Video marketing can help your small business, explains CanadianSME. From creating client trust to generating website traffic, video marketing has several benefits. Plus, social media makes it easier than ever to reach a wide audience with your videos. But if you’re on a tight budget, you may be unsure of how to make affordable videos a part of your marketing plan. Fortunately, there are several inexpensive ways to make video work for you. Podcaster Mind Dog invites you to read on to find out more.
Types of Video Marketing for Small Businesses
Ajax Creative points out that there are many different types of videos you can create for your small business. Some common examples include product demonstrations, customer testimonials, behind-the-scenes footage, and explainer videos. The key is to create content that will resonate with your target audience and help achieve your business goals.
Zero in on Your Target Customers
When creating videos for your small business, it’s important to consider your target audience. What demographics are you trying to reach? What kind of content will they be interested in? What tone should you use? Addressing these questions can help you hone your message and focus your efforts more narrowly.
Establish a Budget
The next step is to establish a budget for your video marketing campaign. How much money do you have to spend on production, editing, and hosting? Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to produce high-quality videos. There are many ways to save money on production costs, such as filming in-house or using royalty-free stock footage. Pick up a decent video camera that is within your budget. You don’t have to go top of the line. Then look online for some tutorials and take some time to practice before you officially film your introduction video.
Yes! Use Royalty-Free Stock Footage
Royalty-free stock footage is another great way to save money on production costs. There are many websites where you can download royalty-free stock footage and images for a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional videographer. Plus, there’s no need to worry about copyright infringement since the royalty-free license allows you to use the footage in all types of projects.
A Place To Publish Your Videos
Now that you’ve created your budget and filmed your videos, you’ll need to decide where to publish them. You can host your videos on YouTube or Vimeo or on your own website (if you have one). If you’re looking for more exposure, consider submitting your videos to directories or blogs related to your industry, such as adding your video to your Google business listing, which makes for a great visual representation of your business and adds to your professional reputation.. You can also promote your videos through paid advertising or by using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Track the Success of Your Campaigns
Once you’ve started incorporating video into your marketing campaigns, it’s important to track the results so that you can see what’s working and what isn’t. There are a number of metrics that you can use to evaluate the success of your video marketing campaigns, including:
Views: how many people have watched your videos?
Shares: how often are your videos being shared on social media or other websites?
Comments: what are people saying about your videos? Are they leaving positive or negative feedback?
Engagement: are viewers watching your videos all the way through, or are they clicking away before the end?
Click-Through Rate: if you’re including links to landing pages or product pages in your videos, how often are viewers clicking on them?
By monitoring these metrics, you can get a better idea of which videos are resonating with viewers and driving results for your business. You should also integrate SEO and VSEO into your marketing content as part of your content strategy. CornerstoneContent.com has resources to help you integrate keywords into your content to drive your site up in the search rankings.
Embrace the Power of Video
Video is a powerful marketing tool that every small business should be using. By incorporating video into your marketing efforts and monitoring the results, you can boost your bottom line and reach a wider audience. Start by creating a budget and finding items (like cameras) and strategies that fit within your budget. And don’t forget to incorporate SEO into your content to get your videos in front of a larger audience.
Paul Provenza came to school me in comedy . We talk about his early years. stand up, his transition to television actor and show host to creating his own voice in film directing and filmmaking in the comedy space.
matt nappo 0:01
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And welcome my friends to yet another episode of the mind dog TV podcast. I’m Matt nappo. Thanks for coming. It’s great to have you here. As always, just a important little note here. We’re not live, although I’m streaming this live the first time you see it. I’m not really live. This is pre taped. As a matter of fact, that could actually be dead by the time you’re seeing this. But hopefully that’s not the case. Anyway, today, I have finally arranged for the fabulous Paul provenza. To be with us. You know, if you tried to tune in when we had Paul scheduled a couple of weeks ago, we had some technical difficulties, which is the reason we are pre taping today to make sure that none of those technical difficulties get in the way of today’s broadcast. Now Paul prevented you know, as a comedian, a film director and author, all around renaissance man and a man full of respect and insight into the world of comedy. And it’s my pleasure to bring you this interview with a great and fabulous Paul Pimentel. Ladies and gentlemen, open your ears, open your minds and help me welcome in the fabulous Paul provenza to the mind dog TV podcast.
Paul Provenza 3:00
Thanks for having me. Finally, without tech problems, anybody that didn’t catch it the last time My apologies.
matt nappo 3:08
I actually deleted that pretty quickly after it was done. Because it was just, it was a lot of me trying to cover dead air. And it was it was not
Paul Provenza 3:18
that good. Look how well it’s working. Now I have to say,
matt nappo 3:23
I appreciate the effort. I’m coming back. And thank you very much for that. So Oh, there’s so much to talk about with you. And you’re probably one of the first stand up comedians I ever saw back in the day when I was a young man, and you’re only a couple years older than me. And I know you’re from Pelham Parkway area in the Bronx, which is kind of my neighborhood. So I grew up in the 70s and was a huge fan of stand up comedy, but I know that you got started young in it. Right? And so I look at my work and being in that world today. I didn’t know anybody who had the call and composure to do stand up comedy as a teenager in those years. And just the intelligence and, you know, ability to have something to talk about. Talk to me about you’re getting started.
Paul Provenza 4:13
Wow, wow, that’s so kind of you. I can’t believe it. Where did you see me at the improv?
matt nappo 4:18
Yeah, yes. Yeah. And it was like, you know what I, you know, memory is what it is, but it was at the improv, but I think it was late 70s might have been at, I don’t know, it was it was early, it was early and I was out, you know, again, I’m only like one or two years behind you. And as I was thinking at the time, how come I don’t have you know, any friends who are doing it, the balls first of all the balls to get up and do it. But the, you know, most of people who were teenagers sweated when the teacher called them to read out out loud in class and here’s this guy, you know, just a year or two older than us and just as common and composed and professional and it was just like, this is this is for adults. Not fair. People. So that’s what you buy.
Paul Provenza 5:04
Wow. Well thank you for those kind words. But um, yeah, and I started really young. And you know, I started going to the improv as a patron, when I was about 15, maybe with, I had an older cousin, who, you know, bought me a lot of time with my parents staying out until one two in the morning. He was big, big, big influence in my life still is, and, and I would go with some friends from high school. And I mean, I remember sitting there and seeing it was amazing. I’m actually back then even Gilbert godfried had already been doing it for a while. Wow. And I remember seeing any lien boozer and at blue stone, and Franken and Davis and Larry David, just, you know, phenomenal comedians who went on to varying degrees of visibility and success. Andy Kaufman in his early days, you know, when I was very, very young, I had the opportunity of being the victim to an the, in early incarnation of Tony Clifton, which he was doing without makeup or wardrobe, or anything he was just doing as a guy in the audience. And he would Heckle comics and just see what happened. I mean, yeah, I was really young when I started. So I started going to the improv it like 15. And then I did my first time on stage at, I think 16, or between somewhere around 1617. And here’s the cool thing. Back then you had to, you had to wait online, you know, if you an open mic, or you had to line up at like, you know, people would Sorry, I showed up once at like, 10 in the morning. It wasn’t gonna open until 810 in the morning, that’s good. And I lived way up in the Bronx, so I had to slip up subway schlep all the way down to Midtown Manhattan in Hell’s Kitchen. And so I get there at 10 o’clock, and it’s already a huge long line. And you have to wait online and you have to, you know, just wait until they opened up or until they brought out a bucket with numbers in it at like six or seven. And then you took your number, and it was random, it didn’t even necessarily have to do with how long you are online. And it was weird. And so I ended up with a very, very high number, and at about three or 330 in the morning, because they used to stay open till 4am legal curfew, or until the last patron left. So on audition nights, it was always you know, 4am so like, three 330 in the morning, I still had a bunch of numbers before me. And I went up to the MC and I said it’s not my number yet, but I was wondering if maybe you can move me ahead a couple of numbers because I have school in three hours.
and and the the MC just cracked up and he wants your kid. And he brought me up next. And I got to tell that story to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. He was the house MC Wow. So that was my I was like 16, maybe turning 17 at the time, the first time I went on stage. And it was something that I just always wanted to do since I was a really little kid. I just really felt connected to it. Yeah, I have a lot of theories as to why. But I just always wanted to do it. It was a real need. And my first time on stage was a nightmare. I mean, it was horrible because the three 330 in the morning, all kinds of other Open Mind. And because the improv was at 44th and ninth, which is like poker Central, you know, there are always a couple of hookers and maybe a pimp that came in to have a drink and get out of the cold or something. So it was just a horrible, horrible experience. But when I came off stage after that first absolute, you know, disaster, he could have been traumatizing. But here’s the weird thing it wasn’t I actually thought to myself, I can’t wait to do that again and figure this out. And so then I went away to college, I went to university, Pennsylvania, it was in Philadelphia, and started performing around Philadelphia, there were a few other people at the school. And through people I had met, I had met some other people in Philadelphia that were starting to do stand up. And there was they were trying to sort of a scene was kind of beginning to happen. So I was getting a lot of work while I was in Philadelphia at going to school. And then I would drive up to New York on three day weekends or holidays or whatever or when I you know, had the energy to do that. I would drive up to New York and continue getting online for open mics on Sundays. And within a year, I think maybe four or five times getting on stage. I passed auditions at the improv. So I was back at school doing stand up with my friend And whatever, you know, Penn was a big school so I could put together shows and different dorms and they would be like different all different markets, you know, kind of. And so I was getting all this stage time. So every time I would go back up to New York, I would have more and more experience and more stage time, which the other people do in the open mics weren’t, they weren’t getting. So I rose pretty quickly through those ranks. And one of the first people that I met that was an improv regular, who sort of took me under his wing. And he was a young guy at the time as well, he was only a few years older than I, but had been doing it and had shown unbelievable gifts in stand up. And comedy in general was Rick Overton who still to this day is one of my dearest friends. He was like, he was like, one of the new kids on the block that I was trying to join. And he just immediately introduced me to so many people saying, you got to see this kid, you got to see this kid. And so he helped really bring me into that fold. And it was life changing. So by the time I was 17, you’re well into 17, or 18. By my second year at Penn, they had a rathskeller on campus, which they don’t have anymore, because at the time, the drinking age was 18. Right, which had happened because of the Vietnam War, because it became, you know, it became impossible for them to not lower the drinking age, because people were sending us off to die and 18, but we can’t have a beer. So the drinking age was was lower than so they had literally a bar on campus called the rathskeller. And
they offered me a Saturday night slot every week to do stand up. And I would do like an hour an hour and 15 however much material I had every week, and a lot of it was about you know, going to school and being a kid and you know, being a college kid and all that stuff. But there were enough I had enough times on stage there that I actually could develop material and go back to the improv with material that was going to work. And that I had already worked out and everything so so when I got out of school, I immediately started working at the improv. And then within a year, I had a pilot on ABC television, which brought me out to Los Angeles and I just stayed. But it was a pretty it was a different time, there was just not that many people into stand up, it was still a pretty rarefied art form, you know, what was it like now, and there wasn’t as much access to stage time as there is now and I’m saying that with tremendous affection for them this moment because I think you know, the voices that are coming out of standard I think this is a golden age of stand up now. You know, there was a boom in the 80s. But that was like a boom of the business of comedy. And there’s a boom now That to me is more about a boom in the art form of comedy with so many different kinds of comedy and different voices and different appreciation for different kinds of things. And you know people that is people watching your podcast right now is like you we never had an audience of people who are interested in the mechanics of comedy or interested in what really goes on in the world of comedy or interested in a comedians life outside of what they do on stage. And that’s a relatively new phenomenon that has just exploded and and I think it’s been amazing for the artform.
matt nappo 13:24
Wow, I got I got a there’s so much in that in that simple edge to talk about. But on that golden age of comedy stuff. I’m a little bit torn on that. Because boomers my age, right, I brought up Bill Burr to my friends, and they didn’t know who he was. They didn’t know who he was. But coming back to you being a young man doing this and I asked this on Twitter just the other night, who is a young comics and capital young that I should know right now because I know a lot of people 50 and older. I know some but most of the really successful ones I know are 50 or 50 year old are in that area. And the young people coming up so when you say golden age because they’re I think it’s all a little bit oversaturated what you asked to do with some of this canceled culture stuff, I think it’s a lot of that is young comedians looking to cancel established comedians and looking for dirt on them. Because there’s just so many people doing it right now. So but talk about that, well,
Paul Provenza 14:26
that that’s just a variation of what’s always going on, you know, the younger generation, be it music, be it acting be a comedy, be it painting, sculpture, the younger generation always sort of rejects the ones that came before them, or at least immediately before them, you know, that’s kind of part of the process of evolution that has to happen. And I think this canceled culture thing. It’s just a different way of going about it. But you know in in the 1980s in 1980 Don Ward and his partners opened the car Comedy Store in London. And the it was almost as if a switch was flicked because it was we’re gonna do a new kind of comedy. And they rejected outright all the old school forms of comedy. You wouldn’t find it at the Comedy Store and everybody that was working at the Comedy Store was maligning all the old school and there was basically a canceled culture of people like oh geez, I can’t think of the names but all these stalwarts of British stand up comedy, were just relegated to the dustbin. And it’s exactly what’s happening now. 40 years later. So I kind of always happen that way. It’s different now because of social media and the way it’s all the the how everything’s become politicized. It’s more than just like, Oh, I didn’t want to do material. That’s old school. It’s more politically politicized now than ever before, but the phenomenon itself has always been going on. But here’s the difference between what’s happening now in that regard. And when I was coming up, is that, you know, back then, first of all, there were a million talk shows and they were afternoon talk show. So it was dinosaur there was Merv Griffin, there was my list. There was john Davidson. There was you know, there were all these afternoon talk shows, right? And then there were the late night talk shows, of course, the tonight show Johnny Carson being the king, but also there was Joey Bishop and they were, it was Alan Thicke in the mid 80s. And all these were a million talk shows right? And they would have comedians on, but they back in those days, it wasn’t so demographically driven. So you could be watching the tonight show or Merv Griffin or Deke Cavett. And you could see, you know, the hip new young Freddie Prinze on the same panel with Alan King, or, you know, Milton Berle, or something like that. And so you got exposed to a real breadth of comedy on the same TV shows, you know, they would also do that in other regards to you know, they would have john lennon on but they’d also have, you know, gore of a doll on the same show, all right, you know, and that’s all different now. And now, it’s, uh, you can’t find a show that’s gonna book you know, an old school, you know, comic in their 80s on the same bill with, you know, Moses storm was a young guy that I just saw recently that I think has tremendous down, you know, that’s why on the green room, and even on comics, only back in the late 80s, when I was doing that show, I always made an effort to have, you know, Robert Klein on the show, and Jonathan Winters on the show, along with Bo Burnham and, you know, really mix the generations on greenroom in particular, I also mix people from the UK and people that I had, you know, grown aware of from doing the international festival circuit and stuff. Because it’s like, nobody questions that music, like nobody in music would question, Well, why is James Taylor working with this, you know, young 22 year old bands, like how did that happen, right? intuitively makes sense. It’s about the art form. And it’s about music, but they don’t think of it in terms of comedy. But that’s really, you know, I hope that the younger generation, you know, grows to appreciate those that came before and sort of just just to look at, look at them as something valuable, not something that has to be discarded. I do look at that, like Phyllis Diller has sort of been re captured as a major force for women in comedy, because in the 70s, during the feminist wave, she was sort of tossed aside as, you know, she does self deprecating stuff, and this and that, and this and that, but the truth is, she was also doing what she needed to do to play in the big ball game to play, you know, with Bob Hope and, and, and Sinatra, and all those people, you know, and she did what she did, because that’s what she had to do to make a living and to become successful. But she did it brilliantly. And was hilarious. And she broke down all kinds of barriers
matt nappo 19:02
for women in Korea. Absolutely. Yeah. So but she
Paul Provenza 19:07
was maligned in the 70s as being part of that old school, you know, not on woke, you know, philosophy but, but she actually really did more for women comics than just about, you know, just about anybody. So she’s I like that she’s being appreciated now more than she had been for quite some time. And that’s what I hope happens to a lot of the older generation is that that the appreciation to them really grows.
matt nappo 19:31
Well on that, you know, you mentioned Bo Burnham. Whoa, whoa. That happens. You get in a spam call. Take the call. Yeah. You mentioned both. recently about that, aren’t. You mentioned Bo Burnham. And I think that’s relevant to this conversation because there was a episode of the green room where you had Bo Burnham and Garry Shandling and a couple you know you talk about mixing these people. And I think just to get sidetracked for a moment I think you are kind of you know they have six degrees of separation and then they have the game 60 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I think in the commodity world they should be six degrees of Paul Brenda because you connect. You connect the world of Buddy Hackett to the world of Bo Burnham, right and everything in between. You guys you just mentioned but that show with with with Bo Burnham and it’s still in my mind, Bo Burnham and I know Gary Shandling was one of the guys on the show. Yeah,
Paul Provenza 20:37
I tried. The whole lineup actually was Bo Burnham. Garry Shandling. Ray Romano, Mark Marin. And Judd Apatow.
matt nappo 20:46
Wow. And so when that when you were putting those shows together, were you hand picking them for each episode and saying this is the group I want?
Paul Provenza 20:55
Yeah, that was really my that was really my sort of creative domain was to put together combinations of people that I thought would be interesting, provocative, all those different things. And and largely, it had to do with, you know, what I know about each of those people. I mean, I did scrap entire shows like they were shows where I had four people lined up and it felt like oh, this is a show that’s going to go in some interesting directions, I’m really happy with that, and then somebody would drop out. And I would end up scrapping the whole show, because it wasn’t the kind of thing we could just go, well, who else is available was an intuitive idea. I mean, I wanted the show to be really spontaneous. I didn’t have any agenda, per se, for any particular episode. But in putting certain groups of people together, I did have a sense of where something could go and whose personalities would match or clash and interesting, fun ways, or whatever the case may be. I mean, that really was the big difference between the greenroom and tough crowd, which was a great show is a tough crowd was all about conflict. And I didn’t want the grief be about conflict I want if conflict arose, conflict arose, but I didn’t want that to be what it was about, I really wanted it to be an example because when I was when I was 1617, and just getting into the world of comedy, it was regulatory To me it was regulatory to me to find an entire group of other people who also felt like aliens in their own lives, who also looked at the world in a different way. who also had a sensibility of you know, when you’re when you’re a real comic when it’s in your bones, comedy just kind of happens to you the way the way I would imagine for a musician that he rhythms all the time you know, you’re walking down the street here dog bark and car door slam, you know, screech, the tie or whatever, it all becomes rhythmic right? Well that’s true for comedy too. When you’re really immersed in it and it becomes a lens through which you experience the world. That same thing happens in comedy just kinds of happens and and walking into the improv and being among a group of people who were in that same space they existed in the world and that kind of way was revelatory for me I it just changed my life and I always even going back as far as comics only which was late 80s I always wanted to try and give an audience that experience that feeling of oh wow look you can be in a room full of people having a really heated argument but nobody’s angry at each other and and you’ll you’ll laugh at some point no matter what and people actually communicate ideas and you know and and and there are conflicts and there are things in concert and I just felt like the experience of being in in a group of people who are you know, that’s the way their existence is was something I wish I could share with everybody and I tried it with comics only in a very sort of primitive way. The idea of comics only was you know, I always want to watch the tonight show but I was I only cared about the comedian’s satiated going seeing you know, the Rolling Stones or whoever. But the real reason that I was watching this for the comedians and and I thought, well, what if we do a tonight show but the only guests are comedians so you don’t have to listen to somebody plug in their book or talking about their new special tour or whatever. So that was the premise behind comics only. And I was hoping to sort of evoke the idea of what it’s like to hang out among other comedians to varying degrees of success. You know, one of the things that I did with that show was I gave he gave the guests the option of doing prepared material and conversation format, which is what you did on the show. If you you know, when you went on The Tonight Show if you were doing a stand up spot and they said okay, you’re going to sit on the panel with Johnny for five minutes, you would prepare a conversation with Johnny, you told me, you’d give them things to lead you into stuff you wanted to do. And that was a sort of convention of the time. And so I gave the comics on comics only, I gave them the option, we can do that. Or we can just sit and see what happened. And some people chose the ladder some people chose the form and most people chose the former again, because they said it was sort of like the convention at the time. But some people chose the ladder and some people surprised the hell out of me every time they came on, like, you know, Judy toll was, I never knew what she was going to do. And those were among my favorite moments, but so comics only didn’t really rise to what I really was hoping to accomplish, which was a sense of what’s it like to hang out with comics.
And then 35 years later, I had the chance to try it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I was given a time slot to do whatever I wanted to do. And it happened to be a very late night time slot and most comics had finished their shows. And I thought, well, let’s see if I can get the vibe, you know, in a live show, of just hanging out with comics after their sets. And then after doing that, for, you know, a handful of shows, and by the way, the fringe is a great play, the Edinburgh Fringe was a great place to develop material or projects because you do 28 shows in a row. And that’s like, you know, a year of development time. And you know, you find immediately the next day, let’s change this, let’s try that let’s do this, you know. So by the end of the month in Edinburgh, of doing these live shows, and I had brought up some some friends who had cameras and some experience in production, they said, let’s figure out how we could shoot this if we were ever going to shoot this for television. And that’s where we came up with the you know, the very sort of active camera movement and the idea of capturing what’s happening in the moment. So when we got down when we finally got a deal to do the show on television, I had always been frustrated because I had done stand up on television. And you always have to adapt to the medium. You’re frozen. Are we still together? Oh, okay,
matt nappo 27:08
Paul Provenza 27:13
Well, you are you wrapped is that it you just wrapped. But I would always I was frustrated doing television and doing stand up on television and watching stand up on television, I was frustrated that what was most exciting and interesting about stand up to me, which was the this idea of spontaneity, and the idea that, you know, a comic can respond to anything in the moment. And just, I just love that reality of it. That’s what makes a live show. So interesting. And I always felt like all that was sort of, you know, gone, when you when you were doing television, and from doing it on television, I would know, they would say, here’s your mark, here’s where the cameras are, you know, you got to coordinate to the production. So I approached greenroom in the opposite direction. And I said, What if the production has to accommodate the comedy. And so I made sure, you know, I, I said, I want all the camera people to have had experience with news and sports. Because we don’t know where the ball is coming or where it’s going. We don’t know what’s going to happen, what’s going to be as I want to be able to capture it all with a real sense of Oh, this really literally just happened. So you know, put the cameras in the audience in the group and made the crowd really so intimate and aren’t, you know, surrounding everybody so that the audience that I also hate, hate, hate, hate. Audience cutaways and stand up shows, I hate them. I hate them, I hate them. They’re hack, they’re annoying, they bring nothing to the game. All they are is just cheap and easy ways to do shitty edits, I fucking hate the gray audience, every shot, if you want to know what’s going on in the audience, it’s there for you to see if you care to look at it. Right? So production style of the green room was also very, very considered. And we had done a lot of work, you know, with cameras doing the live shows and everything. And I feel like I finally came close to accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish 35 years earlier.
matt nappo 29:01
Wow. You know, I there’s, again, there’s a lot to comment on that. But I just briefly going back to comics only because you just answered a very big question in my mind. I remember specifically, I had, you know how you go back to your memories of your old school and you think it was just so gigantic. I remember coming away as as this in depth thing with comics specifically. And I thought, wow, you know, and to me, in my mind, it was always an hour and a half a half hour show. But I go back to the Bill Hicks thing. And the first time I think he was on, I looked at it. At the time, I thought, well, that’s the stolen material. he’s doing he’s doing an album and I just mastered because I was a mastering guy at the time and I just messed it a CD think it was dangerous. And then then he was on again and it felt like a in depth conversation and I was like wow Berenson Difference between his first appearance on and the second one. So he first he had the option to say I’m going to do material that first. Right? I was confused by that, because I was like, the format of the show change what happened here?
