Rob Schneider – stand-up comedian

May 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Interviews

For an actor who has starred in movies where his characters have to dress in a big diaper and baby bonnet (“Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo”) or try to hump a goat (“The Animal”), comedian Rob Schneider can be a pretty serious guy—especially if politics gets into the conversation.

While movie roles and voice work continue to be his go-to gigs (friend Adam Sandler still casts him in his projects), Schneider found a new voice on stage a few years after he returned to stand-up comedy in 2010. Instead of rehashing stories about his time on the set of “The Waterboy,” Schneider, who also stars in his own Netflix series “Real Rob,” started taking on some significant issues and has tried to give them his own humorous spin.

“I talk about what’s going on in the world,” Schneider, 53, told me in a phone interview. “The way I approach politics is very different. Half of the act is me talking about what is happening in America right now and what I think about it.”

Schneider will be performing at the Improv Comedy Club inside Rivercenter Mall from May 26-28, and will also be at the Alamo City Comic Con on those same days.

Away from the stage, Schneider has ventured into some polarizing topics. He is an outspoken critic of childhood vaccinations and during our interview called California governor Jerry Brown a “dipshit” for signing a new law that eliminates personal and religious belief exemptions on vaccinations.

“The Democrats are the party to make fun of right now,” Schneider said. “But I make fun of [Donald] Trump, too. I think you have to hit both sides.”

During his stand-up show, Schneider, who considers himself more of a conservative, promises to talk about everything from the attack on freedom of speech to the minimum wage hike to what’s going on in the White House.

“I don’t want to force my opinion on people, but I think you have to challenge them and get them to laugh at the same time,” Schneider said. “I don’t want to call myself a contrarian, but I like to swim against the tide. Hitting things that are closer to the bone is more interesting than avoiding it.”

Louie Anderson – Baskets (TV)

March 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Interviews

Although considered to be at one of the high points of his 30-year-career as a stand-up comedian, Louie Anderson wouldn’t mind if journalists scrapped the word “resurgence” for something a bit more poetic.

“This isn’t really a resurgence,” Anderson, 64, told the me during a phone interview earlier this month. “This is a brand new third act of my life. It’s like the window has opened and people can hear me. They have rediscovered me.”

What they have rediscovered is Anderson doing what he has been doing ever since he made his professional TV debut on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1984—making people laugh. The only difference this time is that he’s doing it while wearing colorful blouses.

In the hit FX comedy series “Baskets,” Anderson plays Christine Baskets, the mother of twin brothers Chip and Dale Baskets (both played by Zach Galifianakis). The role earned Anderson an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series last September.

During our interview, Anderson, who is making a tour stop at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, March 26 at 7pm, talked about his success on his new TV show, growing old, and why he doesn’t do political humor on stage.

Did you actually come to San Antonio to shoot your scene in “Cloak and Dagger” in 1984?

Um, I’d have to look that up. Was I in that movie?

Yes, you had a small role. You played a taxi cab driver.

Ah, OK. No, we were on a street at Universal Studios.

Oh, that’s too bad. Compared to other cities, San Antonio doesn’t have too many major films we can claim.

So, then, yes! Let’s say yes. Yes. That’s how you fix that. You can start the rumor.

You made your first appearance on national TV in 1984. A lot of what you did back then was self-deprecating humor, which I know you still do now. How much has your material changed?

I like to tell people I do all the F words—family, food, father, being fat, being over 50. All the clean F words, I guess. I do a lot of food stuff. Did I mention food? I have a lot of fun. Stand-up is my first love and the thing I would put at the top of my résumé.

You’re turning 64 on Friday (March 24). Do you plan to use the Beatles’ song as an intro to all your shows?

That’s really a great song, isn’t it?! I was at a birthday party recently for somebody who was turning 64 and they played that song when they walked in. It’s certainly a song of my era. But I’d rather be 46. It’s always better to be younger because parts wear out and you can’t just go out and get them like knees and the back. I’m in pretty good shape, but I think 64 might change it all—change the perspective. If you were to ask me if I feel 64, I would say no. I just did a Funny or Die and I felt very young.

When you go on stage now to do stand-up, does it feel like a job or is it still as fulfilling as it was early in your career?

Oh, yeah, if not more so because now there is a whole new group of people getting to see me. It’s like I have a whole new audience. That gives me a boost right there. I’ve always believed this: You have to get up for your show. You have to be there—be present. You have to do a great job. Don’t mail it in. If you’re there 100 percent, your audience will also be there.

You mentioned that you are a clean comedian. Do you think there was a time in your career where you could’ve made the decision to go the other way and become offensive or controversial?

I think I could’ve been a completely different comedian, yeah. But I think for me, it wouldn’t have worked. What’s innate for me and comfortable for me is what I’m doing. If the dirtier or edgier stuff became more important to me, I would do it. So, I think for me I wanted to reach the family. I wanted people to be able to bring their kids and their parents to my show. Also, you get a lot more jobs on TV when you’re clean. At least that’s how it was when I started out.

So, along with staying clean, something else I noticed, especially now that everyone is doing it, is that you don’t talk politics. Why don’t you go there?

Yeah, I don’t talk too much about politics. In real life, if you did a survey of your audience, you might be surprised who your fan base is. [Politics] is not my thing. I guess I could be very political. I think everyone is political with their own beliefs, but I want people to have the greatest time they can [at my shows]. I want them to be able to forget their troubles. I want them to leave behind the newscast and just relax.

But you’re active on Twitter, so all you have to do is tweet something to Donald Trump and you’d be in the headlines the next day if he tweeted you back.

Oh, yeah. I do do an impression of him in my act. People can come and see that. [Trump] looks a lot like my oldest brother, so whenever I see him I always think of my older brother. But [politics] really isn’t me. It’s not where I’m going. I have a lot of beliefs and I love this country, but I’m a stand-up comedian. I mean, so many people are doing the political stuff and I’m glad. I think there’s an appetite for it, but my appetite is for a taco shell made out of chicken.

I know you pulled your inspiration for your character Christine Baskets on “Baskets” from your mother. What would she think of your portrayal? Would she find it funny?

Yeah, I think she’d really like it, but then she’d try to correct me. She’d be like, “You know when you’re doing that one thing, Louie? It’s not the same way I would do it.” I get it, mom. It’s OK. I get it. So, she would love it. She would feel special because it’s definitely a homage to her. She’s be thrilled.

The second season of “Baskets” is coming to an end this week.

Awwww.

Do you hope the ride continues and FX says yes to a third season? What would that mean to you? (Editor’s Note: After this interview, Netflix renewed “Baskets” for a third season).

Well, what I love is what’s next for the family and what’s next for Christine. The writing is so good. The people are so terrific. There’s just so much great stuff going on. I just feel the ride is getting up on that big hill and getting ready to go on another season. Everybody, I’m sure, would be excited to do it. I try not to think about that too much. I try to be present. I miss working on it when I’m away and I love working on it when I’m there.

