search archive
explore archive Up

American Comedy Archives Oral Histories

Object Type: Folder
In root of archive



Title
Description
Date

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, "Weird Al" Yankovic talks about his early years, and his first break, getting his music played on the "Dr. Demento" radio show. He describes the types of parodies he does, and how he tends to stay away from satire and political humor. He recalls his television show, 'AL TV,' and his experiences interviewing guests like Eminem. Yankovic speaks of dealing with fame and celebrity, and what his fan base expects of him. He discusses his 'White & Nerdy' music video, which featured Donny Osmond, as well as his cult classic feature film 'UHF.' He speaks of the challenges of being a comedian in the music industry, and considers the question "Was it worth it?" Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 10, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Fame and Celebrity, Pivotal Career Moments, Pop culture, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Talk Shows. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'Tomorrow.'

2007-02-10

In his twenty-minute interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Andy Rooney (1919-2011) talks about the use of humor as a device when writing, as well as his writing process. He discusses having written for several television shows, including 'Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scout's and 'The Garry More Show.' He speaks of the development of his "Andy Rooney" persona on '60 Minutes,' and on the business aspect of writing. Rooney concludes with a summary of his career, and his opinion on the word "curmudgeon." Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on October 19, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Television Industry, Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials, News & Documentary, and Talk Shows.

2005-10-19

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Arte Johnson (1929-2019) talks about transitioning from doing publicity at Viking Press to show business and his first audition for "Gentleman Prefer Blondes." He recounts his first experience working with Jack Benny and working on the comedy series "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." He talks about ad-libbing and using double-talk and different dialects to create ethnic characters. He also discusses what makes a comedian, and how it's important to have a back-up career during down-turns in their show business career. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on June 2, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, Daytime/Primetime Serials, and Game Shows. Other shows mentioned during the interview include '3-2-1 Contact,' 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' 'The Donna Reed Show,' 'Don’t Call me Charlie,' 'Fantasy Island,' 'The Gong Show,' 'It’s Always Jan,' 'The Jack Benny Program,' 'Knockout,' 'Lost in Space,' 'The Love Boat,' 'Mama,' 'The Partridge Family,' 'Playboy after Dark,' 'Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,' and 'Sally.'

2005-06-02

In their three-hour, joint Emerson Comedy Archive interview, Rocky (1921-2016) and Irma Kalish discuss their backgrounds, and how they met and married. In a free-wheeling discussion, they touch on many of the shows they worked on including 'Colgate Comedy Hour,' 'Meet Corliss Archer,' 'My Three Sons,' 'Family Affair,' 'Gillian’s Island' and 'The Flying Nun.' They recall working on two Norman Lear shows 'All in the Family,' where they wrote the groundbreaking "Edith’s Christmas Story" dealing with breast cancer, and 'Good Times,' where they hired Janet Jackson in the final seasons to play "Penny." They describe working with many luminaries during their time as writers, some of whom became friends, including Selma Diamond, Shelley Berman, Steve Allen, Milton Berle, Carl Reiner, and Cloris Leachman. They touch on many problems facing the industry including writers strikes, ageism, and the challenge of longevity for a writer. They speak of their philosophy of comedy and joking writing, including if being funny can be taught, and what goes into constructing a joke. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on February 7, 2007 in Encino, California. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Ageism in Television Industry, Writers Guild of America Strikes, and Comedy Series. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'The Brian Keith Show,' 'Carter Country,' 'F Troop,' 'The Facts of Life,' 'Good Heavens,' 'Gunsmoke,' 'Oh Madeline,' 'The Sarah Silverman Program,' and 'Too Close for Comfort.'

2007-02-07

In her one-hour-fifteen minute interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Bea Arthur talks about her early years as an intern in a hospital, doing minstrel shows and her first break in Broadway. She talks about how grateful she is to do what she enjoys for a living, and speaks about working on "Maude," "Golden Girls," and a number of plays. She also discusses her love for her LGBT fan following, her involvement with PETA and how she strives to use her celebrity for social change. She speaks about the challenges of being a woman in the television and performance industry, and considers the question "Was it worth it?" Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on May 31, 2005 in Brentwood, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Fame and Celebrity, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, and Comedy Series.

