Boondock Saints II: An Interview with Clifton Collins Jr

I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak with the very talented and gracious Clifton Collins Jr. recently, as I am a huge fan of his work in both independent and larger scale films.  He is currently starring in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, which opens in wider release this week!

The Boondock Saints debuted in 1999 and garnered an enormous cult following on DVD. Ten years later, writer/director Troy Duffy reunited almost all of the original cast for quite an intense and entertaining sequel. Duffy added Collins and Julie Benz (Dexter) into the mix for the second round, both of whom brought a necessary infusion of levity to the film. 

Jo: I recently watched you and Troy Duffy co-host a segment on Current TV, and it is obvious that the two of you share a great rapport and history. Did he write the role of Romeo in Boondock Saints II specifically for you? What was your experience working on this film?

CCJ:  Troy is incredibly loyal. He did write it for me, and in fact he had to take out some of the jokes that were between us in real life. The whole movie is full of inside jokes, and it was like a family event. I like to rehearse, but Troy is a rogue spirit; he knows what he wants, so you get it and move on. 

Collins and Star Trek director J.J. Abrams have been friends for some time now, and Abrams actually wrote a role for Collins on Alias after seeing him in Traffic

Jo: What was it like to be a part of the incredibly successful, revamped Star Trek franchise?

CCJ: It was awesome. When J.J. called and offered me the role, I asked…what the f*ck is a Romulan? He described the role as a space pirate. A good chunk of the cast were not Trekkies at the time. But I realized the grandeur of it all on the set, and it was an honor to work with icons like Leonard Nimoy. The features on the Blu-ray are so beautiful – they will make you cry. 

Emmy nominated for the mini-series Thief, Collins is a gifted actor and chameleon; he has the unique ability to physically transform from role to role. From an enthusiastic, mulleted murderer in Boondock Saints II to a tattooed, bald headed Romulan in Star Trek, to a gay hit man in Traffic, his range is impressive. In my opinion, his portrayal of haunted serial killer Perry Smith in Capote was sensational and worthy of a Best Supporting Actor nomination. 

Jo: Which role has been the most challenging, in terms of diving into a character entirely?

CCJ: Psychologically, it was Capote. I had to live with Smith every day. I went really, really deep and had a few breakdowns during that one. And for Rampage: The Hillside Strangler, I read biographies (about serial killer Kenneth Bianchi), which made me nauseous and sick; I was mentally twisted.

Jo: You’ve played such diverse characters in each of your films. What type of research do you undertake for each role?

CCJ: For Sunshine Cleaning, I talked to a physical therapist about what someone goes through as an amputee. They filmed me two ways; one with my arm held out wearing a green sleeve, and the other with my arm tied tightly behind my back…which was excruciating but I didn’t let it show on screen. I actually had the most fun with hair and wardrobe on this film. Having Emily Blunt and Amy Adams on either side was quite a reward as well. 

Jo: Your career thus far has been a great balance of both comedic and dramatic roles. Do you prefer one over the other?

CCJ: It depends, and it is case by case. It’s great to mix it up, and both have rewards. I love getting dramatic and also laughing it up. 

Jo: You’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible actors. Which co-stars have inspired you?

CCJ: I’ve been really blessed. Samuel L. Jackson taught me so much on 187. He has been a father figure and mentor to me. He helped get my grandfather (Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, a frequent co-star of John Wayne’s) a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. John Wayne had even tried to help make that happen, and it finally did last year.  

Collins revealed some very interesting tidbits from behind the scenes on some of his films. For example, he auditioned for and really wanted the role of Francisco Flores in Traffic, but the producers had another character in mind for him. John Leguizamo was tapped to play Flores, but had to give it up when Moulin Rouge filming overlapped. Thus, Collins took over and delivered a scene-stealing performance that is easily my favorite of his career thus far. 