You’ve joked before that you’re the most successful Anderson child—you come from a family of 11 children. Can you give me an example of what your brothers and sisters do for a living?

Oh, yeah. I had one brother who was a locksmith and also spoke to police departments about crime. Two of my sisters were homemakers. Both had six kids, so they were full-time moms. My other sister was a hairdresser. My other sister owned a flower shop. So, they had small businesses. I have a brother who is a carpenter and another who worked for a pawn shop for years. My other brother was a high school janitor. He’s the brother that was much funnier than I was, actually.

What is an Uncle Louie like?

You know, I love all the kids. I’m doing a benefit for one of my nephews who is deaf to help raise money for his school in Minnesota. I try to give advice, but try not to tell people what to do with their lives. I try to be loving and caring and kind and understanding. I want them to know they can confide in me. I want the best for them. I have one nephew who is a stand-up comic. He’s doing really well. He doesn’t mention he is my nephew, which I really think was the smart way to go. He wanted to make his own way. I want them to be able to do things and try things and get the most out of their lives.

Gilbert Gottfried – comedian

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Interviews

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, best known for the scratchy voice work he has used to create such characters as Iago the Parrot in the classic 1992 Disney animated film “Aladdin,” and as the former spokesduck for Aflec Insurance commercials, will be performing stand-up at the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club in San Antonio from April 10-12. I caught up with Gottfried, 60, earlier this week on the phone to talk about his new podcast, how the entertainment industry has changed over the years, and why he would never accept an offer to eulogize someone.

Do you remember the last time you performed in San Antonio?

God knows. I totally lose track of places I’ve been to. Whenever they show those clips of a politician or rock star yelling out, “I love you, Oklahoma!” and they’re in a totally different state, I completely understand how that happens.

Well, when you think of San Antonio, Texas, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

I think of a tumbleweed going by. (Laughs)

San Antonio sounds like a pretty boring place!

(Laughs) Yeah, maybe an occasional shootout happens, too. I’m used to it though. Usually during my shows someone pulls out a gun.

You started your podcast Gilbert Gottried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast about 10 months ago. So many comedians have taken this route in recent years. What made you want to do it?

I don’t really know. People were telling me to do it and I don’t really give things that much thought. It’s what everyone is doing nowadays, so I thought I would start. I didn’t know what I would talk about, but I really like talking about stuff that has to do with old show business. So, I aimed for that for the most part. So, we’ve had people like Boris Karloff’s daughter on the show. We had [TV and radio personality] Joe Franklin on right before he died. We’ve had Henry Winkler and Adam West on.

Yeah, so far your guests have been pretty diverse. What do you look for when you’re deciding who to bring on?

I look for guests I find interesting to me. Usually the guests that I have on are ones that people haven’t heard of. It was a surprise because I thought no one would like the podcast if they didn’t know the person. But I’ve been getting all these Tweets from people saying, “I had no idea who you were talking to or the people you were talking about, but I loved listening to it.”

Did it ever cross your mind that maybe they love listening to it because you have such a great voice for podcasting?

(Laughs) Yeah, I think I have that classic radio voice. It’s always between me and Morgan Freeman.

Have you ever been asked to do any voiceovers like Morgan Freeman? Would you ever eulogize someone, maybe?

I think one time someone ask me if I would do their eulogy. But I’m afraid those gigs don’t pay much.

That’s why you have to ask for the payment before the guy dies.

Oh, yes. As soon as the guy starts coughing, I want to get paid.

You started as a stand-up comedian in New York City when you were a teenager. Are comedy tours still fun for you or does it feel like a job now?

Sometimes when I’m coming into a new town with my suitcase, I feel like Willy Loman. So, it depends. Sometimes I enjoy it. Other times I just have to force myself.

When you come into new cities, do you try to craft your material for those audiences?

Not that much. Every now and then I’ll say something that has to do with the city. It varies if something hits me. I was lucky enough to be booked in Toronto when the mayor, Rob Ford, was in trouble with drugs and God knows what else. So, I was there right on the day that scandal started. So, all you had to do was say his name and people started laughing and applauding. It’s like the jokes didn’t even matter. Hopefully some big official in San Antonio will be found with a dead hooker when I get there.

Well, the only controversy in San Antonio right now is that our city council won’t allow Uber to operate in city limits. Not sure if you can do anything with that.

(Laughs) See, that’s already funny.

Do you ever think about your comedy legacy as your career progresses?

I’ll have these people say to me, “Isn’t it great that years after you’re dead people will still remember you as Iago the Parrot?” I always think, “Well, I’d rather they totally forget about Iago the Parrot and I just stay alive forever.” (Laughs)

You’ve gotten in trouble for things you’ve said or tweeted in the past. You were famously fired from your gig as the Aflac duck for making what the company thought were disrespectful remarks about the Japanese tsunami in 2011. Do you have a filter as a comedian or is controversy not really something you worry about?

Well, now when think about saying something, I think twice and say it anyway. (Laughs) I guess I’d be more gainfully employed if I thought about it.

Do you feel people are too sensitive when it comes to comedy?

Oh, yes, especially on the internet. I always say the internet makes me feel sentimental for old-time lynch mobs. At least a lynch mob had to actually go out and get their hands dirty. (Laughs) Show business used to be separate from everything else. If we had the internet back then, we’d probably see Clark Gable tweeting that “Gone with the Wind” sucked.

As someone who appreciates how Hollywood functioned back in the day, what do you think about people who get YouTube famous?

It’s scary. Show business years ago featured actors and singers who were big stars. There were newscasters and columnists and writers you’d look up to and listen to. Now, it’s everybody. It’s a weird thing. Nowadays being a star means you filmed yourself squeezing a blackhead and 20 million people watched it on the internet.

Now that you have your podcast going, is there anything else you’d like to try or learn about when it comes to new media or technology?

I have a cell phone that I barely know how to make calls and get calls. I still haven’t figured out how to put people on hold. The technology of podcasts or anything like that, I don’t know what I’m doing.

But at least you can work a toaster, right?

(Laughs) I’m starting to get the hang of that, yeah. Maybe when I’m 80 I’ll know how to make a good piece of toast.

Adam Carolla – comedian

October 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Interviews

Comedian Adam Carolla is a busy man. When he’s not making movies and reality TV shows or writing books or hosting the most downloaded podcast in the world, he enjoys interacting with loyal fans. He’ll be in San Antonio October 10 for a live podcast. Before the show, Carolla will visit Spec’s (11751 Bandera Road) at 6 p.m. to sign bottles of Mangria, his new wine cocktail. He caught up with me via phone from his studio in Glendale, California last week.

Hey, Adam, so how was Clooney’s wedding?

Well, I don’t know if you know this, but I had sex with Courtney Cox while I was there. I’m not one to brag, but a fact’s a fact. They confiscated everyone’s cell phone, so I wasn’t able to capture it. You just have to believe me—hand of God. But, yeah, it was nice to get shuttled in by the water taxis. Clooney went grey. He looked in good spirits. We started with a pasta salad. After that, I got pretty drunk, so I don’t remember a lot of it. But I do remember having sex with Courtney Cox.

