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CP: [Laughs]

Richard Lewis plays Magooby’s, promises “I will not comment on the name Timonium”

Photo: Phil Provencio, License: N/A

Phil Provencio


RICHARD LEWIS DESCRIBES HIMSELF as a recovering addict and a former Neurotic, and he has been a standup comedian since the ’70s. Mr. Lewis has appeared in numerous television shows (most recently HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm), along with mainstream and independent movies, and he continues to perform his seemingly therapeutic talking-cure comedy, and we recently attempted to get a word in edgewise via telephone in advance of his appearances this weekend at Magooby’s Joke House in Timonium. (Joe MacLeod)

[Phone rings]

City Paper: Hi, this is Joe.

Richard Lewis: Joe? Joe? Mister MacLeod?

CP: Yes, sir.

RL: I’m gonna use that name for a Texas series I’m gonna play, First Jew in the West, where I wipe out the bad guys. Do you mind if I use your name?

CP: I would be honored.

RL: You know, I just called this poor woman, [The way many celebrity phone interviews work is: Famous Person’s handler communicates with you, then you give handler your phone number, then Famous Person calls you using a BLOCKED phone ID so you can never call Famous Person later] I have the original Blackberry that Thomas Edison used, and I kept calling one digit off, and I coulda [unintelligible, murmuring phone numbers to self] and, addicts, recovering, for a long time, so you always wanna be right, and I could have sworn I was calling you, and we had this long conversation, and I went “stop doing an impression of a woman, you’re Joe” [laughs], and it went on for about three minutes, and then she got angry, and I walked into the light, and here you are. Anyway, how are you? How are things?

CP: I’m wonderful, sir, thank you.

RL: You don’t really mean wonderful, do you?

CP: No, I do, I’m one of those gratitude people, you know? I’m thankful for every day.

RL: [Signing off] Take care.

CP: [Laughs]

RL: [Laughs] That’s a good way to be, but I find it comes incrementally. It’s a good thing to be grateful, it really is, it’s where it’s at, but I can quickly lose it, you know, say I’m on a talk show and I look down, and I have a brown sock and a black sock? I wanna get out of the—you know, I could run out screaming. You gotta really take the, you gotta take, how is this interview starting, by the way? You think maybe this is maybe the worst, I feel like the, and I only say this, not to stereotype, there’s not that many Jewish NASCAR racers, I don’t know. I’m a great—well, my wife thinks I suck—but I’m a great driver, and I, apparently, people think that a Jewish NASCAR race, we’ll say, “you know what, I could win, but I’m really hungry, so I think I’ll make a right here, get some Chinese food, I’ll get back in the race in a couple hours. And they’d lose, but that’s wrong. I think there’s a little anti-Semitism going around. I think they’re not letting Jews in. Whaddya think of that theory?

CP: Yeah, it could be it could be, um, you know, if you’re gonna make a theory about a sporting group that might be anti-Semitic . . .

RL: (Laughs) Why not NAS—you know, I happen to, you know, listen, have you asked every question you wanted so far?

CP: Um, no, you know what, the one question I wanted to ask was—

RL: About Jews and, no Jews in NASCAR?

CP: I just wanted to know if this was Richard Lewis.

RL: [Pause] No, this is that woman, you moron. [laughs] I took over his body. I’ve watched enough of these vampire fuckin’ shows, and I’ve had it. Everything, I can’t take it anymore, Breaking Bad and The Wire and The Sopranos, I can’t watch Suck Me, and The End of the World 9, you know, You’re Fucked 3, Eight Hours to Go, I can’t take it. Why do people have this big fuckin’ death wish, you know, and, uh, even though I’m, look, I mean, uh, I’m a recovering drug addict of almost 20 years, alcoholism, I’ve been neurotic—my family, sort of blew, growing up, I was tethered to nothing, so I went off the deep end for a while, but I never stopped, you know, jokes kept pouring out of me, and this is all I’ve been doing since I’ve been 21, but I mean, ah, what’s the point of this, I’m not boasting, but everything’s gonna come to a crash ending here, otherwise it’s not newsworthy. I guess I forgot. I guess I forgot, Joe, you know, your style has thrown me. You’re asking too many heavy questions.