His talent and interests expand beyond film and television. Collins recently directed the music videos “Betty Jean” for The Soul of John Black and “The High Cost of Living” for Jamey Johnson

addition to Boondock Saints II, Collins is in the upcoming film Brothers with Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal. Catch him in the Mike Judge comedy Extract when it is released on DVD & Blu-ray next month; click here to see Collins preview which appendage his character parts with. And don’t forget to tune into Southland when it returns on its new network (TNT) on January 12, because Collins has just been cast as Regina King’s new partner. 

You’ve heard the term ‘actor’s actor’ used many times before, but I truly believe that Clifton Collins Jr. fits that description. He is humble, hilarious and appreciative; this is a man who respects his craft. I would like to thank him for taking the time to speak with me about Boondock Saints II and his career, and for being one of the most polite, entertaining people I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing. 

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DVD Review: The Write Environment – Comic Book Series Special Edition (G Johns, M Waid & M Wolfman)

I have to admit that it is a real treat to be given the opportunity to review this particular installment from The Write Environment, hosted by creator and writer Jeffrey Berman, given that I recently returned from my second year at Comic-Con. 

Here are a few highlights from the interviews with comic book legends Geoff Johns, Mark Waid and Marv Wolfman, who are featured on The Write Environment: Comic Book Series Special Edition DVD. 
Hands down, Johns may have the coolest work space of all of the interviewees in The Write Environment DVD series. He utilizes a hydraulic desk, choosing to write either standing up or sitting down. And there is an entire wall behind the desk filled with amazingly organized and labeled boxes full of comic books; every issue in his collection is carefully housed in an archive sleeve. I admire such thoughtful storage, and openly admit that I plan to improve upon the pop culture archives in my own home office using his method. 

Of the many enlightening facts that you will glean from his interview, I was surprised to learn that Johns’ introduction into the comic book world was less than traditional; he started out as an assistant to director Richard Donner (Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon). 

Johns is a very disciplined writer, as he is able to write an entire comic in one week from start to finish. Die-hard comic book fans are familiar with Johns because he is responsible for the rejuvenation of the Green Lantern and Hal Jordan. This talented young writer has established himself with a very impressive body of work for both DC Comics (Blackest Night, The Flash, Infinite Crisis, JSA, Superman, Teen Titans) and Marvel (The Avengers, Ultimate X-Men, etc.). 
“I give good cliffhanger.” Waid delivers the best line from all three of Berman’s interviews. 

His work space actually feels more like an extra bedroom with memorabilia-lined shelves than a regular home office. Truly, one of my favorite aspects of this DVD series is that we are invited to peek into the personal spaces of these beloved writers. 

In addition to being a renowned writer in the industry, Waid is a both a teacher and a visual thinker; he believes that you have to be able to write a wide variety of voices and empathize with the characters. In his interview, Waid elaborates about the relationship between the artist and the writer, which is a very collaborative effort. 

Waid’s stellar career began with The Comet and he wrote The Flash for eight years. Many regard the apocalyptic graphic novel Kingdom Come as Waid’s Watchmen. He also penned issues and series’ of Captain America, Fantastic Four, Impulse, Justice League, L.E.G.I.O.N. and X-Men, among many others. The most current Mark Waid comic is Irredeemable.

Wolfman’s home office resembles your neighborhood comic book store; warm and jam packed with more back issues than you’d ever have time to page through. He is the first to admit that clutter drives him crazy…and yet his bathroom resembles an eBay stockpile of original comic book related toys!

Wolfman finds dialogue easier than story and structure, and works from a strong outline. He always starts with characters, loves writing comedy and horror because both appeal to emotion. 