Sounds like you had a lot of fun. So, the second season of “Catch a Contractor” on Spike TV is here. Why do you think a show like this has resonated with so many viewers?

I think people have a fantasy to find that person that screwed them over and drag them back to the scene of the crime and shove it in their face. Everyone has a story about having to deal with a bad contractor. When I heard the idea for the show, I knew it was going to take a lot of work to screw up that premise—find families that have been screwed over and go find the contractor and drag them back and yell at them in front of the family.

During that final confrontation with the contractor, how nice is it to know you have someone like co-host/contractor/MMA fighter Skip Bedell standing next to you so you don’t necessarily need to bring a sledgehammer with you in case things get physical?

Yeah, it’s good to have a big, tough guy with tattoos standing next to me. It can be really tough emotionally in the show to get into it with people. Homeowners are crying and screaming at the guy. It really gets bad when I start feeling bad for the contractor once they’ve been yelled at enough. But when we get to the confrontation, I try to sprinkle a little humor in. You can’t go wrong with that recipe.

Let’s talk about Mangria. What’s so manly about drinking something labeled a wine cocktail? Wouldn’t have brewing your own beer earned you more man points?

Well, first off, “man points” sound pretty gay to me. Two, this is 21 percent alcohol. When you brew your own beer, you’re sitting at seven to nine percent. Next time football Sunday comes along and everybody shows up with a stale bag of chips and a six-pack of light beer under their arm and you show up with a bottle of Mangria, you’ll be a hero, my friend.

You have a TV show, a podcast empire, a wine cocktail, a new book that hit shelves in May and an upcoming movie. What entrepreneurial avenue is next? Most celebrities have their own fragrance, so could you see a cologne in your future? Adam Carolla’s Bro-logne, perhaps?

I would like to come out with a fragrance, but I would make it smell exactly like WD-40. I don’t think you could smell any better than that. I love the smell of WD-40. I don’t know any guy that doesn’t like that smell. I’d have an aftershave that smelled like WD-40, too.

Was building this Adam Carolla brand always part of your master plan?

It never really was, but it probably should’ve been. I never really thought about it that much before. I’m not going full-throttle Trump on anyone’s ass, but it definitely couldn’t hurt. I mean, my name is on the Mangria bottles, but I don’t call it Adam Carolla’s Mangria. It has my name on it because if [comedian] Doug Benson or Louis C.K.’s name was on it, it would be confusing.

You share your vision on how we can make this country a better place to live in your newest book President Me. What one legislative idea you would urge a 2016 presidential hopeful to turn to in your book and include in their platform?

I want someone to make all life-support equipment coin operated. I don’t feel the taxpayers or the hospitals should be paying for that. When you go in to visit grandpa, you should have to feed the machine quarters. It would pay for itself. People think it’s a cruel idea, but could you imaging living in a world where there wasn’t enough people in it who loved you to feed quarters into the slot? If you have an efficient family structure, they’re going to keep feeding quarters into that respirator. If not, you shouldn’t want to come back to that place anyway. Oh, another [idea] would be to change that children’s swimming pool game Marco Polo to Adam Carolla. I mean, Marco Polo? I don’t even know what he did; probably something with spices.

I know you’re a conservative, but don’t you think a Hillary Clinton White House is inevitable?

Well, what she has going for her—and I don’t think people should discount this element —is that we’re in a place where we like to feel good about ourselves and being a part of change. Everyone wants to be on the good side of history. A lot of people went with Obama in the past election because they thought, “I want to be part of the generation that votes in the first black president. I’m going to be on the happy side of history.” Nobody wants to be like, “Oh, my grandfather complained like hell when they tried to get away from that whole separate water fountain drinking system.” Nobody wants to be on that side of history. So, we’re just coming off electing the first African American president. Everyone thinks that was awesome. Now, we’re getting into the same thing with Hillary and saying, “Hey, the first woman! We’re on a roll here!” I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. She is a sociopath. I think Bill Clinton is a sociopath, too, and a sexual predator. I hope voters vote for her based on her credentials rather than say, “The first woman president!”

Your new movie “Road Hard” is in post-production now and comes seven years after your debut as a screenwriter with “The Hammer.” What took so long, and do you ever see yourself getting to Woody Allen’s level and pumping out a new script every year?

“The Hammer” was really satisfying because people responded to it and liked the movie. It got two thumbs up and got Sports Illustrated’s Best Sports Comedy of the Year. It all felt fantastic, but it took so long and cost so much money and it lost a bunch of money for me personally. I just couldn’t see going through that ordeal again. Plus, rattling the can and begging people for money to help you make a movie, I just couldn’t see myself going through that again. Then, this whole crowdsourcing, fund-anything idea came up and I was like, “Oh, we can do this ourselves.” That’s when the idea became attractive. Simultaneously, I had a really good idea for a movie. I’m not someone who wants to crank a movie out every year. I’m someone who wants to wait around for some inspiration—a good story or a good idea.

There are some critics of that fundraising model where celebrities like yourself and Spike Lee and Zach Braff are asking fans for money to make a movie. Do you think they have a good argument when they say you should pay for it yourself if you really want to make it?

Yeah, I think it’s a valid criticism. They only hole in the criticism is that no one is under any obligation to do this. They want to participate because they want to participate. I mean, I don’t want to give some artist a grant so he can do Piss Christ 2. If he wants to raise his own money or sell his own condo to do it, so be it. My feeling is that anything that is mandatory crosses the line. If you’re walking down the street and someone rattles the can and you want to put a quarter in it, that’s your business.

I’m sure the perks you’re offering help with their willingness to give, right?

Yeah, it’s sort of condescending to go, “Well, you can pay for it yourself,” when these people want to be a part of it. They want [the perks] they get with donating—from me coming to their hometown for a screening to getting a Blu-ray copy of the movie to getting a T-shirt. Honestly, I wouldn’t have made this movie if I had to make it the old way. Some guy gave me $10 grand or some large chunk of money, so I went to his house and did standup in his living room at his party. I didn’t reach out to him. He reached out to me. To me, this is basically a transaction. On the low end, you get a movie poster. On the high end, I do standup in your living room. It’s like prostitution. If somebody says, “I’ll give you oral sex for $100” and everyone is a consenting adult, then go do what you want to do. But if you’re forcing people or taking the money and not delivering on the services, I’ve got a problem with that.

Cristela Alonzo – Cristela (TV)

October 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Comedian Cristela Alonzo admits she’s been a bit surprised at how much control the ABC network has given her with her new semi-autobiographical sitcom “Cristela,” which debuts Friday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. CST. Despite her initial disbelief, it’s a position as a decision maker she feels she needs to have if her new show is going to become a staple in the TV landscape.