CP: My style of laughing at everything you say, is that—

RL: Well, that’s very nice, but listen, there’s a couple of things I will not answer. In fact, I asked, I went to my doctor, I said, you know, it’s not like morphine, or anything, although I wouldn’t mind some morphine if it worked for this. I will not comment on the name Timonium. Won’t do it. I won’t do it. I need some drug, some drug that will not make me, even a rodeo clown would say, “Hey, it’s like Immodium.”

CP: It’s an element on the periodic table.

RL: [laughs] Yeah, that’s a brilliant line. How dare you steal my thunder.

CP: That wasn’t—[comment should be properly attributed to erstwhile CP contributor Juliana Verdone]

RL: I don’t care where this club is, so they gave me a shot for not discussing the suburb, which is cool, so, you know, I don’t care what name it is, I’ve played opera houses and concert halls, and let’s say I’m in Ohio, they go—where is it?—”don’t take this the wrong way, it’s in Bellyache, Ohio, seats 2,800 people,” you know, all I care about are the people in that area. I don’t care what the fuckin’ name is, what do I give a shit.

CP: Many of the people in Timonium will basically be from Baltimore, so it’s fair to say Baltimore or Timonium.

RL: How far is it from Baltimore’s area, 10 miles or something?

CP: Something like that.

RL: Oh, fuck it, man. I don’t give a shit, I just care about the people that come. But now there was a second, this was a double-tiered drug problem. I went back to the doctor, see, I just finished a movie, I was a working on it for six weeks, called Squirrels to the Nuts. . .

CP: [Laughing the whole time Lewis is discussing film, CP not realizing it is a real movie directed by Peter Bogdanovich, slated for release in 2014]

RL: . . . with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, amazing, Wil Forte, and this woman who was so beautiful, played my daughter, who was a prostitute in the film, Imogen Poots—

CP: [Pecking “Squirrels to the Nuts” into Google, not laughing anymore]

RL: —you could check it out on the internet, but it’s just, I play this sort of redneck, and there’s not an ounce of neurosis in this role for me, so I’m either gonna be like, “Wow, he can do that” or, I’ll be, you know, dressing up like Lincoln, walking through the store. It was really a lot of fun, playing, it was so against type I scared myself. I just got back a few days ago, so I still have this redneck shit coursing through my veins.

CP: That’s why you’re thinking about NASCAR?

RL: Exactly. I dunno, they’re not all rednecks. One of the reasons I get upset about it, this is only a projection, we have to give up this NASCAR thing, everyone loves it. Although if I was a NASCAR driver, I would not drive on Yom Kippur, to be honest with you, if [Hall of Fame baseball pitcher] Sandy Koufax didn’t pitch a World Series game, you don’t drive a car on Yom Kippur. I dunno, your sponsors would be—unless your sponsor was like, Manischewitz wine.

CP: Yeah, Hebrew National.

RL: Yeah, exactly. You’re topping me at every turn here. You know what, if that’s the reputation I have, “yeah, there’s a lot of comics who wanna do routines on the phone,” that’s sort of sad, I’m not knocking that, but listen, ask me about a stapler, if you can, sneak it in, you know, and then the guy will talk for seven minutes about Kmart and buying a stapler, and staples his, whatever the fuck he does with it—I don’t have an act, I want people in the Baltimore area to know that. Oh, the double-tiered drug problem!

CP: Yeah.

RL: There it is, man, look it’s only 7:30 here, I didn’t sleep much, because we have a new dog, and I’ve never had a dog in my life, it’s a rescue and it’s very needy and it’s really interfering with my sex life with my wife, it protects my wife, and I went to do the movie, I say this, I’m more of a feminist than anything else, I wanted to leave the house with a bang—you know what I mean—before I went to New York.

CP: Right on.

