October 31, 2013 Leave a comment
October 30, 2013 Leave a comment
The study of mime came when I was 19 years old and my rock & roll years were coming to a sad end. The music scene had changed for the worse. Many of our legendary rock heroes had died of drugs. During this time I felt if I wanted to continue to be a front man of a band I needed to bring something unique to my performing style. Having had a few people ask me over the years IF I had studied mime after seeing my stage act, I decided to look into the art form. I studied under a local Hollywood teacher Richmond Sheppard. When Marcel Marceau come to L.A. to perform I sought him out. He invited me to come to Paris in 6 months cause he was opening a school. I suddenly just clicked into this new direction. I got the one and ONLY normal job in my life and worked my ass off to make as much money as I could..which wasn’t much. I left my girlfriend, family, and friends to go to France where I didn’t speak a word of French and knew no one. Of course I freaked out at first when I realized what I had done but then…I just changed. I guess the art, the culture, the devotion to the study of mime, dance, acrobatics, improv-comedy, and acting just totally took me over. I learned I had a gift for comedy. Writing skits and performing. I was truly the ‘starving artist in Paris’ living on almost no money, stealing food, and smoking cigarettes while drinking cafe and talking about changing the world through the arts. I returned to the U.S. a year later penniless. My girlfriend had left me, most of my friends didn’t know what to make of me, and I felt directionless. I took to the streets to perform with a hat down. Whatever I made that day was how I ate that night. I began teaching mime classes to earn extra money. I wrote more comedy material and began touring with stage shows. Woody Allen hired me as a robot on Sleeper. I did a lot of movie roles that required special physical movement in films and TV. Was featured in over 50 commercials. I created The L.A. Mime Company and we were regulars on the Dick Van Dyke series on NBC in the mid-70s, then Don Krishner’s Rock Concert. It was an wild and unexpected ride for many years. Then I earned an Emmy nomination for my writing on the Van Dyke & Company series. Around then I was making my transistion from performer to writer/director with the plan to make movies. My first film One Dark Night happened in 1981.
My first reaction to the offer of writing and directing the SIXTH Friday the 13th after he was killed in the Final Chapter then it wasn’t even Jason who was the killer in part five was…”hell no!”
Now I’m labeled with starting the ‘Zombie Jason’ period of the series. Before mine he was a deformed child, then a vengeful killer hiding in the woods with his head covered by a potato sack. Part 3 in 3-D he found the hockey mask and he became more creative with his kills and more unstoppable of a killer. By The Final Chapter he was more violent, faster on his feet, and really aggressive to his teen victims especially if sex was involved. The boy Tommy who finally chops him to death and kills him is set up to be the next Jason. A New Beginning led us to believe that Tommy was possibly the new Jason but then it turns out to be a pissed off ambulance driver and then Tommy in his room in the last scene leads us back to Tommy as next our Jason.
THAT’S a feckin’ looong story. Check out http://www.reverbnation/thesloths65 to get a better explanation and some clips and our upcoming shows. But in the simplest version…I was a rock singer from 1963 to 1969. As the original Sloths were disbanding they merged into a group The May Wines that I joined. Both bands did exactly the same songs on the Sunset Strip in the 60s opening for The Doors, Love, The Seeds, even The Animals and so many other great bands bands. We were all in our mid-teens then. Eventually by the time the bad days hit; The Stones Altamont concert, the Charles Manson murders, the deaths of Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, on & on…we all thought the dream was over went other directions.
Who knows? We thought there was no future. Thought it would be ‘maybe’ our Wednesday Boys Night. Like poker night. Never thought we’d appeal to a younger music crowd. But they look our show band approach to the music. And I do some pretty wild antics on stage. Many nights I shock himself when I become this persona. But I LOVE every second of it. I think of this turn in my career is doing a ‘Rob Zombie in reverse’.