On the show, Alonzo, who was born in San Juan, Texas, plays the title character, a Mexican American graduate student working as an unpaid intern in a prestigious law firm and hoping to reach her American Dream to become a lawyer and move out of her sister’s house. Before her big break with the ABC series, Alonzo wrote for the Comedy Central show “Mind of Mencia” and was a featured stand-up comedian on shows including “Last Comic Standing” and “Gabriel Iglesias’ Stand Up Revolution.”

During an interview with me, Alonzo, 35, talked about the type of TV shows that resonated with her the most growing up and what she thinks the key is to making “Cristela” a success on ABC.

Why do you think it has taken so long for a Latina stand-up comedian to get her own sitcom?

I think it took long because it’s hard to get a TV show on the air, period. I think you stand out more when you’re brown. I mean, the chances of anyone of any race getting their own show are like .001 percent. It’s a longshot either way. I think with Latinos, we are just at that time where we’re finally a big enough number that you can’t ignore that we’re here anymore. We’re such a big part of the country that you have to have something, someone [on TV] that represents who we are. That’s what I like the most about the ABC fall schedule – it’s so diverse. I think it’s the only network that does such a great job at representing what the country looks like.

Growing up, was there anyone on TV you could identify with yourself?

You know, because I grew up in McAllen, we would watch Televisa a lot. The comedy I liked was Roberto Gómez Bolaños – Chespirito. I liked how big the character was. I think from him I learned how to be big – to be silly and not be ashamed of it. I also connected with the show “Rosanne” because Rosanne’s family struggled. My family struggled. Even though she was white and I was Latino, our families had the same problems. That’s what makes a good show. It doesn’t target one group. It tells a story everyone gets. So, for me, when I saw the show I was like, “Oh, yeah, they can’t afford to buy Becky the dress she wants because it’s expensive.” I totally got that.

I love “Roseanne.” I have this rule with that show that the chubbier she is, the better the season. As the series continued, I think she got too…

Glamorous.

Yeah, and then the writing changed and the show jumped the shark when the family won the lottery.

Oh, I stopped watching it when they won the lottery. It was a different show. She had this appeal in the early seasons. She was like everybody. I understand a lot of celebrities lose weight because they have the opportunity to get in shape and become healthier, but when you get so polished, you can’t tell the story of a blue-collar family anymore. I’ve had people ask me, “Why would you do network TV if all the popular shows are on cable?” Well, this story is about a working-class family, so I wanted to be on a channel that working-class families can get. If they have to, they can get an antenna and watch the show. I can’t tell the story of a poor family on a premium channel that you have to pay $20 a month to watch.

We’ve had Latino-themed shows on network TV before. Some of them worked for a while like “The George Lopez Show” and some of them fell off the face of the earth like “Rob.” How do you think “Cristela” is going to change the current TV landscape?

Well, when this project was first announced, a lot of the feedback I got was from people who were afraid [the show] was going to be stereotypical or the network was going to make me change it somehow or they were going to make it into what they though a Latino show should be. But with this process, I have been surprised with how much power they have let me have, which is all of it. From the beginning, I told myself that in order to do this show right, you have to be honest. You can only tell stories you know and be authentic in that way. The moment you stop being authentic, people won’t want to watch it because they know you’re fake. Why does anybody want to watch something that’s not real? With this show, I have a say in everything. I even help decorate the set. I went around and took [props] off the set that I thought were too much. Everything that felt like home, I wanted to do. Even with storylines, something would get pitched and I would say, “Well, my family wouldn’t do that. Let me explain to you why.” What I loved is that the only thing they needed from me was an explanation to why not. The moment I gave them that explanation, they were fine with it, which shows how much faith they had in me. I think you need that to have a show like this succeed.

I’m assuming it’s a little easier to get exactly what you want when you’re one of the writers of the show.

I write on the show because I want to make sure the show is done right. I don’t want to give up that power because I know that the name of the show is my name. I have to represent it. I mean, whether this show fails or succeeds, I want to do it my way and make sure I did everything I could to keep it authentic.

Speaking of authentic, the scene in the pilot episode where someone mistakes you for a cleaning lady in the law office hit close to home for me. One time, I went to a black-tie affair and as I was walking to the restroom, this lady snapped her fingers at me and pointed to her plate. She thought I was one of the waiters. How should have I responded to that? I really had no idea what to say and didn’t want to embarrass her, so I just pointed to the kitchen and walked off.

It’s so funny because I’ve had people ask me why I had that scene in the pilot. The people that ask me are people that have never experienced that. Some of those people would tell me, “Oh, but that doesn’t happen anymore. We’re past that.” I’m like, “No, it still does happen and it happens quite a lot.” I wanted to have that scene in the show because I want people to know that it still happens. For me, what I find most important in those situations – and what the character does in the show – is that I don’t take it serious and I make everything lighthearted. Once I let it get to me, I give those words power. The moment that happens, then they win.

Would you have signed on to this show if, instead of playing this intern at a prestigious law firm, the producers wanted you to play a maid?

I wouldn’t have. If I had been offered a show to play a maid I would’ve turned it down because I feel like those stories have been told enough. I want to make sure I’m telling stories about other people we haven’t seen before.

Even a devious maid?

(Laughs) Even a devious maid. I just feel like that’s a project for other people. I just want to tell stories about everyday Latinos struggling to get by and trying to achieve the American Dream. I want to show audiences that we’re just like everyone else.

Carlos Mencia mindful of Spurs

August 4, 2014 by  
Filed under CineBlog

For someone who is as active on his Twitter account as stand-up comedian Carlos Mencia, he sure doesn’t have much to read on his Twitter feed from the users he follows.

Although he has over 41,000 followers himself, Mencia, who joined Twitter in March 2009, is currently following only 37 other Twitter users. This includes comedians like Whitney Cummings, Amy Schumer, and Ellen DeGeneres.

It also includes the official page for the 2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. Some might consider it an odd choice for Mencia since he lives in Los Angeles and considers himself a diehard Lakers fan, but Mencia doesn’t think so.

“I just respect the way the Spurs play,” Mencia, 46, told me during a phone interview to help promote his tour stop at San Antonio’s LOL Comedy Club August 15-17. “I love the way they approach the game.”

Impressed with San Antonio’s play this past season, Mencia, best known for his four season hosting the Comedy Central TV show “Mind of Mencia,” credits the Spurs determination as the reason they were able to earn their fifth championship in franchise history in June.

“The Spurs let it get away from them and lost it last year,” Mencia said. “But for them to learn from their mistakes and come back and win it this year is awesome and amazing.”

Mencia also says he’s in awe of the devoted nature of the team over the last 18 seasons.

“Guys like [Gregg] Popovich don’t exist anymore,” Mencia said. “You don’t have coaches loyal to one team through thick and thin. You don’t have guys like Duncan anymore. Just look what we’re going through with [LeBron James]. This is what [the NBA] has become. It’s a business.”

The Spurs, he says, are the only team in the NBA that wouldn’t allow themselves to get mixed up in the hype.