RL: You know, strong, I mean “bang” in the sex—well, the deal is, I’m naked, she’s naked and somewhere in this, dog, I don’t know how this type of Maltese, mixed, she was mixed with a mobster, to be honest with you, she jumped onto the bed, I don’t know how she did this, they’re so athletic, landed right between my wife’s breasts, turned her head around like The Exorcist, you know, and protected my wife, thinking I was attacking her. And, uh, let me put it to you this way, my penis went south fast.

CP: Yeah.

RL: And we laughed, it was like a family moment, but I didn’t want a family moment with my rescue dog, you know, I wanted some tremendous intercourse. So it turned out to be like “let’s take pictures,” and we put on our pajamas and sent it out to relatives. It’s not, you know, I don’t know what to do now. Our sex life has gone south because we rescued a dog from the streets. I think it was a junkie because I’ve seen some tracks on her paws, but you know what, I don’t even shoot heroin, but, you know, I’m glad we saved it, now my wife, she used to, you know, massage, get tickled, and all that shit, forget it, it’s over. It’s the fuckin’ dog now and I love her. I’m in love with the dog too, but I haven’t had a rubdown in a year and a half, you know, and I gotta go to these fuckin’ massage parlors, you know, but I get unhappy endings. They massage me and then I ask them to do a few lines from a Eugene O’Neill play, and they’re Vietnamese, a lot of them, some of them do, one did a—what was it—it doesn’t matter, you didn’t ask me a question yet, did you?

CP: I just wanted to confirm your name.