Marv Wolfman co-created Teen Titans, and many feature films have been based upon his work (the Blade trilogy, Bullseye in Daredevil, the novelization of Superman Returns). A few of Wolfman’s characters have also been featured on the small screen (Lois & Clark, Smallville). While Wolfman also wrote issues of Batman, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Superman, his notable titles include Crisis on Infinite Earths, Nightwing (a character which he created) and The Tomb of Dracula
Listening to these three gentlemen discuss their characters and stories, it is obvious how much respect they all have for their predecessors and peers, as well as the craft. It is fascinating to discern the varying styles of each writer; for example, Mark Waid enjoys writing cliffhangers with no idea what the resolution is, whereas Geoff Johns prefers to have a 2 year plan in mind while creating his stories. 

Comic Con originated as a gathering to celebrate the art and enthusiasm for comic books. And while the current focus of the convention overwhelmingly leans toward the promotion of feature films and television shows, the artists and writers who continue to create comic books will never be overshadowed by the temporary landscape of these other mediums. The writers interviewed on this DVD and their vast contributions to the comic book community serve as an important reminder to embrace our tactile childhood memories; acquiring and holding first issues and playing with action figures are indelible experiences that Johns, Waid and Wolfman clearly understand and appreciate. 

I highly recommend that aspiring comic book, graphic novel and general entertainment writers order a copy of The Write Environment: Comic Book Series Special Edition from Amazon or The Write Store. This rare glimpse into the minds and worlds of these writers is well worth your $19.99.

If you’re interested, I also reviewed the first round of this fantastic DVD series, which featured television showrunners/writers: Doug Ellin (Entourage), Tim King (Heroes), Damon Lindelof (Lost), Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond), Sam Simon (The Simpsons) and Joss Whedon (Dollhouse). 

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Interview with the Other Man (Ethan Rom): William Mapother

Born on the Fourth of July. Magnolia. Mission: Impossible II. Almost Famous. In the Bedroom. Swordfish. Vanilla Sky. Minority Report. The Grudge. Zodiac. World Trade Center.

CSI. Law & Order: SVU. Touched by an Angel. NCIS. Crossing Jordan. Robot Chicken…and a little show called Lost.

What do those films and TV series’ have in common? They’ve all featured William Mapother, whom I was honored to interview over on my Lost blog.  He was nice enough to take the time out of his busy rehearsal schedule to answer a few questions; a very kind and fan-friendly actor!

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Adopt a Writer: My Interview with Writer/Producer/Director David Leaf

[The following interview also appears on the official Adopt a Writer site.  Even though the Writers Strike has ended, this project will continue to support the WGA by highlighting writers and their experiences; putting faces to the names we see scrolling by in television and film credits.]

As someone who loves and works with music, I was tremendously
honored and excited to be given the opportunity to interview David Leaf for Adopt a Writer. As I prepared
to speak with this amazing music historian and writer, I popped in my Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE CD and
re-read David’s eight page liner note introduction.

David Leaf is the king of pop culture and music
retrospectives. He is one of the Peabody Award-winning writers of the 9/11
telethon “America:
A Tribute to Heroes,” for which he also received an Emmy nomination, and he won
a Writers Guild award in 2003 for “The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of
Performing Arts.”  In addition, David is a
documentary filmmaker: he wrote/directed/produced the Grammy-nominated “Beautiful
Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE,” and co-wrote/co-directed/produced
“The U.S. vs. John Lennon.”

David has been called ‘Brian Wilson’s biographer,’ and he’s authored
the books The Beach Boys and the
California Myth
and The Bee Gees: The
Authorized Autobiography
.  He received
a Grammy nomination for “Best Historical Recording” for writing the books that
accompanied The Pet Sound Sessions
4-CD boxed set, which he also produced.

In addition to the WGAW, David Leaf is a member of the Authors
Guild, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, ASCAP, The Society
of Professional Journalists and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  He even gets to vote annually for the Rock
& Roll Hall of Fame.

At what point in your life did you
realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I always told stories. 
I just didn’t start writing them down until I was about 13.  I’m lucky in that I believe I was born with a
certain ability to glibly synthesize information and tell a story.  What my high school history teacher used to
call “BS.”   In junior high, I was writing about sports for
the school paper and was even sports editor of the Latin newspaper. In school, I
was a class clown.  Or at least I thought
I was funny. 