2005-05-31

In her one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Betty White talks about her early aspirations before setting on a career in television and appearing on several early live and local Los Angeles broadcasts. She describes her first show 'Life with Elizabeth,' and becoming one of the first television stars to form her own production company with the help of producer Don Fedderson. She recounts her time playing "Sue Ann Nivens" on the classic 'Mary Tyler Moore Show,' including the famous "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode. White discusses the importance of humor in her life, and playing "Rose Nylund" for seven seasons on 'The Golden Girls.' She speaks of her "bag of tricks" as an actress, as well as the business side of the entertainment industry. She discusses her prolific career on several game shows including 'Match Game' and 'Password.' She outlines her then-current role as "Catherine Piper" on 'Boston Legal,' and working on that show with co-star William Shatner. She concludes with some words of wisdom for aspiring television performers, and comments on her career longevity. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 11, 2005 at Emerson College in Boston, MA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Characters & Catchphrases, Classic TV series episodes, Comedy, Pop Culture, TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s), Television Industry, and Comedy Series.

2005-03-11

In part one of his two-part interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Bill Dana (1924-2017) discusses the use of humor as a survival tool. He talks about his time at Emerson College, and early comedy partner Gene Wood. He recalls his time on 'The Steve Allen Show,' as well as creating his most famous character, "Jose Jimenez." He details using "Jose" as the main character for 'The Bill Dana Show,' and his eventual decision to kill him off due to cultural sensitivity concerns. He recounts writing the famous 'All in the Family' episode "Sammy Visit," featuring Sammy Davis, Jr., and addresses comedy’s role in society. Jenni Matz conducted part one of the interview on February 21, 2005 at the Cutler Majestic Theater at Emerson College in Boston, MA. Additional topics covered include: Bloopers, Censorship/Standards & Practices, Fame and Celebrity, Pop Culture, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Talk Shows.

2005-02-21

In part two of his two-part interview for the American Comedy Archives, Bill Dana (1924-2017) talks about comedians learning to deal with their environment and audiences. He describes first learning how to make people laugh, and later using comedy to disarm. He discusses evolving standards for subject matter and language in comedy, and his controversial character "Jose Jimenez" from 'The Bill Dana Show. 'Dana speaks of working with Norman Lear on writing the classic 'All in the Family' episode "Sammy’s Visit," featuring Sammy Davis, Jr., and outlines his own guest shot on 'The Golden Girls.' He sums up by talking about the need for performers to pay their dues, and he answers the question, "Was it worth it?" Jenni Matz conducted part two of the interview on June 3, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Fame and Celebrity, Pop Culture, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Talk Shows.

2005-06-03

In his three-hour interview, Billy Crystal talks about his early life, and becoming interested in comedy at a young age. He describes attending NYU to study film, where he learned from Martin Scorsese, and met Christopher Guest. He recounts getting Buddy Morra to manage him, and his appearances on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' and 'All in the Family.' He recalls his disappointment at being bumped off the first broadcast of 'Saturday Night Live,' only to be picked up as a regular cast member on ABC’s 'Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell'. Crystal discusses playing the groundbreaking character of "Jodie Dallas" on 'Soap,' the first regular, gay character on a network series, and the show’s dealing with controversial subject matter on a weekly basis. He details his stint on the 1984-85 season of 'Saturday Night Live,' where he was part of a comedy all-star team selected by producer Dick Ebersol, which also included Martin Short, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer. He outlines his popular character "Fernando" from the show, whose catchphrase, "You look marvelous," swept the nation. He recalls his series of successful HBO stand-up comedy specials, and his huge success as a nine-time host of 'The Academy Awards.' Dan Pasternack conducted the interview in partnership with the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College on October 25, 2018 in North Hollywood, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Emmy Awards, Historic Events and Social Change, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, Daytime/Primetime Serials, Late Night, and Music Shows & Variety. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour,' 'Comic Relief Specials,' 'The Emmy Awards (Primetime and Daytime),' and 'The Grammys.'