“What if LeBron had said, ‘I want to play for the Spurs?’ What if he said, ‘I guarantee I will play in San Antonio for at least 10 years, but I don’t want to play with Tim Duncan,’ who probably will play for only a couple more seasons? The Spurs are the only team in the NBA that wouldn’t take that offer.”

To purchase tickets to see Carlos Mencia on stage August 15-17 at the LOL Comedy Club, visit lolsanantonio.com.

Gabriel Iglesias – The Fluffy Movie

July 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Although his nickname “Fluffy” has defined him for years, stand-up comedian Gabriel Iglesias isn’t worried about losing his professional identity now that he has shed 100 pounds in an effort to combat his Type 2 diabetes. He’s more interested in staying alive.

“I’m more concerned about me being around than keeping an image,” Iglesias, 38, told me during an interview to promote his new film “The Fluffy Movie,” which hits theaters July 25. “I still got a ways to go. People keep asking, ‘What do we call you if you keep losing weight?’ I tell them, ‘Don’t worry. I’m lifting weights. Call me Buffy.’”

Aside from having to buy smaller Hawaiian shirts, Iglesias hasn’t changed much and is still one of the most popular stand-up comedians on the planet. During our interview, Iglesias talked about how “The Fluffy Movie” is the most personal stage performance he’s ever done and why he thinks dropping his nickname (and more denim shorts sizes) is critical to his future.

I’m a little disappointed you’re not wearing one of your famous Hawaiian shirts today.

Man, you know what? Those things are itchy. On stage, I’d rather rock a shirt with Transformers or something Marvel. I’ll wear a Hawaiian shirt if I’m doing something for TV or a movie. I own over 700 of those things. Chingos Hawaiian shirts!

You’ve done stand-up specials for TV before. How is “The Fluffy Movie” going to be different than what we’ve seen on Comedy Central?

I think all the other specials (2007’s “Hot and Fluffy,” 2009’s “I’m Not Fat … I’m Fluffy” and 2013’s “Aloha Fluffy”) have led up to this movie. Every time I put out a special, I put more and more personal stuff into it. This movie is going to be the icing on the cake. I’m telling people the story of how my mom and dad met and how I came to be. The material is super personal. I’m talking about my issues with Type 2 diabetes and the reason I had to start losing weight. I’m talking about having to eventually drop the “Fluffy” nickname. It could get to a point where I’m no longer a big dude. I’m talking about how my father showed up after 30 years of being gone. There’s a lot of emotion in this thing.

Was it therapeutic for you to reveal all these things?

It was extremely therapeutic because everyone thinks comics are happy. We’re not. We’re jaded. People think if you have money, it’ll fix the problems, but it creates different ones. As a comedian, especially one that works as much as I do, there is a lot of sacrifice. People don’t see that I’m away from my family 46 weeks out of the year. I miss all the birthdays and anniversaries and holidays. But getting on that stage is electric.

Does a film allow you to get a little more animated with the way you deliver your jokes?

Well, there are usually restrictions for my live shows. It’s adults only. I wanted the movie to be something everyone could enjoy. I wanted it to be family-friendly. So, no, I don’t cuss or anything like that. The only F-word in this movie is “fluffy.”

You’ve embraced that nickname for so long, but now it’s time to let go.

Yeah, this is probably going to be the last time you hear the name “Fluffy” in a title. I branded it so much that people are going to call me that no matter what. It’s in everything I’m in. If you Google the word “fluffy,” I’m the first thing that pops up. It’s me, dogs and rabbits.

People always joke about whether an overweight comedian can still be funny after they lose weight. What do you think about the idea you might lose it if you get skinny?

You know, people were saying the same thing about Jonah Hill and look what he did after he lost weight. He was nominated for two Oscars and he just had this movie “22 Jump Street” come out where he’s the lead over Channing Tatum! Can a big guy get small and still be successful? Hell yeah!

You come off as such a nice guy on stage. When, if ever, are you an asshole?

When I drink. If I’m drinking I can either be the nicest guy ever or I’m the guy you should leave alone. That’s my cross to bear. Drinking can bring out a dude that has some issues.

You were in the film “Magic Mike” back in 2012. Since the sequel is called “Magic Mike XXL,” can we assume you’ll be taking the stage alongside Channing Tatum?

It sounds like I’m going to be, right? Yeah, they’re going to make me twerk. If I twerk, I’m going to sell it hard.

Strippers and comedians both perform on a stage, so it should be an easy transition for you.

Yeah, one has a mic and one has a pole. We both put our hands around it and make the room go crazy.

Eugenia Kuzmina – Fading Gigolo

May 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Interviews

After spending most of her professional career as a model for high-end companies like Armani, Cartier and Dior, Russian-born Eugenia Kuzmina realized she wanted to do more than pose for pictures for a living.

“After I had my first kid, I moved to Los Angeles and I was interested in expressing more of what was inside me,” Kuzmina, 26, told me during an interview this week. “Modeling and acting are completely different worlds where you need completely different skills.”

While her skills as a model were never in question, Kuzmina had never taken an acting class before. She decided to follow her agent’s advice, however, and see what a real Hollywood audition would feel like.

“The first audition I went on, I got it,” Kuzmina said about landing her first gig, a role in the short film “Likeness” directed by Rodrigo Prieto (cinematographer for films such as “Brokeback Mountain,” “21 Grams,” and “Babel”). “From then on, I knew there were more interesting things I could start doing.”

Since then, Kuzmina has landed small roles on TV shows such as “True Blood,” “New Girl” and “Castle.” She has also been trying her hand at stand-up comedy, an undertaking she considers natural for someone who has been in the spotlight her entire life.

In her new film “Fading Gigolo,” Kuzmina says, even as an extra, she was excited to be a part of a cast that included John Turturro, Woody Allen and Sharon Stone. Later this year, Kuzmina can also be seen in the WWII action/drama “Fury” starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf.

During our interview, Kuzmina and I talked about how she uses the stigmas of the modeling industry to fuel her comedy, who she looks up to in the stand-up game and what’s her take on the Woody Allen controversy over the last few months.

There are a lot of stigmas associated to the modeling industry. What would you tell someone that has a negative idea about what goes on in that world?

Yeah, there are a lot of stigmas. Most of us start our careers in modeling as teenagers. We have no idea what is happening a lot of the time. That could get some people in trouble. But there are different kinds of models. There are models who want to be scientists. There are models who are bankers. I think we’re just people like everyone else.

Do you use your past career as a model to fuel some of the comedy you do as a stand-up comedian?

Yeah, I use a lot of those stereotypes in my comedy. I do this routine at the Comedy Store once a month. Certain stereotypes are true. You just have to know how to deal with them. Photographers really do come up to young girls and make a photo shoot more than just a photo shoot. But I always tell girls to listen to their heart and do what is right and don’t go out and party too much.

Are there any other aspiring stand-up comedians out there that have come from the modeling industry? I don’t think I’ve heard of any others.

