Leslie McRay [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Today’s interview subject is one we would consider to be an absolute legend in the world of film and television. Leslie McRay has worked in just about every realm possible in these worlds. Starting out as an international model, moving on to appear in several films and television shows, and eventually landing herself working behind the scenes as well as in front of it. While possibly not her biggest film, the main reason I was interested in having Leslie on the site was for her absolutely brilliant performance in one of my favorite films of all time, the Roger Corman classic film Death Race 2000. If you haven’t seen this one Folks, I implore you to do so! It is one of the most fun experiences you can have in watching cinema. And McRay shines throughout it. We get into a bit below.

Yes, Leslie McRay has had a career that should bring her just so much pride. She has done it her way, and has continued with great success throughout her career. We talked about Death Race, her work in the exploitation world, her new project revolved around celebrity miracles, and so much more. You’re going to love this one Folks!

So strap in, and please enjoy some wonderful responses from the absolutely brilliant Leslie McRay!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something that you had always aspired to do since you were a child, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

Since I was born on my mother’s 15th birthday she needed to send us to school in an orphanage.  Another family tried to adopt me.  This created an abandonment issue.  One day I cried to God “Someday the world will hear from me!”  Then when she became Mrs. Wyoming- I saw the pictures of her and knew my destiny.  She got me back, in time for us to move to California.  The kids at school told me that I was going to become an actress.

In more recent years, you have moved to be more behind the camera working in the world of producing, included working as an EP on the Oscars at one point, according to IMDb. So how did this transition come about? Did you always want to work on the other side of the camera? 

I am ambidextrous and very creative so setting around on the set waiting to say one line bored me. I began assisting in production and quickly developed the skills to produce.  While shooting the Award winning docudrama Day of Miracles (the miracle survivors of 9/11), I wrote the script at night through googling the incidents and produced during the days. 

 

One film you appeared in has to be one of my favorite films of all time, which would be 1975’s Death Race 2000. It’s not only a Corman classic, but it is just a classic all around in my mind. So what drew you to this insane story? And how was your experience working on such a truly unique film?

Just becoming an International Model, one of the first films that I acted in was the classic Death Race 2000.  I was offered the lead but I turned down the nudity.  Loved working with Carridine and Stallone. Stallone was bragging about a little boxing film, Rocky in which he had to raise the money, in order to play the lead! 

Throughout the 60’s & 70’s, you worked in the world of films now known as “exploitation films”, which have re-emerged in popular culture in recent years. As an obvious expert from the original world, I am curious to know if you had any opinions as to why the popularity and mystic of these films has only continued to rise? What is it about films like Girl in Gold Boots or Coffy that keep them relavent and beloved after a half of a decade? 

I feel that people love the 60’s – 70’s because they were more real.  Today’s films are frequently created from extreme-tech special-effects. In that other era there was an interesting story to follow.

 

I am very intrigued by a project of yours that I discovered on IMDb, but haven’t gotten the chance to check out, entitled Real Celebrity Miracles. You not only host the project, but you also wrote, produced, & directed the whole thing. Can you tell our readers a bit about this? How did this project come to life?

While interviewing for Celebrity Miracles on Oscar Night I asked inspirational questions and got amazing answers! The name of our show, Star Power, created an opportunity to ask “What is the power behind the Stars?”   Frequently the answers were, “God is the Power behind the Stars”(Dyan Cannon)!  Other answers were: “Yes- I have had an Angel experience” (Richard Dreyfus and Jane Seymour)!

Prince’s girl friend (Vanity), and background singer said “Due to the drugs and alcohol I had only minutes to live and someone prayed with me in the hospital.  “I had a complete miraculous healing!”  (Omar Sharif) one night wrote a check for almost everything he had.  His life completed turned around after that event! 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I am always on the look-out for inspirational stories. I am packaging a true story, Fighting Spirit, now which is about a Hispanic young boy who gets scholar-shipped into High School Wrestling.  Due to extreme working out he falls into a coma.  Doctors give him a slim chance to live.  His brother prayed and he miraculously recovers.  He then became the first High School Camp of California!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Last smile  was Easter when I designed flowers for Sunday brunch for 40 tables for seniors.