RL: Oh no, let me just finish the double-tiered thing, then I’ll shut up because I’m being really rude to a journalist, and I’m a writer too, so I’m sorry. The name of this venue, as we know, Magooby’s, I thought that I had fallen off the wagon when I got the email. “Magooby’s wants you.” Now, I thought I was gonna have to get in the witness-protection program, I thought some guy named Magooby was gonna follow me all over the world. “What’s your name?” “Bob Magooby. Has Richard Lewis checked in?” I created this entire paranoid story that Magooby was some, I dunno, some anti-Semite that wanted to kill me. So turns out, it’s supposed to be great place. And I don’t care about the name, but logos with names like that sometimes can be a little goofy. I’ve played every venue from Carnegie Hall to steakhouses, you know, so I’ve been everywhere for 44 years, so it doesn’t matter, I just care about chairs and people. But if there’s a logo of a Mister Magooby behind me, if you think the Sex Pistols were rough onstage, I’m gonna burn the fuckin’ stage down. So I’m just warning the venue, I can’t wait to go there, I love Baltimore, think The Wire was the greatest-written series of all time, of course it wasn’t a happy-go-lucky show, it wasn’t exactly Maui, but, for what it’s worth, by the way, most writer/producers who have any talent down here consider The Wire the greatest-written drama in history, in television, in this country, and it’s hard to say no to that, I concur. I know Baltimore, I’ve had relatives there forever, I love the city, so we’re looking forward to going to—but the name, I had to take another drug not to goof on the name, because any moron can goof on that name, or Timonium, but I will not do it, I respect the name of that suburb, and for some reason, there’s no names left for nightclubs, there really aren’t, I imagine the owners, who I haven’t met yet or even spoken to—and it better be a nice hotel, you know, or I can’t come. But the truth is, I need a place of comfort, I don’t have an act, and I just hide out in my hotel and pore over thousands of premises, and when I hear “ladies and gentlemen, Richard Lewis,” after they give me a little Jimi Hendrix music for a while, at the club, I just, in fact I spoke to Hendrix’s sister yesterday, I was at some hotel looking over material because I’m starting touring again, I start in New York, in about a week, and I head down to, you know, place, that area, Area 51, Baltimore. Maybe it’s Area 52, Timonium, wait a minute, that would be a trip. No one would ever look for the aliens. The last place you’d go to is, if they actually did Area 51—and that’s the only reason by the way I would ever run for president, as soon as I, as soon as I, you know, hands on the Bibles, “congratulations Mister President,” thank you, no speech, just no, where’s the plane, where’s Air Force One, I’m goin’ to fuckin’ Nevada, I wanna see E.T.’s hooker. You know, and if it’s not there, I would say, “I know where it is: Timonium, Maryland. Turn this baby around.” Now we’re doing jokes on Timonium, I just can’t help myself, I guess the drug’s wearing off. Maybe I can get another shot before I get on the plane. I’ll be in New York first, so I’ll go to a specialist. You wanna ask me why I wear black? Who gives a fuck? I don’t. You don’t really care. You wanna ask me if Curb is coming back? Larry David, he played golf with President Obama a few weeks ago, and he called me about it, he said “you know, the president asked me if there’s gonna be a season nine,” and I went, “you see, the president can ask you, I don’t even ask you, I haven’t asked you in 10 years,” so I never do, I never call and ask him about that, it’s like a person thing, I just, we’re fortunate that it worked out and that I was part of the juggernaut, it’s a pretty hip show, to put it mildly. And I did wear black, because I felt like I was hiding when I was starting out, I was frightened, I figured I would be like a shadow, honest to goodness, I mean, I don’t need a shrink, I don’t go to therapy anymore, clearly it’s been a pointless exercise, for 40 years, can’t you tell? So to go there and, you know, to have my accountant, it’s embarrassing when your account goes, “You must have bought one of those James Bond houses for your doctors. Swimming pools, you know, I can leave my bed and swim to the kitchen!” You know, I don’t need, I can’t do it anymore, my only goal is like, if, and my marriage, I have a good marriage, a great wife, man, and she’s got my back—I got married at 57, I did all of my damage, you know, I’ll always be an addict, even when I die, and hopefully just not active, but I mean, I was addicted to everything, like everyone else, sex, drugs, and rock and roll and the whole deal, but, you know, there are consequences for all of that shit, so it was late in life, 46 or 7, but, uh, I couldn’t have been a decent husband before that, so I sort of am glad it happened late, and so we’re cool, the only thing is I’m still living in Hollywood and I’m a New Yorker, so I’m not sure about where I want to go now. Let me just say one thing that’s really cool, I was telling my wife yesterday, being in my 60s is insane, except it’s also, to be you, mister MacLeod [loud, effeminate affect] “I’m so grateful, ohh, yeah, [end loud, effeminate affect] people are going to, uh, fall and [unintelligible], “look what he wrote on his tombstone, I used to love that fuckin’ guy,” that’s you, OK, are you happy, you gonna use that? I feel like strangling you. What’re you, like a Boy Scout leader, I feel you’re gonna be a great writer, you probably are, but your gratitude’s annoying me.

CP: [Laughs]

RL: But I told her, I came up at a really interesting time, you know, there were really just a handful of guys, Andy Kaufman, Freddy Prinze Sr.—of course he didn’t call himself “senior” then, he didn’t have Freddy Prinze Jr.—

CP: [Laughs]