Paul Provenza 30:13
You know? Yeah, well that’s the thing, though I had never done a hosting TV thing before most of the comics, a lot of them, it was their first time on television, you know. So we were all sort of figuring things out that finger figuring things out. We also did some really, really dark sketches and things on there. I mean, Fred wolf was my head writer, and my, you know, announcer slash sidekick on the show. So we did a lot of really, really dark stuff on that show that the network had no idea we were doing because we started doing the show when the network was hot. And then they merged with the HBO comedy channel and became Comedy Central, we were already in production, and the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. And so nobody knew what we were actually doing until we delivered it. And at that point, they were like, We can’t air half of this stuff, because the sketches were really dark. I mean, blown people’s brains out and stuff, you know, very cartoony, like, creme, violent, you know, blood soaked kind of moments, but then you’d come back and Fred would have a little, you know, cartoon x band aid and he go, like, I just got a little headache, but I’m okay, you know. So we did all of these weird over the top and dark and weird things. And the network was like, we can’t run this and we were like, well, you already produced them. Why don’t you run them and see if they’re a problem? And it was so not together yet at that point that they weren’t okay. We did 165 episodes.
matt nappo 31:40
That’s That’s a lot of those. So yeah, that’s got to be some gold in there on YouTube. I mean, yeah.
Paul Provenza 31:46
And it’s, it’s kind of a time capsule of the comedy boom, because you know it. Jeff Foxworthy. Judd Apatow did his first TV appearance as a stand up of Bob Goldthwait. Jon Stewart, Dennis Leary. Ellen DeGeneres, you know of one of her first talk show spots ever.
matt nappo 32:10
Read stollery Fred Stoller and Sam Kinison.
Paul Provenza 32:17
Yeah, it was Steven Wright. Again, at show also I did a whole episode with Phyllis Diller. Steve Allen was a regular on the show he would come and do all sorts of sketches with us. Rip Taylor was like our Larry bud Melman at the time where he would do anything and we just would come up with the weirdest shit for rip Taylor to do and he loved it. You know, we had old school, young school, we had old school doing stuff that you wouldn’t normally see them doing. You know, it was great, great. A great training ground for a lot of us. And there’s not much of it online at one point I put up clips but the clips we can’t find the original master tapes. Wow, that line actually come from VHS tapes that my mother made when they were when they were broadcast.
matt nappo 33:16
Oh my god. That’s that’s Yeah, I can relate but because i was i was i a library of master tapes to the perfect storm and flood that I had. And so I can relate to that. That’s a sad thing, though. Cuz that that’s why the history of comic comedy history.
Paul Provenza 33:34
Yeah, but like, you know, No, nobody really cares. Nobody. They don’t really care. I care. Scorsese, Martin Scorsese ain’t gonna step up and do a restoration project on the episodes Komsomol
matt nappo 33:50
here, but I would definitely love to see that film still episode, man, I would, you know, go back and find that on YouTube. that’s a that’s a gym. So you, you obviously have a respect. You know, you mentioned Steve Allen and, and people like that a respect for those who came before and the history. The You know, there is a proud history to the crap, let’s put it that way. But do you think that that’s lost? Do you think a lot of comedians working today have your same respect and, you know, for the history of the craft?
Paul Provenza 34:24
Actually, I don’t, I think quite the opposite. But it’s a double edged sword. Because while I think that most I mean, like you said, you will, you know, I’ll talk to you on comics. And I’ll ask them, you know, like, they may remind me of somebody and I would say, Have you ever seen so and so and you go, No, you know, and it always sort of discourages me that Wow, man, there’s so much to be had by going back to the original masters, so to speak. Even if, you know, it’s no longer their time, there’s still an amazing amount to be gleaned from what they were doing. just soak up and you know, it’s like be like a pianist not knowing, you know, Beethoven. You know, just because you play jazz piano doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know, Bach, you know, it kind of feels like that, and but I really do think a lot of it is faded, ironically, because with YouTube, you can see people that you would never even imagine I love going down YouTube rabbit holes and finding people, you know, in discovering people that I didn’t, you know, didn’t know at the time when I was starting out that I wish I had known, you know, but the flip side of that is, what we tend to be seeing now are really much more original voices, and much more original perspectives. And as much of that has to do with the time in which they’re coming up. It also has to do with the fact that well, they’re not, you know, they’re not just doing impressions of other comedians that they’ve seen, because when most comics start out, that’s really what they’re doing. is a lie. Yeah, you know, even like, like for me coming up, it was, you know, I wanted to be, and this was a really challenging thing. I wanted to be Woody Allen, I wanted to be Robert Klein, and I want it to be Richard Pryor. So how do you find the three the overlap between the three of them, you know, but a lot of us when I was coming up, a lot of us sounded just like Robert Klein, who was you know, at, you know, his his I wouldn’t say peak because he’s had a lot of, you know, he had a long peak. But a lot of us were very, very influenced by Robert Klein, and a lot of us had similar inflections and rhythms and things to Robert Klein. And I think the reason is because Robert Klein, really spoke to us, like Robert Klein was the first comedian to break through that middle class, college educated people who are interested in comedy could relate to it like, well, he’s, he’s us. He’s a middle class, college educated, you know, guy who does stand up, you know, and so he was like somebody that we all gravitated towards is kind of a beacon. You know, a lot of us I mean, myself and Paul riser and Larry Miller, and a handful of other comics, people would constantly say, You sound like him, you sound like him. You sound like him. He sounds like you He sounds like you. And it’s because we all had this tremendous Robert Klein influence,
matt nappo 37:25
you know, well, client as a musician, and I know, and I feel like sometimes I may just overdo it with the comparisons between art forms and stuff. And I like to compare music to kind of stand up comedy and so forth. And I realized that you do it to it, because even in this conversation, I’ve heard you do it a couple of times, you know, talking about rhythms and stuff. Do you Are you a musician? on any level? Do you play anything?
Paul Provenza 37:53
I don’t any longer but I actually was a musician around the same time that I was really getting interested in stand up i was i was a musician. And much to my chagrin, this is one of the great regrets I have in my life. When I decided that I was going to go full bore into stand up comedy, I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my focus. And I literally put all my instruments away in a closet and never touch them again. Wow. And is the biggest regret I ever had.
matt nappo 38:24
I think I think you’re right to do it though. I mean, because I as somebody who’s tried to walk both both of those and I knew that I knew I couldn’t do stand up comedy and and be in a band because it just a financial aspect of it. I have to give up a $300 gig playing music to go work at an open mic night where I’m not going to get paid. It just didn’t make any sense to me. So
Paul Provenza 38:47
yeah, now of course I realized that oh my god, they really one would one would help the other so much whether I did it or not. It’s still it. There’s the similarities between the art forms are unbelievable. And I realized now that that was, that’s, that’s something that I regret for sure. But at the time, that’s how focused I was on stand up that I thought to myself, anytime I play, anytime I spend practicing or playing an instrument, it’s time that I could be writing material and learning about comedy. And I it was, it’s a regret that I have, but it’s the choice that I made,
matt nappo 39:23
right? I think probably one that would help you become a successful comedian rather than being a non successful both.
Paul Provenza 39:31
Part of my attitude Yeah, I was kind of like, man, I felt like you had to really focus you have to be 100% a comedian. So you know, I just didn’t understand that music was not not being 100% a comedian as well. I didn’t I just didn’t know that at the time, you know, but the music aspect of comedy never left me I mean, the aristocrats that movie The biggest, the biggest, appreciate For that movie comes from musicians even more so than musicians get more specially jazz musicians, they get it more than anybody
matt nappo 40:08
there is improv.
Paul Provenza 40:11
And, and yeah, so much of comedy is rhythm and timing and, and also tone. I mean, like, you know, it’s amazing to watch people who understand the difference in levels of tone, you know, people who can throw something away and people who can, whom know when to push something, or, you know, it’s just, it really is like music. It really is. You know, when I when I had a rough cut of the aristocrats I brought it to a friend of mine who’s a composer. I mean, he’s, he’s won Emmys. And, you know, he’s written, composed music for a lot of big films and TV shows and things. And I brought it to him and I said, What do you think about music and, and, and he watched the whole thing, and he said, I think Music We’re just getting away, because it’s already, this is already musical. He goes, I can’t even find a place to drop a note. That’s not gonna fuck already there, as well. That’s pretty, that’s pretty interesting. And that’s why there’s no music until the closing credits, which was a jazz composition by Gary Stockdale who I said to him, Well, if you’re not gonna do any music in the movie, can you at least do a piece to the end? And he said, I think it should have a jazz vibe. And he ended up composing this piece that jazz musicians tell me is a really, really challenging piece of jazz. Yeah. It’s too sophisticated for me to understand just how good it is. But
matt nappo 41:27
no, it definitely is. And I think you’re right about that. Now you’re aristocrats. I wanted to go there because and right before the we hit the tape button. I mentioned to you to Jeff altman said hello, and that he’s a magician now and you kind of looked at me like what the hell is that all about? Now you’re with the aristocrats. You got together with Penn jillette? Who magician I’m just wondering how that came about that you got? I guess he’s comedy magician too. But he’s thought of in the magic world. How did that relationship come together? And was, you know, when, when the seed of that movie start?
Paul Provenza 42:06
What actually happened there was when Penn and Teller, excuse me, were doing their first off Broadway show. Their publicist was a friend of mine, who I’ve known since college when she was a college friend of mine, and she became a Broadway publicist. Her name is Jackie green, and she also has one of the best senses of humor. I spent years going, Jackie, why aren’t you doing comedy? Why aren’t you writing comedy? Why aren’t you were but like, she’s written so much stuff for Nathan Lane. Like whenever Nathan Lane hosts an award show or something like that all his best ship was written by Jackie Greene. She just she’s a natural, right? What her area where she makes a living as a Broadway publicist, and she never professionally became a comedian. But so she was handling the Penn and Teller show off Broadway. And she said, I think you guys would really get along. And she introduced us. And you know, over time, we became friends. And we started to, it became very clear to me that while Penn and Teller often would malign magicians, and they often would talk in a pen would often talk about comedy being, you know, hacky, and all of that sort of stuff. The truth is that they absolutely adore both comedians and magicians. And when that became clear to me, we really started to hang out a lot. And we would make each other laugh quite a bit. And we became friends for many, many, many years. And we would always talk about the aristocrats jokes, I forget how it came up, but we would talk about it and we would always laugh. And we would talk about people that we had heard do it and what they did to it, and you know, and all those kinds of things. And we would just sort of joke around fantasizing, like, could you imagine a tape of just like, you know, 10 comics, telling different versions of the aristocrats joke, it would be hilarious. And I’m like, this thing is like, all we got to do that tape, we got to do that tape, you know, for years and years and years. And then one day it came up again, we were hanging out late at night, I was finishing a show and panatela had finished their show in Vegas and we’re sitting at the pepper mill having a late night breakfast at like, one or two in the morning and and we were talking about it again and and we had both her Gilbert do it. And I think I told him about how Bob Saget is, like one of the foulest mouths ever that it’s just beyond the pale so it’s just hilarious. You know, I don’t know if he knew Bob at the time, but I know, I actually know Bob from my college days. That’s another story. But um, so at one point in this conversation, and I had been in a weird place in my career, I was he wasn’t really clear what the hell I was doing. But I had started going overseas and started working on the International Circuit, the festival circuit and spending a lot of time in the UK and so I was gone for long periods of time, and he was like, What are you doing? I was like, I was doing something, you know. And at that point he said, Listen, we’ve been talking about this thing for years. He goes, do you think we can actually do this? And I went, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s the point of it? And he goes, I don’t know maybe it’s just something funny we could do for ourselves and we could show friends of ours are weird because but he goes, if I commit to this, could you commit to this? And it was so late at night? I said, Yeah, sure.
matt nappo 45:28
Late at night, I love that.
Paul Provenza 45:32
Literally, we went, we went to, you know, like a Best Buy or something. fries or something, probably something that doesn’t exist anymore. And we bought to, you know, off the camera off the shelf consumer cameras. mini DV at the time was the new format. And we said, let’s see. So I called a handful of friends of mine I called Bobby Slayton, I called Jeff Ross. I’m sorry, not Jeff Ross, john Ross, who was terrific stand up and he was a writer on comics only. I called Kathy lagman. And I said, meet us at the improv. We’re going to do this crazy thing. We just, you know, we just want to see what happens. And so we did Bobby Slayton in the parking lot, Kathy Gladman in the parking lot. JOHN Rawson did in the men’s room at the improv. And then emo Philips came in to do a set. And he said, What are you doing? And I told him, and he went, Oh, that sounds awesome. I’d like to do that. So we sat down with emo Philips, and we did this thing. And the next morning, you know, we watched the tape. And Penn said, Well, I think we have proof of concept. I go, yes, I’m just not sure what the concept is. So we decided, let’s just keep going and see what happens. So we would take people and I again, I would be gone. I’d be in Europe, or Asia or whatever, you know, traveling around the world for three months, and then it come back for a month, a month and a half. And then they go away again for another two months and come back for three months. And it was a lot of that. And we would just coordinate. You know who he could set it up to do in Vegas, who I could set up to do in New York, when he was off from his shows, they had to break into shows he come to New York, and we do some stuff, and a bunch of people in LA and all that sort of stuff. And we just randomly contacted all these people we knew that would be interesting and fun to see do this. And then people started getting wind of it. And and then we started going like, well, we have enough here to start calling people that are crazy to call, like George car, you know? So we call George Carlin. And when we told them we were going to do this thing with the aristocrats he went all he goes, you’re kidding me? We said no. I think I have a whole notebook of ideas about this joke. He goes, call me in a month, I want to go find this and see if I can organize some thoughts. He goes, but I love this idea. And so a month or so later, we got together with him. And you know, after every buddy that we shot, you know, we would shoot two or three people in a day and drive from people’s houses to people’s offices, whatever and shoot. And he would always say in a pen would always say anything. He goes, What do you think we have anything here? And I would say, I just don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. After every day, I don’t just don’t know. And we went and shot Carlin and we packed up the gear. And we get back in the car and he sits down and he goes, What do you think? Do we have anything here? And I went Yep. I knew that George Carlin had given us whatever we needed to make something out of this. Wow, it though it was so perfect. It was almost linear, how he deconstructed the joke, how he his attitude about all the different aspects of it. And just, it was so professorial that I said, we have a spine, how we’re gonna hang everything else off of it, I don’t know, but we have a movie here. I know it. And so it was George Carlin that made it makes sense for all those
matt nappo 49:03
professorial that is the word I would use to describe George Carlin anytime after, say 1975 I think he started to become and I know a lot of it, he was doing a lot of college work at the time, but he just had that air of being more than a comedian in some way was teaching you something all the time.
Paul Provenza 49:23
He was always he was a student of comedy as well as a great comedian. And that’s one of the things that you know, that I felt I was as well I felt I just love discovering more and more about the art form and discovering more people that I didn’t know about and what they did. And you know, as funny as we were talking about going back to the old school people and everything is it’s like, you know, if brother Theodore or professor or when Cory for gap earning, if those guys were 20 years old and showed up on the comedy scene now they would be regarded as the greatest innovators. It would, it would be the hippest acts in comedy.
matt nappo 50:03
Wow, that’s food for thought for young people who are looking for inspiration. You know, that’s, that’s a good way to go. Yeah, you know, but Carlin, he’s one of the first guys, I think that I can remember. Who was this and then did a complete change and transformation into something else and remained successful that whole time. You know, Can you think of any others?
Paul Provenza 50:26
You’re absolutely right. No, I can’t think of many others. Most people, when they go through something like that they don’t actually come through the other side. They either don’t come through successfully, or they haven’t really changed that much. But you’re right about Carl. And I think that he is a case study. Yeah, for example, that he didn’t just change his image, or, you know, pander to a different audience. He literally changed as a human being. I mean, obviously, he had been changing internally before he started expressing it. But he, he changed from being about pleasing an audience to being about pleasing himself.
matt nappo 51:09
Right? Yeah. You know, and music they call it finding your voice in, in comedy, they often are, you hear it referred to often as developing your comedic character, you know, but
Paul Provenza 51:21
finding your existing thing. Most comedians now that they’re not real characters, right? You know. Interestingly, there are wonderful people there. They’re amazing people who who confuse that issue like Sarah Silverman, when, you know, when she became known, she was really doing a character. And now she’s not. Now you know, the irony is stripped away, and she’s really talking art. So she’s somebody who had a much, much more subtle, not as splashy way is making that transition like Carlin, but there aren’t many more,
matt nappo 51:57
right? Yeah, and it’s not as big of a difference I make from the hippy dippy weatherman, to what column was doing and becoming, you know, influenced by mort song, Lenny Bruce, and people like that and bringing that political aspect to it. Now I’m back before I get out, because I want to talk to what made you want to direct and get into directing stuff. But on that bad idea of that stuff, where we we go from there in the political world today, because in the days back in the day, I hate saying that phrase. But back in the day, you had people like calling and Pryor who would comment on political stuff. You had more Trump before him and Lenny Bruce, and all that, but commenting on it.
Paul Provenza 52:42
I gotta stop you for a second. Because George actually did not consider himself a political comedian at all
matt nappo 52:51
I know. And really,
Paul Provenza 52:53
you look at his material. It’s not really about personalities, or issues, per se. It’s not really about like current events. It’s bigger, bigger treatments of you know, like, Yes, we’ll talk about abortion, but it’s not really about abortion. It’s about you know, the power structure. You know, he wasn’t as opposed to somebody, like a more Saul who literally talked about the news of the day. And George never saw and I know, he’s, you know, I’ve had this conversation with him. He literally never thought of himself as a political comedian at all.
matt nappo 53:25
I get that. And he was more of a, you know, commentate commentary on the government and how when he when he went there at all, it was about the system. Sure, yeah. Culture, right.
Paul Provenza 53:39
And, and, and language and how that impacts culture and society and all that stuff. They’re bigger things than you know, being about the news or being about current topics there. By the time. I mean, there’s nothing that Carlin talked about in any way that you might refer to as politically, there’s nothing that he talked about 30 years ago, that isn’t valid today. Right? You know, it’s like watching bill when I watched Bill Hicks, I’m like, holy shit, this could have been written last week, you know? So there’s a big difference between what they’re doing and what more Saul did and even Lenny Bruce, I mean, Lenny Bruce was a little bit of a mix of both or Lenny Bruce would talk about specific current events and he’ll mention certain you know, people that are, you know, obscure to us now but at the time we’re in the you know, in the news every day, or like Robert Klein’s mind over matter album, the whole second side of that album is all Watergate. Right and a lot of it still resonates but I mean, it was he’ll talk specifically about individual characters like Senator Stennis or Rosemary woods or people that were in the news every day, but are obscure to us now. Because that car Yeah, that neither
matt nappo 54:51
fire. No, I get it. But where I was going with that is that there was a period of time and a comedy is always had that ability to come in. on politics, but now what we’re seeing, I think, which is different is that comedy has become the subject of politics in a lot of ways. And that that’s a really confusing thing for me. And in your mind, do you? First of all, we agree. And second of all, is it a good thing or bad thing? Because I’m looking at this fallout from Chappelle stuff, and he is now front and center a political issue himself. He’s a stand up comedian. Yeah. Now he’s not just commenting on political issues. He is a political issue.
Paul Provenza 55:33
Remember this ever happening before is certainly not in my lifetime. It but it that relates to what I was talking about before how, you know, this is a time where audiences care about comedy in a different way. It is amazing that somebody act can become a political touchstone. I mean, that was, you know, I mean, more was more saw wish that happened when he was doing his Kennedy Assassination obsession, you know, period there. Yeah. But he wish that, you know, things that he said will become political footballs. No, I it is remarkable. It is remarkable. But what it does speak to, is, how the art of comedy is being felt seen and appreciated differently than ever before. I mean, what you know, it just, it just, it’s kind of a fantasy of mine. I mean, I always I remember, many years ago, talking about how boy, I wish comedy got taken more seriously, you know, and, I mean, I sort of met not only as in terms of like news, but just as an art form. You know, it’s like, I feel like comedy appreciation should be taught at universities the same way music appreciation is you can track movements, and artists and art and you know, all that stuff. It’s just, it’s so rich and interesting. I always felt like comedy deserved more respect and appreciation in that regard, and that’s kind of what’s happening now. And I guess this, this is the weird flip side of that good thing, the good thing being that people are really seeing it as an art form that has an impact. And that does matter. And I think that’s disconcerting for comics. Because it’s really hard. It’s a hard line to walk when you’re a comic, because I’m one point. You know, at one point, we understand we’ve devoted our lives to an art form that it obviously has to have some meaning and significance to us, but at the same time, take itself seriously. And that’s one of the really compelling things about comedy is that it always operates in these weird dissonances. Everything about it is dissonant, that’s why it’s it’s it’s a masterful art form to me, because it’s so hard to pin down. You know, it’s a good joke, a pretty melody. Yeah, but at the same time, there’s also all these other cultural and social things, there’s a real relationship to an audience, you know, the thing about stand up is there’s nothing between you and the recipient, even with something like music. You know, a musician has music between them and the recipient, right? how they interpret that, how they feel that whatever. But you know, with a comedian, it’s literally it’s you, your voice, the things you say. So there’s a certain immediacy to it, that puts you in that place where well, if you’re going to, if it’s going to be important to you, then you’re going to have to, you know, take the flip side of that, which is people, we’re going to have issues about what your points of view are, you know, it’s so it’s a very, very, very complex art form on so many levels. But right now, it’s particularly particularly interesting. So I guess to answer your question, I never seen anything like it before. And I think ultimately, it’s a good thing. I think all the conversations that provokes without even saying they’re things that agree with things that I don’t agree with, I fall, you know, personally, I fall on in different ways on different people you might mention or different issues that come up in comedy that you might mention, but I absolutely think that the conversations around all of it are crucial. I think they’re great. I think they’re conversations we should have been having for the last 50 years.
matt nappo 59:08
You know, I I tend to agree with you. But he come back to this image in my mind of me being a kid, my parents were very hardcore, right wingers. I mean, they’re, you know, they were Nixon people. And they were fans of the Smothers Brothers. They were fans of George Carlin, they were fans of Vic Gregory, and could appreciate that comedy, even though they were diametrically opposed to their politics. You don’t see that. That’s rare. Yeah. In today’s world, you don’t see that at all. You’ll see people will, you know, basically boycott any art form any artists in any discipline, because they don’t like their politics. You know, people who didn’t like Robert De Niro who loved his movies all their whole lives. All of a sudden, he says something politically that they don’t like I’m not watching any of his movies again. That’s I think something nil? No.