 

Janet Scott Batchler [Interview]

 

 

Hello Folks! We have another absolutely wonderful interview to share with you all. Today’s interview subject is a screenwriter who has brought some incredible fun to the world of cinema through her work. Janet Scott Batchler, and her writing partner Lee Batchler, happened to work on two very specific projects that affected me personally at two very different times in my life. The first, if you haven’t guessed it from the absolutely hilarious (right? c’mon) photo above, is from within the world of Batman. Janet helped bring to life, the film that not only features my favorite performance of Batman (from Val Kilmer), but the film that felt it was made exactly for me at the time. And that film was Batman Forever. Arguably a wonderful film that moved away from the very serious (also incredible, I will add) and dark Tim Burton world, and brought the story of Batman back into the more outlandish stylized nature that it was always portrayed on screen prior getting the Burton treatment. And don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the Burton and Christopher Nolan routes that Batman took, but I will definitely go on the record and say that Batman Forever is a film that was just SO MUCH FUN! And so much of that fun should be credited to Janet Scott Batchler. In terms of cinematic achievements, of course it constantly be compared to what The Dark Knight did, but it really shouldn’t. They are two very different tellings of stories of similar characters. And if you are a fan of comic books in general, you’ll probably understand this more than most.

The other project that Batchler brought to the world was the absolutely incredible My Name is Modesty, a screen adaptation of a very specific book series that I was very well aware of, although not well versed in, due to my young teenage obsession with all thins Quentin Tarantino, which was rampant in late 90’s and early 00’s. I was 10 years old when Batman Forever came to the world, and 19 years old when Modesty came out. Two very different people within myself existed between these times, and Batchler just seemed to be the person who was capturing my interest in focus of the moment at these exact times! It’s such a lovely coincidence.

And we are so excited to have Janet grace our digital pages today. So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the absolutely brilliant screenwriter as we talk Batman, Modesty, and so much more. Enjoy!

 

 

When did you first discover your passion for writing? Was it something you had always dreamed of doing professionally? And what specifically set you on the path of screenwriting?

I began writing as a very young child, for fun and self-expression. Writing was something I could always do. However, it never occurred to me to think of it professionally growing up because no one encouraged me that it could be a possibility. In fact, a career counselor told me that it was a ridiculous idea, especially for a woman. So I didn’t take the idea seriously. But when I met my husband-and-writing-partner-to-be, I began to think: Hey, maybe this *is* something I could do. And from the first time I started to dabble with screenwriting, I felt completely at home.

What was your very first paid gig as a writer? Were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

I honestly don’t remember my first paid gig as a writer. But I do remember the first time I *didn’t* get paid. I was working in development for a TV movie company. We had been approached by a network to create a TV movie about Chernobyl. A writer was hired, but I was asked to do all the research. Okay, fine. But when the writer turned in his treatment, it was unreadable, poorly plotted, and ignored all the research about what actually happened. My bosses knew they couldn’t turn in something like this to the network, so they asked me to rewrite it. I did a page-one rewrite. My treatment went to the network under the official writer’s name, the project was greenlit to script, and the official writer was paid for the treatment… and I went “Wait a minute.” I left that company soon after (and the writer’s first draft of the script was so horrendous that the project was scrapped).

 

 

In 1995, a film that you worked on came out that was one of my absolute favorite films, and remains my favorite comic book movie of all time, even with the influx of other comic book movies recently. And that film was Batman Forever. I was 10 years old when it came out, and it blew my freaking mind! So how was this experience for you? Where you already a fan of the world of Batman or comics in general? 

I was a big Batman fan growing up — it was really the primary comic book that I followed. Writing Batman Forever and having a tiny part of the Batman legacy was a truly wonderful experience.

Another absolutely incredible film that you wrote was one that I would enjoy much later as an adult, and that would be My Name is Modesty. The director of the film, Scott Spiegel, is actually an old friend of ours here at TWS. I am curious to know where the idea for this film come from? What made you want to tell this tale?

My writing partner and I were actually approached by Miramax to write a large-scale, big-budget Modesty Blaise movie, which we did in fact write. Although we read and studied all Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise novels for the project, it was not based on any of them. One storyline of the movie involved reconnecting Modesty to her mentor and teacher Lob, who is mentioned only in passing in the novels — but that was the storyline that most fascinated Harvey Weinstein, for whom we were working…

However, while we were finishing up the large-scale screenplay, Miramax realized that their rights to Modesty Blaise were about to expire. In late January, they informed us that they had to have cameras rolling on a Modesty Blaise movie by early April — about 9 weeks away. And they asked if we could write a low-budget story featuring Modesty that could be prepped and shot in that unbelievably short time frame. We thought the best way to approach that would be to tell a story about Modesty before she became an international crime boss, before she teamed up with Willie Garvin — and we decided to dive deeper into that time period of her life, staying as faithful as possible to the little we knew about it from the novels. We were working with very limited locations and budget, so decided to key in on the time when Modesty worked at a casino, and built the story from there.

