Interview date: 04/14/2009
Run date: 05/01/2009
Ah, Andy Dick. Just thinking of him makes you smile, doesn’t it? Well, maybe that’s just me. But, personally, I’ve always thought the guy was a riot, whether he was playing the ever-clueless Matthew Brock on “NewsRadio,” playing himself on his self-titled MTV series (or any number of other shows), or turning up in movies like “Old School” and “Road Trip.” Currently, Andy is all over the World Wide Web, both as part of the ensemble cast of “Pilot Season,” over at MyDamnChannel.com, as well as in his own series, “House Arrest with Andy Dick,” which can be found at Atom.com, and Bullz-Eye had the chance to talk to him about these shows and more.
Andy Dick: Hey, Will, this is Andy Dick!
Bullz-Eye: Hey, man, how’s it going?
AD: It’s good! I apologize, though: I just realized I was supposed to call you. I was sitting here waiting for you to call me, and I’m, like, “Oh, I’m supposed to call him, because I didn’t want anyone to have my number.” But then I just decided, “Y’know what? I don’t care.” Usually, people call me, though, so…
BE: If it makes you feel any better, I have a very good reputation for not abusing people’s phone numbers.
AD: Excellent. And, y’know, I do usually give it to the interviewer afterwards, anyway, just in case they forgot to ask something or if they have some simple question about how to link to something of mine. But, anyhow, let’s dive into it, because now we’re both probably running late!
BE: Fair enough, I can do that. Well, we’re because we’re talking about “Pilot Season.”
BE: …where you’re reprising your role of Jason Reemer, but going even farther back, you actually worked with Sam Seder way back in 1997, with “Who’s the Caboose?” How did you find your way into his circle?
AD: Well, I think it was just a leg, a natural extension that sprouted off of the “alternative comics” that were “underground” at the time, in the ‘90s. It was the Janeane Garofalos and the Merrill Markoes and the Kathy Griffins and the Margaret Chos and the Patton Oswalts, and Beth Lapides was the queen of them all, getting us all together to do what they called “un-cabaret.” Sarah Silverman was part of that, and Brian Posehn. That’s why all of Sarah Silverman’s writers on her new show are part of that underground comedy scene. This was just a natural leg that sprouted off that scene. I didn’t really know Sam Seder, but I knew Sarah, and it just happened organically. And it was really fun to play an agent, because I’ve been dealing with them for 20 years, and I’ve kind of hopped around from agency to agency, but they’re all…I don’t do that anymore, basically because they’re just all the same. It doesn’t matter where you go; they’re pretty much all the same.
BE: So were you surprised when they called you and said, “Hey, we’re going to do a sequel”?
AD: No, that was…it was a weird kind of sequel, because “Who’s the Caboose?” was a movie, and then they said, “Well, now we’re turning it into a TV show.” And I thought, “Oh, great, whatever you want me to do.” Then I got the opportunity to work with Isla fisher and did a great scene with her, and it was really great to work with Sarah. She’s extremely funny and awesome. And then I also enjoyed working with Lauren Dombrowski, who played my secretary. She was really fun to work with. And, then, working with Sam and especially Charlie (Fisher). He’s great. He and I have a couple of other projects that we’ve been working on over the years, so…it’s been a blessing that this project keeps living, but it’s funny that it went from a feature film to a cable-TV show to, now, a web series. Next it’s going to be on baseball cards. (Laughs) There’s going to be a Jason Reemer baseball card that you can only get if you buy the Topps Upper Deck series of the entire cast. Or maybe it’ll be released through Bazooka, and it’ll just be little comics of the next episode.
BE: You could always do a living room tour.
AD: Or a living room tour. (Laughs) But, you know, they pay the saucier in the kitchen the most of all the chefs, and these guys, all they do is make sauces. It’s literally making reductions. They take all of these ingredients, and they reduce it and reduce it and reduce it. So “Pilot Season” is like a fine, delicious reduction sauce that you just sprinkle on the lamb chops. That’s what we’re turning into. It takes all of these years just to reduce us to the essence of the purest of all comedy.