2018-10-25

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Budd Friedman talks about opening his comedy club, the Improv in New York City, and discovering Andy Kaufman. He recalls several luminaires who worked at his club, including Bette Midler, Milton Berle, Eddie Murphy, Steven Wright, and Chris Rock. He discusses what it takes for young comedians to make it as a stand-up comedian, and the challenge of finding wider audiences. Friedman describes what he feels is the then-current state of comedy, and speculates where it might go in the then-future. He concludes with one of his favorite jokes. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on January 25, 2006 at the Improv on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Television Industry, Comedy Clubs, Comedians, and Performers.

2006-01-25

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Carlos Mencia talks about growing up in East Los Angeles, and how his early experiences shaped his comedy. He describes developing his racially based stand-up act, and finding healing in making people laugh at our differences. He recounts working with his writers on his show 'Mind of Mencia,' and gives his reaction to political correctness in comedy. Mencia discusses how humor evolves over time, as well as his use of "blue" material in his act. He speaks at length about accusations of his having stolen jokes from other comedians, and sums up his career. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 15, 2007 in Hollywood, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Diversity in Television, Historic Events and Social Change, Minorities, Television Industry, and Comedy Series. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'Mind of Mencia' and 'Seinfeld.'

2007-02-15

In his one-and-a-half-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Charles Grodin talks about his writing career, and writing for specific audiences. He describes his acting training under Uta Hagen, who taught the importance of listening and knowing your lines cold. He speaks of appearing in several feature films, including "Rosemary’s Baby," "King Kong," and "Catch-22." He discusses his talk show "persona," perfected on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' and 'Late Night with David Letterman.' Grodin details his experiences as the host of his own show, 'The Charles Grodin Show,' on CNBC, as well as his time as a commentator for '60 Minutes.' He chronicles his many dealings with agents and managers over the years, and opines on the role of comedy in history. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on February 23, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, News and Documentary, and Talk Shows

2005-02-23

In his two-and-a-half hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Chuck McCann (1934-2018) talks about his early life, and seeing many performers on stage as a child, including Danny Thomas and Abbott and Costello, due to his father being a musician. He speaks of his early television work, including 'The Rootie Kazootie Club,' 'The Sandy Becker Show,' and 'Today,' which led to him hosting his own local children’s show on WPIX in New York City. McCann recalls his friendships with many luminaries, including Jerry Lewis, Stan Laurel, Mae West, Ernie Kovacs, and Steve Allen. He discusses the power of laughter to make us heal, and the then-current state of comedy. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 13, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Bloopers, Comedy-Variety, and TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s), Technological Innovation, Television Industry, Children's Programming, News and Documentary, and Talk Shows. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'Captain Kangaroo' and 'The Steve Allen Show' (1956-61).

2007-02-13

In her two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Diane English discusses her upbringing in Buffalo, New York, where she first worked as an English and drama teacher before moving to New York City to pursue a career in playwriting. She describes how she instead landed her first industry job at public television station WNET, and began writing for the small screen --penning PBS' first television movie, 'The Lathe of Heaven.' English outlines her first forays into half-hour comedies as a writer for 'Foley Square' and for 'My Sister Sam,' and speaks at length on the creation and production of her hit series, 'Murphy Brown.' She divulges which actress she asked to play "Murphy Brown" before Candice Bergen won the role, and sheds light on the infamous debate on single-motherhood sparked by then Vice President, Dan Quayle. She chronicles the formation of her production company, Shukovsky/English, with husband Joel Shukovsky, and details her film and television work ('The Women,' 'Love & War,' 'Ink') since 'Murphy Brown' went off the air. Jenni Matz conducted the interview in a joint venture with The American Comedy Archives (at Emerson College) in North Hollywood, CA on February 8, 2007. Additional topics covered include: Creative Influences and Inspiration, Characters & Catchphrases, Diversity in Television, Women, Emmy Awards, and Comedy Series. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'Double Rush,' 'Her Life as a Man,' and 'Living in Captivity.'