Immediate answer to that…my son and daughter. Hannah is a lovely young woman currently working on the TV series GLEE. My son Shane graduated Chapman University/Dodge College of Film as a screenwriting major. He’s been working his way up the film production ladder taking every job he can land as he writes his screenplays. At this point he has far more credits then I’ll ever obtain and on some pretty cool projects like The Driver, The Dark Knight, and TV movies, series, cable shows, and Webisodes.
Every year I do something of a horror nature. It’s a must! Nancy has already decorated up the house and I usually create some ‘look’ out front. Haven’t figured out what yet. Sometimes Jason’s coffin and tombstone from part 6 is dragged out on Halloween. Both are the real thing. And both are heavy as hell to drag out. My friends and I always go to as many ‘haunted walk through’ places during October. We have some epic ones here in L.A. as well as the old stand-bys Universal Horror Nights, Knotts Scary Farm, and the Haunted Ghost Ship of the Queen Mary. We used to create our own elaborate maze with a cast of frightening characters. It took weeks to construct and days to tear down. It was always the brainchild of Alan Banks who knows how to build a scary maze of thrills. Nothing is more fun then scaring willing victims in a live environment. Great adriniline rushes for all!
Yesterday. Watching these young extremely talented dancers give their entire spirit and passion to the dance. To see all the months and years they have devoted to making their bodies defy gravity. To bend and contort into positions you’d think were impossible with the human body. And watching the intensity in their eyes as they willed themselves to achieve the unachievable. They have some much ahead of them and the possibility that some of them may actually full fill those dreams made me incredibly happy. My cheeks were sore at the end of the day from how much I smiled.
October 29, 2013 Leave a comment
Deer Crossing was my second feature film and the first to reach such a wide audience. With its release on REDBOX and Netflix and many online outlets and actual DVD rental locations, I felt that I had made some kind of impression on an actual audience that was not familiar with my work. The backlash of negative feedback was actually very refreshing to me. I learned that I was on the right path to succeeding something that I really wanted… people to feel something again from a film. Most of my favorite films were the ones that the masses either didn’t like or didn’t understand, Blue Velvet, Jacob’s Ladder, True Romance, Hardware. I have never been a fan of the widely accepted PG-13 cinema that is so abundant today. I wanna be inspired when I watch a movie, not fed adverts and safe pre-established franchises. I understand the business in the “Movie Business” but it shouldn’t be all dollars and cents. This was my inspiration from day one when I wrote Deer Crossing, to pull the rug out from under people and remind them that Movies and Art in general are not always meant to be safe. Reading review after review on redbox has proved to me that the American audience is a bunch of hypocritical children. I was given half star after half star rating with comments like ” This movie is disgusting” or “This movie needs to be pulled from redbox, children shouldn’t watch it” or “This movie is so disturbing I couldn’t stop thinking about it”… Yet they gave it a half star rating. When I watch a film that is labeled as a Horror/Thriller and it does any of the above to me I would think that the director accomplished his goal. To bring horror into my life.
My cat Bazinga bites my ass when I’m sitting on the toilet. Makes him feel freaky I guess. Hey… you asked.
October 28, 2013 1 Comment
Not to sound too corny but,…..What is your favorite scary movie?
What would you consider the sweetest gig to land?
Have you ever considered getting behind the camera in some way shape or form? Have you already?
What other projects do you have in the works?
Right now I’m bouncing between a few series, Ravenswood and American Horror Story, as well as working on Will Smith’s Focus and Ryan Reynolds Selfless. I have several that are due out this winter, Barefoot, 13 Sins, The Lookalike and Grudge Match. It has been an exciting year!
I’m not quite sure about that (LOL). I’ve been working so much that my planning has fallen to the wayside. Thankfully, being in the film biz, has connected me to some amazing makeup artists to help with costuming. I will probably go to some home parties and do my best to torture my liver! But, Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without visiting The 13th Gate, in Baton Rouge, and the House of Shock, in New Orleans. Gotta get my scare on!
October 27, 2013 Leave a comment
What are your plans for Halloween?
What was the last thing that made you smile?