Paul Provenza 1:00:05
I think so too. I agree with you. I think so. But you know, here’s the odd thing is that it starts to articulate and it’s the first time I’m, I’m trying to, but I think there’s this I think what’s happened is, you know, the news, entertainment, politics, show business, they’ve all become one in the same, right? I think that this is, this is a sort of illustration of that is that well, all the things that you might, you would, you would hope that you would hold a politician, you know, hold their feet to the fire for things that they said publicly, you know, man, now you’re doing it to comedians. And, you know, I it’s all emerged, it’s all become one. And and I think that this is a result of that. I mean, you know, people remember people talking about this many, many years ago about how you know, infotainment was a thing, and how news and entertainment were becoming becoming blurred, and you could see it happening on television, you can see a local news shows where all of a sudden have these, you know, elaborate graphics and things. And, you know, I mean, by the time of the first Gulf War in the early 90s, it was full blown, you know, but this this meshing of entertainment and information and entertainment and current events and news, they’ve become inseparable to me. I mean, what’s going on in, you know, with a lot of these republican extremists like, like bow birds and green and cawthorne. They’re not doing anything government related. It’s all
matt nappo 1:01:36
showbusiness. Right? Yeah. You
Paul Provenza 1:01:39
know, their, their, what’s their political, what’s their agenda in terms of policy, they’re not doing any of that.
matt nappo 1:01:46
They never get into real issues or any of that kind of stuff. It is all like catchphrases, and, you know, bumper sticker
Paul Provenza 1:01:54
culture, and how much exposure they can get to which people, you know, at which point is it going to stick under, you know, get under somebody’s skin. But but it’s not about about government, and and, or governing, I should say, and so I think that what you’re talking about is just more of that, I think it’s it kind of comes with the territory of what’s happened now.
matt nappo 1:02:17
Yeah, good point. And are you an optimist for for, you know, our nation for the world that always stuff because when I look at it, I gotta tell you, I’m a pessimist. But I just want to get you, you know, outlook on the big picture for, for the future. For what
Paul Provenza 1:02:35
it’s worth, and I am no expert on anything. But for what it’s worth, I can’t play anybody here into game theory, and they can actually run these run these, you know, these outcomes. I just don’t see any outcome that doesn’t end in Civil War. Yeah,
matt nappo 1:02:55
I agree. I agree. It’s positive or
Paul Provenza 1:02:59
negative. I couldn’t even tell you anymore.
matt nappo 1:03:03
I agree. I may. It’s pretty scary. Well, it’s all I can say. Yeah, no, I Well, you know, I want to say it’s refreshing to hear somebody agree with me on that. But it’s really scary to hear somebody agree with me on that, oh, let’s move on. Because I don’t want to make this that political, this time bomb when people get on. Directing. And because we can’t you kind of alluded to this before, when you were talking about the green room and getting you had a certain look and atmosphere and all that kind of stuff that you wanted there. And bringing you all the way up to ironwolf. It’s your most recent project, the last shot and Andy Anderson, how that came about and your approach to directing a stand up special in today’s days.
Paul Provenza 1:03:53
Well, you know, it, I don’t have studios, you know, asking me to work for them. I don’t have projects being brought to me as soon as everything I do is really DIY. and I have been friends with Andy for quite some time. And I’ve been working for, I think, a million years now on a documentary about an aspect of Andy’s life, which we’ll get to in a minute, but in the intervening period there Andy said hey, I got some people together we’re gonna shoot a special edition your dog’s house dog Stan hopes place in Bisbee. And he has this little I guess somebody else might call it a man cave. It’s where you know, he and his friends get together and watch
matt nappo 1:04:38
COVID a man cave on the show. Yeah.
Paul Provenza 1:04:43
Because the funhouse and it’s just a little space and it seats maybe, you know, at best 5060 people talk 40 4050 people tops. It’s a tiny little thing and every once in a while, he’ll do stand up shows there. And and he was like, this is where we can shoot it, like, Well, okay, so we got a bunch of kids together who were just out of film school. And they just came and shot this thing and everybody was drunk or high half the time. But Andy did a great, great show. And because it was DIY, you know, my feeling is we can’t make it look like it’s not DIY. And what’s the point of that? Let’s own it. And let’s go, you know, Andy’s a kind of an underground cat. I mean, you know, he’s not for everybody. I think he’s absolutely brilliant. I think some of the things that he does in that special are so challenging, and I think that he’s still a lovable cat talking about this stuff, and just loses, loses, you know, this vibe of, Oh, I just want to hug the guy. You know, he’s talking about the fact that his mother is a rape baby. And and I just, I just, I just, he’s so endearing. You know, it’s wild. And he’s a very interesting cat. And he’s a beautiful guy. He doesn’t you know, he’s not a hostile, aggressive person at all. But he talks about, you know, you can see why he’s duck Stan Hope’s favorite comic, he talks about things in a way that nobody else can talk about. And, and he’s brilliantly funny. But so we just said, let’s see what we can do. And I was like, you know, I wanted all of these cameras to be handheld because again, it was a tiny little space, tiny little room. Yo, Andy needs to be you never know what he’s gonna do or say next. And so the camera work is kind of all over the place, but it kind of feels right for the moment because it reloads literally, we’re not, we’re not trying to pretend that this was, you know, a $200,000 HBO shoot. This was a bunch of monkeys with cameras, you know, shooting a really funny guy. So that was my approach to it. And we had some technical problems. It was a lot of footage we couldn’t use. And as a result, it kind of has this vibe of i will i don’t know you described I think it’s kind of punky
matt nappo 1:07:12
I think it looks like an artistic approach. And you know, I didn’t, at the time I commented to somebody said, look at this, what makes it different than any other comedy special you’ve ever seen. And you brought it up before, but my friend who I was showing it to, he said, right away, he said, you never see the audience’s faces. You see the back of their heads, you never see a cutaway to the audience. And you talked about it before. And that was unusual. I said, Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t pick up on that. But you mentioned the handheld stuff. Is there a steady cam because that the movement seems extremely steady. If you had some really good college hunks with, with strong arms to hold that camera really steady? Or you had a steady cam on it because it feels like it’s got like a magical artistic quality to it. Whether it happened by accident or your intentional design, it feels like that I want to be in this room.
Paul Provenza 1:08:10
Well, that is a joy for me to hear. Thank you so much for for being kind about it. But it really was driven by what do we have you know? And no, there was no steady cam there was nothing there was no every camera was different. So you know, matching the footage is was a real challenge. But as you said you wanted to be in that room. And that’s the vibe that I wanted to create. Yeah, I just that feeling of and that’s why you do see the audience from the back of their heads because again, I put the camera in the audience, I wanted it to feel like you’re in this space. That’s it’s it’s undefined. You don’t really know where it is. You’re not really sure who’s in the room. You don’t know how big it is. It’s just an experience and and it actually looks much richer than I expected it to you know, in terms of the what we had no lights, which is all lights that were in the room that debt, Doug has watches football games in all DIY, absolutely. There were virtually no concessions to any sort of a shoot really made at all. Authenticity is a big part of what I what is meaningful to me. That’s what was the big part of the greenroom as well, was the authenticity of really, truly not having you know, not having planned anything in any way more than just it’s able to get whatever happens. You know, on the greenroom, the Congress, the show starts mid conversation. When the audience is actually you know, when it’s funny because when the budget came down from Showtime, there was a certain amount of money in there for what they call audience services. Which are the people who go to if you’re waiting online at Universal Studios, they’ll say hey, you want to come to TV taping tonight, people go okay. And they show up. And they know what anything about what they’re doing. They’re just, it’s just an event. I was like, we’re not getting an audience service. And everybody that was invited to come to the taping was for my personal email list, my producing partner, Barbara Romans personal email list, and some people who work in on the show and a bunch of comics personal email list. So everybody was in the audience of the greenroom. But 90% of his, they got to bring guests, of course, but you know, 90% of the people that were in that room, spend time in green rooms, right, that aspect of authenticity, that I thought, well, nobody else can do that. I’m doing that for sure. You know, which is why you have this weird thing of like, there’s an audience there, but there’s not an audience there. And most of the comics when they, you know, as the audience, we were seated already talking as the audience came in and sat down. Because we want them to feel like oh, they’re coming into a room. That’s all. There’s a thing happening right now just walk into a green room, there’s a thing happening every time you walk into a green room. And they found their seats wherever they were. And most of the people who were on the show, they knew people that were in every audience. Yeah, cars were real. They were people who you’d find in the greenroom. So I’m always sort of, I’m always looking for what what are the little ways that I can help you know, create an express some authenticity, and and that’s a lot of what went on in shooting Andy special is, is I know, a lot of people will do a stand up special, your people you’ve never heard of. And maybe they’re saying them specials that break them, break them out, and they become big stars from them, or whatever the case may be. But a lot of people you’ve never heard of do Sam specials in 3000 seat theaters. Right? Like what’s the point of that? Exactly? That’s a lie.
matt nappo 1:11:57
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. And you you’re getting all your friends and relatives to fill those empty seats or whatever to make it work. And then pumping in some some canned applause and laughter and all that kind of stuff. Just Yeah, that’s um, you know, a fanfic. And you’re absolutely right.
Paul Provenza 1:12:13
When we were doing the audio on any special, which again, because it was DIY, you know, we didn’t have a sophisticated audio setup. You know, we had a few things. Greg Charlie, who is on Doug’s team, he did some great stuff for us, but but you know, we had to go in and mix the show properly, so that it just wasn’t, you know, totally like, you know, there’s nothing going on in this thing that’s not professional. But, So Jeremy grody, who did the audio on the greenroom, did the audio on that special? And I told him I said, I want to hear the audience’s comments on the ship that Andy’s doing. Because you know, Andy will do some bits These are people in the audience that are fans of his and you’ll hear them go Oh, Andy, no, please. You know, I want to hear that I want to hear that you can be an Andy fan and still feel those things. Yeah. Oh, that Andy Andy is is he’s even pushing the boundaries for people that like him already. You know, I really I want all that I just felt that that was more authentic.
matt nappo 1:13:21
That’s absolutely true. And that Tandy, I mean, if you listen to his weekly podcast issues with Andy, by the way, you’ll get that every single week as a big fan of his I will listen to that podcast and I believe three or four times during every single episode. Oh man, can you really
Paul Provenza 1:13:40
know? Yeah. Because because he’s so like, not PC, right? But that’s not a fair way to describe him. Because if you watch his special if you watch last shot, like he does material, that’s anti corporatism, he does material that’s anti homophobia. He does material that’s anti anti trans. He does material that’s, you know, some like really left wing kind of perspectives, but those kind of left right things fall away. Either way he does it and then but then he’ll do you know, the story about rape, which is, you know, as on PC as you can get right now, but do you want to hug him at the end of the story? Yeah, absolutely. And it’s not it’s not, you know, he’s not just doing it for shock value. When you find out his personal connection to it as the bit goes on. It just it just fucks with your head. Right. And, And that, to me is some really, really great comedy. Though, it’s like you can’t even classify him as you know, he’s, he’s one of those legion of skanks guys because he, you know, does this rape story or he’s one of the he’s not any of those things. Now,
matt nappo 1:14:54
I think it’s unfortunate that a lot of you because you just mentioned can’t even classify I think there’s a lot of clicking this in the comedy world right now where you people are in camps. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. Because what you represent to me is that, again, that’s 66 Degrees of Separation prevented, you were kind of like welcoming to so many people and, and especially on those shows that you did where you brought it. You know, Robin Williams and Bo Burnham. That’s a lot to bleep from those two, you know, so you had, you know, that knocking down the walls in comedy, and more than a lot of people are building them up these days. But you mentioned a documentary you’re working on. Let’s talk about that a little bit. And what’s what because people want to know, you know, you say you’ve been working on forever. I know a lot of people have asked me, you guys, documentary waves are coming out, they’re eager to see it for free forever. What’s up with it?
Paul Provenza 1:15:53
When they see I don’t know why it’s very, very challenging thing the story of it is it’s basically the story, the background to it. And ultimately, it’s the story of Andy with the help of Doug Stan hope and a couple of other comedian friends Chris castle, French every they tracked down and confronted on camera, and he’s childhood molester. And it’s so it’s the story of why this matters to him actually going and doing it. And then what happened as a result of it. And it’s really tricky project because it’s a comedy. It’s like, Hi, it’s like, comedy, Mount Everest is trying to make something funny that that isn’t funny at all. Which to me is, you know, that’s the the physics definition of work is you exert a force on something, and it moves or changes direction, right? That’s what you that’s the kind of comedy that interests me more than this stuff that’s like, Hey, did you ever notice when you find funny things that are already out there, as valuable as that is nothing wrong with that, there’s not as interesting to me as taking something that’s unfunny and figuring out how to make it funny. And the reason that I that I can do that with this story is because Andy has already done that, and he has made it funny. That’s the way he has processed this pain for himself that resulted from from this experience in his life. But it wasn’t enough, he felt like he really needed to say something to this guy. And so it’s it’s this, it’s Andy being funny about it. But it’s also me being very serious and honest and truthful about it. And it ultimately is, there’s a lot of lenses through which to see the story. One is the lens through the lens of comedy, which interests me, of course, is that this is really how comedy is born of pain right here. Right, right. The other thing is, this is a different way of dealing with something that’s hard to deal with, that you don’t really have a paradigm for, anytime any anything about this subject is presented, it’s presented in a very morose way. Not that it’s not important. And not that feeling isn’t genuine for a lot of people. But it’s not necessarily the only way to deal with this. And you know, Christine Veen is in, it appears in the movie as well. And she talks about, you know, having dealt with her own stuff through making the making comedy out of it, and stuff like that. And so this is a thing that a lot of people just don’t have a paradigm for. But it means that you might be the kind of person that doesn’t have to look at this as something as morose and horrible as it is, it doesn’t mean that it was an important and meaningful and tragic thing that happened to you, but you don’t have to stay in that place. And so there’s that lens to which is all these different way of dealing with this kind of trauma. So there’s a lot of a lot of levels upon which this story operates. And what I’m just trying to do is just tell this story, with all of those aspects of it being present, right? You can put however you want, but
matt nappo 1:19:16
it’s a challenge to editing is that the challenge is editing all the stuff that you’ve gotten or Yeah.
Paul Provenza 1:19:25
No, it’s it’s, it’s the editing because I’m basically working with found footage. They again was Chris castles and Frank Chevrolet. They were shooting stuff for months and months and months around this. They were just shooting. There was nobody at the helm. It was just let’s just shoot, you know. So I came into the project and the only thing I was involved in shooting were a handful of interviews with some of Andy’s family members and a couple of friends. That that’s it. So basically most of what I’m telling the story with is found footage to me. It started They already got that with no agenda, or no, you know, they had no ark in mind. They had no, they were just shooting. So once again, it’s really authentic, that they weren’t shooting this really with any sort of plan to do anything with it, they were just shooting it, they were hoping they could do something with it. But once again, it’s totally DIY, right? So that’s, that’s why it’s taking so long, it’s like, there’s so much that does come out of the footage that’s already been shot. There’s so much that does come out and to figure out what’s meaningful and what’s important relative to some of the other stuff. But there is no outline in what they shot.
matt nappo 1:20:40
Gotcha. Yeah, so speaking of plans, is there a plan for a discrete distribution when it is finally done? like where are you gonna? Cuz I would think that’s tricky, too, because of the subject matter and what it is we can you add this to and obviously no network is going to touch it with a 10 foot pole.
Paul Provenza 1:21:01
And again, it’s another situation where it’s not you know, it’s DIY, it’s very punk. There’s no actual production values to anything. Yeah. So yeah, the answer is, I don’t know but it’s a phenomenal story that deserves to be told. And it’s it’s shocking how funny Andy is even in the midst of what he’s really really truly feeling very deeply, you know, has affected his life and for the for the worse, even with all of that Andy is still really really funny about it all. And I just think it’s a great story that needs to be told and we’ll just see, you know, a long time ago I decided that I had no career there is no arc there is no linearity at all. I decided that at some point I’m just going to be project to project and just whatever happens happens it’s like you know, I in my romanticized vision of it it’s like you know, I’m I’m in a French ghera you know, French Garret painting a painting or making a sculpture out of found objects or, or you know, whatever it may be and something might end up in the Museum of Modern Art or something might get sold or something might just end up you know, being thrown away when I’m dead. I have no idea I just doing the projects that fall on my heart and this is what I mean. Hey,
matt nappo 1:22:19
I got I got cat so it looks like he or she I don’t know what the he or she but it looks like she wants us to wrap this up. But Tom, that I’m not we’re not quite there yet. likes to be. Speaking of that, I’m glad you went there because I wanted to talk to you about this. And I don’t know I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing smoke up your ass. But when it comes to legacy, and I was thinking about and we mentioned Bill Hicks a couple of times in his program. Bill Hicks is a legend. He was funny, and I loved him. But people use that word legend because he died young. I know smoke again, I think you’re in the same level as Bill Hicks. The only reason people don’t say the Paul provenza the legend is because you’re alive. But they think about legacy and all that kind of stuff. You know, and not just his
Paul Provenza 1:23:08
studio. network or studio?
matt nappo 1:23:13
Well, I do have a production crew he is but No, but seriously, do you think about legacy at all, because, you know, you’ve done a lot of great things and I consider you like a renaissance man, as far as you know, going from, from stand up to author and director and filmmaker and all this kind of stuff and taking your own path. You have your own voice in, in, in directing films to so it’s not like you’re copying anybody. I you know, I look up to you as a role model. And for a lot of reasons. But legacy do you think about that?
Paul Provenza 1:23:53
Wow, first of all, thank you. I’m honored by your comments. And in terms of legacy, I do but not in an obvious way. Like I don’t really, I don’t really know there’s so much out there. There’s so many every day that goes by I’m like, I can’t believe how much shit there is. There’s so much shit. sports news, it was spoken in art and music and it this is so much shit. It just never stops, like how much shit can we have? It just never stopped. I’m a little overwhelmed by all of it. So I don’t really think that I you know, I don’t think of legacy in terms of what people are going to remember being that. I don’t care also, because who cares? We’re just you know, we’re on a pebble, you know, revolving around the sun and there’s way bigger forces at work in us. We’re very self important. I don’t care about any of that. But where I do feel like I do think a bit about legacy is that everything that I’ve been doing for about 15 or 20 years now. There came a point in my life where I was like, You know what? I’m just not as gifted enough, you know, I’m not I’m not as gifted enough to, I’m not gifted enough to change the art form from the stand up that I do. I just feel like I can’t really contribute to the art form in any meaningful way, by doing this thing that I do, you know, if I were Maria Bamford, I would feel very differently about that, you know, if I were Dave Chappelle, I would feel differently about that. If I were you, Louie ck, I would feel differently about that, I would feel like I had a shot. But I don’t, I’m just not that gifted. However, all this other stuff that you’re talking about is, is it pretty, pretty much my own voice, and it’s pretty unique. So I decided that I wanted to give back to comedy, which saved my life as a child, I wanted to give back to comedy in some way, it wasn’t going to come through doing stand up per se, for me, it would come from all these other projects, if it’s going to come from any place. And I decided, everything that I did everything that I worked on, I was doing for me at the age of 14, that someday, some kid at the age of around 13 1415 is going to see this stuff, and it’s going to make a difference in his or her life. That’s the extent of legacy that I think about everything I do. Everything that I’ve done for the last 20 years has been stuff that I would have gone bananas over if I discovered it when I was 14 years old.
matt nappo 1:26:30
Yeah. Wow, that’s really cool. Really cool stuff. You know, as you were saying that I was thinking about something I noticed in like on the internet, you will see prodigy musicians now, because you mentioned 1314, we see I see, prodigy, many musicians who are just like, you know, incredible talent at 45 years old every single day, our music, you know, that’s impossible in comedy, isn’t it to say, where if you saw a five or six year old blowing them away, stand up comedy with that, like shock, shock, you
Paul Provenza 1:27:03
know, that’s, that’s a series Barbara Roman, my partner and I tried to sell several times over several periods of time, tried to sell this, because, you know, most people who are prodigies at comedy are getting in trouble for being good at what they do. Wow. The age of 10 or 12 problem maker, right? They’re not, they’re not rewarded. They’re not celebrated like somebody who was a prodigy in athletics or music or art. And that’s part of it. And so this project that we tried to do was basically about you know, showing some love to the people who are prodigies in comedy at a young age and introducing them to the world of comedy and mentoring them yeah, it’s not something that happens I think because of that because
matt nappo 1:27:58
point I never even considered that but you’re absolutely right they get punished for for being good at what they do if you’re if you’re too good at comedy too young it’s frowned upon and you get smacked you’re a wiseass you’re a punk Shut the hell up that kind of stuff. Where if you’re a musician they encourage you Wow incredible Yeah, incredible insight. Well, I I’m gonna let you go but I can’t let you go because until I bring this up I’ve noticed during this interview, are you having a unlit cigarette in your hand and my mind goes back to you lecturing Bill Hicks about smoking Are you smoking now
Paul Provenza 1:28:35
I’ve decided to commit slow suicide
matt nappo 1:28:40
well you know i by the drop that’s what that’s what that’s what it is suicide by the drop right we’re all doing it we’re all getting one what I just said surprised me to see that that’s all because I remember that very clearly is you’ve given Hicks like some shit for having a cigarette on you. So I’m lit well good for you. Well, I appreciate your time here and I wish you great success with everything nature jack calm by the way to get the Last Waltz. And you know last shot I’m sorry, The Last Waltz that’s another great documentary but it’s Yeah.
Paul Provenza 1:29:18
The last was not that funny. Yeah. Oh,
matt nappo 1:29:22
anything new that besides the documentary you’re working on that we want people know about enough.