2007-02-08

In his two-and-a-half-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Dick Gregory (1932-2017) talks extensively about the history of racism in America, and on his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement. He recalls his groundbreaking appearances on 'Tonight Starring Jack Paar' where he was the first African-American comedian to sit on Paar’s couch. He discusses the role of Hugh Hefner in getting him into mainstream nightclubs, and how he developed his act over the years. Gregory speaks of many aspects of doing stand-up comedy, including coming up with material, techniques, and using real life experiences as fodder for his act. He covers a number of societal issues, and relates how things changed during his lifetime. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on October 15, 2005 in Washington D.C. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Diversity in Television, Historic Events and Social Change, Minorities, Television Industry, and Late Night.

2005-10-15

In his one-and-a-half-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Dick Van Dyke talks about his early years, and how being an announcer in World War II kindled his passion for show business. Van Dyke speaks about working on projects such as "Bye Bye Birdie" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show," and reminisces on his time in the industry with fond anecdotes. He discusses the ups and down of showbusiness, and briefly discusses his battle with alcoholism brought on by his shyness. He speaks of the challenges of being a performer and considers the question "Was it worth it?" Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on January 5, 2006 in Santa Monica, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Fame and Celebrity, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Talk Shows.

2006-01-05

In his one-hour-and-ten-minute interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Doug Herzog talks about his time at Emerson College, and the early influence of 'Saturday Night Live.' He describes his early career working at CNN on the daily talk series 'People Now,' as well as 'Entertainment Tonight,' before landing at MTV. He chronicles his rise at MTV, eventually becoming Vice President of Programming, and later Vice President of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group. Herzog recounts his years programming at Comedy Central, bringing 'South Park,' 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,' 'The Colbert Report,' and 'The Sarah Silverman Program' to the air. He discusses the evolving standards of comedy over the years at Comedy Central, and outlines the business of programming a cable network. He concludes by speaking of his proudest career achievement, and his then-future. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on February 5, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Network Creation, Television Industry, Comedy Series, Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials, and News and Documentary.

2007-02-05

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Ed Begley, Jr. talks about being cast on 'St. Elsewhere,' and recalls his father, Ed Begley, Sr. allowing him to make the choice to be an actor. He recounts realizing he had a flair for comedy at a young age, as well as his very first acting job on 'My Three Sons.' Begley describes his early standup act with a young Michael Richards, and expounds on his philosophy of comedy, and on his style. He touches on his favorite comedians, as well as the importance of managers and agents in a comedian’s career. He outlines his long-standing environmental advocacy, and offers advice to aspiring comedians. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on May 31, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, Medical Dramas, and Talk Shows. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'Maude' and 'The Steve Allen Show' (1956-61).

2005-05-31

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Eddie Brill talks about his early years, and forming a comedy team with Denis Leary at Emerson College. He discusses teaching and learning comedy, as well as how comedians develop their voices. He describes his job as the audience warm-up guy and comedy talent booker for 'Late Show with David Letterman,' as well as his working relationship with Letterman. Brill speaks of how he deals with the business end of show business, and what he gets out of being a comedian. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on October 18, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, and Late Night.

2005-10-18

In his two-hour Emerson Comedy Archives interview, Fred Willard talks about how he got his career started, first as a stand-up comedian, and then as a member of the Ace Trucking Company comedy troupe. He talks about developing his act, and being cast as "Jerry Hubbard" on the cult classic show 'Fernwood 2 Night.' He gives his opinion on several comedians including Don Rickles, Shecky Greene, Jackie Mason, and Lenny Bruce, as well as the rise of "blue" humor, and political correctness in comedy. He recalls appearing on several talk shows, including 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,' 'The Mike Douglas Show,' and others. He discusses his level of fame, and going out on auditions. He concludes with advice to aspiring comedians, and summing up his career. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on June 7, 2005, in Encino, California. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, Late Night, Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials. Other shows mentioned during the interview include the 'Ed Sullivan Show: The AKA Toast of the Town,' 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' and 'Frasier.'