I’m very proud of the large-scale Modesty Blaise script that we wrote, by the way — one of my favorite pieces I ever worked on. But it got caught up in the Miramax/Disney divorce — I’m not sure anyone really knew who owned it. And after Peter O’Donnell’s fairly recent death, it’s unlikely that it will see the light of day as a movie, sadly.

 

 

I also noticed that the film was “presented” by none other than Quentin Tarantino. How did the addition of Quentin to the project come about? I know that him and Scott have a solid history together, but how did he manage to become involved with this specific project as well?

Quentin was involved with the project from the beginning. While I don’t remember how he became involved, he has a long history of loving Modesty Blaise. (Look at what John Travolta’s reading in the bathroom in Pulp Fiction.) Quentin was in fact the person who brought Scott on. Someone else was prepping the project, but when Quentin read the script, he loved it so much that he wanted to offer it to Scott, who stepped in to direct.

Another project of yours that I truly enjoyed was the 2014 film Pompei. The story of Pompei is a truly fascinating story to begin within, but you managed to make it even that much more compelling. Having actually been to Pompei, I can say that it is an eery place to be and to realize what exactly happened there. So I am curious to know what inspired you to tell this tale? Have you been to Pompei?

I have never been to Pompeii — but given that we needed to visit Pompeii in 79 A.D., we wouldn’t have been able to make the trip anyway. We were inspired because we find disaster movies fascinating, a chance to explore what people do when faced with a life-or-death situation they’ve never anticipated. Humans go through a very distinct psychological process when facing disaster, which is fascinating to journey through as a writer. My writing partner and I realized that a modern movie had never been made about a real-life disaster so legendary that people still know about it 2,000 years later. While the final movie was significantly different from the script we originally wrote (which raised $107 million overnight at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival), our personal journey diving into the history surrounding the disaster was very satisfying.

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Waiting to see what the future holds. We have a movie casting, we finished a movie at the end of last year that’s out to directors, I’m on the second draft of a movie I’m writing with my daughter, and we’re in the early stages of a new project. Most immediate: I’m a screenwriting professor at the USC film school, and I’ll be wrapping up the semester’s grading this week and getting ready for summer to start.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Some friends’ photos from their anniversary trip to Berlin.

Brian Kerwin [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! We have another absolutely wonderful interview to share with you all. Today’s interview subject is one of the people that I just sort of knew about, for basically my entire life. But, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t a wild follower of his work (until now). I knew Brian Kerwin as the caring and trying-oh-so hard father to a 10 year old soon who looks 10 years older than him in the absolutely legendary film Jack that I love so very much. I also knew him because of my on again/off again relationship with the daytime soap series One Life To Live, where I watched him for a few years depending on varying work schedules, if I were able to throughout the middle of the day. So with these two simple things in mind, I was curious to know a bit more about Brian.

And you as you should have guessed it by now if you are a regular reader of this site, he is one hell of a nice guy! And I will say, I was relieved to not be too surprised, but still have plenty of “oh, that’s cool” moments in reading his responses. Brian Kerwin is essentially a hippy who discovered his own voice through the art of performance. Performing, on stage as a probable preference, is how Kerwin expresses himself the best, and we are so damn happy for the career that he was able to build for himself. He’s one of the good guys, Folks. I just know you are going to love his charm that exudes through even on just the below digital print. That is if you aren’t already a fan of his, and are just tuning in to check out more, which is very likely as he is such gem of a human.

So Folks, let’s just get into it! Please enjoy some wonderful words from the absolutely brilliant Brian Kerwin!

 

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When did you decide that you wanted to join the world of acting? Was it an early aspiration from your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I never decided —- acting sort of chose me. I remember when I decided to give professional acting a try: I was living in NYC in ‘72 with my girlfriend who was starting a career as a fashion model. We were living in the Village and I tried to open a little hippie store of handmade items — it was a miserable failure. I was also painting, and I fancied myself a singer-songwriter. I was doing a little bit of everything. And I was hanging out with a few actor friends, and they suggested I give it a try. I did, and within  a couple weeks I was cast in a little off-off-Broadway showcase, and one thing just lead to another. A year later I was in LA working on some pretty mediocre TV shows.