I’ve heard about a guy model who is out there, but I’ve never met him. I don’t think it’s a typical thing. I think a lot comedy comes from pain. So that comes from my life and my experiences. There’s not too much pain in modeling. All you have to do is put on clothes. I think the fashion industry is really funny. There are a lot of stories I really want to share.

Both modeling and stand-up comedy have a live aspect to them. Do you think that’s something that drove you from modeling to stand-up, too – getting the opportunity to get in front of a live audience?

Yeah, as a model everyone is always looking at you. I even grew up with that as a child. I was a child ice skater, so everyone would watch me skate during shows. So, being in front of people is a comfortable thing for me to do. A connection with a live audience is much deeper than a connection on film. I think I was looking for connections to people on an honest level. I want to share things with people and show everyone that we’re not all perfect.

What makes you laugh? What kind of comedy do you like?

I just saw Russell Simmons. He’s got his Def Jam comedy. I like that street-style comedy. It’s inspiring for me. I’m going to work with one of his writers on my next set. I like Jerry Seinfeld, of course. There are also a lot of great girls out there. I’m excited to see more of them like Amy Schumer opening the whole world to feminine women who do comedy. Of course, Sarah Silverman is a genius. Whitney [Cummings] is also amazing. There are a lot of comedians I look up to and admire.

What about at home? How do you make your kids laugh?

(Laughs) Well, they make me laugh. They’re natural actors. My son is always making up jokes. They’re really into slapstick comedy. They really love that Charlie Chaplin style of comedy. They’re like emotional bowls of fire. It’s very interesting to be around my kids.

Talk about your new film “Fading Gigolo” and being on set with someone like director/actor John Turturro.

It was my first feature film ever. It was very exciting. I didn’t know what to expect. John is an incredibly generous director. I think it must be really challenging to be a director and an actor at the same time. He was always aware of everything that was happening on the streets of New York City, but at the same time, he was always present with me. I was working on the same day as Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. Watching them work was really exciting. We shot at the Carlyle Hotel, so it was fun.

You didn’t get a chance to work with Woody Allen, but what do you think he brought to the film? He hardly ever gets in front of the camera these days.

Yeah, I met him but I didn’t get a chance to shoot with him. But he brought a whole new comedy to the story. John was really open to working with Woody and writing in new lines. Woody was always outside his trailer talking to people. I don’t think he has that reputation all the time of being so social, but that’s what I saw. He was very engaged and wanted to be part of the creative process. His comedic timing is impeccable.

What is your take on all the controversy that has surrounded Woody in the last few months?

I think with personal stories like his, no one really knows what happened. I think you can tell a story like that from so many points of views it becomes like a broken telephone. The story changes so much by the time it gets to the next person. I think Woody is a great artist. I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t there. I really don’t think I have the right to say something about things I don’t know about.

In November, we’re going to be seeing you in another film, “Fury” with Brad Pitt. What attracted you to the role of Hilda Meier?

It’s still a small role, but I think her character is very pivotal because there were not a lot of women during the war. These soldiers come to this German town that has been bombed by Americans. [Hilda] loses her family during this time. I think what attracted me to the role was working with [director] David Ayer (“End of Watch”). I love all his films. Being around actors like Brad [Pitt] and Shia [LaBeouf] and Michael Peña, I feel like I can learn so much from them. It’s a man’s story, but I wanted to be a part of it because it has such a great cast. It was really fun playing with tanks and playing war in the mud with all the guys.

Steve-O – comedian

March 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Interviews

Although he might not be pulling his dick out of his pants nearly as much today as he did during his years as a star on the popular MTV’s series Jackass in the early aughts, comedian Steve-O is still putting himself out there more than he’s ever done before. Now a consistent presence on the stand-up circuit, the man best known for stapling things to his balls and shooting fireworks out of his ass, is expanding his repertoire, although he admits it’s still “every bit as shocking” as when he was horsing around with Johnny Knoxville and friends. San Antonio will get a chance to experience Steve-O’s comedy revolution when he hits the Rivercenter Comedy Club stage March 13-16. During an interview with me a few weeks ago, we talked about what audiences can expect from his stand-up performances, what he thinks of hecklers and how he’s changed since sobering up six years ago.

I saw you on stage in San Antonio about 12 years ago at the White Rabbit. You did a lot of your stunts from Jackass. When did you realize you wanted to expand into more of a stand-up act?

Well, my first time doing stand-up was about eight years ago. I wasn’t really planning on doing it. Someone asked me to go to a comedy club and do a crazy stunt. When I got to the comedy club I couldn’t think of anything crazier to do than try stand-up. So, I just got on stage and tried it. I thought I was pretty awful, but people were rooting for me. It was fun, so I decided I wanted to keep trying it. I dabbled in it for a while, and then I got real serious about it. I’ve been a headliner and touring consistently for three years now. I love it.

Are there any stand-up comedians – past or present – that you look up to?

I don’t know if it’s deliberate or not, but I’m really careful not to copy anybody. I just try and do my own thing. There are some comedians I work with who I really think are awesome. My favorite is this guy, Big Jay Oakerson. I also love Jim Jefferies.

As a stand-up comedian, is anything off limits? For example, some people think Daniel Tosh crossed the line when he made jokes about rape a couple years ago.

I don’t think anything is particularly off limits. But with that said, I don’t really try to attack people or make people feel bad. I tend to be my own biggest target with comedy. I don’t really run into any problems like that.

A lot of your Jackass stuff was shock value entertainment, but it doesn’t sound like you’re trying to do that with your stand-up.

No, I think my standup comedy is every bit as shocking as anything I’ve ever done. I just don’t try to target other people and make them feel bad. I don’t think my comedy is mean-spirited. Like in Jackass, we’re mean to ourselves and to each other. I craft my comedy in the same way.

I assumed you might be the type of comedian who would pick on someone from the audience.

Well, yeah, I guess I do. I absolutely involve the audience. I will ask a lot of very uncomfortable questions. But the intention is not to be mean. I definitely make people uncomfortable, but I don’t think it’s really in a mean way. But if someone in the audience starts acting drunk and being disruptive, I can get mean pretty quick. I can get things back in control if someone tries to ruin a show. You have to get that situation under control any way you can. Sometimes you have to be pretty mean to those people.

So, how do you specifically handle hecklers?

Well, the word “heckler” for me isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes people in the audience will say genuinely funny stuff and contribute to the show. What I’m thinking more about are drunk assholes – idiots that are yelling for the sake of yelling. There have been times when hecklers have been fucking hilarious. I loved it.

I’m sure you know there’s a specific young demographic that finds the stunts you used to do with Jackass hilarious. Now that you’re doing stand-up more consistently now, are you looking for that same audience or do you want to expand the fan base?

There’s certainly a similar sensibility and sense of humor to my stand-up compared to Jackass. It’s definitely for that kind of crowd. But I don’t know. I’ve found people from all walks of life like what I am doing. I’m doing pretty well with the stand-up. Everyone’s been enjoying it.