Paul Provenza 1:29:28
setlist is back on stage. We’re doing setlist in Los Angeles again. The first one since pandemic hit just last month, and we’re doing it monthly at the improv lab on Melrose. Lastly, the first one we did we came back at Eddie Pepitone and a bunch of bunch of people. It’s great fun. setlist is another one of those things that you know, if I have a 14 hour day, we’ll go crazy over
matt nappo 1:29:59
remar Trouble in that when I when I first learned that you were doing that, I thought there’s no way if there’s not enough comedians that have the chops to just, you know, let the audience pick what they’re going to talk about that stuff. I thought Robin Williams Of course, and maybe Drew Carey and
Paul Provenza 1:30:16
but you know it’s not it’s not the audience it’s not the audience. They are given the premise of to those your viewers who don’t aren’t familiar, the premise of setlist This is a format created by the brilliant, brilliant, brilliant evil genius Troy Conrad. And we partnered together and I took it around the world and took it on the international festival circuit. It’s been here, because this is the thing is that the impulse of it works in any country. We’ve done it in Argentina, we’ve done it in China, we’ve done in Egypt. It’s wild anyway, the premise of it is Troy Conrad, we usually it’s Troy, create a setlist and we give it to the comedian while they’re on stage in front of the audience, and they have to make up the set along with it.
matt nappo 1:31:04
I was under the impression you were polling the audience for those.
Paul Provenza 1:31:10
that the reason that that distinction is important is because what you get from the audience generally is two dimensional stuff. And it tends to be stuff that they are familiar with, like it could be a current events reference or it’s a dick joke, or it’s something that you know, it’s really sort of pedestrian, but what we create for the setlist are more complicated than that. And they’re coming from other comedians. So there’s juice in this thing, if you can find it, it’s up to you to figure out how to get in there. You know, so it’s the topics are crafted. They’re not random at all. Right? So their challenges, and that’s why we’ve had people like Eddie Izzard, get up and do it. And Robin Williams, and Roseanne and to mention, and some of the biggest names in comedy have gotten up and do it, to do it, because they get what an incredible challenge it is, and how fun it is. It’s like skydiving. It’s really it’s so scary. It’s so frightening, especially for somebody who’s got, you know, a reputation at stake. But once they do it, they’re like, oh, man, this is great, right? You know, Rob, bank us all the time for letting him do what he goes and just change my month just now doing this show tonight, you know, Eddie is in the middle of one setlist set. And he’s doing great too. But at one point, he gets a topic and he turns to the earnings and just goes This is fucking hard. And it’s like, it’s it’s, it’s more than just random stuff. It’s a real challenge. And the comedians who do it are brave. And I think they trust us that we never make them look bad. And that’s one of the things we did it as a series in the UK, we did 14 episodes of it for what was sky Atlantic at the time. And we haven’t been able to sell it in the United States. And it’s very frustrating. But one of the reasons that we didn’t sell it, we have a lot of interest, but the American concerns that wanted to do it all want to make it a competition. And we said absolutely not. It’s the antithesis. The whole point is that there is no judgment. You just it’s just let’s see what happens. It’s a celebration of the creative process, not about a victory or a failure or winning or competing. The comics aren’t competing against each other. They’re competing against the list.
matt nappo 1:33:29
In suits ruin everything, man. I’m telling you, they just don’t get it. But I get it. Yeah, no, there’s no I hate competition in any art form. You know, that whole idea of making it a competition? It then it should be sports, you know, sports and things. Keep your competition over there. And yeah, well, I’m sorry to hear that. Because there was a great idea. And I can imagine
Paul Provenza 1:33:58
Angeles at the improv every month at the improv lab and it’ll pop up again and actually TJ Miller was doing it as his closing of his show he did a week at the Irvine improv and he closed his show with like a 15 minute setlist segment every night. So you may be or that and we did a we did a full Rick Overton did a full one hour special in the setlist format which is available if you click over 10 plus setlist you’ll find it online and he’s a Maestro and watching him work is like going to you know comedy college watching you do setlist in particular because he doesn’t have the bit yet you watch find it and
matt nappo 1:34:41
wow hope we just locked up. Big we’re froze up. Well that’s a shame. We’re getting to the point where we’re gonna close up view that Paul Yeah. Now the phone is telling us you know what You guys got to wrap it up we have the people render on there
looks like he’s still connected anyway folks I’ll just edit this out did it the day to day that that that that that that that need to add it there you are yeah there you go yeah so yeah
Paul Provenza 1:35:38
the records if you if you google Rick Overton and setlist you should be able to get his setlist one hour special and watching him you know work is like going to comedy college and also we did we did a couple of them nowhere comedy shows we did one with Gilbert Godfrey where he just Gilbert doing setlist for an hour so that was great. We hope we’re hoping to do more of that with Gilbert. We’re hoping to do a whole tour of Gilbert just every night doing setlist that’s it no prepared material just Gilbert with setlist
matt nappo 1:36:15
what a gift to the world that would be I know he’s so funny
Paul Provenza 1:36:19
and watching Gilbert try and find the joke, right? There’s nothing funnier. There’s nothing funnier even if he doesn’t find it which is rare if ever right it’s hilarious watch try and find so that’s the thing so the audience’s that come out they know that this is a real challenge to comedians and they know that the comedians are really on the heels and so they really they tend to be really supportive they tend to be like yeah come on we’ll pull in for you We know you can make us laugh You know
matt nappo 1:36:43
no heckling at the setlist I get it. Yeah, cuz they’re all they’re all rooting for the underdog, because even the best comics in the world become an underdog in that. Great stuff. Well, I do appreciate your time here. And I wish you great success moving forward. And please let me know when and if the anti documentary comes out. So I can Oh, well, yeah. Well, getting there. Thanks for Thanks for coming. And, you know, please don’t please come back to great and fabulous Paul provenza. Great, great guy, great insights in there some really important things for me to think about there, you know, and what comes across is very clearly his his love and admiration and respect for the art form. And as he mentioned in his commentary on that is, it can be a double edged sword, when you have that much respect and admiration. A lot of comedians start out basically imitating their heroes. And so with that being lost on the younger generation, to some degree, we do have a lot more original voices and people who are able, because they don’t have that influence, to really take things in a very unique and new direction. So I just love to hear your thoughts on it. Please write to me at info at my bookkeeping. I can’t tell you who’s on the next program because this is pre taped, folks. So I don’t know when exactly this is going to hit next at this point. So I hope you enjoyed this program. Until next time, I’m Matt nappo. Thanks for coming. Have a great day and bye for now. What you want round
On Monday, October 11th, 2021, The great Henry Phillips popped in to delight Minddog and his listeners with talk about music, filmmaking, acting, and story telling in general.
And welcome my friends to yet another episode of the mind dog TV podcast. I’m Matt nappo Thanks for coming. It’s great to have you here as always got the great Henry folks with me tonight. I’m gonna bring him in just one minute just before I bring him in No, I just because I Henry has a habit of getting misconstrued in the press and stuff like that. So I want to bear all the responsibility for these comments, and no weight on Henry at all. For the racist and homophobic things I’m about to say. Really not just the happy indigenous peoples day, if you still call it Columbus Day, good for you. But it’s also Coming Out Day. And it just occurs to me. I mean, first of all, there’s no indigenous people want to call people who got here before the white Europeans that’s more accurate. So it’s happy people got here before the white Europeans day, Columbus was not Italian. So my Italian friends who just feel like they’ve been cheated out of a day to celebrate Italian heritage, Italian, whatever it is ancestry. Columbus was an Italian and he sailed for Spain. So get over that. The other part is National Coming Out there, which I’m all for. Everybody’s got a day, but 365 days in a year. We shouldn’t be competing over days. I mean, there has to be another day pick tomorrow. Pick yesterday, yesterday wasn’t a day that I knew about anyway. So we’re just causing a lot of conflict and a lot of unnecessary bs going around about whose day it is and all that stuff, but happy whatever day it is Monday night, and I got Henry Philips you know, Henry Philips, if you don’t know I almost want to tell you You shouldn’t be listening or watching this live stream shouldn’t be listening to my podcast, if you don’t know who Henry Henry Philips was born to be a rock star. But I think and we’ll find out about this but I think his humility and his sense of humor are what caused him to change his life cost and direction and career choice slightly ever so slightly. He is a rock star of sorts, but he is a singer, songwriter. troubadour extraordinaire, filmmaker, writer actor probably a bunch of other things I want to say chef but I don’t want to say let’s just say he’s a cooking show hosts and leave it at that Ladies and gentlemen, please open your ears open your minds and help me welcome in the fabulous Henry folks in mind on TV pockets Henry welcome.
Henry Phillips 4:21
Hey, thanks for having me.
matt nappo 4:23
It’s my pleasure to have you now as I mentioned I think you were born to be a rock star you got a great voice I know you probably you’re very humble about that and might argue with me about that but I think you had a great voice great ear for melody and good player and it seems like you were born to be a rock star. Do you agree with that at all?
Henry Phillips 4:44
Thanks. I was gonna say I your your intro and not everybody. I can’t say this about everybody but your intro was really pretty accurate. I was just like, yeah, you know, the sense of humor and everything sort of took me away from that and the humility of course, because being a
rock star is all about flamboyance and you know, muscle on your way in front of the crowd and standing out. And I’ve always been pretty bad at those things. So that that might be why I sort of ended up doing what I’m doing. But uh, but I appreciate that. Yeah, music is a huge first love for me. And I can tell you’re into it, too, with all those guitars in the back. And
I yeah, I’ll never stop doing it. So anything that I do, I always try to figure out how I can get the music in there. But right, but the rock star thing didn’t pan out for me.
matt nappo 5:31
Well, let’s talk. Yeah, and rock star is overrated and a lot of ways and I think you are a rock star of sorts in your own world right now I don’t I think you’ve got the market cornered on what you do, because there are a lot of guys who go out there with a guitar in a comedy club. But as you kind of alluded to in one of the, the films I’m not, I look at them as like one film right now like the Godfather saga. Yeah, Henry saga. But you kind of alluded to the fact that there are a lot of guys, and without naming any names or bashing anybody. There are a lot of guys out there with guitars. But more a lot of them are doing parody and stuff like this and not doing necessarily what you do. So I think you are a rock star in creating a whole new comedy genre, musical genre. So congratulations.
Henry Phillips 6:21
Thanks. Well, yeah, I mean, it’s been, I guess, gosh, we’re going into the third decade now. You know, I mean, I think it was probably like 92 are something that I was hanging out with all musicians and I would crack my buddies and my bandmates up by just playing the guitar and kind of doing sort of a foe love song or something. But I’d read newspaper headlines or, or I would just sort of throw in a line in there about, you know, that you would never hear in a soft ballot or something like that. And then, yeah, my friend started saying, you really got to go up there and do this at open mic nights around town. And I never would have done it if it weren’t for friends of mine pushing me to do it.
matt nappo 7:05
You know, you mentioned going through the headlines and stuff and one thing I’m noticing about you is I don’t not sure if you’re reading lyrics or something, it seems to me, you make it as hard as possible on yourself. And Bob Dylan wise, with so many words to remember, I mean, I want to learn one of your songs. I couldn’t do it I don’t think I can do without relying on the lyrics or a teleprompter for year is I know you make it rough on yourself. I think how do you remember all
Henry Phillips 7:35
your right and I’m and I’m lazy about it too. Because like once I’ve got it in my brain, and like I have a couple of songs that are like ripped from today’s headlines and, and I’ll memorize them and then in order to do in order to update it, like it should be updated. I have to memorize it again. And I can’t do it sometimes. So I wound up doing the old version of fitness starts sounding dated. But yeah, it’s not easy. I mean, it’s just like anything else you have to just put in the time you know, if you say something to yourself over and over again for an hour straight while you’re staring at the wall. You probably can eventually bang it into your head but it nobody wants to do that. I don’t want to do it. But um, but you’re right. I have a there’s YouTube clips of me on the radio, doing songs and just screwing up halfway through and I’ll look at it and I’ll cringe I’ll be like, Oh, come on. Why didn’t you just learn the lyrics before he got on the radio? Wow,
matt nappo 8:30
I haven’t seen any. I mean, I’ve seen so much of your work. Unless I just it goes by me and because
Henry Phillips 8:36
I try to make a joke out of it. I’m like, you know, yeah, like as if that’s part of the joke or suddenly you know, but yeah,
matt nappo 8:45
yeah. And it seems to me that you know, the beauty of it is you’re listening to all the words so if you add live or impromptu or change a line here and there, there’s no way I because you have so many words in the song. There’s no way I’m gonna call you on it. Anyway. There
Henry Phillips 9:00
you go. Yeah. Well, a lot of times when in the middle of the live show, I’ll just sort of improv something a little bit more updated or whatever. And, and also because of the fact that it’s comedy, it doesn’t have to follow the exact meter. In fact, sometimes it’s funnier if it doesn’t, and it doesn’t rhyme. It catches people by surprise. So yeah, you can be a little loose that way, you know?
matt nappo 9:23
Yeah. Christopher doesn’t naturally Yeah, there you go. Yeah, yeah, some of those some of this stuff is really the melody though. Makes me think that at some level there there is a composer in you that wants or needs I should say, a classic rock hit song because, again, I’m not to blow smoke up your ass. But I think melody writing and the melodies you pick out are very unique, very radio friendly, at least for my generation. My job. That’s
Henry Phillips 9:59
that’s really cool to hear that you’re absolutely right. I’ve always tried really hard that the song that you just referenced to that turned out to be the duet that I do with my friend Julia lillas which is a completely ridiculous song with all kinds of sex references and stuff but the melody on that one, I was listening to a lot of that Brian Wilson stuff right after Good Vibrations, you know, when he started taking his downfall and started running some of the most beautiful melodies, like Surf’s up and a bunch of other ones and, and I was influenced by that and i and i actually that that melody was part of a song that I was writing for a friend of mine who’s whose mom had just died. And I I didn’t have a career. I didn’t have a career as a songwriter I couldn’t there’s it really honestly would have fallen completely on deaf ears for me to finish that song as nice as it might have been. But I wasn’t a recording artist, if nobody would have ever heard it. But I did have this comedy thing going so I when Julia and I came up with the idea for that duet, I started going back to other melodies and going oh, I never used this one for anything. But if that just for people that are interested on YouTube, you just put duet with Henry Phillips and Julia lillas. And it’s in it’s in you it’s on YouTube. And it’s the the melody is a very sincere and I’m actually very proud of it, but no, but I appreciate that you notice it because a lot of people don’t even think about it. They just hear the jokes. But yeah,
matt nappo 11:37
a lot of them a lot of you songs, you have great melodies. And again, I’m really impressed by your voice when you’re doing and I’ve seen some clips where you weren’t necessarily trying to be funny, but you were just singing from the heart and noticing your voice technique and it’s like wow, well you got to really, again not blowing smoke up your eyes. This is a genuine sincere compliment. Really a really good voice for pop rock. You know folk music, all that kind of stuff. What, cuz I have to ask what you’re and it’s a cliche that I hate asking any musician but your influences seem to be all over the place. And I will say that because I’ve never seen anybody go from F 13 chord into a B major ever in my life until I saw you do it. I’m like, wow, that’s some heavy jazz influence, right? Oh yeah. Why would you listen to where’d you get that stuff on? Yeah,
Henry Phillips 12:34
13th is great. Okay, so I used to be partnered up with a buddy of mine who would sing and I’d play guitar and we’d be on the patio at restaurants and we’d make like 100 bucks each and we would go through the whole catalogue of you know we would do Eagles songs and you know Billy Joe or whatever, but it was guitar and vocal but every time every now and then he would throw a song at me that he wanted to do but it wasn’t a guitar song like like a perfect example is just the way you are but Billy Joel and I was looking at the course and I was already a semi accomplished guitar player at this point. This is this is in the 90s and I looked at the chords I was like these are not Guitar Chords you know it was like the first one is de that’s fine and then it’s B minor six and then it’s G major seventh go into a G minor six we’ve added 13 I think and or added nine or something but I was just like whoa let’s happen in here but but I went ahead and took the challenge and I was like and I want to tell any any guitar players out there, take that particular piece of music and learn those chords and it’ll really expand your vocabulary, your chord vocabulary and and other ones to bridge over troubled water. If you watch Paul’s Paul Simon who is a guitar player, his chords are fantastic. I mean really, really good. Especially like his solo stuff. I was really inspired by the movie one trick pony. When we made our punch in the clown movie which the director of our movie Greg v ns turned me on to that movie and I was like wow, but But yeah, so his songwriting so I love when, when songs are on the guitar, but they do piano chords. So those are a couple of influences. Still on the pop genre, but also Tom Waits I’m big on who’s always of course a big piano player. He has he has a song called invitation of the blues that I learned that one on the guitar and that’s got some beautiful chords in it. And yeah, just all those singer songwriter guys, but I love a good good top three chord guitar song, but I also like when they start getting a little more experimental with the court. You know what another good one is you just got me on something that I’d love to talk about too, by the way, but the song by the beegees How deep is your love? Oh
matt nappo 15:02
yeah, great song on Guitar Man. Boy, yeah,
Henry Phillips 15:06
that was one that we did too. And I was just like, Whoa, I think the whole thing is like in key of E flat. But it’s all, you know, going from the minor to the major. And yeah, that’s a great one too.
matt nappo 15:19
I took that song apart years ago for a kind of like workshop to kind of say, how do you write this song? Because you don’t start out with those chords and try to put a melody to it? I think you’d be and I don’t know this for a fact. But I think the beegees kind of start out with singing the song and then figure out what are the chords that will make that really, that melody really jump out. But that that song in particular got me going like, wow, how do you how do you write a song?
Henry Phillips 15:48
I know. Yeah, I know, I think it’s the way that you just said, yeah, that’s the way that I’ve always done it. Like, the melody kind of comes first. And then you try to figure out which chords fit and you try to be as, as interesting as you can, without messing up the integrity of it, you know, but, uh, yeah, and then, but with me, it was an extra step, because I would think of a funny stand up idea. You know, I’d be like, Okay, well, what about a song about a, you know, a, you know, all the people that have, you know, made contributions to Western civilization, you know, you know, Da Vinci and you know, all of the Western philosophers and all these people. What about a song that talks about how great they were, but also what freaks that they were, because they all had these weird sexual fetishes and all that stuff. So then that’s like the stand up kind of idea, the comedy idea, and then it turned into Alright, so what’s the melody that I’m going to use and then I would just file through all these ideas that I had for melodies that I probably written just completely in earnest, that were supposed to be regular songs. And then I’d pick one and then I would just so so that way, at least the music still has a chance like if you didn’t speak English, and you heard it, you’d probably just think this is a regular folk song or something, you know, and that and that’s my favorite kind, you know, where you can’t tell because nobody’s really putting on a funny voice or making a funny music. You’re just just taking the idea and putting against a song that sounds legit.
matt nappo 17:26
Sometimes it’s sincerity with which you deliver it makes it all that more funny. Like he’s saying something that’s ridiculous. But you, you have this very serious and sincere tone in your voice and look on your face. Like you’re delivering a rock anthem, but you’re saying something like, crafting a great, you know, format, which is standing on the shoulders of the freaks. The song you just mentioned, it’s hard to explain. You know, when you go to see a comic, you can come back and say, Man, I saw this great comic last night, and he told some jokes. And here’s basically some of them. Yours. I mean, if I go to explain standing on the shoulders of freaks to my wife, she just looked at me like, what the hell? What the hell are you talking about? That’s funny. Well, I got to see him do it. Yeah.
Henry Phillips 18:17
Yeah, it’s not really a very easily repeatable thing. Yeah. But um, well, you know, I think one of the things that I was inspired by Well, a lot of the stuff that was going on on SNL when I was a kid was just mind blowingly funny, mostly those sketches that would happen in the last half hour that I don’t even think you can find them online anymore. It’s weird, but But remember, you obviously remember deep thoughts, you know, on SNL. So that was that kind of thing, right? Where he was saying it in that really, you know, small t sort of a poetic kind of a way, you know, touchy feely sort of new agey and they had the music and the presentation and everything and then all the more reason for the punchline of the jokes to just kind of blindside you you know, and it’s that presentation that I really liked a lot, right?
matt nappo 19:08
A couple of things they just want to ask you for my personal understanding of value because I’m a I’m a huge fan but I need to and this is for me, not for the audience. A couple of things I noticed is that this the old son pick, I know Yeah, play with that but you’re not doing what I call Travis picking it you’re using it in a very rock and roll kind of wait. Okay.
Henry Phillips 19:33
Wait should correct me so Travis is the one where you’re doing it like this? Is that right? Or
matt nappo 19:37
you’re doing the alternate baselines and doing and you’re locking your hand and be able to play the melody and the baseline at the same time time? Yeah, time your manual those drums, bass and get the end there. Oh, wow. Yeah, yeah.
Henry Phillips 19:49
No, I, you know, I, what I do is I’ll do I’ll use my thumb. Okay, if it’s a G chord, for example, We’ll just a standard G I’ll do a thumb to hit that lowest note and then with these three fingers I’ll just grab the the other, you know, three of those chords or strings whichever ones that they are. And so it’s more of a you know, your own it’s a little like a drummer, you know, bass snare bass boom, didn’t you know, something like that. But I’m also singing at the same time, but I will say that I was doing that naturally anyway. And then I had a one of the first guys that I met when I was doing like coffee houses and stuff was a guy named Marty Canada who ended up being my manager. And probably the main thing that he did was increased my musicality because he was a guitar player and, and the first thing he told me to do is you got to use that thumb pick because when I was on stage, the bass notes were getting lost, right? And, and because there’s just obviously the way the guitar is, it’s your, your thumb would have to be working extra hard in order, but you know, so I started using that thumping, and everything sounded much more balanced. And that was great. But um, but yeah, I don’t, I don’t really I just tried to make sure that all the notes of the quarter in there, but I’m not, I’m not necessarily doing anything fancy that way. But I will say that I did some classical training too. So when I’m just doing solo guitar, like the probably the most difficult one I ever learned was the entertainer for the guitar, which was really difficult. I found some sheet music for it some somewhere but but yeah, I’ve only dabbled in that never really mastered
matt nappo 21:36
Chet, Chet Atkins swing doing the entertainer and he’s using his own picking. Oh, yeah. I’ve heard that traditional Travis picking and now Yeah, yeah, that’s unbelievable. That’s just good. And you know, I thank you for the audience for indulging me on that, because I’m just curious. Where some pics come in. A lot of people just adopt them naturally. For me, I think you’re right, though. bass notes. If you’re just using your thumb, and I’m, you know, especially if I’m playing electric. I’ll never use a thumb pick. Oh, yeah. playing acoustic bass notes just don’t come through if you’re just using the right go. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, we kind of we mentioned the films and kind of a casual conversation away. For people who don’t know punching the clown was the first movie, it was highly acclaimed. And then there was a follow up just a few years ago, I think, like five years ago now punching Henry. I see them all in one movie. But so in order in order to condense that whole long singer songwriter troubadour extraordinare, how about we just call you a storyteller? Because I think that’s what you are. And now I’m curious about your relationship with the director, I think, from if I have it correctly, you know him from undergraduate years in college, and you’ve kept a relationship all the time, and now putting films together?