October 25, 2013 1 Comment
It is no secret by now that I am huge fan of the legendary sketch comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U Know. We’ve had two of them on the site before, and today we are absolutely ecstatic that another one of these fine gentlemen has agreed to speak with us! Sam Brown is a crucial member in the WKUK and is responsible for some of my personal favorite moments from the television show and live performances. Sam brings a brilliant sense of mild mannered showmanship that is vital to the all of the success that WKUK has seen in the past. Picking a favorite cast member is like trying to pick your favorite child: you KNOW which one is your favorite, but you are too afraid of hurting the others so you tell them you love them all equally, although that his horse shit. So I am just going to be honest….. Today we are featuring my favorite Whitest Kids cast member.
And if his comedic brilliance isn’t enough, he apparently has the stamina of a god damned race horse. Lucky NYC fans will have a great chance to catch Sam performing at Piano’s at 9:00 p.m. for the Sam Brown and Greg Johnson comedy hour……all after he runs a literal marathon! Yes, Sam is repeating a venture he did a few years ago of hosting a lovely after party for the New York City Marathon. This is some all new sorts of craziness in my lazy ways and eyes.
And even more great news! If you are looking to break in to the comedy business, or just want to impress your co-workers with some wit and wisdom from the comedy world, Professor Brown may just be at your service. Keep on reading below to find out how he might be able to make you not just a much funnier person, but probably a better person altogether. So on that note, we are absolutely honored and humbled to introduce Sam Brown!
What made you want to join the world of comedy? Was it always something you thought you would do when you were a kid?
I come from a pretty funny family (in my opinion) so being funny just used to be how you got noticed. Besides that I remember always being drawn to characters like Gonzo from the muppets that celebrated being weird which later turned into an admiration for performers like Andy Kaufman. I always wanted to be different and not in that obvious teenage rebelion way that now means heading down to your local hot topic. I remember when it came time to take Senior photos in high school since I’m from Cape Cod the thing everyone would do was get thier picture taken on the beach, so I thought it would be fun to take it a little further and actually get chest deep in a full suit and tie in the ocean. It was freezing because it was only march but the pictures turned out great. It was like a Pink Floyd album cover. Unfortunately the yearbook editor decided that itd be best to crop the pictures at my shoulders so it only looks like I’m standing in front of the ocean. That bitch.
Of all the televised sketches in history, what would you consider to be your favorite sketch, whether you were in it or not?
Definately not one of my own, what kind of ego maniac do you take me for? How about I give you a few and if its too long you can just cut some out.
MONTY PYTHON: The Arguement Clinic. The writing masterfully evolves where once you get what they’re doing, they do it in a new way. I mean there’s no one right way to write a sketch but really thats how you should do it.
SNL: Steve Martin’s Christmas Wish is definately up there. A sketch that has a brilliantly written build up slowly transforming a genorous man into someone who is lustful, greedy and out for revenge.
THE STATE: they did an intro once where David Wain explained that in the group they all had different jobs and his was the editor and while it wasn’t as glamorous as being the star it still had its perks. No jokes just thirty seconds of talking before the intro. Then they roll the intro which at first seemed to be the one they always had but slowly more and more shots of David Wain were cut into it until finally its just all him then they cut to the group shot and he actually is spotlit. This was very influential to me. It showed me that in sketch you could break your show for the sake of a joke.
For me there was really two modes of the show, writing and performing so each has thier own high point for me.
As far as writing I think when Trevor and I came up with the Jaws sketch is a moment I look back on fondly. It just felt like a different joke and ultimately what I am trying to do is get someone to laugh at something in a different way. That one makes me proud.
Performing: anything where I get to yell a lot. Normally I’m a really mellow guy but from time to time I totally lose my temper so when I get a roll where I can go off I can channel that pretty well (Cubicle Boss, Loveliest Bride, Sam’s Miss March Audition).
How are your experiences on the road with the guys after all these years? Have you all grown closer over the years or you all just tolerating each other at this point? Or is it all the same kind of man love as it was so many years ago?