RL: You know, [Billy] Crystal and [Jay] Leno, that was the era, you know, Elayne Boosler was like, you know, she doesn’t like to be called a “female comedian,” just “comedian,” period, people in their early 20s then, it was mostly guys, doing it, she was phenomenal, so I once called her the “Jackie Robinson of comedians” for my generation and she got pissed off. “Jackie Robinson of my generation?” How bad is that? She says “just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I want to be separate from men,” I get it, I get it, but it’s too late now, it’s in The New York Times, sorry. You know, now we’re friends, but back then she was irritated that I called her the Jackie Robinson of comedy because of her breakthrough as a woman. I shoulda called her the Howdy Doody, a muppet name—”she’s the Big Bird of comedy.” I coulda done something like that and she’d probably like that better now. So where were—oh, I was telling my wife that, I don’t know how it happened, I said—my wife used to be in the record business for a long time, and she doesn’t get, she loves me and respects my brand of humor, and that’s imperative, I’ve been with a lot of women who didn’t get it, and there’s just no way you can stay with somebody like that, I don’t care how hot you are, sex is great, I mean, it’s an important thing, but if someone’s not a good friend, or has your back, or understands your sense of humor, it’ll ultimately, it’s over. So I got the whole package here, and nothing’s ever perfect, it can’t be perfect, because I’m so imperfect that I cause a lot of problems. She’s a little neurotic, so, she’s great, and I don’t know how I could be without her now, so that’s a good sign, so when I hear myself saying that, a guy who’s been such a slut for 40 years, it’s amazing to me. But I’m exhausted from my carousing, and it’s been 19 years, but I’m still tired, I told her this—this is a real point about comedy—I started at a time, 22 or something like that, that the older guys who I grew up seeing on television were my age now, and they really dug me. Lenny had died, when I was in college, Lenny Bruce, but I knew [Richard] Pryor, but I’m not just talking about them, I’m talking about the older guys, you know, the real famous guys, like a couple nights ago, one of the most legendary TV-sketch actors, maybe the greatest, Sid Caesar, and he’s 91 now, and people go visit him, and he’s a fan of mine, and he’s 91, you know, he’s hangin’ in there, but Carl Reiner, who is gettin’ up there too, was on his show [Your Show of Shows, 1950-1953], and Mel Brooks, of course, who was in that famous writers’ room with Woody [Allen] and Neil Simon and all the rest, and I’m friends with Mel and Carl a long time, I did that Mel Brooks movie a long time ago, that Robin Hood movie [Robin Hood: Men in Tights, 1993], you know, I know ’em, and I’m saying to myself, “Jesus, I really came in at an amazing time, because there weren’t many young comics, and these older guys back then dug me.” And then I got to be friends with them. I mean, how cool is that? Like, Buster Keaton’s widow, and Lenny Bruce’s mother, and I’m really close with Kitty Bruce, who’s a recovering junkie and has a home for sober living. So as fearful as I was, walking around after graduating Ohio State University, I had nothing, I had no money, my father just died, and I’m saying, “What the fuck am I gonna do?” I was riddled with anxiety, and, somehow, it took time, that dues thing has to happen, but it happened, in way where I find myself now, Jesus, all these rock groups that I was listening to, these guys are my age now, younger, I mean, I’m close with a lot of, almost every major rock group that I was listening to back then, when they were like, you know, these rock guys have bands when they’re 9, you know, so, they’re superstars at 20, so it took some time to catch up and make a name for myself—whatever that is—and get to be friends, but, you know, hangin’ out with the Stones, or like, when I worked for the Clintons for 10 years, how the fuck is this happening, mainly with the comedians, the rock guys are like, I love rock and roll, and jazz guys, and meeting them, you know, how am I, and I’m looking at the old album covers, when you’re like 23, and all of a sudden, you know, I’m going to, like, an Eagles concert, I know the Eagles, one by one they’re like “Don wants you to come by, right, Timothy wants, you know, Joe, Joe is a good friend of mine,” and I’m saying, to my wife, and my wife just says “you’ve been doing this for 45 years, and they dig you, and you’re friends with them.” We have dinner with them, I’m not trying to sound elitist, I’m like a kid in a candy store, is what I’m trying to get to here, is that, you know, when I close my eyes and I’m looking around my house at pictures here, and there’s some pictures with me, whether it’s the Stones, Mickey Mantle, wow, I’ve really, how did this happen, and it happened by just having absolute pure passion, which I root for anyone to find, whatever they do, and tunnel vision, there was nothing that was gonna stop me, and I didn’t give a shit if people didn’t like me at the beginning, or if they did, there was nothing else I wanted to do, and, you know, it took time, I had some breaks, but I was ready for ’em, I was ready for Letterman back in the ’80s, when he said “come on as often as you want,” and [I] did about 60 of ’em, and then I auditioned and luckily got a job [ABC sitcom Anything but Love, 1989-1992], which broke me, really, working with Jamie Lee Curtis for four years, and then we got fucked out of a fifth year.

CP: I used to watch that. It was good.