Henry Phillips 23:00
Yeah, absolutely. The so so he and I met in college, I had pretty much given up on any dream of being a rock star. And I was out here in LA, which is basically my hometown, I spent some time in New Jersey, and which I think is one of the reasons our mutual friend, Tom Konopka and I, you know, got along really well, but so I, after jersey, we moved out to LA. And I went to UCLA, and I went through this whole like community college system, and eventually got to UCLA. And my one friend that I have is this guy that I’d sit next to all the time, we were political science majors. And we just chatted a lot. He was from France. I thought that was interesting. He thought it was fascinating that I was in the music and so we’d sort of share you know, stories about that. And then and then when we graduated, he went to film school because that was his dream is to become a filmmaker. And I’ve started going full on into the stand up comedy thing, just kind of backed into it. By my last year of college, I started doing these open mic nights, and having a lot of fun with it. It was sort of a hobby, and but I would tell Greg is my friend there and I would, we still kept up and I would tell him these stories, you know, I’d just be like, Oh, man, I played at this bar last night where the guy says that he’s gonna give me $4 for every person. And he gives me $14 at the end of the thing, and we had like, 40 people there, but I know he’s ripping me off, but I mean, at least rip me off with a number that makes sense. Like if he said 12, then that’d be like, Alright, well, according to his books, he counted three people, but 14 isn’t even divisible by four. So I don’t know how he could get, you know, so I would tell him stuff like this. And he was like, man, we got it. We got to make a movie of this. I don’t know how we’re going to do it. But that’s so his final project at UCLA I’m sorry at Syracuse University is where he went after graduate school or undergrad. He, he made a little short film that was made there was basically a precursor to our punching the clown movies and that available to see and yeah, there’s some of it on YouTube if you if you put punching the clown portrait because it was called a portrait of Henry Phillips, you can see little bits of it, it’s on there somewhere not the whole thing, but we might eventually put it on there.
matt nappo 25:25
I’m sorry to interrupt you.
Henry Phillips 25:28
That’s all right. But anyway, so that that started our whole thing. And then ever since then we, we became writing partners. And we would just, you know, do outlines for feature film and dream of making a feature film that tied all these stories together. And then we started seeing things pop up, like Curb Your Enthusiasm, which was really similar to what we were kind of going for and the stuff that Ricky Jabez was doing. And so I think in 2007, we finally, technology got to a point where you could rent a camera that looked almost like film and, and Greg just showed up to my door one time, and he just he said, Man, let’s just make this movie, I don’t know, I’ll borrow money from family, I’ll use whatever my life savings is, but we’re just going to, because he’s like, I’ve got films, he became a film professor. And he’s like, I’ve got film students that can help us. And they’re making films by themselves. And I’m teaching it and it’s like, I never wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to be a filmmaker. So you know, let’s do this. And I was like, well, let’s do it. So we wrote out an outline and, and just eventually had a couple of false starts, but eventually landed a kid who was one of his film students to produce it. Meaning, you know, to make up all the calls to the, you know, the locations get sag on board, you know, and all the crew get the crew together. I mean, there’s a lot of work there that neither Gregor are interested in doing. And, and eventually, in 2008, the first couple months, to date, probably just about the most exciting. Three or four weeks of my life was the beginning of 2008 when we were actually making that film that we had been talking about for 12 years, or whatever it was, and it was fantastic. And and, and then a year later, we were done with the movie and showed it at a Theater in New York called quad cinemas and and then it got on Netflix. And before he knew it, it was I was literally like walking around the streets of New York and San Francisco and Houston, Texas. And every now and then not all the time. But sometimes somebody be like, Hey, I think I just saw a movie of yours on Netflix. And I was like, Wow, that’s so cool. Because it was on during that time where everybody started doing the streaming thing. So they didn’t have a ton of stuff. And people just kind of run would run out of stuff to watch and they just start browsing. Okay, punching the clown. Let’s see what this is all about. And so yeah, that’s that’s the story of that. And Greg and I still work together to this day. I mean, I just yesterday, we talked for a couple hours about a new screenplay that we’re trying to put together.
matt nappo 28:15
Oh, Tao, please tell me it’s a third. Henry. So sort
Henry Phillips 28:19
of, it’s a well, the idea was always that I, mice, all of my stories are still from that era when I started, which was the early 90s. So they’re just all they don’t really work in today’s world because of social media and cell phones. And there’s so many plots that you couldn’t really have any more so we thought, maybe it’s time to do a period piece. So it’d be like a prequel, like the early 90s. But you
matt nappo 28:46
can’t play yourself as a kid. I mean, you look young, but
Henry Phillips 28:51
yeah, be a kid has had some rough years. So yeah, so we’re changing a lot of who the main character is and whose perspective it’ll be from and everything like that, but but the stories were always to me the most important part of it, and those will all be in there because we we left a lot of stories untold from that era.
matt nappo 29:12
You know, I have to mention this. I don’t know if anybody has ever said this to you before, but you have a resemblance to a young or middle age now. Robert Redford, you could do okay. I think you could probably pull up the rug.
Henry Phillips 29:31
Yeah, maybe I can have him. Well, that’s,
matt nappo 29:35
that’s your movie. So I love them. And again, this is no smoke. I would rate them right up there with the top films and again, I look at them as one film now. It’s like the Godfather saga. banri Saga, but um, there’s a line in there, but you broke my heart. You really and I think it’s in punching Henry. Yeah, it is. Funny, I set you online. Your reaction to it got me but the line from funny guitar boy says I wouldn’t want to be. I wouldn’t want to be playing these rooms in my 40s and you just gave that like sigh and at that moment I said, imagine playing those rooms in the 60s because that’s my life. Oh yeah. Should I kill myself now? Or wait till the end of the movie? Tell me
Henry Phillips 30:25
behind you. I mean, at this point, I’m in my 50s so I’m not far
matt nappo 30:29
but you’re playing those types of rooms? Oh, yeah.
Henry Phillips 30:33
Well, I don’t know I’ve got the loony bin coming up in Wichita, Kansas next, a week and a half from now. Now I’m certainly not doing like you know, all glitzy theaters and stuff every now and then I’ll get I’ll get a gig that’s got a little more glamorous, but it’s like the smaller the town The better the? The treatment, I guess. Because Yeah, if I went to New York, I would be. Yeah, I’d be in a basically a shoe box.
matt nappo 31:00
To convince myself that, wait a minute, he’s right about fat, you know, funny, you’re tall boys, that I want to be nice to my 40s. But as I got into my 40s, that’s when I started enjoying playing those rooms. And if I look at it, honestly, right now, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t trade what the rooms I play in, which are those kinds of rooms and sometimes bigger rooms. But I wouldn’t trade that for the theater experience. I liked the intimacy, I liked getting to know the crowd. As long as they’re not too drunk and rowdy after I like getting to know the people that are coming to see me. Do you agree with that and feel like,
Henry Phillips 31:34
I do agree. And I want to make sure I’m not doing this laughable thing that I saw you to do. Like when their popularity started going down. I saw an article that it looked like they were trying to spin it and they’re saying, We’re gonna start going into more intimate venues now because we feel like we miss and it’s like, Oh, come on, you’re just not getting the crowds that he is. It’s a voluntary thing. It’s like, you know, we just sort of we’ve done that the arena thing. Now we wanted to go to the smaller venue. But so I’m not trying to say that it wouldn’t be great to just show up to some place and have 3000 people and then you’re on to the next town. That would be great. But, but you are absolutely right. And I think that most comedians that I know, I’d be really surprised if they didn’t agree, you know that they all started in comedy clubs. And comedy clubs are a lot of fun, you’re in the back of the room hanging out with the waitstaff. They’re all your friends for the week, and then, you know, 30 feet away from you, your buddies up on stage and says, There is bring up, you know, whoever it is, and then you go up. And you can see everybody’s faces, you can see them when they’re laughing. If they’re not laughing, you can work on that you can say, all right, well, what’s going on here? Well, you know, a theater you just see lights or just nothing. And that’s, that’s a lot more cold, you know, and But no, I love being in, in rooms, you know, clubs. Yeah. And I feel like the sensibilities better to there’s a I don’t know, well, I mean, I tried to do colleges for a little bit. And that was always really difficult in terms of the venue, it was either in the cafeteria, or even, like, if it’s in an auditorium or something, it’s just too wide and echoey, and the sound got lost or whatever. And, and I was, and I don’t think that the college students were grown up enough to start having a dark sense of humor, you know, and so I was like, most comfortable when I was like, between 30 and 40. And at a comedy club, and you could email everybody’s having a few drinks, maybe a couple people or divorced people started getting that kind of jaded. Sort of a little bit darker sense of humor, and I like that, you know, I would think it at theatres, I’m sure it’s great, but you don’t really have any, any gauge of what the personality of the audience is, you know, just some, some couple that’s never even been to a comedy show. But they figured that something that they saw on the newspaper that they’re going to be doing tonight, you know, but yeah, I really, really do like the comedy clubs,
matt nappo 34:12
especially doing the kind of work that you do. Sometimes the laughs aren’t, aren’t always like, especially in the beginning, like belly laughs they’re small laughs And if somebody is 1000 feet away, that small laugh isn’t gonna make it to the stage and you’re not getting any of that energy that you need. Oh, I
Henry Phillips 34:29
know. That’s very true. Now I kind of rely on having everybody pretty close together so that if one person laughs It sounds like they’re all kind of with me, you know? Yeah, there’s a some expression that I’ll probably butcher but it’s something like you know, if you have 10% of the audience that’s on your side, they can turn a whole show and your favorite you know, and it’s a lot harder to reach that 10% if you’ve got several 1000 people, but you know, in a room with 100 people in 10 people sure Yeah And yeah, no and and there’s some great comedy clubs around this country too.
matt nappo 35:06
Yeah. Another thing you allude to in the first film, I think it was Yeah, what’s the first film? I think you’re in a recording studio and this kind of struck me it’s a lot of your songs take a lot of bravery because you bravery might be the wrong word. I mean, nobody’s gonna kill you. But you’re taking your time to get to the funny part like a lot, especially with music stuff. And I know this for a fact when people want to, they want that laugh upfront and sometimes it takes a minute of listening to you sing to you get to the part that gets the first laugh. Yes, well, that takes some bravery and take some conditioning to get your get yourself able to deal with that and stay maintain your composure and say I know the laugh is coming to confidence and I know that they’re gonna get this eventually but I have to set them up properly. That that’s professional and it takes some getting used to tell tell me about how you got to that point because I would be nervous starting out that oh my god, I’m a minute into this. I haven’t gotten a laugh yet. I better get that pretty quick. get thrown out. There gonna flash the light. If we get off today. It’s whatever. How did you acquire patience and confidence?
Henry Phillips 36:18
Yeah, what you’re describing was the hardest part about what I what I did. And I so in the beginning, it was copy houses where people were expecting a real song. So it was like a minute and a half of this song. Everybody’s going okay. Alright, so he’s he’s upset about a breakup or whatever’s going on. And then all of a sudden, the lyrics would take a little bit of a turn, but still completely straight faced. And they’re like, Okay, well, now he’s talking about calling the police and, you know, and now this is starting to get out of hand and, and he’s losing control of his bodily functions in the middle of the living room, and just like, what the hell is this? And then and then and then everybody went, Oh, okay. It’s a joke. All right, I’m on board. And then they get on the mailing list and you develop a little bit of a following. But then I started doing comedy clubs in like 99 that was about about six years into trying to build this act that was based on exactly what you’re talking about that kind of Sucker Punch thing. And I’m telling you there were some rough ones, there were some really rough ones. And when I was the opening act, it was okay because there’s not as much pressure and and they would sort of go along with me. And then when they found out it was a joke, they’d be like, Oh, this is great. But then I started getting booked as the headliner because those middle middle act shows went really well. And that’s when I had some really really difficult ones I’d be I remember a string of them that I did up in Michigan was like in Grand Rapids Michigan and then clearly it should have been called the Henry Phillips sucks from one town to another tour because ever they’ve just we’re not getting it and the club owner in every case was standing in the back just go on I don’t think this is funny and then by the time I started getting to the funny parts, they had already checked out right? And that’s the fear so yeah, so I had a difficult time after several years of having this problem. I started I pretty much coward you know, chickened out. But but but in a way that I that I liked, I started because I at this point, I had a lot of jokes in between my songs that I would do some banner. And so I thought, Well, why don’t I just do all those at the top without the guitar? And so I started just doing stand up comedy. So if you were to get at the loony bin, or the funny bone, you went to see stand up comedy. So from the middle act, going into the headliner, okay, we’re still in that genre. Now the guy’s standing there, and he’s doing jokes. So I would do that. And I’d say, Hey, does anybody want to hear music? And then they already knew I’m joking, right? So it was a much much easier situation but it took me years and also, I can’t tell you how much envy I had when I watched people like the Flight of the Conchords or Tenacious D or these guys that were really doing that that serious songwriting thing but they weren’t they didn’t have to do it at the funny bone they were just they were sort of famous already. So they they were able to do that kind of thing that I was always you know, wishing that I could do but I couldn’t if I ever wanted to work at the comedy club again. It’s It’s ironic like you kind of have to be well known when you get messed around like that. Yeah, exactly. But but but I’m happy now I go up and I do. I do probably 15 minutes of stand up and I do you know, a lot of topical stuff and, and then I’ll just jump right into the songs and I’m kind of liking the groove that it’s got now.
matt nappo 39:49
Even your stand up has that kind of sincerity within the delivery of a bed. That makes it very It’s a different kind of stand up than anybody else does. So, you know, I know I’m blowing a lot of smoke at you, buddy. stuff. Now again, I love the films but like with historical fiction and novels, I’m a sucker for wanting to know what’s real and what’s not real because obviously these films are semi autobiographical. Yeah, I want to know what’s real and what’s not. And what what I take away from being a musician for 45 years now I’m performing. I’ve never been heckled. I’ve tried stand up and didn’t even get heckled doing stand up I shot, but I didn’t get heckled. I don’t know what that experience is like. But since you broach the subject, I think three times in both in both movies combined, this idea of getting heckling, I have, I have to think that at some point, it’s in your psyche, just that the whole you know, being hurt or wounded by some of these assholes can show up and they don’t do it for acting. They don’t do it for music. comedy is the only place you’ll see assholes show up and want to ruin your show. Is any of that stuff that’s in the movie based on reality? And is there a woman?
Henry Phillips 41:13
Yeah, Oh, absolutely. No, because I’m a I’m an incredibly self conscious person. It’s a lot of people are just like the worst nightmare that they could ever imagine as being heckled as a comedian. It’s like I I’m an idiot who picked that to be a possibility in my career. It’s like, I can’t believe that I wound up in that situation. But yeah, absolutely. Oh man, I’ve had some terrible terrible ones. In the movie, we depicted a couple of them. You know, one of the in the first movie, we had one where there was just a miss booking, you know, I was supposed to be performing my comedy and then they said, Oh, yeah, we also booked and it’s always some event, you know, it’s like, we also booked I think in real life, there was one that was like, it was all a, you know, cancer survivors or something like that. And it’s like, not not that they couldn’t have a sense of humor, but they were a pretty serious bunch and, and dark humor was not going over? Well, I mean, dark humor is really one of those kind of things that you you’re sort of privileged to be able to, to make those types of jokes, and then you don’t really think about him too much. But I yeah, I felt really uncomfortable one time doing a show like that. And I was just like, what? When do I get to that point where everybody’s there? Because they want to see what I’m doing? Because I was there. But um, yeah, no, I also had one. I remember having one in MLA of all places where it was a sports bar, and the guy ran the bar was British. And he didn’t really know much about American sports, but he definitely wanted to sell beers. And he did a whole promotion where he bust all these kids from USC to come in and watch their team basically clinch the season. And, and then he didn’t want any space between the end of the game and then me going on right after that to perform and he was just, you know, serving them tons and tons of drinks the whole time. So they were pretty drunk. And the guy lines up overcompensating, and so the game’s not even over yet. And he goes, Okay, go go go on there. And I go, Well, I don’t think the game’s over yet. He goes, it’s alright. They already know who won’t just get up up there. Like he had some kind of OCD about, like, God forbid, there’s a couple minutes in between the game and you know, right. Yeah, and they couldn’t, because they were all bused in there anyway, and it was like it didn’t even give them a chance to go to the bathroom or go up and get another beer or whatever. So then I went up there and going back to what you were saying, I’m doing this, this kind of Sucker Punch thing. So all of a sudden, they went from watching their game and they’re drunk to now they got a folk singer on stage, just singing for a minute and a half of a song that sounded like it was at that time I was opening with this song sounded like a religious like a campfire, religious song, and about God’s creatures or whatever and, and they’re just like, what is going on here. And literally, people started throwing things at the stage. There was a band that was going to play later. So the drum set was set up and one guy threw a chair and it crashed into the drum set. And then that was then the band that was there started jumping in and the guy who was doing the sound became sort of a bouncer. And he started and it was just absolute chaos. So yeah, and so and then I got I got off the stage because I was afraid somebody was gonna throw something at me. Or kick my ass or whatever and, and then the guy didn’t even pay me the 100 bucks that I was supposed to get. Because I didn’t do the set and I’m like, what you gave me an impossible situation here and
matt nappo 44:51
they have no sympathy for their mistakes. Oh, yeah,
Henry Phillips 44:54
it was awful. Yeah. But yeah, no, but in the movie, I would say overall Everything is at least based on a true story except in the you have to have an over reaching a plot, right? And so so in the second one, when you watch and the first movie, when you watch it from scene to scene, I can tell you the parallel real life story for just about everything in that movie. Except there’s this sort of telephone game thing where I say something off the cuff and eventually go That’s racist thing. Yeah, well, I’ll tell you the true part of it. I went to a meeting with a manager out here in LA. And it wasn’t bagels, it was donuts. He had a bunch of doughnuts. And he’s like, he’s a real powerful guy. And he’s like, and refill up. So would you like one of these donuts? And I was like, Okay, I’m just eating a doughnut. And there’s kind of a low in the conversation. And eventually, I was like, these are good doughnuts. And he’s like, yeah, they are good, aren’t they? And I was like, yeah, so where are they from? And he’s like, I don’t know. And then he gets, you know, on the speakerphone or whatever. And he’s like, Hi, Lisa. Can we find out where we got the doughnuts? Henry Phillips is here and he’s he’s a you know, an up and coming new comedian. He wants to know, and then, of course, the Secretary was like, I don’t know where we got the frickin doughnuts, but she’s trying to figure it out. And then she calls back and she’s like, hey, Dave got the doughnuts. And he’s I can’t get on the phone with him. Right now. He’s on a run, I guess be in just like before everybody was all hooked up with their cell phones and stuff. And so then he gets on the phone. He picks it up and he goes, Henry, I’m sorry. And he’s like, why is this a problem? Why is this a problem? I asked you where the doughnuts are? It’s the easiest question in the world. You can’t tell me I’ve got Henry Phillips here. I’m trying to you know i mean he he’s I don’t know what he said he is up and coming comic. You know, he’s, he want the guy wants to know where the doughnuts are? Find out. He hangs up and I’m just sitting here going, Oh, this is mortifying, you know, yeah. To hear
matt nappo 47:07
and the girl thinks you’re a dick. No, absolutely.
Henry Phillips 47:11
She thinks that I’m some asshole. Like, I’m a 28 year old guy. And I’m just some guy going, I want to know where the damn doughnuts are. So anyway, so that was the end of the real story. And then and then we started thinking, Well, what could have How funny would it be if if it turned into some kind of telephone game thing? You know, we made it bagels, because that way it’s like, oh, maybe he’s being anti semitic or something like that. And, and, and that was the big thing at that time, right? Like when it Cramer from Seinfeld is on on his show. And he went viral for his rant and then,
matt nappo 47:49
but he actually said so.
Henry Phillips 47:52
But the thing is, how funny would it be if there was a guy who got blamed for all that stuff, but never even did anything like that? I mean, that’s the worst punishment Yeah, that you could get so. So that’s pretty much where that that idea came from.
matt nappo 48:05
I live that there was a period of time back 2020 years ago. So we were playing at a very popular spot all the time. And there was a bouncer in a club who happened to be black. And White was getting into some altercation with some regulars who happened to be white. And a lot of white people started to gang up on the guy and I went to defend him. Now it was a hells Angel guy who started throwing the N word around a lot. And they chased this guy into the back alley to kill him. And I went back to protect them. And somehow it got around that I was one of the guys chasing him. I was one of the guys yelling the N word. And I had to kind of leave the band for a couple of years and leave that town basically known as the racist guy took a couple of years of me to kind of clear up my reputations in I was there to protect
Henry Phillips 49:01
no good deed. Yeah, so
matt nappo 49:03
I relate to a watch your movies. Oh, yeah. Oh, man. Oh, wait. Oh, yeah. It’s like the story of my life.
Henry Phillips 49:12
Yeah, well, it’s funny that you bring that up, too. Because remember, I mentioned that guy, Marty categor, who is my first manager, the guy taught me about the thumb pics. He was telling me, we were talking about the movie Spinal Tap, which I could not get enough of, I must have seen it. 50 times I had the whole thing memorized and everything like that. And he loved it too, because he loves humor. But he was telling me he goes a lot of guys. I guess. He was probably about 20 years older than I am. And he said a lot of the guys that I knew didn’t like the movie. Because they didn’t think think it was funny at all. They just thought, Man this is bringing up bad memories. I remember when we had the show, you know we had the record company. The record store signing and nobody showed up and everybody’s yelling at each other. I mean, these were all real stories that were hilarious to me, but a lot of people live through them. And, and I and I’ve had a little bit of that with, with my movies, too, because I, I’ve had people say that they’re depressing. Yeah. And it’s like, real life,
matt nappo 50:23
don’t do one or two lines that you kind of take. Wow, well, yeah, that that’s a real moment. But all comedy I think has to have that, that. It has to be comfortable. At some point, that little bit of uncomfortableness will make the punch line all that more funny when you get to that point. And it’s it’s an important thing to kind of take that uncomfortable moment in and really absorb it and say, what does it mean to me?