Its tough but I love it. It isn’t being stuck with the same four other people all the time that makes it tough. Its just travelling. Flying has quickly become one of my least favorite activities on the face of the earth. Not even because of a fear of death or anything. Its just the constant nickle and diming. I feel like pretty soon airlines will charge you money not to sit on a bear trap. Its the other guys that actually make it bareable for me. WKUK is something that I still feel the whole is greater than the parts. There’s a certain energy that we have together that I could have faith in before we had a TV show. I felt like if I can just make these guys laugh we can really be something and now all these years later (13?!) and I still feel like if I can make them laugh we can be something greater. I’d put up with whatever the airlines can throw at me for that. I’d proudly sit on that bear trap.
You and the rest of the WKUK have a fan base is unlike any other out there.
Thats not a question. How long have you been doing this? But yes, I like them. Thats one of the things I like about doing a live shows, meeting the fans. It can sometimes be longer and more work than the actual show but signing stuff and taking pictures with everyone can be the most rewarding part. When I was seventeen my mom brought me to go see John Waters speak which I thought was pretty cool, so when I see parents bringing thier kids to our shows and telling us that our show has brought them closer it makes me feel good.
Has there been any progress made on the WKUK movie? Is it still in the works?
Yeah, we’re still plugging away at it.
How much time do you figure you spend on Twitter and Facebook? Do you justify it as “work” as many of us do?
Not enough. Its like homework for a comedian and I’ve always been bad at doing my homework. I would love to delete my facebook but I need it to advertise my shows and classes so I would see that as a pretty selfish act considering how often I work on shows with other people. Twitter is a good joke writing tool but sometimes I am just too down myself to hit send. Either that or I am just not funny enough.
I understand you are going to be running the New York Marathon this year, and following it up with a stand up show….what the hell man? I would think you would allow yourself to sit down after a run like that. How has the training for this event been for you? And can you tell us about the post-run event?
I ran it six years ago and did the same thing and it went great plus this is both an easy way to plan an after marathon party and pack a show. I’m really excited though, the people on the line up are some of my favorite people to spend time with and its at Pianos which is where WKUK performed weekly for years so it’ll have a homecoming feel for me. The training is good. This is actually the third marathon I’ve trained for since I trained last year and hurricane sandy had other plans but I’ve run my long practice runs and now I’m in the taper weeks where I rest more than train. I feel good.
I also understand you are looking to be doing some sketch comedy writing workshops in the L.A. are this winter. Would you like to pimp out some details on what you are offering?
This is one my favorite things to do. I never took classes myself which made it really nerve racking at first but the more I just vocalized what I found to be true in my experience the more I discovered that through thirteen years of writing sketches I figured out how to do it. Now its just a matter of talking about something I’m very passionate about with people that hopefully share that passion. In the end I feel like I’m learning along with the students. To top it all off I do this all through a really small comedy school, Miles Stroth Improv, that has some of the smartest and funniest comedians I know teaching thier classes. Find out more info at Milesimprov.com.
Well my birthday is on Saturday so theres that. Mainly though I have a movie that some other comedian friends and I raised money to make. We didnt really raise much money either so its going to be a challenge but I feel like adversaty can create a better outcome in the end.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
While I was writing this my dog, Party Dog, farted. He farts a lot and it always smells awful but also always I laugh.
October 24, 2013 Leave a comment
It has been brought to my attention recently that television is where all the best writing is these days. This theory has been proven time and time again with the popularity of cable and network shows constantly being on the rise due to new lack of restraint on television audiences that has been in place for well over a decade now. And some of Hollywood’s biggest names in front and behind the camera are showing up on the small screen more and more often. Case in point: HBO’s soon to be released on DVD, Family Tree, written, directed, and produced by the great Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock. Guest and Piddock are old chums. Jim has been featured in the Big Guest 3 films (read below for further details) that are easiley some of the best ensemble projects I have ever seen. Piddock, beyond his acting chops on stage and on the screen, he is also a writer with credits to his name such as The Man featuring Samuel L. Jackson, The Tooth Fairy featuring Dwayne Johnson, and the 1992 erotic thriller Traces of Red, featuring James Belushi and Lorraine Bracco. Yes, Guest and Piddock have had individual success in their long and storied career. And now we are fortunate enough to have had the two team up to create what you will surely find to be one of the funniest shows on cable television today. And as we already made clear, that is a hard feat to reach in this, the golden age of television writing. And we were fortunate enough to be able to steal a few minutes from Jim to talk about his latest projects, past works, and what else he has on his plate these days. So enjoy!