BE: I can buy that comparison. It seemed so well thought out that I feel like I have to.
AD: And, yet, it wasn’t. I just came up with that while I was talking to you.
BE: Well, it was certainly very well realized. So I presume you have your own personal experiences of the so-called “pilot season.” The real thing, I mean, as opposed to the web series.
AD: Mmm, well, ever…whoops, can you hold on for just a minute?
AD: Thanks. (Several minutes of silence pass) Sorry about that. Anyway, about pilot season, ever since I’ve been in L.A., which is about 20 years, I’ve heard mixed things. That there’s definitely a pilot season that’s from January to April, or maybe it’s from March to May. But then I’ve also heard that there’s no pilot season, and they’re just constantly making pilots all year ‘round. So I don’t know. Who knows what’s real and what’s not real?
BE: Have you had to deal with the whole rigmarole of being in a pilot and waiting for it to be picked up or not picked up?
AD: I actually was in a pilot called “Rigamarole.”
BE: What are the odds?
AD: I’m just kidding. (Laughs) But, yes, I’ve had to deal with it. I remember, when I first got here, I went to network on “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.” I went to network on a handful of pilots, and going to network is the most stressful situation anybody can ever be in. You’re supposed to be on point, you’re supposed to be at the top of your game, the funniest you can be, in about five minutes, in front of people wearing suits who really don’t care, and they’ve probably already picked their person, but they have to see a handful just to satisfy the process. It’s the most horrible, horrible process known to man. I wouldn’t want anybody to go through it. I don’t know if they still do that, where they have people go to network, which is the heads of the network, who just sit there behind a giant conference table, and you’re at the other end of the room. Is that still what it’s like?
BE: It was that way at least as of 2006. A friend of mine, John Sloan, talked about going through that experience with his series over on Fox.
AD: What show was that?
BE: “Happy Hour.” Unfortunately, it only lasted for a handful of episodes.
AD: Wow. Well, anyhow, I ran into someone who’s going to be producing “Dilbert,” and he told me that he’d bought the rights to “Dilbert” and that he was going to be doing “Dilbert.” And I said, “You’re looking at Dilbert! Make this happen!” That’s how I like to do it now: I skip the whole process of doing auditions and just kind of shove myself in their faces.
BE: Was there a pilot that didn’t get picked up that left you stunned when it didn’t make it?
AD: I was in a pilot with Tom Arnold, and…well, I wasn’t shocked that that didn’t get picked up. I was in a pilot with Bonnie Hunt that did get picked up, but I chose not to do the series. It was called “The Building.” I chose not to do the series, which was…at the time, it was a good choice. I love Bonnie, and she’s fantastic; I just had a better opportunity. There was a pilot called “Go Fish” that did get picked up and ran for six episodes, but that’s almost like not getting picked up. And then there were a couple of others. Pilots just suck. I’m now in the business of making pilots. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a pilot…it’s 34 pages, by the way…and, well, it’s a pilot. And now I’m looking at, okay, do I show this to people and let them buy it and make it for me, or do I grab my little super-8 camera that I bought when I was 12 and shoot it myself? So that’s what I’m in the business of, and we’ll see how that goes. I was kidding about the super-8 camera, obviously, but I would shoot it on video. There’s this other way of doing things where you shoot a presentation. In fact, that call that took forever on the other line was from a guy who’s shooting kind of like an “Antiques Roadshow,” and he’s actually using a woman from “Antiques Roadshow,” but it’s called “Celebrity Collector,” and he’s got Jay Leno and Russell Crowe doing it. And they want me to do it, and they asked me what I collect. Well, I collect old glass from the ‘60s, and they said, “Well, we’ll actually hook you up with some of the stuff.” So I can finally get that bowl I’ve been eyeballing. It’s a thousand dollar bowl. Who would pay a thousand dollars for a bowl?
