Your Amazon Kindle single (isn't there a better word for it?)
My Seinfeld Year - in a few words, what is it about?
It's about my season as a staff writer on Seinfeld, and
the aftermath after being brought back to do a guest star appearance on
stint as a writer on Seinfeld dates back to 1994/95, right? Why
write about it now?
I suppose the technology caught up with
me. Kindle Singles are very successful and a way to tell a story that
doesn't quite add up to a book, but is larger than a magazine article. I'm
amazed at how Seinfeld still holds up today. I always wanted
to write my version of My Favorite Year, a film about writing on
the biggest show on Television, but my version is much more dizzying.
How would you describe the creative
process of writing an episode of Seinfeld - and were there
instances where you had to give up good ideas or were censored just to
stay in tone with the overall concept of the series?
for the most part not at all collaborative. It was very isolating. Writers
were not encouraged to help others. Everyone was trying to get their own
stories approved. One time I heard another writer was struggling to fit in
a missing piece, so I offered her a storyline. She thanked me, but I never
got a story credit for my contribution.
Jerry's character on Seinfeld, you have a background in standup
comedy. Did that at all help to relate to the scripts you were working on?
helped in the sense my act was about being socially inept, so my story
ideas always leaned toward George's character. I think stand-up comedians
always have an innate sense of timing that always translates to other
forms of writing they pursue.
giving away too much of My Seinfeld Year, what was the backstage
atmosphere like when working on the series?
actors were all very cordial to each other. Jerry and Larry kept everyone
in order. There was an incident after the table reading of the episode I
wrote I went to Michael Richards and told him sorry that some things for
him were cut by Larry David. Richards pleaded with me to put back the
physical comedy. It was obvious he was intimidated by David.
written for TV or movies only very sporadically since leaving Seinfeld
- did the work on the series actually have a discouraging effect on you
(or am I seeing something that just isn't there)?
It was a
combination of doing a guest star on Seinfeld, which led to
a lot of guest star roles and I thought that was the path to take, all
these jobs coming to me for a while fairly effortlessly. And yes, the
staff writing experience left a bad taste in my mouth.
having left Seinfeld as a writer, you did return to the series as
an actor for one episode, right? What was it like to return to the series,
and did you notice any change since your departure?
a lot less stressful returning as an actor. You're only there to do your
part, so you don't get wrapped up in the chaos of the show.
started your showbusiness career doing standup comedy, right? How did you
get into that, and how would you describe yourself, the standup comedian?
with Selena Gomez from
Wizards of Waverly Place
got into stand-up comedy mainly because it seemed accessible. All you had
to do was hang out at comedy clubs and hope someone would put you in a TV
show or something. Of course it wasn't that easy. And then I got caught up
in the comedy boom of the 80's, started getting gigs although I was a very
low key comic and my jokes were subtle. I never loved being on stage. I
just saw that as a means to breaking into other areas of show-business.
the last 2+ decades, you have guest-starred in pretty much every sitcom
there was, from Seinfeld, Friends and Everybody Loves
Raymond via My Name is Earl, Scrubs and Til Death
to Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana. Do you have
especially fond memories of any of the series you've been on, did you hate
any in particular?
I loved Wizards of Waverly Place
because it didn't have the uptight self-importance of some higher caliber
shows. It knew it was a silly kids show and it didn't take itself too
seriously. Everyone was so down to earth. For cache, no show lives on like
Seinfeld. Raymond sort of comes close.
In a phrase, how would you describe
yourself as an actor? And how do you usually approach your roles?
try to not complicate things. I know I have this misfit persona that comes
naturally and understand I don't fit into puzzles well.
have also done a lot of voicework of late. What can you tell us about that
aspect of your career, and how does it differ from acting in front of a
Voice work is great, a very low stressful job. It's
very concentrated on you and they make sure they get what they need and
get it right there. It's not hurried or frantic. I was a series regular on
Handy Manny, a kid's show and it afforded me to not be
desperate and chase the buck going on miserable cattle-call auditions for
parts I know I'm not right for. This desperation away, allowed me to be
more creative and write the kindle single and other projects.
Not too long ago, you have written and starred
in the film Fred & Vinnie - you just have to talk about that
movie for a bit!
Fred and Vinnie was one of those
labor of love projects I did. It was based on a true quirky friendship I
had with this friend who I describe as the adoring patent I never had.
Since He stayed in his home, he loved hearing any story I had about
venturing to the outside world. Soon though he visited me, and that's
where things got strained and sort of sad. We won some festival awards,
but still are trying to get distribution.
According to my information you are
currently working on your memoirs called Maybe We'll Have You Back
as well as a one-man show based on it. Would you care to talk about that
project of yours?
That's actually a whole book about what
it's like being a guest star actor looking for a home in showbiz and in
life. I'm trying out portions in little theaters.
Other future projects you'd like to
Writing other screenplays hoping to get
Your advice for aspiring writers, actors,
comedians who want to make it in the business?
what I did and try things out on people and ask if they're what people are
looking for. Read and write every day. Don't hold onto one thing as your
thing. Put it aside and move on and keep being creative.
actors, comedians, whoever else who inspire you?
Tarantino, Louis C.K., Steve Buscemi
Shawshank Redemption, Hair,
Dog Day Afternoon.
... and of course, films you really
Bromance films with stereotypes.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
for the interview!