By Stacey Dresner
Actor/Comedian puts on One Man Show at CityStage
SPRINGFIELD – Comedian Larry Miller has made dozens of appearances on late night talk shows like The Tonight Show with Jay leno and The Late Show with David Letterman. A seasoned actor, Miller has also appeared in more than 100 films including “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries” and television shows such as “Law and Order” and “Desperate Housewives.”
Now he is the star of his own one-man show, “Cocktails with Larry Miller” will will come to CityStage in Springfied March 21-24.
The show features Miller’s comic take on subjects like marriage and children, as well as some musical numbers… and a few cocktails.
Besides his one-man show, Miller hosts the podcast “This Week with Larry Miller” for the Ace Broadcasting Network where he shares his humor about the absurdities of daily life. He can also be heard weekly on the The Adam Carolla Show. He is a contributing humorist to The Huffington Post and The Weekly Standard as well as the author of the best-selling book “Spoiled Rotten America.”
Miller, a native of Long Island, has some local connections – he attended Amherst College. He now lives in California with his wife Eileen Conn, a television writer, and their two sons.
He recently spoke with the Ledger about Jewish humor and “Cocktails with Larry Miller.”
Q: Your show “Cocktails with Larry Miller” deals with the subjects of marriage and children. So tell me about your wife and kids.
A: We have two boys, 12 and 15. In fact, the 12-year-old is going to be bar mitzvahed on March 10…So obviously the giant ship of the family Miller is heading in that direction…with the lessons and invitations and such.
My wife is a television writer. She has an extraordinary resume…She is now writing on “Shake it Up” which is a Disney Channel Show.
Q: So what about raising kids do you use in your show?
A: Oh, it’s wonderful stuff. As you know, every single day from the day they are born, and every single day from the day you get married is a constant source of creative fodder and material. That doesn’t mean you are making fun of it, that doesn’t mean you are putting it down. That means you are observing it with great pleasure. I think when comedy is good it has its own wisdom. Some comedy tears things down, but not mine. I just love it that every single thing the kids do, to me, is hysterical. My 15 year old now – they all have those voices like James Earl Jones. It seems that in about two months they go from Pee Wee Herman to James Earl Jones. That’s funny right there, the period where the voices change.
So everything they do is fodder. This morning, as I am taking them to school…I get ready to go to the car and I look down the hall, and of course, every light is on. And I used to be sarcastic and say, do you want me to turn the light off or do you need it on during the day? If you need it on, just tell me and I’ll leave it on, but the electric meter of course looks like population of the world at this time.
So everything is fodder. I try to think, ‘Did I leave the lights on when I was that age? Is every single generation the same?’ So every observation, every moment of the joy and tension is wonderful to write about. What a pleasure it is to think about it and write about it. And the humor that comes out of it is a warm humor, a joyous humor, and in fact, it’s a Jewish humor. Because Jewish humor to me, even in its sarcasm is still so life affirming.
Q: How does Judaism figure into your comedy?
A: I think Jewishness is a huge part of humor in general and especially of course Jewish humor. I was on a panel once at the Aspen Comedy Festival with some folks you would know – Kevin Pollack, Robert Klein, Bill Maher, and David Cross. And the questions was, why so many Jews in comedy? And every single one except me said, ‘Well, it’s about oppression, it’s about torment, it’s about neurosis – more or less what I would think is the stereotype about comedy in general and especially Jewish comedy. I don’t think that’s it even in the smallest part. I think we all miss the point. To me, the roughly 2,000 years since the Diaspora are just a trove of observation and sarcasm. It’s Jews in the world, looking at the world and being in the world and commenting on the world and commenting on themselves. And that is such a natural Jewish storytelling trait.
There are parts of the Torah that actually I find hysterical. One part is about Abraham and Isaac and they are meeting the same guy, Abimelech, in Egypt or something? He steals Sarah from Abraham but Abraham doesn’t say anything — doesn’t say this is my wife because he thinks they will kill him. And then that night God comes in a dream and says, ‘Let her go and don’t touch him.’ And the next day Abimelech says, ‘Why didn’t you tell me? Now I am in trouble.’ And it is because I guess in those days when God came to you in a dream it was really serious. So the guy was petrified and says, ‘Look, here are 100 cows please just go away. Tell God I did fine.’
What happens? Isaac comes back a generation later. Same thing! He’s got Rebecca. Same thing. The guy says, ‘Hey, who is she, she’s pretty.’ And Isaac clams up. Same dream! He takes Rebecca. He comes to him the next day and says, ‘You wouldn’t believe this, but 18 years ago the same thing happened with Abraham.’ Issac says, ‘Oh, that’s my father.’ ‘What?!’
To me, the whole texture of our existence is comedy because comedy is wit. Comedy is deep. Comedy is life and to me that is why the worst people all over the world have no sense of irony. There is no comedy in a meeting of terrorists.
I am just saying, it is a very Jewish thing, that no matter how things go, there is always a smile, there is always a comment on life, so that is what is Jewish comedy to me — everything.
Q: You obviously enjoy doing stand-up comedy, but you have also acted in many films and television shows. What do you enjoy doing most?
A: I feel like the luckiest guys since Henry the 8th. I love acting. I feel more at home on a set than almost anywhere else. It just feels like the most natural place to me, whether it’s on location for a movie or on a set with a TV show, it really feels like an exact home to me.
And in addition to that — first, last, in the middle and always – the first thing for me is live storytelling. It is very nourishing and I think it is a good thing to bring to the world. That means stand-up comedy, clubs, theaters, and that is why to me the chance to build this show, “Cocktails with Larry Miller” and take it around to theaters is great…The chance to bring live entertainment to people is a very deep thing.
Who doesn’t love movies? It may be the greatest art form we have that combines everything – sound, words, acting, the visuals, the musc and all of the textures of filmmaking. The same for television as well. But there is something about a guy walking out, and in the case of my one-man show, there is music and a set, and even the music and lyrics are storytelling. In that room, when the lights go down suddenly there is something very magical going on.
“Cocktails with Larry Miller” will be at CityStage from March 21- 24. For ticket information, call the box office at (413) 788-7033;or email firstname.lastname@example.org.