In 1996, you appeared in what would probably be my most re-watched film of my youth. That film would be the absolutely adorable and compelling Jack. It may be some of the most wholesome fun I have seen to date. I am curious to know how you enjoyed working on such a delightful family friendly masterpiece? Was it as enjoyable of an experience to work on as it was for me to watch?

I was so happy when I got cast in Jack. I loved the script, and all of the talent in the cast was a dream come true. I had worked with Diane Lane previously. Robin was already a legend, but he proved to be a lovely man to work with — we had fun together. I became lifelong friends with Irwin Corey, the iconic comedian. The entire cast was great….even Bill Cosby. And it was Jennifer Lopez’s first film — she was sweet.

Unfortunately the otherwise truly brilliant director, Francis Ford Coppola, is a very difficult person to be around. By the time that film wrapped everybody was glad to go. I only saw Robin a few times after that and was very sad to hear of his death.

 

Brian Kerwin in Jack (1996)

 

We have spoken with alot of folks who have worked in the world of Soap Operas. And you are no stranger to this world yourself, have appeared in hundreds of episodes of one of my personal favorites, One Life To Live alongside our dear friend & past guest Kassie DePavia. I am always fascinated by the break neck pace in which these shows are pushed out into the world on a daily basis, and what it must be like to work on one of these programs. So, how was your experience on OLTL? Did you have any tricks to memorizing so much dialogue in such a short amount of time?

The soaps are bookends to my career. The first job I ever had in front of a camera was in LA in 1976 on The Young And The Restless. For 6 months (40 episodes) I was Greg Foster. I hated it! And the producers grew to hate me, terminating my 3 year contract after only 6 months. I never even considered doing another soap until over 30 years later. I had just started a year and a half run on Broadway in August: Osage County when the producers of One Life To Live offered me a 4 year contract playing Charlie Banks, love interest to soap opera icon, Erika Slezak. I was definitely gun shy from my experience on Y&R, but a friend of mine on the show, Tuc Watkins, convinced me that it was a lot of fun. Thankfully he was right. Contrary to my Y&R experience, I loved it — the cast, the crew, the brass — all wonderful. I would have done it for 10 more years, but soaps had run their course by then.

Learning lines has always been easy for me, but for OLTL it was even easier because I had all my backstage time on August: Osage County to do my homework.

Might I add that not only is Kassie DePavia one of the most delightful people in the world, but she also changed my world. I suffer hearing loss, and now, very happily, wear hearing aids — but not back then. When I first met Kassie I knew that her son had severe hearing loss and I sought her out for advice. She hooked me up with her son’s wonderful Audiologist, Ellen LaFarge, and my life has never been the same. Kassie is one of my heros.

When it comes to performing, you have worked on numerous projects within the realms of television, film, stage, and beyond. With that in mind, I am curious to know what your favorite field to work on would be? If from this point forward, you were only going to be granted the ability to work in one outlet, what would it be?

STAGE!  Stage. Stage. Stage.

I love working on stage — I could care less about the other mediums — they can be fun, and it’s great to work with other talented people, and you make lots more money, but for me the only real satisfaction comes from the stage.

Why? …. I could write a book (and you wouldn’t want to read it). Onstage you’re dealing with, telling a story to, real live people. You can feel them listening. At its best, it’s like talking to a friend. I like that.

 

Having done so much incredible work in your career spanning 40+ years on screen and on stage, when you look back on your accomplishments and your career as a whole, what would you say you are the most proud of? Not necessarily a single project (although it could be), but maybe as a whole? 

I think, looking back, my finest hour was doing a play that few people saw — in the mid 80’s, in two productions in both San Diego and Los Angeles, Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant play Strange Snow. I remember that play with great affection.

I’m very proud to have been a part of Harvey Fierstein’s groundbreaking LGBTQ (in 1986, before anybody used all those letters) film (and play) Torch Song Trilogy.

But other than any single project I suppose I’m most proud of having been able to pull off a successful career, and support a family of 5 in NYC as an actor. That’s not an easy thing to do, and I’m the first to admit that it involve a whole lot of luck. But I got to raise my kids in a great city, I got to travel the world (often with my family), I got to work with some wonderful and wildly talented people —and I got that all by doing something that I thoroughly enjoy doing. I’m very lucky.