Henry Phillips 50:51
I agree. There’s the movie, the movie King of Comedy is a good example. Have you seen that and a lot of people wouldn’t even classify it as a comedy to me, I’m laughing my ass off. But I’m like, there’s one part of that movie where every time it used to be on on TV, I had to change the channel. Like I couldn’t be in the room while that scene is going on when. When he invites when he invites a date over to Jerry lewis’s house. And Jerry loses coming they have that dramatic irony of his show. And I’m like, this is just too much man. I gotta change the channel. It’s like it’s so incredibly uncomfortable, but at the same time, it’s so awesome that it makes you feel that way.
matt nappo 51:34
douche chills. That’s what I call it. Exactly. Yeah. Um, so yeah, the movies are great. And we got some comments in the in the chat room about the Densmore incident. I just discovered that in the last week.
Henry Phillips 51:50
Oh, the Densmore house in Kansas. Yeah,
matt nappo 51:54
I didn’t I didn’t even know that that video existed and then I found that the battle a week ago, and I’m trying to explain it to my wife, I of course, I do a very poor, but that that had me actually, like, laughing out loud at a computer screen, which doesn’t happen too often. Was that a real incident? Was that bass? Yes,
Henry Phillips 52:15
that was absolutely real. I mean, I played it up a little bit with the music and tried to make it like like one of those drama things, you know, but uh, but yeah, no, that absolutely I was born out of my mind driving all the way back to LA from I think it was Iowa and just Kansas, I think is about six hours from one side of the state to the other. And just you’re hoping a tornado is going to happen just so that you can see something. And I kept on seeing a sign saying, you know, Densmore house, you know, check this out. And so I just thought, well, I’ll do anything at this point, I had to go to the bathroom anyway. And so I went, and there’s this house that was built by a civil war veteran, and they were doing tours, and they had a lot of old people getting off the buses and to take this tour. And I was like, What the hell, you know, I’ll take the tour, and I paid like the 10 bucks or whatever. And I go in, and it’s pretty amazing. There’s a house where everybody, everybody was marveling at the fact that the guy built this thing by hand, and there’s a lot of incredible design stuff. And there’s engineers that couldn’t replicate the things that he did with his house, you know, typical museum type stuff. But at one point, somebody started noticing that it smelled like dogshit. And, and I smelled it too. And I’m just like, what is this and we’re like, up in one of the bedrooms or something like that. And the tour guide is like, yeah, I smell that does you guys, do you want to check your shoes or whatever, and I pick up one of my shoes, and it’s just completely just matted down with dogshit. Yeah, and I looked everywhere. And I had been tracking footsteps of dogshit throughout this whole house. And all these old people are like, ah, Tim grows, what are you doing? And I felt like such an asshole. You know, I just felt like such an outcast. And they were like, okay, let’s all go out in the backyard. Do sir if you don’t mind taking your shoes off or whatever. And so but and that’s another one where the story basically ended there. But of course, my mind is thinking Am I gonna have to pay some kind of cleaning costs? And how much is that going to cost? You know, I don’t know what kind of wood that they’re using. You know, I mean, they’re taking all these precautions to preserve everything and But yeah, I pretty much ended there. But But yeah, so the whole the whole video is, yeah, it’s on there. It’s
matt nappo 54:46
the question and bear with danger. The question it begs is has any of the people who were there taking the tour that day, seen that video and contacted you and saying, oh, you’re the head? Oh, yeah, no,
Henry Phillips 54:58
it happened. I’m guessing about maybe 10 years ago or even more. And
matt nappo 55:06
the internet being what it is, though somebody who is going to see it eventually
Henry Phillips 55:11
I kind of I kind of hope so. I mean, I would think it would come come up when people search YouTube for the Densmore house because other stuff, but no, I’ve never had anybody that noticed it, but I, hey, maybe I can help, you know, bring bring people to help make the place famous or something. That would be
matt nappo 55:32
beautiful. Check that out tonight, I think and I’m gonna encourage the audience playing search terms within Morehouse and Henry Phillips to kind of push that up in this surgery. Yeah.
Henry Phillips 55:45
algorithm. Yeah. But yeah, on YouTube, it’s called brush with danger. If anybody wants to look it up and right. It was gonna be I was gonna make it a series or something. But we never really did that.
matt nappo 55:56
I loved the treatment that you gave that because it does start and I thought, wow, is he part of one of these? You know, television shows that real life incidents and then to figure out it was a gag, but I love that treatment of it. Because it’s it’s so and you went very far out of your way to get all the lighting right in the hallway. Oh, yeah. the look and feel of that testimonial piece?
Henry Phillips 56:19
Yeah, well, I did that through. There’s a production company called all things comedy, which is run by a bunch of comics that they set up. The cinematographer did a great job. I don’t remember his name, but I’m sure it’s on there. But yeah, it was it was pretty fun.
matt nappo 56:33
Now, we are coming up on time, and I want to be respectful of your time. I’m grateful to have you here. And thank you to Tom Konopka for making this happen. Yeah, but I also want to talk quickly about the highway man and Henry’s kitchen if we can squeeze both of those in now. The highway man, funny stuff, very influenced by, I guess, late 70s 80s. network television shows, I guess, the most recent episode, I think, is the one I have in my way. Brendon Walsh is Yeah, photos and get the tattoo. Yeah, so there’s, yeah, tell me about the heart. There’s
Henry Phillips 57:12
there’s two there’s the ones that I put up on YouTube, which I’ll take some time and sort of tweak them and everything and just put them out randomly and those are publicly released. And you can see those on YouTube. Just to let people know that they’re on if you put Henry Phillips YouTube you’ll see all the stuff that we’re talking about here but um, so the highway man Yeah, there was a whole bunch of shows that was like Kung Fu, the Hulk you know, $6 million man Highway to Heaven. All these shows were just involved a drifter, you know? And so I thought, well, I want to be one of those guys, you know, but I want to be the 50 year old guy who’s like mysterious who just drifts from one town to another but my I don’t have a special talent. I’m not good at anything. In fact, I, I wind up making things worse in the town before I move to the next one, you know, and so it’s called the highway man. And, yeah, I’m just a guy and I’ve got a wig. And I’ve got like a jean jacket. And I’ll see mostly people stranded on the highway, and I’ll try to help them with their car, but it winds up being worse than it was before I got there. But yeah, the Brendan Brendan Walsh is great. And I’m working with a lot of my comic buddies on it, which is great. So yeah, there’s an episode where my buddy Brandon Walsh is in the like, at a high highway turn off, and he’s taking pictures with this camera. And then I’m witnessing a thug named a comic named Steve Gillespie, who’s just a guy who is, you know, mugger basically and he shows up to steal the camera and they wrestle with it. And eventually Steve gets branded on the ground starts kicking his ass and highway man is just sitting there in the bushes, watching the whole thing. And even writing down trying to make a drawing of the thing is if that’s going to help anything, and so once the coast is clear, and Steve takes off with Brendan’s camera, and then Brennan’s dusted himself off that’s when highway man comes out of the bushes and says Hey, man, I got I got the police sketch of the guy you know, you can give this to the police maybe they’ll be able to find it and Brennan’s like Who the hell’s this guy? So yeah, those are all on YouTube and, and, and Henry’s kitchen also. So about 10 years ago, I made a kitchen video out of my bachelor apartment, I was going through a breakup so it came off extra depressing. And I wrote music for it that was over the top depressing and and the second one that I did was called Henry’s chili for one and it went viral, it got over a million views. And so I was like, well, maybe I’ll turn this into a regular thing. And so I’ve been making them ever since for 10 years. And when the pandemic hit, I wasn’t going to be able to do a lot of the live stuff anymore, or any of it really and and I started kind of looking for a way that I can do more stuff out of home. And so, so I started these two web series, or I continued the Henry’s kitchen and the highway man. And they’re both the exclusive videos come out every month on Patreon. So there’s patreon.com slash Henry’s kitchen patreon.com slash highway, man. But that’s all in the videos. So if people like them, they can subscribe. And then I put them out every month and
matt nappo 1:00:24
every month. That’s pretty aggressive. I have to say, yeah, as a one man production company.
Henry Phillips 1:00:31
Yeah, I keep busy. And then, but but now I’m going back on the road, man. I’ve got a Wichita Kansas, Kansas week, a week and a half from now. And then I’m going to go to St. Louis, to open for a band called Ludo at the pageant theater for a few nights. And then I go to Wisconsin, Western Wisconsin and Wisconsin Rapids to do a couple of rural gigs there and, and then, and then Fresno after that, but I’m finally getting back out there and performing. And it feels good. I’m really happy to
matt nappo 1:01:03
be here for you. I have the link to your website. Yeah, going down there. It’s in the description. Also the links to the Patreon pages for the shows and all that kind of stuff. And I’m imagining I’m guessing the tour dates are on Henry Phelps. Yeah, yeah.
Henry Phillips 1:01:18
Well, it’s a good question, because I’m usually pretty bad about that stuff.
matt nappo 1:01:22
Most comedians aren’t. People in the music industry are cool. I mean, anytime I talk to entertainers on the show, I go to their website, and they say your website is totally outdated. And
Henry Phillips 1:01:36
it’s true. And I’m definitely one of those guys, because I never got to that point where I could get somebody to do it. Right. Most most of my comic friends eventually get to a point where they’ve got somebody who volunteers or somebody who gets a paycheck or whatever, to do all that stuff. But it’s for me, it’s me trying to figure out how to navigate the damn thing, you know, but it’s up to date now. So
matt nappo 1:01:57
yeah, well, I appreciate you being here. Now. I just have to note that you’re the second guest. on my show that has actually been interviewed by Larry King, I find that Yes. Wow. To me is that’s an impressive thing getting interviewed by Larry King, I’m guessing because there was no context to the one I saw. I’m guessing it came out right after punching the clown. That’s one
Henry Phillips 1:02:21
after the second movie. So the second movie punching Henry which by the way, both those movies are on Amazon, if anybody wants to see them, I think you have to pay a couple bucks. But But Amazon. But so punching Henry was done through a studio so that that had an actual budget where they hired a PR person to get me interviews. And Larry King wasn’t on on cable news anymore. But now he was doing it on the internet, and, but still just as cool. And so I was able to sit down with him and do a whole interview. And I think there’s two on YouTube. There’s the full interview. And there’s also like, just a quick q&a one,
matt nappo 1:03:02
right? Well, just and again, I’m trying to be as respectful of your time as possible. But there are a couple of questions I have to ask you about. Sure. First of all, he he seemed like he was reading off of something that is on your Wikipedia page. And that was included in the second one where you’re in the room with the record company executives and they’re talking badly about you they’re talking like a blockhead. Oh, yeah. His two best friends are despair and failure and all this kind of stuff, making you feel like a real loser. And I it says something like in your wiki page or Wikipedia page that Henry is known for playing a character who is a loser, and it’s like, Yeah, but you say I’m right here in the room, and then Larry, Larry King says something like you’re even a failure at that. People have no respect for this guy.
Henry Phillips 1:03:59
Yeah, a failure of being a failure. I don’t even remember that. The exact context of that, but uh, but yeah, so um, I all of the stuff that we talked about Kingdom comedy guy when I was a kid watching Garry Shandling do his stand up, you know, Rodney Dangerfield, these were all the people that I laughed at, you know who I guess their persona was losers, but I loved it. I Bob Newhart was another guy. Albert Brooks, you know,
matt nappo 1:04:30
I was gonna say your filmmaking and your approach to filmmaking and I didn’t want to kind of, because I didn’t know how you would feel about this because of your comparison. But I think when I look at your filmmaking and your approach to filmmaking, be Albert Brooks, influence to me jumped out at me that was the first Yeah, these films make me feel like you know, reminiscent of that kind of delivery, that kind of attitude.
Henry Phillips 1:04:55
Well, yeah, no, I appreciate that. Yeah. Modern Romance would be nice. Number one, you know and then yeah defending your life and loss in America. I mean, I love those movies. But yeah, those guys, I don’t know if I just saw all those people at a time where I was like, Oh, Okay, I get it there’s a world where it’s okay to be a loser and it’s actually encouraged you know, and it’s called comedy you know, and I love it you know, Chris Farley Will Ferrell you know all these guys you know, I mean that’s, that’s what it is, you know?
matt nappo 1:05:32
Right. And before I let you go together thing from the Larry King interview that came out he asked you at one point what would you What would you like to be more successful at I think it’s how we put it and your answer was I’d like to be a better kept actor. Now I think, again, not blowing smoke up your ass but I think you’re a great character actor. It just seems that most often you’re playing yourself as a character but I know you’ve done some other acting things. Anything like that in the horizon? Because I do I do think you have the ability if I read I know your father was a known as a character actor. any of that on the horizon for you other acting work? I’m not Henry.
Henry Phillips 1:06:13
I love the idea of it. But yeah, I guess what I was getting at there is my dad was a character actor. And yeah, that’s in the Wikipedia too. There’s a bigness to what a lot of character actors do that I love. Well, like Rip Torn would be a great examples, right? Like, you know, it’s like, that’s something that you know, if he asked me, What would be something that I wish that I could do that I can’t I’d say it’s that kind of grandiose, sort of character acting where you just command the whole room to you know, you just walk on there and everybody’s like, Oh, yeah, I mean that. That’s fantastic. I don’t feel like I’m that guy. I don’t necessarily aspire to be that right now. What I like I did I did several episodes of Silicon Valley, the show on HBO and I was pretty much I was playing a character for sure. But that character was a little bit of an offshoot of myself, you know, I was just kind of trained to be as dry and real as possible. And yeah, I’m all for doing parts like that. And you know, I’ll keep pursuing it. It’s not it’s not really a and a career that you get to choose whether you get to do it or somebody else has to put you in there stuff. But I
matt nappo 1:07:27
got suckered away. But yeah, yeah, it is fate. And it is a lot of luck and all that stuff that plays into it.
Henry Phillips 1:07:34
But we live in a time where we can make our own stuff which is really helping me out a lot.
matt nappo 1:07:39
I agree I visit that’s a double edged sword you know, and you know, this probably a conversation for another day because I do want to let it go because I you know, I’ve kept your over an hour now. But there, there is a point where all comergence like may say there’s no good music or anymore No good comedy around anymore. It’s just not true. It’s just you have to dig a little harder to find it because a lot of great artists aren’t getting the sweetheart promotional deals from record labels or movie studios. And they have to produce this stuff on their own. So you have to dig a little harder to find it, but it’s out there. So
Henry Phillips 1:08:13
it is out there and word of mouth is the best you know, and you just every time you talk to somebody who’s got similar tastes, just say, Hey, who are you listening to now? or What are you watching or whatever, and that’s the best way to do it.
matt nappo 1:08:26
Right? come to New York sometime soon.
Henry Phillips 1:08:28
Oh, absolutely. I’d love to. I’d love to. Well,
matt nappo 1:08:32
well hey, me. And Tom Kanaka says hello. He’s in the one of the chat rooms he says. Please have Henry back for round two. This was great. Bah bah bah, bah, bah, bah. Thank you, Tom. Thank you again, for hooking this up. Please stay in touch and do feel free to come back anytime you want. I appreciate this morning, you know, and I wish you great continued success and till next time Till we meet again. Be well. That sounds great. I appreciate it. Bye for now. Henry foe folks. Wow, what a great guy. What a great talent. One of the one of the most creative people in the world today. I say that you know, with no exaggeration, I mean, we’ve got a lot of things going on. I didn’t kind of chef, the chef stuff. Listen. The only reason I made that comment in the beginning about the chef stuff is I know a lot of serious chefs who struggle struggle they have YouTube shows and they struggled to get 1000 views and then this was kind of making a joke out of a cooking show getting millions of views. I know my chef friends are very hurt by that. But bad bad is a great stuff too and very entertaining Henry’s kitchen. I hope you’ll check out all the Henry stuff the movies, see the stand up the the music on iTunes and all that kind of stuff. Everywhere you find Henry in so many different creative endeavors. So that’s our show for today. Tomorrow, I have a musical group from LA to boo droz which is a cigar box foot stomp and rock and roll band. Anyway, I hope you will join me then 8pm tomorrow till then I’m Matt nappo for the mind dog TV podcast. Thanks for coming. Have a great night. Bye for now.
Actor, writer, producer and director, Bill Fichtner has had a long successful career in film and television and joins us to share his insight and perspective on the changing industry. He is currently seen on CBS in the popular sitcom Mom and his film Cold Brook can be seen on Showtime.
What’s the secret to longevity in the movie business? We’ll talk about it on this episode of the mind dog TV podcast.
Welcome my friends to another episode of the mind dog TV podcast. I’m Matt nappo. Thanks for coming. It’s great to have you here, special daytime taping of the podcast today to accommodate my guests who is out on the west coast. My guest today is an accomplished film actor for more than 30 years. He’s a writer, director and producer, and has some great insight and perspective to share with our film filmmakers and creative community in general that a part of the mind dog TV audience and part of my kind of extended family here. So without further ado, please help me welcome a man. Please open your ears, open your minds, and help me welcome in Bill fichtner. To the mind dog TV podcast, Bill fichtner. Welcome to the mind on TV podcast. Thanks for coming. Glad to have you here.
Bill Fichtner 1:17
My pleasure, man. Nice to have some sort of presence on Long Island.
So pardon my ignorance, but I haven’t had a television in my house for 10 years. And that’s on purpose. I kind of got tired of all the noise that cable TV news produced and just was sick of it. So I I took it out of my house. So I’m not very familiar with anything that’s happened in television in the last 10 years. And I’m kind of culturally on hip in in that regard. I understand that you’re on a current production on television that is produced by Chuck Lorre.
Bill Fichtner 2:05
Yeah, it’s a show called mom. And well, we got we got 20 of the 22 episodes in this year before they they sent everybody an email in early March and said, if you want anything in your dressing room, get it now. Because we’re shutting down. This is season seven, I think you know, you know Long Story Short. during season three. Chuck Lorre had reached out to me and had a conversation with me about playing a role on there. Just a guest spot like three or four episodes. Small Ark and, and a you know, I listen, I don’t get a lot of calls in my life for multi cam sitcoms. I the only other one that I’ve ever actually had in my life was like 28, nine years ago with another Chuck Lorre show called grace under fire. Remember that one? Yeah. In the first season, I played this Petro chemist named Ryan sparks and and Chuck hired me for that way back then. I don’t know what check, see something that no one else in this business does. But I’m glad that he does. So he called me and he said, Listen, if you come on, well, you got to give me three or four episodes because I want to do this arc with the character. His name is Adam Jana koski. And so, so I went and I did the three or four episodes. And then on the last show that I always do, you know, wave to the audience, and you do a little hug as you’re walking, you know, with the writers and the producers and everything. And he said to me when you say goodbye, listen, I’m not done with this. And I was like, Well call me. So a couple of months later, the writers called and Chuck and everybody to run the show and said, you know, would you be interested in coming back? full time and then so I went back full time season 456 and now we’re just finish, you know, or a little bit short of season seven. And there’s another season eight to go whenever that spills out, you know? So yeah, that’s my that’s my whole mom thing. Well,
Chuck is obviously a success in just about everything he touches these days. So but seven years in television, seven, seven long seasons is is the mark of a very successful television show.
Yeah, for sure. You know, mom is one of those shows where I mean, listen, I I know everybody says this about the show that they work on. But I can say this and it’s absolutely true. You don’t get better writers than in Chuck’s group but just about everything that he does, especially with mom, these these people are so under unbelievable. It’s exchange it all week long as we work on a building up to the Friday night to the live show. And by the time Friday night comes along, it’s tight and it’s really good and you know, for me Personally, the one thing that I do want to say about mom is that I’ve done two series in my life. And each one was when each one of my sons was in high school. And, you know, doing a series is the closest thing to any sort of like, you know, regular regularity or regular job to ever have in showbiz. Right? Yeah. And I’ve been so grateful especially, I mean, I did the show called Prison Break when my older boy was in high school, and but now living in California at that time, well, now at that time, I just moved out here to but I, you know, now with my younger son, who’s a pretty big sports boy football, baseball and, and, you know, Warner Brothers is like, 15 minutes from his school. And I have to tell you, I finished work, and I don’t miss many games, and I love it. And I’m so grateful to have that show. Not only creatively, but you know, just to logistically have, you know, my life and family and everything that it’s been a bit of a godsend, and I’ve been really grateful and so happy for it.
Well, I just wanted to touch on mom, because, you know, I know, it’s something you’re doing now. But one thing that intrigued me, looking up the show is that you seem to be the only male kept on the show.
Bill Fichtner 6:17
Oh, no, I meant. There’s a guest spotter, too. But, you know, sometimes this is God’s honest truth, man I’ve had, I’ve had each of the ladies on the show. And they’re an incredible group of six women. And at some point or another, I think every one of them has said to me, and some of them multiple times. I don’t know how you deal with all these women. But and I look at them. And I say this is this is I grew up. My parents divorced when I was young. And that was in the mid 60s. So I grew up with my mother and four sisters. And and I look at everybody a mom, they’re like, how are you doing? I’m like, Ah, it’s just like I use you know, when you grow up, and you’re around, you know, like, really dynamic women. You get it? I get it. Yeah, no, smooth as silk.
So I’m glad you mentioned your upbringing, because I want to use you to kind of give some insight to my audience who was largely in the creative arts and a great deal of them are filmmakers and actors, directors and, and upcoming, and they think your insight and perspective would be incredibly valuable to these people. So when did you always want to be an actor? Was that always your ambition in life?
