Tim McCarver often finds himself laughing before games and between innings when he works alongside Joe Buck.

Buck, Fox's lead play-by-play announcer for baseball and football, is known for a serious tone on the air. But he plans to weave plenty of comedy into his new HBO show. "Joe Buck Live" debuts Monday night and will open with an interview with Brett Favre.

The approach makes perfect sense to Buck's baseball broadcast partner.

"I think people who know him well realize his sense of humor is off the wall," McCarver said. "I'm not sure he really ever has a chance to exhibit that in games."

HBO hired Buck when Bob Costas left for MLB Network in February. Buck will keep the practice of doing shows live, which started with the last three installments of "Costas Now."

Costas' live shows centered on discussions with sports luminaries. Buck also will moderate panels, but his program will have more of a late-night, talk-show feel.

The format will include a mix of commentaries by Buck, interviews with guests and taped segments. Will Ferrell's "Funny or Die" Web site will produce a feature, and the show hired veteran comedy writers Peter Mehlman and Jon Glaser.

HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said he knew Buck had a talent for comedy from seeing him on stage at the Sports Emmy Awards over the years.

"I think we'll be pulling one of the great surprises in television," he said.

Buck had approached Greenburg about two years ago about doing an HBO show. But with "Costas Now" and "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," the network didn't have the room for a third program in that genre.

When Costas departed, Greenburg quickly worked out a deal with Buck.

The first episode will examine the intersection of sports and celebrity. Other guests include Michael Irvin and Chad Ochocinco.

"I want to be an interviewer who listens to what the answer is and carries on an interesting conversation," Buck said. "So if you're at the dinner table or sitting around on the couch, it wouldn't be any different."