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’m for all intents and purposes retired — I’m pushing 70. I sold my house in NYC, my kids are grown and out on their own, very sadly my wife, Jeanne, passed away 3 years ago, so I’ve built myself a new house on a lake in upstate New York. I intend to live there quietly and happily reading, and fishing, and painting, and playing music. And if any of my wonderful playwright friends, or directors, or my agents call me with any tantalizing possibilities I will give them all great consideration. I’m sure I would love to do another wonderful play.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Truly?…the last thing that made me smile was your use of the term “digs” in your introductory paragraph. I haven’t heard that in years, and it warmed my heart. That was a vital part of my hippy vernacular many years ago. It made me smile just reading it. I dug it.

Sunday Matinee: Extracurricular Activities [Film]

 

“Reagan is a model high school student with a “killer after school job. When the parents of his classmates become too overbearing, self-obsessed – or just plain inconvenient – he offers to get rid of them for a price by setting up a series of “accidents”. But when seasoned police detective Cliff Dawkins starts putting the pieces together, it’s a battle of wits to see if Reagan can keep business booming while the rising body count brings Cliff closer to the truth.” – Big Time PR

 

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Oh hot damn Folks. Do we have an incredible and exciting film to showcase for you all today. Extracirricular Activities is a delightfully dark comedy that is almost pristinely written and features an incredible main cast as well as a great collection of cameos from the likes of Angela Kinsey, comedian Bobby Lee, Danielle Macdonald, and many more. Of course, the main attraction is most definitely the main cast, specifically the absolutely incredible Colin Ford who gives a performance of a lifetime.

 

 

I’ve always absolutely loved the type of dark humor that this film presents. It is such a delightful escape from the real world. And when it is done well, it can be extremely engaging. It feels just a tad bit dangerous to be rooting for the “bad guy” of the film, but not an ounce of guilt is to be had in all actuality. Ford portrays Ragan Collins, a villain who is just so damn likable, thanks in part to his amazing performance, but also owes so much to screenwriter Bob Saenz for writing such a supremely interesting character into existence.

Extracurricular Activities is nothing short of being one of the finest dark comedies of the last 20 years. Director Jay Lowi and Cinematographer Jay Visit have created a brilliant visual demonstration of Saenz’s incredible tale that begs the viewers to ponder the question: Is what’s happening in the film really so bad? Instinctively we feel we should say “Yes”. But, when you really think about it……Nah, probably still have to say “Yes”. That’s why a film like this is so much fun. Let’s just sit back and pretend, shall we?

 

Extracurricular Activities will be available on VOD wherever you watch movies on June 4th.

 

Saturday Special: Room For Rent [Film]

 

“Lonely widow Joyce rents out a room to make easy money.  She meets mysterious drifter Bob and takes him in as a long-term tenant.  She becomes obsessed with her much younger guest, making him the object of her deepest romantic fantasies.  When a friend’s betrayal derails Joyce’s fantasy world, she seizes control of her own destiny with a deadly mission to finally get what she deserves.” – October Coast PR

 

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First of all Folks, I have to start this off by saying one thing: I didn’t realize that I needed a Lin Shaye vehicle in my life until I was about 15 minutes into Room For Rent.

Of course, I was focused on the story in itself and how it was going to develop, and yada yada yada, all the things you’re probably supposed to do whilst watching a film for the first time. Especially a horror or thriller film where you can sort of tell where things are going to go, pretty quickly and you’re just sitting around waiting to be surprised. But, as it does, my mind started to wonder. I am very aware of Lin Shaye and some of the amazing work she has done. She has become somewhat of a legend specifically in the horror world, especially with the Insidious franchise under your belt recently. And lest we not forget the fact that she also spent time in the 80’s in the Critters franchise and many other works of horror. But, I would probably say I know her best due to the likes of the Farrelly Brothers. She appeared in, what I would consider, their three best films in small but memorable roles. Of course two of them would be Dumb & Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. But, as we have confessed in the past during our interview with one of the film’s stars Vanessa Angel, I’m all about Kingpin! And I will be god damned if Lin Shaye wasn’t a comedic delight!

