Another weekend and time is running out to see my play, GOING GOING GONE at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood. Again this weekend, half-price tickets if you just go here and type in Promo Code 008. And tonight only – a talk-back with me and the cast. But wait! There's MORE. A SPECIAL appearance! Howard Hoffman, who does the voice of the announcer, will BE at the theatre. LIVE and IN PERSON. You do NOT want to miss this!
Okay, let me stop plugging my play for five minutes to answer some Friday Questions. Leave yours in the comments section. Many thanks.
Mike Barer starts us off:
Ken, have you ever been on stage? I know many producers and directors insert themselves into a show.
Not really. On a few of the sitcoms that David Isaacs and I have written freelance episodes for we’ve inserted ourselves in the shows, but only for a cameo and a line or two.
Here’s my feeling about that: Yes, as a producer I could insert myself into as many shows as I want, but I’m not an actor and by playing a part myself I’m taking money away from a real actor; someone who is trying to make a living or even support a family on the income he makes acting. So I gladly put my ego aside and let someone way more qualified take the role.
About ten years when I co-wrote a musical that was being produced at the Goodspeed Theatre in Connecticut, I was standing on the stage during one of the final rehearsals with Andrew Rannells, who was starring in the show.
I asked him what was it like to be on stage, to feed off the energy of a big audience? He said, “Why don’t you just write yourself into the show and see for yourself.” I nodded and said, “That’s a great idea except for one thing: I can’t act, I can’t sing, and I can’t dance. What the hell am I gonna do?” He agreed that might be a problem.
You recently joked about Thomas Gibson's dismissal being mood lifting for the writers room on Criminal Minds. But it occurred to me you did include in him your list of actors who where good to work with. Was he better on the set of Dharma & Greg?
I have no idea what his issues were with CRIMINAL MINDS, what tensions existed, what creative differences there were, or what other shit was going on in his personal life. But apparently his violent outburst at a writer was not his first.
Still, I maintain my experience with him was a pleasure.
Are there any "written-word" comedy writers (novelists, essayists, etc.) you particularly enjoy?
A number of them. My favorite currently is Paul Rudnick. His humor pieces in THE NEW YORKER are brilliant. He’s also a hilarious playwright and screenwriter. There are several books that are compilations of his humor pieces. I recommend them.
Political satirist Andy Borowitz is also a personal fave. Dave Barry still makes me smile. And if you want to go back into ancient times – Dorothy Parker, S.J. Perelman, Woody Allen (when he was young and funny), and P.G. Wodehouse.
A few comic authors I thoroughly enjoy are Carl Hiassen, Douglas McEwan, and the late John Kennedy Toole who wrote my all-time favorite comic novel, CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES.
Doug McEwan has a new book coming out soon. Can’t wait.
And finally, from Jahn Ghalt:
Ken wrote: the amount of time it took to write (The Me Generation) vs. the sales didn’t propel me to just jump right in and begin the next decade. Too bad, because lots of neat stuff happened in the ‘70s.
and Carol wrote: What about writing a play based on your memoir? I can imagine a good 'coming of age in the 60's' story working as a play
Carol almost took the words out of my mouth: How about a play based on your 70s careers? Radio, the Army(?), writers room for M*A*S*H?
That’s sort of what I am doing now. The play is very loosely autobiographical about the inspiring world of comedy in the mid ‘70s. And to circle back to the first question – no, I will not be playing a part in it.