2005-06-07

In his two-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Gary Owens (1934-2015) talks about his early career beginning on radio and later drawing a comic strip. He describes working on 'Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,' and working with that cast including Lily Tomlin and Goldie Hawn. He recounts various comedians with whom he worked in his career, including Bob Newhart, Mort Sahl, Jackie Mason, Jonathan Winters, and Tim Conway. Owens discusses comedians’ mental health, as well as heath challenges he’d faced in his later years. He concludes by speaking of the importance of imagination in comedy, and summing up his career. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 14, 2005 in beautiful downtown Burbank, CA. Additional topics covered include: Pop Culture, Comedy Series, Game Shows, and Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'The Gong Show' and 'McHale's Navy.'

2005-03-14

In his nearly two-hour Archive interview, George Shapiro discusses his early years growing up in the Bronx, where he met his longtime business partner, Howard West, and describes working his way up from mailroom attendant to packaging executive at the William Morris Agency. He talks about his work with 'The Steve Allen Show' and 'That Girl' and details his decision to leave William Morris to form his own management company, Shapiro/West. He speaks at length on working with client Andy Kaufman, on negotiating Kaufman's intricate deal with 'Taxi' and on Kaufman's premature death. Shapiro also comments on client Jerry Seinfeld, explains how 'Seinfeld' got on the air and concludes with thoughts on the art of management and his philosophy on comedy. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview in a joint venture with the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College on February 12, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Characters & Catchphrases, Classic TV Series Episodes, Comedy, Pop Culture, and Comedy Series. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'Cheers,' 'The Merv Griffin Show,' 'Saturday Night Live,' and 'Your Show of Shows.'

2007-02-12

In his one-and-a-half hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Hal Kanter (1918-2011) talks about how he got his start in comedy, writing for Eddie Cantor, as well as early radio shows he worked on. He discusses learning to write comedy, how to write for comedians’ voices, and structure jokes. He recalls creating the groundbreaking series 'Julia,' starring Diahann Carroll, and writing for 'The Danny Kaye Show.' Kanter speaks of dealing with several agents and managers in his career, and talks about how the industry has changed since he started. He gives advice to aspiring comedy writers, and concludes by discussing his role in the Pacific Pioneers Broadcasters Group. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on June 6, 2005 in Beverly Hills, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Censorship/Standards & Practices, Television Industry, Comedy Series, Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials.

2005-06-06

In his forty five-minute interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Henry Winkler talks about his days at Emerson College, and how the college environment helped him mature and become more independent. He discusses how he used to perform in children's theater in Massachusetts, act in commercials while at Yale, and how his tenacious and grateful nature helped him rise up in Hollywood. He describes how his dyslexia made him develop a sense of humour so that he stood out in his class, and how humour can help one cope. Winkler speaks about his experience working on shows such as "Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Out of Practice," "Happy Days" and movies such as "Click." He discusses the Hank Zipzer novels that he wrote to help children deal with dyslexia through his humorous writing. Winkler discusses the lessons he has learned from his coworkers over the years and considers the question "Was it worth it?" Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on January 20, 2006 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Fame and Celebrity, Pivotal Career Moments, and Television Industry.

2006-01-20

In his forty-five minute interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Hugh Hefner (1926-2017) talks about his connection to humor, and his friendships with comedians like Lenny Bruce and Don Adams. He describes having comedians on his early talk show 'Playboy’s Penthouse,' as well as breaking ground by having African-American comedian Dick Gregory perform at his clubs. He discusses the humor of "Playboy" magazine, and early contributors like Jules Feiffer. He speaks of the then-current state of censorship in media, and also touches on humor and repression, as well as fame and celebrity. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 9, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Civil Rights Movement, Historic Events and Social Change, Television Industry, and Talk Shows.

2005-03-09

In his hour-and-a-half interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Irwin Corey (1914-2017) talks about his status as "the world’s foremost authority" and his comedy style. He discusses the then-current state of comedy on television, and the signature comedy of various performers. Corey speaks of using comedy to put across his political views, and how his comedic style developed over the years. He details some of his experiences with audiences, dealing with the business aspect of show business, and the importance of the comedian taking comedy seriously. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on April 8, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Historic Events and Social Change, Television Industry, War, War on Terror, and Late Night. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'Late Night with David Letterman.'