Bill Fichtner 7:41
I have to tell you, it is God’s honest truth. I don’t ever remember in high school, even going to any, like high school production or play. I mean, I’m sure they had them. And I know that because I’ve seen them in the yearbook. But you know, I mean, the group that I hung out with, we were right out the back door and probably right over to the hockey rink. But growing up outside of Buffalo and check the log in New York. No, not even slightly. Matt. I, you know, All I knew is I had a I had a counselor in high school that said to me, Mr. Ryan, and he said to me, you know, William, if you do a little bit better, you know, you could you could go to college, and that was kind of like, you know, wow, wow, it really would that be a possibility? So, and then my dad suggested, you know, there’s a school on Long Island, SUNY Farmingdale, and criminal justice might be an interesting degree. And it’s not like I was really thinking about it that much in high school, but I thought, wow, I love the island. I’ve got relatives from one end of the island to the other. And, you know, I could, I could see my aunt Charlene all the time over these days. So I thought, wow, I gotta, I gotta go. I gotta go check out Farmingdale. And I did. And I applied, and I got it. And so I went to farming as a criminal justice major. And then farming at the time was a two year school Ag and tech school. So then I had to transfer and I transferred to SUNY Brockport outside of Rochester, still not, you know, as a criminal justice major. But long story short, when I when I got to Brockport, I was there about a week and I got a call from an admissions counselor. And they said to me, Listen, you’re short, one fine arts course that you need for your core. And I said, Oh, okay, so what’s that? And they were like, Oh, you know, like an intro to theater class. And then I’m like, Well, what else you got? And they said, Well, we have an improv class. You can take that and I was like, what’s improv? Well, and they gave me a course description. I’m like, Oh, well, it’s more of an intimate class. Sure. I’ll, I’ll do the improv class. Now, that, you know, give credit where credit is due. There was an admissions counselor at Farmingdale, a gentleman named Don Harvey, and I met him and that’s one of the reasons why I really wanted to go to Farmingdale too because he was such a cool guy and supportive. You know, he took me one time to see a Broadway show. I was, you know, he was like a mentor. I was really close to him when I was out of Farmingdale. And, and so that was really mind blowing to see like, you know, the first time I ever really saw play was like, you know, Broadway show, which was incredible. But then when I transferred up the breadboard, so I took this improv class. And I had a teacher and Aaron, her name was Sally Rubin. And she said to me, after about a month or six weeks into the semester, she asked me to step up to class one day, and she said, Listen, I don’t say this a lot. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this. But I really, I think, I think you should do this. I think you should do this in your life. You understand a moment you understand what it is to like, Listen, these are like things that make an actor and I have to tell you that as that would be like saying to me, you know, once you go build a spaceship in your backyard, I mean, out of the blue, and I’m like, I get always a compliment. But it’s not like I’m thinking about, you know, I really want to go down this road and be an actor. But I loved this improv class so much. And then for the next two years at Brockport, I took selected, like, you know, things that I could take, you know, as a non theater major, and then I graduated, and, you know, it was, it was decision time, like, what are you going to do in your life, you know, I, I applied, I was taking a federal police exam in Buffalo. I remember being in the middle of the exam thinking, I don’t think I’m going to do this. And I, I researched and I and I did an audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, a regional audition in Syracuse, where I did it somebody’s office and, and I got in, and I just shifted my life on a dime and got on a bus in Buffalo and got off at Port Authority, and stayed with my aunt Tootsie and a story and, and started waiting tables Matt, and going to school. Wow. So how it really how it really kind of began,
I asked this question of Eric Roberts. Last weekend, I was kind of surprised that his answer. And I basically I, I posed it as is. A lot of people see what you do. And maybe it’s not hard work. But they also tend to think, well, it’s just a matter of luck, and and not really so much hard work. And Eric, you basically blew me away with this answer. what degree do you think luck plays in in your career?
Bill Fichtner 12:40
I think you create your own luck, I don’t think I don’t think there’s a lot of luck. That’s what
I the answer. I I don’t think there’s a lot of luck. Listen, you know, what, what, what I always do say to people over time, I do believe this. You’re in it long enough, you put your 10,000 hours in my first agent in New York, you know, little tiny desk in the old equity building in Times Square with an ashtray that was about six inches high. And he said, Put your 10 years and Bill. You know, it might happen before it might happen after but you put your 10 years. And what I do think is that if you hang in, everybody’s going to get a shot. Are you ready when you get it? Right, right. Everybody’s going to get a shot. Now, that being said, you know, you know, there’s a lot of avenues to go in the entertainment business, a lot of people begin as an actor, and it may not be, that might not be your thing. In the end. I remember getting when I got into my first after the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I, which is the time when you went there was a second year and you were invited back for that. And I got invited back to the second year. Not all kids work. I chose not to go for a lot of reasons. But what I wanted was I wanted a good scene study class. They call them studios. I mean, there’s like the Michael Howard studio, there was the William Esper studio, the different acting playwrights horizons, these are a lot of things I remember back then I’m sure they’re different now. But back then I wanted to get into one of these like Acting Studios. And so I got into one of those. And I remember the first one that I was in a teacher named Peter Thompson. And there were 20 kids in that class. And they were really talented. And I wish I thought like everybody knew more than me, because I didn’t do it in high school. I didn’t really do it in college, I never really did a play a whole play outside of a scene or something. And I could tell you out of those 20 Kids after a few months, they were all good. But I could point out the five of them that were that were really in it. And and I think you know what I mean by that like, really in it. That’s the We’re gonna do, we’re gonna, and I, and I kind of felt at that time, that that was one of them. And, and I thought everybody in the class was really amazing. But there was a difference. And I think that there’s a tenacity and and never give up. But also, you know, acting is one of those things too, that I think you can teach somebody how to you know how to get better. But I don’t know, if you can teach somebody how to act, I think there’s an innate thing about, you know, being in a moment. Wow, listening, I really do I, I’m not sure if you can teach that one thing. I don’t know,
I tend to agree with you. On on this point. And I mentioned this about a young actor who I had on the podcast recently. And what it is, is authenticity and a believability about them. And a natural idea, I know this guy, I can relate to this guy, no matter what role they’re in. And I don’t think everybody can do that, especially on camera. So you know, stages is kind of different. But I think with you, and I’m not blowing smoke, everything I’ve seen you when it feels like you’re a real person, it doesn’t feel like you’re acting. And I you know, I’m not sure if that’s training or natural ability, but you’re very, you’re very real to people. And authentic is the word I like to use. And I don’t think you can teach authenticity.
Bill Fichtner 16:28
Well, thank you. I think that, you know, there’s also something to be said about this to about what I said a minute ago about, you know, I don’t think you can teach somebody, you know, a lot of people have the innate ability to do certain things, whether it’s an inner calling, whatever. But, you know, I can tell you this much from the field of being wanting to be an actor and wanting to be a working actor. There’s a lot of stuff that comes with that. And there’s a lot of worry, there’s a lot of, you know, fear. Am I good enough, you know, you know, there’s nervousness when you’re younger than that. I remember walking into auditions and walking out one time and just saying, I, I can’t, I can never do that again. I mean, I was just so nervous, like, I can’t, I can’t do something that makes me sick. But so there’s that element to it. People have to fight through that and get through the other side of that, right. You know, I think you know what I mean. But then, then it gets back to that tenacity thing, you know, right. I remember one day when I had an epiphany moment when I was like, 25, six, or maybe 27 years old, and I was living in the West Village. And I just one day, it was just, I had no money, I had nothing, I had no job at nothing. And I had to go back to getting another job waiting tables, and I kind of worked a little bit got away from that. And I was going back and I felt like I was falling backwards. And everything sucked in I I thought I walked back to my little tiny apartment, I said, That’s it, man. I’m going back to school changing my life. Well, that lasted about like, 25 minutes. And I’m like, Alright, there’s nothing else I want to do. So why don’t you get over that bill and get back at it. I don’t think once the creative bug bites you. You’re kind of diseased with it for the rest of your life. But what you said what you just said right there, I think applies to everything in the creative arts, whether you’re a musician, a comedian, writer, whatever, you whatever you do, I think we all will all that you just said kind of applies to all that the the moments of self doubt the moments of I feel like I’m falling back instead of moving forward and all that stuff that you have to fight through.
Unknown Speaker 18:50
Yeah, yeah, it is. There, you know, and, you know, for those that hang in and, and are lucky enough to, you also have to have things go your way. Not Not to say like I said earlier, I don’t think luck has anything to do with it. I don’t think luck has anything to do with how much of your heart and soul you put into it. That’s an inner thing. I then there will come a time later on. Sure. You know, you know, the stars got to align a little bit you could call it the universe, smiling on you call it luck, but you’re going to need a little bit of that. And everybody will get a little bit of that. I think moment happens, you know, what do you do with it? Right?
I think there’s a point where and I think a lot of people get hung up on this is, as you mentioned, it’s kind of like you make your own luck and you build your own luck by your networking by you by working hard and making the right contacts and people seeing that your work is good. And seeing that you’re you’re have some integrity in your work. And that kind of opens up more doors. And the the key thing is to recognize opportunity when it comes your way. So, with that in mind, have you? Have you ever taken roles that you didn’t like just to work? Or? Or did you just Will you? Have you been blessed to have always been part of productions that you really felt good about?
Bill Fichtner 20:25
I love this question. And I will say this, and I don’t. And I mean, and I don’t wear this is like a badge of honor of like, you know, man, I drew the line in the sand of that. But I’ve always had a thing that if I didn’t believe in something, I’m positive that I’m not going to be very good. And, and it was a big fear. And I remember as a young actor being in New York, and I remember one time is Disney before I ever did a film because listen, I moved to New York when I was 21. Everybody I knew got a job in a movie before me. And not that I didn’t want to do things on stage. But I really wanted to work in film someday. And I did my first official film, I did a small little part, but I didn’t really count that it was kind of like a glorified extra. But my first official film that I got, I was 36 years old. 15 years of going for it and never getting a getting a job doing it. Wow. And yeah, no, that’s how long and then when things shifted, everything shifted. But, you know, getting back to this thing about I, I always had this fear that if I if I didn’t believe in something that I would be bad, and it was a big fear, and I want to be bad. So one time in New York, I’m a young actor, I finally got an agent. And I get an audition for this is pretty popular, pretty successful, very well known casting director in New York, I read the script, it was a big of is a Hollywood director. I’m a young guy trying to get a job in a movie. I read the role. I didn’t like it was the role of a pedophile. And I was like, Listen, I’m an actor, you know, I go out on a road I try to find, find the guy in that. But I read that I don’t want to find it’s, it’s my choice. You know, and then, you know, I had people I remember friends at the time going, Well, that’s acting, and I said, Well, we’ll then go active while you try to get it. I don’t feel like I don’t feel like going down that road. Because I didn’t believe in it. Right. And my agent at the time said to me, Are you out of your mind? And I said, Wow, I’m sorry. But I do you want me to do you want me to go in there and meet this famous casting director and, and director and tell him Well, yeah, yeah, yeah, when I’m really not interested in it. Because that’s walking in there in line. So I’m gonna you want me to go in there and lie to them. I don’t want I don’t want to play. I don’t want to do that. And they were like, Well, you know, and then the casting director was like I said, this big famous casting director, apparently said back to my agent at the time, I used that kid out of his freakin mind. He never called me again, ever Wow, ever called me again, for anything that he ever cast after that. I’m like, you know, and I felt bad. But I’m like, Well, what are you gonna? Do you make your choices? So to answer your question, to get back to it, know that I don’t take things just for money. And it’s not like, I don’t need to make money and ever family and all of that. I got offered a film one time, that was another part that I was just, I couldn’t stand it. And it was, you know, an indie independently financed film, and it was more money that I had ever made in a movie, at that point in my life ever. And I was and I hadn’t worked for like six months. And I got the script, I showed it to my wife, I went down in my man cave. I got about halfway through it. And my wife came down. And she said, so how was it? You know, she was so excited. I said, Oh, I stopped that two page like, 50 it sucks. She knew right then and there, it’s not going to happen. I’m gonna just know I can’t.
So but on that, on that note, is it more important that the entire story be really good? Or is it enough that the character that you are going after the role for is really, really inspiring and something you want to do?
Bill Fichtner 24:27
It’s a combination of all of it, you know, it’s, you know, there’s a lot of parts to like, like a film or television show or something? Who are the fellow actors? What’s the story? I mean, it all it all and I’m old school in that way. If it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage at all begins with a great script. Who’s doing the part? You know, you find, you know, you never know what it is, you know, maybe one area comes up a little shorter. Maybe it’s a, you know, maybe it’s a director you’ve never heard of before, you know, I mean, I, I had a guy send me a script, this past October and first time director but didn’t know the guy didn’t know anything about the guy had a conversation on the phone with him. I was like, awesome, dude. I’m in. Wow, man, I just I believe, I believe what he had to say. I liked the role a lot. I liked the whole story and everything. You know, it’s whatever it is, you know, enough stuff come together and you’re like, that’s a worthy journey. I want to take I want to take that journey.
You mentioned the pedophile role and is does that come into your thought process? I don’t want to play a guy that people are gonna associate with the bad guy.
Bill Fichtner 25:40
You know, man, well, listen. Listen, I’ve my good buddy Kim coats and I that’s a Canadian actor that I met shooting Black Hawk Down and and we’ll talk about him in a little while because I shot that film that I wrote with another friend for me and Kim coats to do together. But cozy and I got this thing that we say to each other which is Come on man. If you’re if if you work in movies in this business, you have blue eyes and cheekbones you kill people. That’s it. I’ve played my my chair of like heavies. I tend to, I tend to call them like misunderstood characters. But yeah, yeah. But I listened. I I’ve even I found this thing that well, it’s, it’s the words that I use for it. Which, if you if I can’t find anything that a character cares about, then I don’t know how to play him. Because he’s not like a real person, you know, that people don’t think they’re bad. So what makes that a real person, even though he is he could be a bad guy or a bad guy in that script? What does he care about? When you find the answers to that, and then he gets to be a real person. I’ve read scripts where I thought there’s absolutely no redeeming quality whatsoever. And, you know, I was what do I do with it? And you know, not really, just not for me.
Bill Fichtner 27:07
All right, shifting gears a little bit here, just a tiny bit here. A lot of upcoming. People, people who are young, and and want to be in film, start from one perspective, I want to be an actor, I want to be a director, I want to be a producer. And they end up being all of those things. And they feel it’s out of necessity. So a lot of people think young people, especially the young filmmakers, I’m talking to be bad the writer, director, producer, and all of that even editor and sometimes even camera man, or you know, they do at all? I know, you’ve had some experience with that, but I’m not sure your experience applies so much to what they’re doing. Because you weren’t established after before you started doing that stuff. But maybe you can speak to that a little bit about the the toll it takes to do all the jobs the the emotional investment you have to make when a film is all yours. And, and the the long process that you’re buying into when when you do that.
Bill Fichtner 28:21
Yeah, you know, that’s a it’s a big question with a lot of what a lot of offshoots but you know, two things to say about that. One is this. Everything is so different in this day and age today than it was. I graduated college in the spring of 1978 and moved to New York. And you know, people back then looked for jobs, like on Broadway or Off Broadway, then then 10 years after that five years after that it was anywhere that you could get a job smaller theaters, it’s things were so different is they are today today is you know, the age of information happened. And you know, the technology of what people can do with iPhones people are I got a buddy that shot a film a feature film, a friend of mine named Bobby out of Dallas, Texas, he shot a feature film with his iPhone, right? And he got into the Toronto Film Festival with it. So things are different where where do you get your opportunities? If if somebody is so inclined that like you know, it? I would imagine if that same technology that is out there today, and the possibilities and what’s available to young artists, you know, boy, I think we all would have been making movies back then. We’re doing what people are doing today. Again, it was different back then it was like you know you wanted to be an actor you that’s the road you’re on. Didn’t seem like many people split away from that. But, you know, to be more specific about your question. I can tell you this from my experience. Instead of making a feature film that I thought about for 10 years, and then to go through to produce it directly and co write and play the CO leading it and everything, it’s, it is the most total, most fulfilling, hardest freakin thing that I ever did. Life can’t wait to do it again. Bad but it is, it is it creates it creatively. Anybody that that can that can take that road and put it together, and to actually get it to people. And if you are so lucky, because now, not only is it you know, the percentages are small for those that can do all of that and finish it. But if you can finish it and actually make something if you could get it into a film festival, if you could someday sell it, the percentages go from like 10 to 15. You know, I mean to 10 to eight to six to four to two, and then someday to ever see the light of day and see a movie screen. You know, people think, oh, you go on you make a movie, people are gonna see it, I think you’re in the less than, like, 1% I’ll ever see a screen or to get released. My point is this, if you’re so inclined, and that’s how you creatively, you know, you’re so moved, God bless you go for it. hardest thing in the world, but go for it. Because it is those that will take that chance, just like it was for somebody back when I decided that with my criminal justice degree to get on a on a bus in Atlanta Port Authority, you know, with $60 in my pocket. Boy, you gotta have something inside of you go for it. Because if you don’t, it’s never gonna happen.
I’m really glad to hear you say that. You can’t wait to do it again. Because a lot of the guys I’m talking to are discouraged by that process. And I’ve asked several, you know, what’s it worth it? Just Just as a matter of back then the movie you would just kind of talking about was that colebrook? Yes. Oh, yeah. Great film. I like a movie that that sticks with you after you’ve seen it? And you think about it for a few days after?
Unknown Speaker 32:08
Unknown Speaker 32:09
and and that that film definitely had that for me. But the question is, now, when you’re doing something like that, now, you said you thought about it for 10 years, when you’re writing a piece like that, do you take into account what it’s going to take to produce this as you’re writing it, or you just write three, you know, from your heart from, you know, put down what you want, and don’t think about how you’re going to fund it and produce it until it’s time to fund it and produce it.
Bill Fichtner 32:41
But listen, I’m gonna, I’m sure that that part of what I’m going to say is even going to be useful, even to someone who’s just beginning, you know, put themselves on the road to doing this in their life. There will be some value in this, but I have to tell you, there were times when when I met some co producers, a couple of folks from Canada, great people that really believed in the script and wanted to get behind it and be a part of it. There were times when the conversation would go. Well, you know, we should think about that for you know, it felt like there were times when the conversation would almost be like a means to an end. And what I mean by that it’s like, well, we should think about this, because that way that’ll be smarter for like foreign sales. And there’s real value in that because the truth about it is, you know, it’s show business, not so friends, let’s go have a good time and try to do something, you really you want to make something that’s creatively, you know, your, that you believe in, but at the same time, you know, you have investors, you want to pay these people back. That’s my big commitment about Cole brookton. To get to that point someday. But there also is this thing, where you got to stop and go, Oh, more than a few times. And this is the old school and mead said, Hold on a second, wait a minute, wait a minute. It’s a movie isn’t any good? If it’s not, if it isn’t the best that it could be? Well, that you just skipped the step right there. You know, that’s what let’s not put the cart before the horse. Right? You know, I remember there were times when we were, you know, running out of money in post production, and we weren’t going to have money for the sort of music that I felt needed to be in there. You know, we really fell on this, like American folk rock sort of, you know, soundtrack to it. And that would be the sound of the film. And, well, there wasn’t any money. So why don’t we just get like, you know, 10th music that’s like, from like, you know, some GarageBand and I’m like, No, no, no, we’re not gonna do that. But you know, that’s, that’s not. So now we’re thinking about it. Now we’re putting band aids on thing or we’re not going to really give it 100% in every single area of the movie. And I’m like, Well, I can’t do that. Well, what’s the point that you know, maybe Sometimes you’re going to be forced into certain things, knock on wood that I’m that, you know, while I did call Brooke, I was working on this show, as we talked about mom, and I’ve got a massively understanding wife, because I remember looking at Kimmy gone, I’m sure she goes, well then fix it darling. Because you have to write and and I do believe that anybody that creatively has taken this walk down the road, boy, draw a line in the sand and know where you can go and can’t go and do whatever you have to do to have it be your vision. Wow. Because if you don’t have that, it is not vision by committee. Right? You know, people are going to are going to put their two cents in and I have to tell you something, I wanted people’s two cents I really did. It may not, it may not be a thought that has any value to my journey or what I want. But there’s an awful lot of people that told me stuff that I was like, Oh, thank you. I didn’t see that one. Budget don’t lose. You know, what you’re trying to say? what your vision is, what you’re feeling is? Because if you do, I don’t know what you’re making that and you probably won’t know it either. Right? Right,
I get it. So you mentioned how the industry has changed. And it truly has now for young people trying, they finish their film, right. And they have so many possibilities of how do I get it out there do I shop it around, whatever. But some of those seem to be. And I hate to make it all about money, some of them seem to be a dead end road where it’s never going to be feasible to pay back your investors in any of that, anything like that. And I’m talking specifically about like, you put a film on as, say, Amazon Prime, and I’m not singling them out, I’m just that’s an example. But and you put it on there and you every time your movie gets paid or played for two hours, or whatever it is, you get like six cents or whatever. And so it’s ridiculous to try to think that it’s ever going to make its money back this that come into your thinking when you’re making a film where How am I going to distribute this? Or do you in your case? Do you know in advance where it’s going to go and how it’s going to get distributed?
Bill Fichtner 37:19
Well, first of all, no, you don’t know because you’re making the film at that point. And all I want to do while I’m making the film, is make the best film that I could possibly make, to tell the story as best as I can to have it be seamless in the moments were all of those things that make a complete thing. Now once you have that, like you mentioned amazon prime, you know not well, you got to sell it to Amazon Prime. If you if you go out and you get a distributor, the distributor will try to sell it to Amazon Prime and every other place they can including potentially cable stations, whatever, HBO Showtime, you don’t know you want, you want all the best possibilities. And those collectively, little by little like you said, you’re going to get six said, well, you get six cents, you know, 2 million times you’re going to you’re going to help start to pay some people back. But, you know, truth be told, you know, even even when I shot called Brook, at my age right now, I have to tell you something, I went to school. I mean, I earned I earned a master’s and 12 months, you know, figuring out what to do with this stuff. There were there were so many things that I truly was unaware of, of distribution of what you had to do. But the only thing that really drove me and let’s face it, anybody else that makes a film, go out there and, and, you know, plan and pray for the 17 miracles, you’re going to need to have happen because you will need them and they will come. And but even with all of that. There were things that I was I was unaware of disown aware of and learned on the fly. But I never lost sight of the one thing as I said, which was make the best movie that you can i because that’s the best shot you have of ever having people see the film.
I really appreciate that answer.
Bill Fichtner 39:21
Oh, yeah. And you know, listen, listen, we’re in. We’re in the throes right now with colebrook sure, you know, in the process of getting, you know, the tax incentive back from upstate New York, great, you know, we’re in the process of you know, I got a distributor for it. I took it to film festivals didn’t get into every festival, but the earthy kind of ones like like Woodstock in upstate New York and Napa Valley Film Festival out. You know, a lot of these earthy kind of festivals that are great festivals. They really got the film. And so I took it to these festivals and we want awards at these festivals. All, you know, in my mind, I’m thinking, Okay, I got an indie film here. One of these days, if I ever get a distributor, I’m gonna make a post about for this film, and I’m not posting I’m gonna put some laurels and, and it’s gonna be that I won some things that these indie films, you know, it means a lot to me. Yeah, I mean listen to it meant a lot to all of us when we all went to the festivals, all the actors in it and other people involved and just had an awesome time celebrating the movie, but I knew someday it would help, it would help someday in selling the film. It’s just a little piece of the puzzle. And people recognize the song. So it’s these things and when you start to put them all together, and getting back to does the movie work, and then then you can start to see, and this is where the education really came in for me of how does everybody make the money back. And it’s, it’s my commitment. I’ll tell you this much too. And it’s important to say this, because, and I’m not saying anything that any young filmmaker probably hasn’t experienced, multiple times, or the first time for sure, which is, I remember the conversation where we needed something while we were shooting called Brook. And I was like, we didn’t have the money. And I’m like, Well, you know, pay my co writer but defer my payment on as a writer, as someone else came up. And you know, we’re in post production and well, the for my payment is producer. Oh, yeah, we got this thing here. We’re short on money for music differ my payment is what he called us as a director. You know, the only thing that I got paid on was Screen Actors Guild because you have to, but everything else that was did come down as a choice to me, it was like, put it back in the movie. And you’re going to have things like that. And you have to, because it makes a better movie. And in the end, you have to give yourself the best shot to have success for the film. And it all comes back to how good is the film? Is it everything you wanted it to be? Did you put everything in with that you could set your best shot.