 

 

So long story long, I then began to realize that while I almost appreciated Lin Shaye, I hadn’t realized that a vehicle just for her would be an amazing thing to witness. And wouldn’t you know it? Writer Stuart Flack managed to write an absolutely incredible story in Room for Rent in which Lin is able to shine and show the world why she has been a treasure in the world of cinema in over 150 films over 40 years. And in a very weird way, even though she is the obvious psychopath in the film, and her victims are unsuspecting and mostly innocent…..I was definitely rooting for her the whole time. Part of that may be my own weird psychosis, and just a love for the unexpected to happen in a suspense film. But a lot of it is probably owed to how wonderful Lin Shaye is as a performer.

 

Room For Rent overall is a delightful bit of escapism into an extremely dark world. The story is told so well, with wonderful performances all around. Director Tommy Stovall keeps the suspense tight and the mystery upon you right until the credits roll. It’s a delightful film that I know you are all going to love. Enjoy!

 

Room For Rent is in select theaters now, and available on VOD wherever you watch movies.

 

Blair Socci [Interview]

Photo by Corbin Chase

Hello Folks! We have an absolutely wonderful interview with another incredible human being to share with you all. We are kicking off our short break with another incredible person from the world of comedy. It’s Blair Socci, Everyone! Blair is an absolutely hilarious comedian that, for any true die-hard fan of comedy, is simply a household name at this point. I first became aware of Blair’s incredible comic sensibilities when she appeared on our dear friend Amy Miller’s podcast, Who’s Your God?, and then should up on a podcast done by our other dear friends Tom Thakkar & Tommy McNamara that we all know and love, Stand By Your Band. Now, I am just realizing that I am making Blair out to simply be a professional podcast guest or some shit, and that is because I am sometimes a stupid, stupid, person. So let me reiterate the fact that this is where I first found out about Blair’s comedic brilliance. It’s not necessarily the highlights of her career. Blair has done some absolutely incredible work in the world of stand up and comedy writing. Of course, being the simpleton that I am, I still threw in a question about her appearance in Stand By Your Band. I never claimed to be good at this, People. My apologies if I led you to believe I was.

What I am good at is searching out some of the most wonderful folks from the world of comedy and keeping my fingers crossed (for days at a time) that they might want to join us on the very weird journey that has been the evolution of Trainwreck’d Society. And I will be damned if some of them happen to answer the call of the stupid, and jump on the proverbial train that is this site, and by its namesake is only destined for disaster. And Blair Socci is an absolutely perfect example of an extremely talented human being that we are so fortunate to have grace our digital pages here at TWS. We love Blair, and would like to assume that you already do as well. Who in the hell could you not?

 

So Folks, please enjoy this wonderful collection of responses from the absolutely brilliant Blair Socci!

 

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When did you discover that you were an absolutely hilarious human being, and that you wanted to make people laugh for a living?

I grew up in a loud, nutso Italian family and everyone was always making fun of each other so you had to be able to take it and also dish it out. Being funny was currency in my family. My parents are both really funny too.

What was the very first paid gig you ever had in the world of comedy? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that you still keep in mind in your work today?

I honestly can’t remember my first paid gig. I wish I had saved something to know. My first year and a half I barked for 6 hours every Friday and Saturday night for free in the village in New York for five minutes of stage time on the 8 and 10 pm shows. Sometimes the maniacal man who ran it gave us a few dollars out of a donation bucket lol but that’s not what you mean I think. He wouldn’t let the barkers talk to each other on the street or look at our phones for six hours! I did it during blizzards. Wow, comedy is a sickness. I hope you’re reading this Jeff Lawrence, you evil warlock. Umm no I was lucky cuz I got on an MTV show two years into comedy and then was able to start getting paid for sets after that which felt really cool because I never ever thought comedy was going to be my career when I first started.

As somebody who has been all across the country making people laugh, I am curious to know about some of the places you love to perform in. I’m especially interested in some places that people may not immediately realize are wonderful places for comedy. Even the the common comedy fan knows that L.A., New York, Chicago, etc. are great places because you all live there. But what about the “flyover states” and anywhere else in the country? What are some places you have found yourself truly pleasurable to work in that some people may not expect to know are such a joy?

Gosh, I’ve been lucky to go to so many cool places but one of my favorite places is Atlanta. They have such a great scene there and so many great comics I love started there. I also love the food. Wow, I just eat so much food there.