2005-04-08

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Jack Riley (1924-2016) talks about his early years and performing sketches in college. He recalls his first job in television, as a writer for 'The Don Rickles Show,' and how he has dealt with managers and agents over his career. He discusses stints acting on 'The Joey Bishop Show,' 'Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,' and his friendship with Don Adams’ brother Dick Yarmy, which led to the creation of the "Yarmy’s Army" group of friends. Riley recounts playing the memorable character of "Elliott Carlin" on several episodes of 'The Bob Newhart Show,' as well as working with Newhart over the years. He details the many who have influenced his acting and comedy, including people like Jackie Gleason and Jonathan Winters. He concludes by playing a few of his comedic song compositions. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 14, 2007 in Hollywood, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Characters & Catchphrases, Pop Culture, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'The Joey Bishop Show (1967-69).'

2007-02-14

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Jackie Mason talks about where his comedy comes from, and the process of building his act. He describes his start as a Catskill comedian, where he created his persona, and his first television appearance, on 'The Steve Allen Show.' He details the infamous incident where Ed Sullivan believed he’d held up his middle finger, resulting in him being off television for many years. Mason describes the business aspect of show business, and the role of agents and managers in his career. He recounts his career trajectory, including his resurgence in the 1980s with the Broadway show "Jackie Mason: The World According to Me." Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on April 7, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Bloopers, Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials, and Talk Shows. An additional show mentioned during the interview is the 'Ed Sullivan Show, The AKA Toast of the Town.'

2005-04-07

In his one-and-a-half hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Jamie Masada talks about how he came to found the Laugh Factory, and Richard Pryor being the first comedian to take the stage there in 1979. He describes figuring out the business of owning a comedy club in Los Angeles, and the challenge of booking comedians when it first opened. He discusses a few controversies that have popped up at the Laugh Factory, including 'Seinfeld’s' Michael Richards using a racial slur, and Carlos Mencia stealing jokes. Masada recalls many incidents of the healing power of laughter at his club, including shows done after 9/11, and holding a memorial for Richard Pryor on the evening of his death. He concludes by discussing his comedy camp for underprivileged kids, and the then-future of comedy. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 19, 2007 at the Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: 9/11, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Historic Events and Social Change, Pivotal Career Moments, and Comedy Series. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'Comic Strip Live.'

2007-02-19

In her hour-and-a-half interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Janis Paige talks about her early life and discovering she had the ability to make people laugh at a young age. She recalls her first feature film, "Hollywood Canteen," and soon after moving to New York to pursue a career on stage. She describes a stint in vaudeville, which lead to being cast on Broadway in "Remains to be Seen," and later as the lead in "The Pajama Game." She recounts appearing in several feature films, including "Silk Stockings" with Fred Astaire, and "Please Don’t Eat the Daisies" with Doris Day. Paige speaks of her many roles on television, including playing the lead in the sitcom 'It’s Always Jan,' guest shots on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and 'Happy Days,' and an infamous appearance on 'All in the Family' in which she kissed "Archie Bunker," much to his wife "Edith’s" dismay. She concludes by discussing her stints on the daytime dramas 'Capitol 'and 'Santa Barbara,' and how she’d like to be remembered. Robert Fleming conducted the interview on May 27, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Creative Influences and Inspiration, Diversity in Television, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Women, Comedy Series, and Daytime/Primetime Serials.