So having that experience. I’m not sure if you have any advice, but I got to ask for a young guy who really wants to be an actor, but feels like he has to write his own because he’s not getting the opportunities. I’m not sure even have had, they would follow that path in today’s world. But if you’re really serious about I just want to be an actor. But I feel like I have to make this film myself. I have to write it and produce it and directed. Do you have any advice for that? Would you say stick to your your true strength in acting or directing or whatever it is, rather than go that route and try to make your own film right from the start? Because, again, I know you were an established actor, before you even took that upon yourself. A lot of these guys are coming out of the gate thinking that’s what they have to do.
Bill Fichtner 43:00
Yeah, you know, you know, Listen, man, it’s even the thought that of like, not getting seen as an actor and I’ll make my own thing. I mean, that is so that’s like speaking a foreign language when I when I was young. Nobody you know me now. It’s just like, out of the book. Imagine that thinking, well, nobody’s gonna hire me as you know, as a chef, I’m just gonna open up my own restaurant.
That’s what Stallone did, though with Rocky. I mean, I know he was in some parts before that. But I think he felt like he wasn’t getting enough. At least this is from what I’ve read that he he wasn’t getting enough part. He wasn’t getting enough opportunities. So he just said, You know what, screw it. I’m just gonna write my own thing, direct it and produce it.
Unknown Speaker 43:48
That’s what I have read over time as well. But you know, listen, what you know what happened with Stallone and Rocky and who was it? Who’s, what’s the Hollywood folklore that Who was it that the studio’s really wanted to play the part? Oh, yeah. Somebody like Robert Redford. You know, and, and, and apparently still on was like, No, no, no, it’s me. A you know, listen, I love that story. It’s a great story. It’s a great film. He’s great in it. And that’s, I mean, that’s like beyond rare,
right? lightning in a bottle for sure.
Bill Fichtner 44:26
Oh, just lightning and and a really, really, really big bottle and a little diesel lightning that was just magic. But, but listen to to somebody. You know, if a young actor CAG can’t get a job, you know, it isn’t making a movie isn’t necessarily going to put you on the road to be a better actor. Right? You know, you can never let go with the fact of how am I a better actor. Listen, I every three years I still read the same acting book I bought 40 years ago. goal. So you know, everybody’s gonna make you know, and I always find the little something new in it. But, you know, you’re always a student of that. But. But if you go down that road and put all your heart and soul and energy into writing and producing and what it takes and directing and everything, you know that you might just find out that Wow, you’re one, you’re one heck of a storyteller, and you’ve just found your calling. And you might not. But But again, you aren’t going to know until that is? And I don’t really know, you know, that’s it. I find interesting, you know, even the question that you asked, there’s a guy that can’t get an acting job. Is that a, is that a real place to go? If you’re inspired to go there? And you want to show your stuff in that way? That is this day and age, you know, and stranger things have happened, right? Well, I’m how tell people can, can, can can make a difference in their life?
Unknown Speaker 45:58
Clearly, I don’t have the insight and experience you have the might, my tendency to answer that question is, if you really want to be an actor, you should concentrate on being an actor, because getting involved, especially when you’re young, I’m thinking I’m playing. Because getting involved in writing and directing is great for the future. But if your goal is to be an actor, don’t let other things distract you from that. Because, again, I know you know this from going through it. And I’m actually going through it right now making my own film, that it’s a life investment, when you when you actually go to make a film and you are the guy, you are the director, you this is your film, you’re you’re giving up part of your life to make this film, it’s like it’s worse than having a, I’m not going to stay in it because all fine ladies, it’s like having a child but not as painful physically.
Unknown Speaker 46:57
It’s, you know, as I said, before, hardest road I’ve ever walked down. And a little bit of, you know, my own personality, I’ve you know, I’m the guy that wakes up in the morning and opens up the curtains looks in the backyard. And if I see one shrub, that’s kind of like weird, you know, I’ll end up getting a cup of coffee and a pair of little scissors, and I’ll go out there. And so I’m the was the same way making colebrook. You know, I just, I couldn’t put a bandaid on anything that I thought could be just a little bit better. So yes, it is. It’s a massive, massive commitment. You want if you want to be like the most incredible actor that you can be? Go Go find out how to work that hard to be that I do agree with you. I just think that there were there’s never really been any rules. But there’s a lot less now than there were when I first moved to New York, right? It just feels like things are reinvented on a weekly basis, you know, or a daily basis. Yeah. And that is that is our world, you want to you want to reinvent yourself and, and, you know, take a journey. Go for it. You You may find that is that is your thing. It’s it’s, it’s almost in some ways, it’s almost an impossible question to answer. Because my answer would be one of my experience that was, you know, began 40 years ago, and my experience is not the world. Right. And, but but I still have some, but But then again, you know, listen, the old sensibilities, some of them, you know, are always true, right? You know, I remember when, you know, the first time my mother came to visit me in New York, and I was in the late 70s, I had a little apartment and queens and. And she came to the city and we went around on the subway and looked at things and she went back to my apartment and, and she said, Well, it only looks like there’s two things you have any control over honey. And I said, What’s that mom? She goes, how much work you put into it, and how clean your apartment is? And that’s it. That’s how much are you willing to put into it? Great.
So a lot of the young guys filmmakers to directors feel like they need to really pursue a name or actor or somebody who’s a household name and get frustrated when they can’t, you know, you know, you’re not going to get a superstar actor to commit to on first time directors film unless the script really knocks them out. And you can even get the script in their hands and that it can be impossible, but a lot of them feel like if I can’t get a big star to do this movie. It’s not worth doing. You have any perspective on that?
Bill Fichtner 49:50
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Especially after having gone through and making coldbrook you know, it’s it is it is our world today. It is As they sell things in a though things change and everything, you know, they sell things on, on on the who’s in it. There’s There’s no doubt about it. It’s like foreign sales we have an I my, what kind of film is that? What is it? I called Brooke as a film that’s, that’s like a PG rated film about friendship, how far do you go to help a stranger? There’s, there’s no guns, there’s no violences there’s, there’s no sex, there’s no nudity, nothing blows up. I mean, I had people when I was looking for a distributor going, Yeah, it’s gonna be a tough one, really, you know, people would see the movie at festivals and go really good movie, man, I don’t know what to do with it. Because a lot of those things are elements that people do sell movies on, you know, you know, to foreign markets, and, and you sell it on name value. Now listen, I’m I’m a, you know, recognizable actor to whatever degree and, and I was fortunate enough with cold Brook that I raised, you know, or my co producers really, along with my help raised the money from the private sector. So one of the upshot of that whole thing is that I didn’t have some producer over my head from Hollywood, or somewhere telling me, you got to do this, we got to do this, we got to hire this person, if you don’t have this person in the movie, you’re not gonna be able to make it. So because we, you know, raise money privately, I was able to go to who I felt were the best actors to be in the film, that the actors that blow my mind, and I went to them and they did the movie. But you can’t say, and I can’t say, I, I put someone in there that has the sort of name value that’s going to make a big difference to people in the world that might really need that in order to purchase a film. If I had if I had a household, you know, name that was in, in the film, what would it have been easier for me to sell? coldbrook? Definitely, no doubt about it. It might not have been the same film and it might not have been, you know, every element changes something makes it a you know, slightly different painting. But it does make a difference. Yeah, I mean, I get that. But then again, people go out and, and they make films and if you’re lucky enough to have somebody see it and go, I have no idea who’s in that movie. But that was unbelievable. Right? Well, it doesn’t happen often. But it happens. And and then all of a sudden, I mean, look at the people who went and spent $60,000 on their credit cards. It made Blair Witch Project. Yeah, it’s gonna make a scary movie, but like $60 million, or whatever. Yeah. You know, Blitz depends on what it is. I mean, I have a good buddy of mine, listen to this, you’re gonna love this as a good buddy of mine that produced a film that I was in about four or five years ago. And, and, and he said, I, you know, I keep in touch. And we say, Bill, man, I really want to see you. I really want to see your film. I sent him the film and and I had lunch with him. And he sat down with me. He goes, What? Why? Why would you make that movie? I like, I’m like, what kind of questions why would you ask me? What do you mean? Why would I make that movie? In this day and age today a movie about like, how far do you go to help a stranger and finding an inner calling to do the right thing? Yeah, but But what are you ever going to do with it? And, you know, I got his point. But it’s, but it is the movie that I wanted to make. The next time that I make a film, do I? Will I adhere to those sort of standards? Or or? Or things that people might expect in this business to help you sell a film? Well, I guess the next time around, I certainly don’t ever want to make a movie for someone else’s. You know, what they think is that movie I should make? You want to make the movie you want to make it but at the same time? Sure, you know, I’ve I have a better eye about maybe how to how to blend those things together. Though I still think that cold Brook, if I was to start it all over again today, I still think I would have made the same movie.
Right? And my perspective and my might not be yours. But my and I understand that everything is a business and money makes the world go round. But from my perspective as an artist, and I don’t care what creative art you’re involved in, being proud of the work and being really happy with with the work that you’ve done and produced is the number one way I would measure success.
Bill Fichtner 54:49
Oh, there’s there’s a lesson and then but then again, it comes down to That’s such I mean, that’s a huge thing. And that’s a my thing. You can eat away. But it’s not everybody, right?
Bill Fichtner 55:12
Okay, it won’t pay. You can eat it or bite. But it’s the most it’s the first step to me. I’m not saying it’s the only measure of success. Again, I understand this the business, but if I’m not proud of the work I’ve done, and it makes a million dollars, I’m gonna end up drinking or doing drugs or something. Because Because I’m gonna, I’m gonna feel like I cheated somebody.
Bill Fichtner 55:35
I there’s Yes, exactly. Yeah, you did. And I feel the same way. And you cheated yourself. And I don’t like doing that. Right? And I don’t live that way. And I don’t want to listen, I have, I have an issue. And the older that I get, it seems to come on more and more. I don’t really like watching myself. You know, even when I started working in films, I would get asked to like, do you want to watch dailies? And I’d be like, No, no, no, thanks. Is it smart to do that? Sure. You can learn things from that from watching stuff. I just, I just would never mind things. Then the older I got, the only times that ever really see a film was like at the premiere, or when you had to do some sort of ADR looping you know, sound on it, when they were putting it together. I don’t have that thing where I need to, I don’t get this sort of gratification where Oh, man, I gotta watch myself, you know, because I’m so good. I don’t have that. I’m a little Actually, I’m a little hyper critical of my own thing. So here I come trying to make this film, you know, in the last couple of years and, and boy talk about, you know, I don’t like watching myself, but yet I played the CO lead in this. And I got a great editor. And I told this young editor that I met that I just believed in, met him on the phone, actually, it didn’t even see his real. And I think I talked to him for an hour. And I’m like, gearin, I love you. What’s your name again, buddy. He’s my editor. And I can’t imagine not wanting to work with him the next time I do something, and but I said to him, I’m, I might cut myself out of this movie, and I won’t serve the film. So you edit the scenes we’re going to work on you show me what you’re thinking about. Because I don’t want to do that. Wow. And that’s what we did. And actually, it was a lesson learned on the first, the first day of editing was the first week, first couple of days. And I was picking things out going, Oh, I liked that moment. I liked that moment. And we worked on this big opening scene, and the scene that opens the film. And he played it for me after two days. And I was like, it doesn’t work. And and I know what I’m doing. I’m getting in my way, I’m screwing myself up. Because I don’t like watching myself. And I love everybody else that’s in the scene. I can’t do that. So let’s let’s adjust something right now. you edit the scene, and let’s demo start to bounce some thoughts off of it. And and, you know, at the end of the day, I you know, getting back to you know, a couple of years go by and make the film gets distributed. Thank God, it’s out there right now on these platforms. And, and but when I look at the film now, you know if i grown up since then, sure. Am I smarter about things? Absolutely. But I’m still proud of it. You know, I? Boy, if I didn’t have that? I don’t know what I would think if I didn’t if I wasn’t proud of it. I you know, and I would hope that nobody ever saw it. Right, you know? Yeah.
Wow, this has been a really insightful and powerful conversation. I hope a lot of the young filmmakers and you know what musicians guys can can relate to what everything you said to it’s just a different medium that they work in. I got to tell you a little story before I prefaced My last question to you because it’s something I asked every creative person. I play in a band. And I was buying an AMP off of Craigslist. And the guy told me to meet him in a in a mall parking lot. And you might be familiar with $1 what Whitman? What were more parking. I know where it is. Yeah, sure. So I got there before him. And I’m thinking why you know and amplify something you need to plug into why isn’t this guy having me to his house, he must. He must have something to protect, doesn’t want strangers to pass, I can understand that. I got there early. He pulls up and I knew right away the guy had a lot of money by the vehicle he pulled up with. His wife was like covered in diamonds and pearls. He was with them in the passenger seat. And we got to talk and they said what are you doing? And I said I play in a band and he said, Oh, you’re living the dream. And I laughed in his face. I actually and I didn’t mean to be rude, but it was just a natural reaction. I said, You don’t understand. I’m not rich. I’m famous, I’m not a rock star. I play clubs, I play beaches, I play at nursing homes, I play private parties. My wife, I’m a working stiff musician. And he said, You don’t understand. I’ve been a day trader all my life, I’ve made a ton of money. I always wanted to be in a band, I’m selling you my amp, I’m retired, it means I’m never going to live my dream. You’re living my dream. And I went, Whoa. And I decided I got to make a film about this to show what it takes to really pursue no matter what you do. Whatever you do in life, there’s a price to pay you never know somebody else’s life into your actually step into their shoes. But there are a lot of people who go through life, never pursuing their dream for one reason or another, they you know, money becomes more important, or other things become more important. And they are, for lack of a better way to put it not courageous enough to follow their dream. So I have to ask you, do you feel like you lived your dream?
Bill Fichtner 1:01:07
Yes. Wow. Yeah, I remember. moments when I first made a decision that I thought I How could I might my college girlfriend, I was I was telling you, you know, taking these classes at SUNY Brockport. And when I graduated, my college girlfriend gave me a paperback book. And it was called How to be a working actor. I am actually in my little man cave off my garage, and I’m looking at it right now on the shelf. And I read that book 10 times that summer. And it was just the nuts and bolts of how, what do you do if you go to LA? And where do you study? And this was four years ago? And where do you go? If you go to New York? And how where do you study? And how do you do it? And, and I read it over and over. And I remember at the time, when I read that book that it was so exciting, that it was a world that I was just having a new dream about. And and was dreaming about it during the day and at night. And but it was a dream every moment and in something back then back then. Did anybody really know an actor living in check the log in New York that was so that was on television? Or? Or an Hollywood guide? You didn’t know actors? Right? I mean, so to, to get to that place and to have enough, enough inside and you know, and then that probably comes from my mother, you know, just always given you the confidence that you can you can try it, you can do it, whatever it was, and, and to go to New York to go through that were the hard times did I ever Honestly, I can’t believe I’m gonna say this. Did I? Did I ever really? Do I feel at my place in my life right now that I filled every dream that I ever had? Absolutely not? No. But I ended up with a few other ones that I didn’t think I was going to have. And they were really freaking good. So but I put myself on a road did I did I get as far down the road as I thought, maybe not. But I but I got on the road and and I live on that road. And it’s it’s, it’s, you know, it’s the road that I that I chose back in the summer of 78. When I turned in that police exam and said, This just isn’t going to be my road, I’m going to go on this road and I have no and it’s not like I knew anybody in the business, nothing, nothing. But I’m going to go on that road. And I’m going to try to get down that road. And I live on that road now. So you know the other thing I want to say too, about what you were saying before about playing in a band and buying that amp. I will say this much about the things that I’ve worked on in my life. Every single thing that I have done in my life is is is like a piece of the puzzle of whatever your life is. Are you proud of every piece that you put into the puzzle? The finish something and feel like you did it in every way possible that you can then be proud of it? Because if you’re not what does it mean? What your puzzle misses a few pieces. I don’t care if you if they’re all the pieces that you dreamt about. But boy, man, if you care about it and care about each piece you put in there, then you puzzle you’re going to be proud of it. And I try to live like that and everything. Especially the shrubs in the backyard. You know, man, I can’t let it go. As soon as I get off the phone with you. I’m in the backyard today. It’s my job. Well, I’m gonna but it’s gonna look good. It’s gonna be a good piece of the puzzle.
Unknown Speaker 1:04:53
Right? I get it and and that’s that’s inspiring itself and i and i think that’s inspiring. If you’re still a young person, that’s a great, you know, I’m what I’m talking about young person, a teenager, somebody who hasn’t quite grown up yet, you’re just starting out, and you have maybe some idea of where your life is going to go, you just be open to the possibilities and opportunities that come because things change, as you said, you know, you were pursuing a criminal justice degree, and, and didn’t even the thought hadn’t even occurred to you to be an actor until it happened. And then you were open to it. So I would say for very young people who were, you know, trapped in an idea of this is where my life’s gonna go with at 15 years old or whatever, be open to possibilities that it’s not going to go exactly as you plan. And there might be something better to coming your way that you don’t even see on the horizon.
Unknown Speaker 1:05:53
I you know, the old expression, listen, you know, your pictures not coming. But keep your eyes open, because it might, it might be a better picture, right? You know, just, you know, add self belief will, will help you paint your own picture.
Wow. Well, I can’t thank you enough for for spending this hour with me today. And providing your perspective and insight through, like, whatever it is 3540 years of experience in in acting and film. And I hope it’s been really powerful, as powerful for the people who are listening as it is for me, but I again, I just want to express my sincere gratitude for you taking taken an hour of your time today to spend it with me and share your insights.
Unknown Speaker 1:06:44
Absolutely. My pleasure, sir. Absolutely.
Unknown Speaker 1:06:47
You have a good day with the shrubs. And
Unknown Speaker 1:06:53
what else do I do? I’m running out a project. I don’t leave the house
Unknown Speaker 1:06:57
I hear you know, it’s a very it’s a very troubling time and and, you know, a lot of people are really fixated on the lockdown and I say dude, do something you know, creative in this time you got nothing else to do find something creative to do.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:15
Right? Shut thoughts down, do something right, gentle rain, meditate, you know, just do what you can. I mean, it would be these are these are tough times in so many ways, you know, in so many ways for so many people. God bless all of them all. But you know, and for those in the creative thing, if anybody was tuning in today, you know that, that anything that I said has some meaning for you. That’s fantastic. What an honor to share it with you.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:42
Great, thank you again, Bill. Have a great day.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:45
Till the next time my friend Yep. You got
Unknown Speaker 1:07:49
my for now.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:49
All right back.
Bill Fichtner everybody. great insight there. I can’t imagine that if you’re a creative person, you didn’t get something of real value from his insight and perspective and I really grateful to have him. Join us today and share it with us. Just a note, I want to thank my good friend Vinnie Florrie for hooking this up for me today. He actually was responsible for getting billed to be on the show and I did not want to say goodbye without thanking Vinnie, Vinnie. So Laurie, thank you very much, buddy. Till next time, and I hope you got a great deal out of this show. I hope you’ll share it with your friends. I hope you subscribe. Till next time, I’m Matt nappo for the mind dog TV podcast. Bye for now.
Robert J. Sciglimpaglia, Jr. is an award winning actor, producer, best selling author, and attorney in the fields of entertainment, copyright/trademark, personal injury, and real estate law.His book Voice Over Legal”. covers all the legal aspects of becoming a voice-actor, from starting a business and establishing an LLC, to the proper contracts required to work as a voice actor. It also covers some of the basics of the business like agents and Performance Unions, such as SAG-AFTRA. Just two years later, his book was the #1 best-seller in Amazon’s entertainment law category.
Robert has a production company, Belair Productions, that has three short films that have brought home a combined 75 awards (and counting), which are running the festival circuit and are available for streaming on Amazon Prime and other platforms. Robert has appeared on National Television many times. He is best known as the DAD on the 2012 Chevy SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL, HAPPY GRAD. He appeared on HBO’s “The Duece” and has appeared several times on Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum”, Discovery ID’s “My Dirty Little Secret”, History Channels “Engineering an Empire”, a Recurring Role on Discovery ID’s “Watching the Detectives” and several others. He has appeared in a Guest Starring role on “The Perfect Murder” and “I’d Kill for You.” Robert’s very first venture into the acting field was a show called “American Experience: Hijacked!” which aired nationally on PBS-TV and was narrated by Campbell Scott. Since that time, he has appeared in numerous national projects with many big name stars, both in acting and voice overs such as: Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Brad Garrett, Kristen Johnson, Patrick Dempsey, Susan Sarandon, Amy Adams, James Marsden, Denis Leary, Tatum O’Neal, James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli, Edie Falco, Uma Thurman, Will Smith, Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Chris Noth, his friend Ian Ziering in Sharknado 2, Lance Henriksen, Robert John Burke, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro and numerous others.
Besides television, he has done many film projects in leading or supporting roles. Most recently he shot a short film called “Within and Without” that he produced as well, where he won several best actor awards, and the film has won over forty festival awards. He also shot a Sci/Fi project where he is lead actor called ONE, starring opposite LANCE HENRIKSEN (“Aliens, Close Encounters. Millenium). Prior to that he shot another film with Lance and ROBERT JOHN BURKE called “BEING” and prior to that he shot a Romantic Comedy called “Get Happy!” in a supporting role, “Robert Robbins.”One of his most notable roles was a film called “Home/Sick” where he played the lead character suffering from agoraphobia. His portrayal of the character was so real, an actual sufferer of the disorder wrote him to express that to him. The film finished in the Top 10 out of 400 films for fan favorites in an on-line film competition. Other roles include films called “The Maltese Murder Mystery” where he played the supporting role of “Tony Figlia”, “A Fine Layer of Darkness” which premiered at the HFC Film Festival, where he played the lead role of “Samuel Halford”, “E:8 Think Tank”, “Mind Morgue” and “Demon of Lataran” produced by Legion Films, and a short film called “Il Portiere (The Janitor)” which won the San Marcos Film Festival, where he played the lead role of “The Janitor.” He has also worked on big names films like “Music and Lyrics”, “Enchanted”, “American Gangster”, “Julie and Julia”, Oscar winning “Man on Wire“ and “Life Before Her Eyes”.
Robert also played the role of Howard Wagner in a recent production of “Death of a Salesman”, as well as leading roles in the off Broadway plays “Tables”, “Downsized” and “Assaulting a Vagina” and “Widow’s Paradise”.
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