Sounds like you might be trying to steal Kathy Griffin’s audience after all.

You know what, I think Kathy Griffin would have a great time at my show and so would her audience.

Now, just because you’re doing more stand-up doesn’t mean you’ve stopped doing stunt work. Recently, you started your own YouTube channel. Why did it take so long to put your stunts on a website like Youtube that seemed custom made for what you’ve been doing throughout your career?

That’s a good question, man. I don’t know why it took me this long, but I’m having a really good time with it. I’m glad you asked. I still have a ton of footage I haven’t put out yet. I’m really enjoying that channel.

After you sobered up in 2008, did you feel like you had a second chance to do something with your career?

I wasn’t sure what was going on with my career at that time. I just knew I needed to take some time out and really just start learning how to live clean and sober. I did things like Dancing with the Stars and stuff like that, but my career wasn’t my priority back in 2008. Now, it’s really evident that I have a second chance. I’m really grateful for that.

I know in the third Jackass film, you did all your stunts sober. Was it more of a challenge to psyche yourself out to do some of those things since you weren’t inebriated?

Well, I don’t think I ever did stunts because I was drunk or high. I did stunts because I’m an attention whore. Now that I’m clean and sober, I’m still an attention whore.

You’ll be 40 years old this June. Just on a purely physical level, can your body sustain the same pain as it did when you first started Jackass 14 years ago?

It depends. My back sometimes is in better shape than others. But in a general sense, I think I’m still quite resilient to trauma. I think I can still take a pretty good beating.

With everything you’ve done to your dick in the course of your career, what do you think it would tell you if it could talk?

You know, my dick, I think, has gotten off pretty easy. My balls would have a lot more to say. They’d say, “Fucking leave us along, goddamnit!” Just the other night, I lit my nuts on fire and had Bam Margera kick me to put them out.

Your Jackass co-star Johnny Knoxville was on The Daily Show the other day talking about how people are always coming up and punching him. Do you get that, too?

I don’t get that too much, no. People won’t just come up and hit me out of nowhere, but what they will do is come up to me and say, “Dude, Steve-O! Is there any chance that I could get you to kick me in the nuts?” They’ll ask me to kick them in the nuts! Who am I to dash somebody’s hope and dreams? Of course, I’ll kick them in the nuts.

Steve-O
$22.50
8:30pm Mar 13-16; 10:30pm shows also Sat & Sun
Rivercenter Comedy Club
849 E Commece
(210) 229-1420
rivercentercomedyclub.com

 

Gabriel Iglesias – Planes

August 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In Walt Disney Animated Studio’s new film “Planes,” stand-up comedian Gabriel Iglesias (AKA Fluffy) works double duty to give voice to the characters Ned and Zed, two disruptive airplanes that fly alongside the film’s main antagonist Ripslinger in hopes of helping him win a big aerial competition. During our interview, Iglesias, 37, talked about how lucky he was to land a role in the film after missing the first audition, and shared his 15-year-old son’s sentiments when he told him he was starring in a summer movie for Disney.

What’s up, Kiko?!

Hey, Gabriel! What’s going on, man?

Ah, nothing. Just sitting here waiting for my bagel.

Ah, nice. What do you put on it? Cream cheese?

That or butter. I’m weird.

How did you get pitched this film and why did you say yes?

It was a no-brainer. If Disney calls and you don’t go, you’re kind of dumb. (Laughs) Originally, I had read for the character Chupacabra, but I did not make myself available for the table read. I was out of town doing stand-up. When I missed the table read, someone else filled in (Carlos Alazraqui). But you don’t send in Mike Tyson to fill in for some regular fighter. [Carlos] is amazing with voices. So, he came in and they liked him better for that part. Luckily for me they had two other characters in the film (Ned and Zed), so they called me up for it. I did not miss that table read.

It’s pretty unique you got to give voice to both characters.

Yeah, two characters, one check.

How did you differentiate between the two characters’ voices?

Well, for one character, they let me use my regular voice, so I sound just like this. The other one sounds like a 60s hippy guy.

What did you think when you first saw what Ned and Zed looked like?

I was excited. I was like, “I want the toy!” The movie hasn’t even come out yet and I already went and got the toy. It’s pretty cool.

Are you going to try and get your hands on everything that features Ned and Zed in the toy aisles?

I’m going to go get all that stuff. I’m going to stockpile it at my house and give it away as Christmas presents.

Who’s most excited about you being in this movie? Do you have any kids in your life that flipped out when you told them you were going to be in “Planes?”

I have a 15 year old at home. When I showed him the characters I was playing he said, “That’s nice. Wanna play Call of Duty?” (Laughs) “Are the planes going to be shooting anything?” was his question. I was like, “No, they’re not going to be shooting anything!”

What experience as a stand-up comedian do you take into a gig like this – doing voice work for a major animated film?

Well, I basically walk in there and do what I do on stage. The cool part was they let me ad-lib a little bit. I would tag up some of the lines. I’d add a sound effect or change the tone a little. They let me have fun with it. So, yeah, doing voice over work was a walk in the park. On stage you only have one shot to do it, but in the studio if you don’t get it right, you can do it again and again. I was able to knock out the whole movie – both characters – in about four hours.

That’s not even a full day’s work, come on!

I know. I walked in, they made me an omelet and I got to work.

We’ve been seeing a lot of Latino characters in animated films this summer. Michael Peña and Luis Guzman voiced taco vendors in “Turbo” and Benjamin Bratt and Moises Arias had roles in “Despicable Me 2.” Do you think studios are starting to realize they have to hit that demographic?

I think that’s part of it. But I also think that guys like me – and this is going to sound crazy – can go either way with it. I’m a Latino, but I don’t necessarily have to go into that vein. But I do think people see there are a lot of dollars in the Latino market. We go to the movies a lot. It’s nice to see there is something there that connects. I think more and more studios are going to start doing that. Having the Chupacabra character (voiced by Alazraqui) in [“Planes”] adds so much to the movie.

We’re around the same age. We didn’t grow up with computer generated cartoons on TV and movie screens where the planes are flying at you in 3D. Do you like cartoons like this or are you more old-school?

I love it. Back in the day we didn’t have high-quality televisions like we do now. The best movies I had at the time were “The Fox and the Hound” and “101 Dalmatians.” I love that a “Cars”-type movie or a “Turbo”-type movie or a “Shrek”-type movie looks so lifelike. It adds so much to the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I still like cartoon animations, but I definitely think this is what people want to see right now.

What cartoons or TV shows did you grow up watching?

Let’s see, “Dukes of Hazzard,” “Knight Rider” “A-Team,” and “Three’s Company. Those were the shows I watched.

Big John Ritter fan, huh?

Oh, man, he was the best. He was funny and very physical with his comedy. He was really good at slapstick and falling.

I think he’s one of the very few recent comedians that did slapstick right. He wasn’t just some fat dude falling over something for a cheap laugh.