BE: It would have to be a hell of a bowl.
AD: And you can’t even eat cereal out of it, because it was made in the 1950s, when the lead content was way too high. In fact, that could be why I have lead poisoning.
BE: It could.
AD: It might. But, anyway, I do want to stress that working with Charlie Fisher has been so pleasant, and he’s such a great guy, and I’ve actually been pushing him because, now that Sarah is on her show, I would either have Jason Reemer come on her show…though she’s not an actress on that show, so that wouldn’t make sense. But since I don’t think Sarah will be able to continue with this “Pilot Season” situation, I think we should just do a little spin-off with my character, after he gets dropped by Sarah. Then we can keep it real, where Sarah is doing her show at Comedy Central, and I got the job for her, but she fires me right after I get it for her, and she says I didn’t get it for her. So I’m going for a Jason Reemer spin-off.
BE: I’m behind that. So do you enjoy the whole online-series concept?
AD: I like it. I’m actually doing one myself, and if you want to give mine a plug, I’d appreciate it.
AD: It’s called “House Arrest with Andy Dick,” and you can find it at Atom.com. It’s not my first experience. My first experience with doing a web series was with LoadTV, and I had a million dollars worth of stock that, when the company went belly up, wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. But I did get these great little web shows that are now on my website, AndyDick.com, called “Mall Dick,” which is basically me as a mall security officer. And, then, of course, they expanded on that concept with all of these mall-cop movies.
BE: You were ahead of the curve.
AD: I’m always ahead of the curve, and I’m always last in line. I’m getting paid to… (Starts to laugh) …to do little webisodes while they’re big, giant movie stars. But things will come back around. That’s my own doing. Or, should I say, my own un-doing. But I’ll come back around, like a phoenix out of the, uh, pot ashes. I’ll come back. You’ll see. But, yeah, “House Arrest with Andy Dick” is really fun, and we’re shooting five more on Saturday.
BE: Who are the new guests?
AD: Adam Carolla, Bob Odenkirk, Amy Heckerling, who directed ‘Clueless,’ and, uh, TBA. We’re out to some other people, and it’s just a scheduling thing, so we’ll see. I don’t want to say the other people’s names, in case they can’t do it. But that’ll be great. My experience with ‘House Arrest’ has been extremely awesome because of the amount of control. There’s nobody here, there’s no executives, there’s no people to please…except if there’s something I don’t have the rights to. There was a glitch in the system with some artwork that was hanging up, and we had to blur it out, but now we know what to do and what not to do. I’ve just been having a great time, and I’d also love to be able t o keep working with Charlie Fisher on this Jason Reemer thing. We can just do what we want. The internet is like the Wild West. You can just go nuts. They’re loosening up on television, though. I was at a restaurant, eating, and in the background, people were watching…well, actually, nobody was really watching it, but the show’s called “Amazing Grace,” and it was on mute, but I was reading the captions, and it said, “It’s going to scare the shit out of him.” They can say “shit” on network TV? I guess you can do that now.
BE: Well, it’s basic cable, but close enough.
AD: Still, just to say it like that. I knew “South Park” got away with it, but they just do it to be rebels, and they’ll pay the fines because they’ve got the money. But this is “Saving Grace,” with Holly Hunter, and they’re saying, “Shit!” I just don’t even know what the rules are anymore. But I’m happy to be doing web stuff, believe it or not. I love it, and I look forward to working with Charlie more.
At this point in the conversation, I moved from the discussion of Andy’s current projects into questions about his past work, but what I didn’t know…though we talked it out very pleasantly a few minutes later…was that he had been led to believe that we’d only be discussing his current projects. Fair enough, but no-one had ever told me that. If they had, I would’ve been fine with that…but, unfortunately, here I was with a stack of queries about this and that from his back catalog of TV series and films.
