Wednesday, July 31, 2019

EP134: Meet comedian/writer Jeff Cesario

Jeff Cesario has been a stand-up who’s appeared often on LETTERMAN, THE TONIGHT SHOW, CONAN, KIMMEL, and has had his own SHOWTIME special.  He was also a writer/producer on THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW.   He and Ken discuss comedy, Garry Shandling, what happened to Dennis Miller, and his alter ego, sportscaster Chet Waterhouse.  Lots of laughs and insight this week.

Listen to the Hollywood & Levine podcast!


Paul B said...

Friday question:
The hilarious British TV comedy "Coupling" from the early 2000's (think Monte Python meets Friends) was written single handedly by the creator, Stephen Moffet. It was only 28 episodes over 4 years, but still seems like an enormous undertaking. If that weren't enough, his wife was the director. Would you ever consider such an effort?

Jahn Ghalt said...

Great interview today, Ken - not the least because I haven't thought of Dennis Miller for a long time. Whatever his expressed political views are at the particular time, I've always thought of him as a smart, quick, commentator and (although I can't think of anything "topical") I don't recall strongly disagreeing with his comments. He seems perceptive, like George Carlin, except for war and national security, about which Carlin was mostly silent, anyway - post-VietNam.

Curious, I went to his wikipedia entry - and found this by a politician whom I greatly respect:

(referring to their SNL days) "People have said to me, ‘What happened to Dennis?’ Nothing happened to Dennis. He's the same Dennis. He's always had a conservative streak on certain issues."

"Dennis was always sort of conservative on certain kinds of issues. I am not quite sure why he decided to become a comedian with a dog in the fight, but as a comedian with a dog in the fight I sympathize with him."

James Van Hise said...

I used to really like Dennis Miller. I attended one of his concerts back east and was in the audience of his late night talk show during the last week it was on the air. But it wasn't just that his radio show became a haven for conservative figures I found obnoxious (like David Horowitz) but he became an on air pal of Bill O'Reilly even after O'Reilly had settled a major sexual harassment complaint (which was ostensibly why Miller hated Bill Clinton). Miller would even appear with O'Reilly at personal appearances, which made him too far gone for me to follow him any more. Basically I remember Dennis Miller when he used to be funny and he hasn't been that in many years.

Anonymous said...

Noticed article from Vanity fair about the WGA battle with the talent rep.agentcies
Prefer an update from the "horse's mouth" rather then through 3rd hand reports.
So is article generally accurate or a piece with a agenda not readitly obvious to an outsider such as myself.
Your opinion would be appreciated.

Frank Beans said...

I'll preface this by saying that I've been a fan of Dennis Miller for decades, since I was a kid watching SNL. He is still hands-down the best Weekend Update commentator the show has had.

In the late 80s-early 90s it was somewhat understandable to identify as "libertarian". It meant that you rejected, perhaps plausibly, the excesses of Republicans and Democrats alike. You're not on board with the culture wars, you saw beyond hypocrisy and greed, as well as over-the-top political correctness. Okay, got it, Ace

Miller, along with the rest of his brand of self-styled libertarians, jumped this particular shark long ago. They are part of the MAGA base now, whether they like it or not. People like this are than like a person who fulminates against motorcycle helmets, vaccinations, gun control, and the U.N.--but is passionate about pot. Whatever their original aims were, they are Republicans in practice.

Jeff Boice said...

That was a good interview- led me to watch Mr. Cesario's Tonight Show debut. Still funny 32 years later -and this opinion comes from someone who loves rhubarb pie. At the end Johnny gave him the OK sign.

Mibbitmaker said...

I've noticed, among issues that Dennis Miller seems to have remained steady with, he was always pro-death penalty, usually a conservative position. He seems to still be with gay rights and marriage equality (liberal), also on abortion, then and now. His reasoning for changing on things in general was put as him being a "9/11 conservative". It was still noticeable on later Dennis Miller Live shows. I can see being hawkish ABOUT the war on terror, but I'll never understand changing so many unrelated issues based on that topic.