2005-05-27

In his three-hour interview, Kevin Bright discusses his childhood in New York City, and his father, Vaudeville comedian turned talent manager, Jackie Bright. He talks about attending Emerson College, and, after graduation, working for producers Joseph and Gilbert Cate and producing David Copperfield specials. Bright shares stories of producing the syndicated series 'Madame’s Place' and cable comedy specials, before working on the pilot of 'In Living Color.' He talks about his work on 'Dream On,' where he met Marta Kauffman and David Crane, with whom he created 'Friends.' For 'Friends,' he describes the pitching and development of the show, casting, shooting the pilot and the famous opening sequence, directing episodes, and ending the show after ten seasons. He touches on 'Veronica’s Closet,' 'Jesse,' and the 'Friends' spin-off, 'Joey' and concludes by sharing his greatest career achievements and regrets, advice to aspiring television professionals, and why he decided to return to Emerson College, where he now serves as the Founding Director of Emerson College Los Angeles. Jenni Matz conducted the interview in partnership with the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College on March 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: 9/11, Censorship/Standards & Practices, Classic TV Series Episodes, Comedy, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Emmy Awards, Fame and Celebrity, Historic Events and Social Change, Overcoming Adversity, Pivotal Career Moments, Pop Culture, TV Theme Songs, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Late Night. An additional show mentioned during the interview include 'The Emmy Awards (Primetime and Daytime).'

2016-03-29

In his hour-and-a-half interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Lewis Black talks about his early interest in drama, and what made him decide to be a comedian. He speaks of developing his routine, and crafting his comedic persona that 'The Daily Show' audiences would eventually come to know. Black speaks of anger in comedy, as well as politics, and if comedy can be learned. He discusses the business of show business, and the importance of cultivating longevity in a comedy career. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on October 19, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Fame and Celebrity, Pop Culture, Television Industry, and Talk Shows. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'The Steve Allen Show' (1956-61).

2005-10-19

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Norman Lear talks about his early years at Emerson College, his time in the television business and recalls some significant lessons and memories throughout his career. He talks in depth about the healing power of laughter and about how comedy is an excellent vehicle for social change. He recalls some of his career highs and lows, and talks about his experience working on shows such as "All in the Family," "Colgate Comedy Hour" and "The Martha Raye Show." He also gives advice on how to maintain creative integrity in the business savvy television industry, and the rarity of true talent. Lear speaks about how a sense of humor can be sharpened but not acquired, and talks about how he gets inspiration for the comedy in his shows and characters. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on May 26, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Personal Anecdotes About Career.

2005-05-26

In his ninety-minute interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Pat Harrington, Jr. (1929-2016) talks about his father Pat Harrington, and his career on stage. He recalls meeting Jonathan Winters, which led to several shots on 'Tonight Starring Jack Paar.' He talks about appearing on 'The Steve Allen Show' with performers like Bill Dana, and doing characters, the most famous being "Guido Panzini." Harrington discusses his stint on Norman Lear’s classic sitcom 'One Day at a Time' as building superintendent "Dwayne Schneider." He details the popularity of 'One Day at a Time,' and how the show dealt with co-star Mackenzie Phillips’ drug issues. He concludes by discussing his longevity in show business, and the importance of networking in one’s career. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on June 3, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Talk Shows. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law,'

2005-06-03

In his two-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Paul Rodriguez speaks of his early life, and of using comedy and his ability to make people laugh to get though his childhood. He talks about deciding to pursue a career in stand-up comedy, and of his beginning at the Comedy Store in Westwood where he met and was mentored by Richard Pryor. He recalls his first appearance on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,' where Carson afforded him the rare honor of calling him over to his couch after his routine, and talks about being discovered by Norman Lear while out doing his act. Rodriguez discusses in-depth his Lear-produced sitcom 'a.k.a. Pablo,' which was short-lived due to negative reaction from the Mexican-American community to what they felt was a stereotypical portrayal. He outlines attempting to revive his career after the show’s cancellation, and details dealing with celebrity, and continuing to make a living doing stand-up over 30 years on. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 19, 2007 in Hollywood, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Diversity in Television, Fame and Celebrity, Historic Events and Social Change, Minorities, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, and Comedy Series.