So I laid it on the line: I explained that, although I’m a professional journalist, I’m also still the wide-eyed kid who sits cross-legged on the floor and says, “Tell me about the time you worked on that show. That must’ve been awesome!”
Andy laughed at this, but he explained, “Try to put yourself in my shoes. It’s like if I said, ‘So I heard that, when you were in high school, this guy named Frank really bugged you. Tell me about Frank and that whole thing.’ You don’t want to re-live that, right? I enjoyed a lot of it, and, yeah, a lot of it was awesome, but I want to talk about ‘House Arrest’ and ‘Pilot Season,’ because they’re happening right now, y’know?”
And, thus, we reached an acceptable middle ground: the interview itself would be about his current projects, but I’d still include some one-liners about his past work.
- On “The Ben Stiller Show”: “I remember that we were keeping the letters that were coming in, going back and forth between the censors and us. That was lightning in a bottle. It was an awesome show to be on and to be a part of. Everyone on there was just fantastic. Someone was asking me about Janeane Garofalo last night, and she’s just one of the best ladies. She’s great. But everybody’s great. Bob Odenkirk, to this day, is still probably the funniest guy I know, and he’s the hardest working man in show business. He’s just a fantastic person, and he’s a great family man.”
- On the “Get Smart” revival: “I was very honored to be asked to do it. I was out of my skin with excitement. ‘I’m going to be with Don Adams and Barbara Feldon?’ I was going nuts. I thought I had arrived! And then we shot the show, and…y’know, it was still a fun show, and there was a lot of fun stuff, but we didn’t quite capture the essence and spirit of the original series. It just slightly fell short of what we expected. I still stand by ‘Get Smart,’ and had I played my cards right, maybe I’d be in the movie that just came out. But I really liked that show. It was extremely fun to do, and Elaine Hendrix, who was my co-star, is still a very good friend of mine. She lives very close to me, and we talk all the time; we both are animal rights activists, and she’s just absolutely gorgeous inside and out.”
- On “NewsRadio”: “I think it ended when it should’ve. It had a perfect life, and it was what it was.”
- On “Clone High”: “It was fantastic. It was an awesome concept, and it was so fun to work on. And it was funny! Man, it was a funny show. And I got to play…that was one of the only shows besides ‘The Ben Stiller Show’ and my show, ‘The Andy Dick Show,’ where I actually got to play more than one character. I played, like, five different characters. I pulled out my Don Knotts voice, I remember that. I used that for Mr. Sheepman, one of the teachers. Yeah, that was an awesome experience. Those guys were great and funny. It’s too bad that show didn’t keep going.”
- On “Less Than Perfect”: “For the people who watched it, they got it, and it was funny, and it was a solid show. Solid characters, solid writing. Sherri Shepherd is a true friend of mine. She’s one of my best friends; I call her my black angel. It was a great show all around, and I think that it had a strong following. It was a following that was strong enough to keep it on for four years, which is what ‘NewsRadio’ was…and, actually, I think ‘Less Than Perfect’ had a little bit better ratings than ‘NewsRadio.’ That show was underrated and then people found it later, but people liked ‘Less Than Perfect’ while it was alive, and I think it’ll probably come back in reruns.”
In closing, I asked Andy the one thing that I knew everyone would be curious about: how things have been going for him since the end of VH-1’s “Sober House.”
“Swimmingly,” he replied. “I’m still not drinking, and it’s been nine months. That was another blessing in disguise, and I’m very thankful for that show and for all of the people involved, from the producers to Dr. Drew, who’s still my official doctor, to Jennifer Gimenez, who’s my unofficial…well, no, she’s actually my official ‘sober coach.’ She’s been a big support, and I’ve just been doing great.”
What’s this? The future looks bright for Andy Dick…? Well, yes, it does, actually. But, hey, the guy’s earned it…and based on how nice he was to talk with, I’m behind him all the way.