RL: Yeah, it was OK, it was funny, I guess, the chemistry, and then, the big break for me, when I was just turning 50—the time when you start getting nervous—I had done some pretty cool indie movies and stuff, my neurosis, my persona, I mean, I’m not gonna play Lincoln, I’m not gonna beat Daniel Day Lewis out for anything, casting agents think that way, though, “Four score, and, I dunno, maybe, ehh, 20 years, 18. . . .” They’re not gonna hire me for those kinda, so that just bugs me because on occasion, there’s some roles, I have some range.

CP: C’mon, c’mon, Albert Brooks in Drive.

RL: Hey, forget about it! He shoulda been Oscar-nominated for that, he was amazing.

CP: So don’t—

RL: I know, I’ve done some stuff, it takes directors with a vision, [Peter] Bogdanovich called me and said, “You’ve gotta come in and do this role,” with his ex-wife Cybil Shepard, “you play a really unsophisticated asshole,” I’m like, “Thanks, Peter.” I hopped on a plane and put on a cowboy hat and underwear, and: “Action!” So I can do that stuff, but when Larry David came over to my house, where I’m sitting right now, and proposed—I had written a script that I wanted him to help me try to get produced, and he said, “you know, I’m really so jammed right now, but I have another offer,” and then he told me about Curb, and we talked about it, and I’ve known him since I’m a kid, but I mean, I couldn’t say no to, basically the writer of this generation, in terms of, you know, certainly, television writing.

CP: It’s amazing to watch you guys on that, it’s just, like, absolutely unaffected and completely real, it’s so bizarre.

RL: I’m glad you used the word “bizarre,” because while we were shooting the eighth season—and I don’t really know if he will come back, you know, I know he had a lot of fun making his movie for HBO, Clear History, and I thought it was terrific, and I am a fan of the show, Curb, you know, and I think the audience will come back to him, it’s so amazingly well-crafted, but, you know, a lot of the actors now are with different shows, I don’t know how that would, I’m not sure if he can even come back, just for that reason. But nothing would stop him if he could find a way. I guarantee that Leon [played by J.B. Smoove] would be hoppin’ around that set and so would I and everybody else. Because you can’t say no to him. It’s like if Woody Allen called somebody, and they just go, they drop everything. Same with Larry. People were dying to be on that show—and I don’t know if you know this guy MacLeod, he works with the paper, real grateful cat—I was grateful immediately. I don’t know if you know this MacLeod guy, but it’s like talking to a minister, I told him once, I was on the phone, I got a big gash on my knee, he was like “Oh hallelujah!” A fuckin’ corkscrew went though my knee, right through my knee, and I was on a gurney, I was on the phone with him doing an interview, “Oh, God bless you!” So, I dunno, but some people believe in that stuff, and you know, believe it or not, the guy’s so, you know, it was almost like one of those, Chautauqua tents, when the guy does on, he has no legs, no arms, and no neck, someone in an Armani suit puts his hand on his forehead, and the guy becomes a tap dancer, you know.

CP: [Laughs]

RL: So [laughs] maybe it’s true, I have nothing against religion, faith is a cool thing, but some of that stuff looks a little bit like David Copperfield-time to me, but I don’t know. If it’s true, cool. Anyway, so that, I was very lucky, you know, I had Letterman championing me, Jamie Lee Curtis wanted me, and Larry David said, “Let’s do a show, be on my show,” and that was in 2000. You know, frankly, I’ve worked my ass off, I’ve done a million sets onstage, and I’m still doin’ it, and I’m also really, it’s really—the other part of that story, the older guys, and then the respect of my generation, it’s like, it’s cool, it’s an all-star team, you really want people to dig you, like Robin, Robin Williams is doing a series now [The Crazy Ones, CBS], I’ve known him for 30 years, he calls me The Rabbi and I call him The Pastor, he respects me tremendously, and I respect him, you know, the deal is though, that’s my generation, he came four or five years after me, but you know, but now, you know, with Sarah Silverman, Jeffrey Ross, and Marc Maron, you know, that whole breed, and they’re great, and you know, I’m friends with a lot of them, and they dig me, they get me. In fact, like, Louis C.K. flew me out, and also Steven Wright, God, and another comic, I’m flakin’ now, terrific, great comedian, who influenced him, and he had two sell-out shows in Chicago, the Chicago Theatre, it’s like almost 7,000 people in one night, and he’s a phenomenon now and he should be. And he introduced the three of us, I feel really bad that I’m too weary to think of the other comic, because I love the guy, but we all came out—

