginning we approached this show with the subject matter of gentrification.

What is it like to have this young family live in this Black neighborhood and feel like, hey I belong here? And you’re like, do you? We feel like those things carry over to so many other issues that we have to talk about and just about life in general. Parenting, loving, marriage.

These are the kind of things that we try to approach even though we’re doing it with the humor that hopefully we can make you laugh about it. We are looking at subject matters that we feel like, oh man people could probably use this and kind of have, not necessarily advice, but hey this is a little something to get me to spark my thought process, to do something bigger and greater with my real life.

MW: How good does it feel to have the new season here and at last and for all the fans out there, what can we expect moving forward in The Neighborhood?

MG: It’s so exciting to be able to say that we have new episodes. In any circumstance when you’re getting to talk about a new season it’s exciting. Probably now more than ever to be able to talk about this new season and the fact that we’re able to do it is incredibly exciting.

I love everything we’ve been doing so far this year. It’s been so much fun. It’s been extra fun, given the circumstances that we’ve been in. I hope everybody enjoys watching some of the comedic stuff that we do this year as much as we’ve enjoyed doing it. It has been a real relief for us and I hope it is the same for everybody who tunes in.

CTE: I think we’re starting off the season really powerful. The episode is a little more dramatic than what we normally do. Even though we do try to hit important topic matters on the show, this one is about the social injustices and the intentional brutality that we’ve seen in the streets.

We approach that but then as the season grows of course you see Dave and Calvin become cooler. We go on a road trip together. There’re some doctor’s visits. Dave tries to run for office. It’s crazy, we’re having a great time. I think people will really embrace this show. My son buys a motorcycle on the show, my wife goes crazy. It’s all kinds of fun stuff that we’re doing.

MW: Awesome, really looking forward to it. Mr. The Entertainer and Max ‘Head Writer’ Greenfield, it’s been a pleasure.

CTE: Thanks my man!

MG: Thanks Matt!

MW: Take care guys.

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The Neighborhood returns tonight at 8:00 PM ET/PT, only on CBS and streaming on CBS All Access. Check your local listings for more information.