You’ve had great success on the stage, in films, and on television. Tell us, what is your preferred method of acting, if you have one?
They’re all rewarding in different ways, but as I get older I find the routine of doing film or tv easier to navigate and maintain a balanced lifestyle. I wouldn’t rule out going back to the stage, if the right project came along, but it’s not that high on my list of priorities right now.
You have appeared in what I call the Big Guest 3 films – Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration, all directed by your pal and fellow legend Christopher Guest. These movies just seem like they would be so much fun to work on, especially with the immense amount of improvisation. Tell us, is this so? What have your experiences been like working in this setting?
I think every actor who works on anything that Christopher directs will tell you that the improvisation part is very nerve-wracking, but the on-set experience is as good as it gets. It’s highly actor-friendly and relaxed. First of all, you’re hanging out with a lot of other actors you admire and have mostly worked with multiple times and, secondly, we work very quickly compared to most productions, so there’s a lot less hanging around. When a group of very funny, talented people get together, there’s generally a lot of laughter and very few people hiding in their trailers when they’re not on camera.
You have also recently teamed up with Guest as a writer/producer/actor on the new television series Family Tree, which will be released on DVD and as a digital download on October 29th. Can you tell us a bit about the show? Where did the concept for this show come from?
The show originated over a lunch that Christopher and I had around the time he’d been looking into his own family history a little bit. We liked the idea of an ongoing series about a rootless and impressionable young man trying to find his bearings in life, and establish meaningful relationships and purpose to his existence, by delving into his genealogy.
Apart from the endless and varied comic potential of the premise, we also felt it tapped into the larger, cosmic themes we all ask ourselves at some point: who am I, what is my place in the world, and where do I fit in the grand chain of history?
What did you want viewers to take away from this show? Do you think viewers have or will get what you are hoping to convey?
I think we wanted people to be amused primarily. But, in addition to laughing, we hoped they’d be emotionally engaged with the main characters and care about what happens to them. And judging by the overwhelming majority of responses we’ve had to the show, from both critics and viewers, I believe we succeeded in that. I have heard from so many people, almost all of whom I don’t know, who said they felt genuinely bereft after the last episode of the first season ended. Which is very gratifying because it means that after 8 episodes they were emotionally invested in the series, and in the journey of the characters and the stories we were telling.
Based on the critical acclaim alone, has there been any stages of pre-production for a second season? If so, is there anything new you would like to accomplish during a second season?
Not yet, but Christopher and I met for a couple of hours recently to discuss possible season 2 ideas and we came up with about 15-20 episodes ideas in a very short space of time. We also have a great ending for the final (or possibly just the second) series which will be even more unexpected than some of the surprising directions we’ve already taken.
It’s a family movie about an Australian conman who has a spell put on him by an Aboriginal shaman and undergoes a body-switch with a koala. You know, that old chestnut.
What would you personal consider your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Working uninterrupted in show business for 35 years.
Is there anything in your career that you have yet to do that you are working towards getting done?
There are many other projects I’ve written and am attached to produce which I’d desperately love to see come to fruition. But, as an actor, the one thing I’d love to do is play a regular character on a long-running series. I’d love the chance to live with and develop a character for a length of time. And the money probably wouldn’t hurt either.
While it seems as though you are constantly working, you must take a break now and then. What do you do for a little “me time” just to de-stress if you will?
What was the last thing that made you smile?
The fact that I had to encourage the waitress I had at dinner last night to google me because she didn’t believe I was who I said I was. For some reason it amused me that, after all these years and all I’ve done, I still felt like I had to justify myself to someone half my age. And while I was eating.