CP: [Googling “Louis C. K. Richard Lewis Steven Wright”]

RL: —and did like half-hour sets, and then he did his, he was working on new material for his special, and it was really a sweet thing, being introduced to his 3,500 people, “Hey, listen, Richard Lewis, blah-blah-blah, I used to watch him as a kid growin’ up and I really dug him,” it was a pleasure and an honor to do that, so I guess what I’m trying’ to say is that I’m really, I’m jokin’ around about the gratitude, I am beyond grateful that I can do this, I mean, to walk on the set of the movie, it was Jennifer Aniston and Owen, you know, Wilson, and all these, you know, a lotta, you know, these big film stars now, and they’re “Oh, mister Lewis, mister Lewis, Richard, I’m glad you’re here,” it was a supporting role, but I mean, they’re all like in their early 40s, so they were like, in high school when I was on Letterman, staying up late and watching, so it’s sort of surreal, you know, it’s like, I’m happy that I never quit, that’s really the bottom line here, to use your word, “grateful,” you happy? Happy? I threw in “grateful”?

CP: I’m happy you threw in “grateful,” sir. Jake Johannsen, I think was the other guy, right?

RL: It was Jake Johannsen! Great guy, really.

CP: We’ll slip that in.

RL: It’s amazing that you know that.

CP: Yeah.

RL: Don’t tell me how, I don’t wanna know, you Googled, and now I’m paranoid that I’m wiretapped again, ahh, God.

CP: It just came to me, it just came to me.

RL: Oh, really, oh good. Yeah. Good. Now I’m gonna be obsessing because I’m obsessive-compulsive, wondering how did you ever come up with—how did you do it? I have to know now, I beg of you. [pause] How did you know that?

CP: The Lord just talked to me, and it just came into my head.

RL: No, no, you can’t fuck with me, because I’ll hang myself.

CP: No, I Googled it.

RL: Oh, you did?

CP: [laughs]

RL: Imagine that? “Lewis hangs himself after interview with MacLeod, who would not tell him how he found some information.”

CP: [laughs]

RL: You’ll have to live with that shit, man.

CP: Oh, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

RL: Hey, I haven’t been able to live with myself since I knew who my family was. I’m still alive. You’re doing fine. Do you have a family, by the way?

CP: I’m getting married in October.

[pause]

RL: (Signing off) Take care.

CP: [laughs]

RL: No, really? Congratulations! I’m really happy for you. And is she grateful? That she found you?

CP: She better be!

RL: Yeah, she better be. You gonna have a big wedding?

CP: No, not a big wedding.

RL: Because you have no confidence in the wedding, in the marriage?

CP: Exactly, yeah, we’re not sure, so we don’t want anybody to know.

RL: I didn’t have a big, we had five people at our wedding. It was semi-religious, semi-small. I said, “look, what’s the point, spending money?” I’d rather spend my, let’s go to a steakhouse, for a honeymoon. Why even go anywhere?