 

 

It has been a hot minute now, about a year and a half ago, but you once appeared on one of my favorite podcasts of all time hosted by our old friends & past guest Tom Thakkar & Tommy McNamara known as Stand By Your Band where you defended Good Charlotte. And I think you did a damn fine job, if I do say so myself. And whenever we have guests on here that were on this program, I am always curious to know how things were for you all after the show goes live. I love Good Charlotte, and have gotten plenty of backlash for it, just in every day normal ass conversations. So how about you? Did you have any sort of backlash for defending The Madden Brothers & Friends from the internet, or friends and family members?

I love Tommy and Tom so much! They both make me laugh so hard. Honestly, I love so much shitty music it was hard to choose a band but I’d be lying if I didn’t purposely try to choose the shittiest of them all for that pod. I received a lot of backlash especially from Jared at the Comedy Attic but I just pray for my haters.

I read on your website that you have a podcast coming out soon with our another old friend & past guest Johnny Pemberton, entitled Demon Hour. I am very intrigued, and will definitely be tuning in when it becomes available. Would you be able to tell us a bit about this project? How did this come about?

Thank you! Johnny is a wild dude and we just kind of immediately connected when I moved to LA. I love how wacko his comedic sensibility is. We have been slacking on getting the pod out cuz we’re both so busy but we did just shoot a short film together that I am super excited about.

And while I am currently based about 8,000 miles away, and haven’t been able to check out The Blair and Greta Show that you do each week in North Hollywood at Genghis Cohen, I am very intrigued by it, and I’m sure our L.A. readers (there has to be a few, I imagine) would love to know more about this show that you do with (hopefully) future guest Greta Titelman. So, can you tell us what compelled you to want to create this show that I can only presume is absolutely hilarious?

The Blair and Greta Show has been a huge blessing in my life and is my favorite part of every week! Greta and I both moved from New York to LA at the same time a year ago and we knew we had to start a show right away because we would be getting less stage time than we we’re used to in New York and would need a place to work out new material every week. It’s grown into an amazing, packed show with a fun, devoted audience and Greta and I can’t believe how lucky we are.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Hmmm…I am really excited to go on tour this summer with Ron Funches and Gabe Dinger. They are two super funny dudes and great friends of mine. I know being with them will push me to get better at comedy but I also just love hanging out with them because they are so sweet and silly and fun to be around. I am also working on trying to sell a few things and always making more short films. I love working with Reggie Henke, Brooks Burgoon, Andrew Johnson and Xavier Rotnofsky on my series, Blair’s Lair, which you can find on my Instagram or online.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I met this dog named Elmo the other night who was 70% poodle and 30% pitbull and I have never connected with anything more in my life. It was like Elmo was me and I was Elmo. He was so fuzzy and furry and laid in my arms like a baby on his back. We loved each other!

 

To keep up with Blair, check out her WEBSITE. And if you live in the L.A. area, be sure to check out The Blair & Greta Show every Tuesday at Genghis Cohen.

 

Upcoming Shows Across the Country:

June 20th, 2019 @Thalia Hall in Chicago, IL

July 11th – 13th, 2019 @ Comedy On State in Madison, WI

July 14th, 2019 @ Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee, WI

August 8th, 2019 @ Stand Up Live in Huntsville, AL

August 9th – 10th, 2019 @ Zanie’s in Nashville, TN

 

& More to come!

New Music Tuesday: Greg Felden – Made of Strings [Album]

 

Hello Folks! I will be damned if we don’t have another brilliant singer/songwriter to share with you all here today. Hailing from our beloved Pacific Northwest, Greg Felden is another performer from our original location that I was so happy to discover. Now a Los Angeles transplant, Felden has been creating beautiful Americana and sort of country based tunes for a number of years and is now bringing his talents to what will be his first full length album entitled Made of Strings. And Folks, it is good. Really good. I know we tend to say this a lot. But, it’s only because it is so true. Felden has a beautiful batch of 10 tracks to share with you all that he has been cultivating for years and has fine tuned them and has called in some additional very talented folks to bring the entire concept of the album together. And again, it’s so damn good!

As per usual, it would be damn near impossible to pick out a stand out cut amongst the damn near perfect selection of tunes that Felden has assembled to become Made of Strings. “When the Change Comes” Is definitely one that jumps out runs the gauntlet on your emotions with its catchy hook and hopeful lyrics. But, the album’s closer “Ghost” is probably the track that has stuck with me the most. Greg’s voice echoes through billowing sadness into a hopeful future in his stellar songwriting. This is one of the best of the year Folks, I truly cannot recommend it enough.

 

Made of Strings will be available wherever you get your music on June 14th, 2019.