2007-02-19

In her one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Rose Marie (1923-2017) talks about entering show business at age three, and soon after becoming a smash hit as "Baby Rose Marie," selling out the Capital Theater in New York, and with her own NBC radio show. She describes her long friendship and professional association with Milton Berle, as well as her husband Buddy Guy, a trumpet player in Kay Kyser’s band. She recounts playing Las Vegas, and her professional and personal association with mobsters like Bugsy Siegel and Al Capone. She discusses playing "Sally Rogers" on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' and working with Van Dyke, the cast, and producer Sheldon Leonard. She speaks of playing "Myrna Gibbons" for five years on 'The Doris Day Show,' and her subsequent stage show "4 Girls 4" with Helen O’Connell, Rosemary Clooney, and Margaret Whiting. She details having dealt with the business end of show business, and concludes with a summary of her career. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on January 24, 2006 in Van Nuys, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Television Industry, Child Labor Laws, and Comedy Series. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'The Doris Day Show.'

2006-01-24

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Shecky Greene tells the story of his career in comedy, including his time on the comedy club circuit and performing in Las Vegas. He discusses a variety of topics related to comedy, including the relationship between laughter and depression, creating his own comedic persona, his disinterest in working on television, and surviving in comedy. Greene also addresses his feelings on his first name becoming synonymous with comedians, as well as the then-current state of comedy. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on June 6, 2005 in Beverly Hills, CA. Additional topics covered include: Television Industry and News and Documentary. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'Today.'

2005-06-06

In his two-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Shelley Berman (1925-2017) talks about his early career, and recording his first comedy album, "Inside Shelley Berman." He describes learning how to deal with an audience as a stand-up comedian, and the tools of their trade. He recalls several of his favorite comedians, including Jackie Gleason, Robin Williams, Jim MacGeorge, and Danny Kaye. He discusses the construction of comedy, what makes people laugh, and the evolution of comedy. Berman speaks of the lifting of limitations and censorship on comedians, and what he considers to be the lack of creativity that leads to vulgarity in modern comedy. He talks about the then-future of comedy, and how he feels it is embodied by his 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' co-star Larry David. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on March 8, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Censorship/Standards & Practices, Historic Events and Social Change, Television Industry, War, World War II, and Comedy Series.

2005-03-08

In his nearly two-and-a-half hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Steven Wright, talks about his early comedic career and his anxiety performing in front of audiences. He also discusses his first performance at the 'Comedy Connection' at Charles Street Playhouse on Warrenton Street in Boston, performing at Ding Ho, a Chinese restaurant in Inman Square in Cambridge, MA where producer Peter LaSalle saw him and booked him for 'The Tonight Show.' He reminisces about attending Emerson College and how the atmosphere, students, and Emerson Comedy Workshop inspired his creativity. He also discusses learning different techniques when performing in front of an audience and coming up with material. He recounts working with several friends, like Mike McDonald, and how other comedians, like Woody Allen, George Carlin, and Johnny Carson and listening to comedy albums, influenced his writing. He also discusses how several "flukes" helped his career, including him getting the role in Quentin Tarantino's film, "Reservoir Dogs." Eddie Brill and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on June 10, 2019 in Boston, MA at Emerson College. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, and Comedy. Also, discusses performances, writing short films, and roles in films and television series, such as 'Desperately Seeking Susan,' 'Mad About You,' 'One Soldier,' and 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.'

2019-06-10

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Tony Roberts talks about his early life and growing up around famous people like Zero Mostel, and how that led to his interest in becoming a comedic performer. He describes his comedic influences, including Hiram Sherman, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and Milton Berle, with whom he worked in Las Vegas on his first show business job at age 23. Roberts discusses various aspects of being a comedic actor, including doing improv, playing to an audience, and his distaste for television sitcoms. He concludes by outlining the ups and downs of his career, and how he’s enjoyed acting overall. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on April 8, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Creative Influences and Inspiration, Hollywood Blacklist, Industry Crossroads, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, and Comedy Series.

2005-04-08

In his half-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Vin Di Bona talks about his early years, and his first break as a producer/director in Boston. He describes how he ended up producing "America's Funniest Home Videos," and why the show is so widely beloved across the generations. Di Bona also discusses the importance of being acquainted with the business side of Hollywood, and the value of hard work, nepotism and networking and luck in one's career. He speaks of the challenges of being a producer in the television industry. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on January 19, 2006. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy and Business.

2006-01-19

Powered by Preservica
Copyright 2016 © Emerson College