I'm independent (liberal-leaning), so I didn't mind him during the Bush years when the left was getting a little loopy (seeing the Supreme Court virtually install a president will do that to a person), and I was more annoyed by Al Franken. But recent years it's flipped, and I find opinionated Dennis unbearable. I'm glad to hear he may be getting away from Orange Schickelgruber now. He would've made a really cool "Never-Trump".

Kreitzer said...

Friday Question - - Even as a little kid watching sitcoms, especially, for example, Dick Van Dyke, I immediately noticed that there was generally a main character who was "normal," someone we could identify with, surrounded by crazies and quirky supporting characters.

I feel like I have seen many otherwise promising sitcoms fail because the writers failed to create an interesting main character, and it drags down the whole show. Three examples that come immediately to mind are the recent Abby's, where the Klavan actually ended up being the one with a character arc over its ten episodes, Out of Practice with Henry Winkler (who was not the main character), and Superior Donuts.

Why this is such a common problem?

Anonymous said...

I started listening to the “Chet Waterhouse” podcasts a few weeks ago.
The character is a funny one, but, at the same time, reminiscent of two
Chicago radio characters from the 1980s 1990s:

1. The “Chet Chitchat” of
( who was inspired in part by the recently deceased )

2. The “Jim Shorts” of

Mike Barer said...

I had not heard of that comic, but thought it was a great interview and an enjoyable podcast.

Steve Roberts said...

From Steve Roberts
Love reading your blog before I hit the sack each night. However, why you're so enamored with Natalie Wood is beyond me. Read the book "Castle." That woman really slept around I'd go so far as to call her a slut. I don't give a darn how pretty she was.

Did you know that President Obama back in 2012 funneled over a billion dollars into the city of Baltimore for urban renewal? So where did the money go? You know how much a billion dollars is? What a waste of taxpayers' money!!

I love when you're "talking baseball" and pro football. Don't care too much about the entertainment industry but I do love TCM and old movies and Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

No offense but "Mash" was overrated. All they did was make jokes during the Korean War. Watched it only occasionally and never laughed. They're all zillionaires and can't related to them anyway. Favorite TV show of all time: "The Fugitive" Favorite Comedy: "You'll Never Get Rich" (Phil Silvers) and The jackie Gleason Show From the Sun and Fun Capital of the World: Miami Beach. Just loved Frank Fontaine.
Favorite Singers: Slim Whitman, Doc Watson, Woody and Arlo Guthrie, Hank Williams, and Faron Young. And I adored Kitty Wells. And I'm 52 years of age.
I started teaching at 21 years of age and retired last year. Hated it but it gave me a nice pension and medical benefits for life. Most middle-school kids are jerks. finally what I could never understand, their parents have enough money to afford mobile phones for their kids and they pick them up in decent compact cars but the kids get meal tickets paid for by--you guessed it--the Federal Government.

So long--And as Pete Seeger said on many occasions: " Take it Easy--But Take It."
Oh I do play guitar and banjo just for fun. Mostly I play by ear.

Jahn Ghalt said...

In a not-serious-at-all vein, I remember the most uncomfortable I've ever seen Miller.

Weekend Update, behind his desk. Victoria Jackson doing a sexy dance. She turned and faced Miller and laid belly-down on the desk. Miller squirming.

Must find that you YouTube.

Frank Beans said...

Both Dennis Miller and Victoria Jackson are now batshit right-wingers in the Tea-Bagger camp. I don't know what made them so deranged, but it is what it is.

Nevertheless, I was a worshipful SNL fan during the years that they were on the show, the late 80s-early 90s, when I was in Jr. high/high school. I remember the Weekend Update Christmas-themed numbers where Jackson was on--once as a Christmas tree (upside down) reading a poem, once as Mrs. Claus. Dennis seemed genuinely aroused (yecch), and it was very funny, despite being technically crazy. You can't fake that kind of humor.