CP: [laughs]

RL: I took my wife to Italy, which I’d been to many times, and she had never been to Rome, and I’m in love with Rome, and we had a great time. We don’t believe in holidays, either. Not that they’re not important to a lot of people, I think a lot of it, it’s good for the economy. Now, coming around into your church here, you know, we actually feel grateful that we have each other every day, and we don’t think it’s that much different on Valentine’s Day. I mean, if I bought her a box of candy on Valentine’s Day she’d throw me outta the fuckin’ house. It just seems so hokey to us. But that’s just who we are, we think every day we’re lucky that we’re around here and havin’ fun, you know, and have our little dog that’s screwin’ with my sex life, but otherwise, I’m still, you know, I was sitting, I go to hotels a lot, in L.A., cool hotels, and sit there for hours and pore over material, if I have a, you know, any kind of acting thing, I like to get outta the house and let my wife just have it, I have a really cool house in Laurel Canyon, I always wanted to live in Laurel Canyon, sort of, hippie-dippy rock-and-roll history up here, it’s amazing, it’s just great, and the house is almost a hundred years old and a lot of people lived in it before me, and I’m not sure if it’s haunted or not, but it’s haunted with my ex-girlfriends, I’ll tell you that much. I blame any—you now, I’m still cookin’ sexually—but if I have a problem I blame it on, I have a list, under my pillow, my wife doesn’t know this, but I go “I can’t believe Lauren did this to me,” you know, it’s not me, she cursed my sexuality tonight, I’m sorry. My wife actually bought that, 10 years ago, when I would say “ohh, I can’t believe it. Janice, that bitch, stole shit from me, and I’m thinking about it, and, you know, it’s affecting me inside.” Two or three of those, and she sends you right to the internist. [wrapping up] So, uh, I have answered nothing! I’m sorry, I’m a bad interview.

CP: You’ve answered everything—

RL: [laughs, ruefully]

CP: —and I am grateful for your time today.

RL: You know what this is gonna turn out to be? With all due respect, first of all, congratulations on your marriage, that’s a great thing, honestly, it’s a beautiful thing to have somebody in your corner who loves you, and it’s great. But, man, what was I gonna say? You don’t wanna be inside this head, it’s like the Industrial Revolution, uh, I dunno, I was gonna say something, I was gonna wish you something, I dunno. But I didn’t really answer, I didn’t really give you a chance to be a journalist. And I feel badly about that.

CP: I’m no journalist, sir, you gave me everything I need.

RL: You mean this is a fuckin’ joke? You better get on your, your milk route.

CP: [laughs]

RL: There’s a lotta women who stopped breastfeeding, and their kids are screamin’, “Where the fuck’s MacLeod?”

CP: [laughs]

RL: Well, I’m gonna go get a glass of milk, I’m not gonna wait for you to ring the fuckin’ bell.

CP: [laughs]

RL: And, uh, although, I haven’t had a glass of milk, since my mother had me breastfeed with a friend. Goodnight everybody!

CP: [claps]

RL: Thank you. I’ll be back at Magooby’s a year from now, and I’ll open up with the breastfeed joke. Alright, listen, have a great wedding, and good luck with your writing career, and thanks for getting my name out in Timonium for the club and Magooby’s and Baltimore, wherever the hell it is, I promise the people this, and your readers: You come to this venue, I will leave it all on the floor. You know, I’m like, drenched with dysfunction. I will share as many as time allows. And they’re all new and improved, half the act—it’s not an act—I’m the act, so if you want setup: joke, setup: joke, go to a puppet show, man, or go to another club, that ain’t me. You wanna see somebody who’s lived a long life and just rambles, and you don’t mind, and if you wanna, midway through my act, make out, talk about the entree, I hear the Magooby’s chef salad is good, I don’t know if that’s true or not. I Googled it. I Googled the Magooby’s menu. You’ll find out the Milton Berle fudgsicle is good, for all the people. Good night everybody! Hey listen, MacLeod, thanks, buddy. Oh, I know what I was gonna say, you talk 40 minutes to a journalist, here’s the article: “Lewis was crazy as a loon, his shows are at 8:30 . . .” If this is not more than three lines, I’ll find ya. Your marriage is fuckin’ history.

CP: I’ll be somewhere between Baltimore and Timonium, so it’ll be hard to find me.

RL: [laughs] You got the last fuckin’ laugh in again, you self-centered narcissist. [hangs up phone]

Richard Lewis’ shows are Oct. 3 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 4-5 at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. at Magooby’s Joke House in Timonium.

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