I could not pull that off successfully. Well, maybe I could do it once. (Laughs)

I know your first love is still stand-up comedy, but have you started to keep your options open when film opportunities come up?

If it’s something like “Planes,” definitely. But for the most part, I’m not trying to chase a film career. If a great opportunity presents itself, I’ll go for it, but my love and my passion is stand-up. I don’t want to be one of those guys that just uses stand-up as a stepping stone. My goal was always to be a stand-up comedian. All the other stuff is frosting on the cake.

I heard you were going to start working with NUVOtv.

Yeah, there’s a potential project in the works right now – in animation as a matter of fact. We’re doing a pilot, that’s for sure. It’s an animated series called “Hey, it’s Fluffy.” It’s basically me as a kid.

The first thing I thought of when you mentioned the cartoon was Louie Anderson’s cartoon “Louie,” which I always thought was underrated.

That’s funny. I just had a conversation about that a few minutes ago. Yeah, [“Hey, it’s Fluffy” is] in that vein. It’s my voice. I’m not changing it up. It’s me surrounded by my friends and what life was like as a kid.

What was Gabriel Iglesias like as a kid in comparison to as an adult now?

Not a whole lot of difference, bro. I got a little more grey hairs now. (Laughs) But, actually, I was pretty quiet as a kid. I definitely talk a lot more as an adult. I listened a lot more when I was a kid. Everybody was always telling me to be quiet, so that was my childhood. I was real chill, but as soon as the curtains opened up, I was on. The first time I got on stage, I was 10 years old.

I would’ve guessed you were the class clown.

Nah, I was never that guy. There are some guys that are always on and never turn it off, but I need a break. I need to use the restroom, check my Twitter. I can’t be trying to entertain everybody all the time.

When was the first time you realized you could make someone laugh?

Probably when I was 9 or 10 years old. The first time I got a laugh on stage, it threw me off. I was a big fan – and still am – of impressionist Rich Little. When he would do some of his stuff, people would applaud. In my head I thought that’s what they were supposed to do. When they started laughing it was like, “Whoa, wait a minute!” But once I got the second and third laugh I was like, “OK, this is working!”

Now that you’re in “Planes,” are you going to try to get some kind of cross promotion deals with an airline and fly around for free for the rest of your life? I hear stand-up comedians travel a whole lot.

Man, if I could, that would be great. I fly so much! I fly SO much! I’m at an airport right now! That’s funny to me that we’re doing this interview and I’m at an airport. (Laughs) I’m in an airport at least 300 hours a year.

What’s the longest layover you’ve had?

About nine hours!

Oh, man. You’re like the Edward Snowden of stand-up comedians.

Yeah, like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal!”

What do you think Snowden does all day long in the airport?

I don’t know. You can only go to the gift shop and restroom so many times.

Kevin Nealon – comedian

February 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews

Best known for his stint on “Saturday Night Live in the 80s and 90s and for his role on Showtime’s “Weeds,” comedian Kevin Nealon has been a staple in the comedy world for nearly 30 years. During a phone interview with me, Nealon, 59, talked about where a show like “SNL” fits into the current TV landscape and which of his former SNL cast members he thinks could make a comeback to the show today.

You’ve never really stopped doing stand-up comedy over the course of your career. What is it about the craft that has kept it part of your life for so long?

It’s just something I have a passion for. I did it during my years with “Saturday Night Live.” I did it while I was doing Weeds.  It’s what I did even before any kind of acting work.

Is stand-up still as fun as the first time you did it or have you managed to squeeze all the enjoyment out of it over the years and get it down to a science?

I’ll never have it down to a science. It’s a lot more fun in a different way because it’s not as angst ridden. I’m not pacing and sitting on the toilet an hour before I go on.

Will you be watching the Oscars this weekend?

Yeah, I will be. I love watching the Oscars. I’ll probably be Twittering during it.

You’ve starred in a couple of movies with Oscar winners – Jack Nicholson in “Anger Management,” Nicole Kidman in “Just Go With It.” Did you ever think Jonah Hill, the guy who sucked on a breast for the duration of his screen time in another of your movies “Grandma’s Boy,” would now be labeled an Oscar nominee for his role last year in Moneyball?

(Laughs)  You know, I never did. When he was in “Grandma’s Boy I had just met him. I had never heard of him before. He went on to do a lot of great work from there. It’s great to see that.

Since leaving “Saturday Night Live in 1999 the show has gone through a lot of changes. Do you still watch?

I watch it once in a while. I’ll DVR it and then fast forward through it, especially if I hear it was a good show.

I do the same thing. I rarely watch it live anymore. I’ll just get on Hulu and flip through the skits.

Yeah, I don’t think anybody watches it in real time anymore. It doesn’t have to be live.

Where do you think the show registers in today’s TV landscape now that cable is such a big player when it comes to original content?

The thing about “Saturday Night Live is that it’s such a unique show and has held up for so long. It’s had its peaks and valleys. Certainly now there is more competition with cable. But I think “Saturday Night Live is sort of a mainstay for certain people and generations. It has just about everything you need. It’s topical. It has music, comedy, and the hottest hosts. It still has a winning formula, I think.

In the entertainment industry, we are seeing a lot of actors who are getting older come back to what they know best. For example, Bruce Willis just did another “Die Hard movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger is back to doing action movies. From your class at “SNL,” who do you think could successfully make a comeback to the show today? Or has the comedy evolved too much?

I think from my original cast probably Dana Carvey or Adam Sandler or Mike Meyers or David Spade.

Is it interesting to see when people leave that show how some of them find success in the film industry and some just can’t seem to break through?

You never know who’s going to come out of that show with heat on them. It’s something that is still so unpredictable. But you know who the likeable people are and who is talented and who has a pretty good chance of going further.

The last “Saturday Night Live-based movie was “MacGruber in 2010, which didn’t do very well at the box office. Before that was in 2000 with “The Ladies Man.” Do you think “SNL-inspired movies are a thing of the past now?

It’s hard to know because they’re taking a sketch and trying to make a movie out of it. We had actually written a movie for Hanz and Franz called “The Girly Man Dilemma.” Arnold [Schwarzenegger] was co-producing it and co-staring in it. Sony paid us to write it. I wrote it with Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel and Dana Carvey. It was a really funny movie. It was actually a musical. It never got made because Arnold got cold feet. He had just come out with “Last Action Hero,” which kind of parodied himself. He had six other movies on the docket he had to choose between. I think it could have done well.

Since it would’ve been Hanz and Franz’s first foray into feature films, were you and Dana willing to work out and give your characters some natural muscle mass or did you still plan to stuff your sweatshirts?

(Laughs) Oh, we would’ve totally stuffed.

Have you started to have any “Weeds withdrawals now that the show is over?

(Laughs) Not yet. I’ll probably show up at the studio later this spring and be like, “Oh, that’s right. It’s over.” It was a good run and really fun to hang out with all the people there. But I think it ran its course. You can only smoke so much pot.