2.       How were you first introduced to Brian Wilson, in what was to become a
lifelong friendship?

For my college newspaper, I had written an article about
Brian.  That was inspired by reading
about his roller coaster of a life in Rolling Stone.  At that time, I was inspired by the work of
Edward R. Murrow, and thought I could be a crusading journalist.  So I decided that I wanted to write a book and
tell the real story of Brian Wilson’s life.   

I met him just after moving to California. 
I was shooting baskets with a friend at a local YMCA in 1976. Brian walked onto the court with his cousin,
who asked us if we wanted to play 2-on-2 with him.  What really makes this story even more unbelievable
is that his cousin was an NBA player.  

Anyway, a few years later, when I wrote and published my biography
of him, we weren’t friends at that point. Thanks to some friends of his, who
wanted me to have a better understanding of what he was really like, I’d gotten
the chance to spend a little time around him while I was writing the book.   Through the 1980s, I continued to see him
around town.  Ironically, given what
inspired your ‘adoption’ of me, it was during the WGA strike in 1988 that I got
a job at Warner Brothers Records that put me into regular contact with
Brian.  So it was around then that we began
to develop a friendship.

Are there any writers who have had
an influence on your careers?  Who are
your mentors in this industry?

For sports writing (which is how I started), Larry Merchant.
For journalism, Pete Hamill.  Both wrote
for the New York Post, which had an amazing, diverse collection of columnists
when I was a kid.

As for authors – Kurt Vonnegut.  To me, his world view was essential, letting
me know it was okay to see things differently than conventional wisdom would
suggest.  And of course, I’m the cliché:  J.D. Salinger. 
In fact, the first chapter of The
Beach Boys and the California Myth
opens with a quote from The Catcher in the Rye.

I guess if I had a mentor, although he would have laughed at
the idea, you could say my comedy writing mentor was Greg Fields. Working with him
was like getting a Masters in comedy writing. He was extremely influential for
me, teaching me how to spend every minute in the office making comedy out of
life, teaching me that nothing was off limits when it came to comedy. He knew
how to make everything funny without being mean. I think he was an extraordinarily
talented comedy writer.

How long have you been a member of
the Writers Guild of America?

For just over twenty years now. I wrote my first spec
features and spec sitcoms in the early/mid-1980s.  Then, I earned my WGA membership in 1987 writing
a Beach Boys anniversary special for ABC television. A year after that, I got
hired as a staff writer on The New Leave
it to Beaver

How did the Writers Strike affect
your current development deals and projects?

Being on strike and picket line felt like being inside a
TiVO and waiting for someone to hit play. Everything was in suspended
animation. It was a frustrating yet unavoidable situation for everybody. I had
spent most of last year writing, developing and pitching, and I guess the way
it affected my current deals was to bring everything to grinding halt.  Now we all hope to reignite the momentum that our
projects had. 

What level of involvement with the
Writers Strike did you have? Were you out on the picket lines? How often were you able to participate? Can you describe that experience?

I was on strike in 1988, but it was different back then in
terms of organization and membership involvement; we only picketed sporadically.
This time, it was very well organized. I was on a specific team with a specific
assignment, 4 days a week for four hours a day.  From my point of view, it was very important
to be on the line every day.  And from
the team I was on, there were about a half dozen regulars who walked together
and became friends. It was like being in a writers’ room, without any deadlines
or scripts to write. It was a very good support system during what were tough
times for everyone.

Unless you’re on staff on a show, you probably don’t spend that
much time with writers. Being on the picket line provided the opportunity to
reconnect with other people trying to do same things you were; writing,
selling, pitching, developing, etc.  We
had some great days out there and were lucky with the terrific weather in California. We’d tell
each other stories, talk about the business and the creative part of writing.
It was a positive part of the strike – the sense of being in it together. 

Another positive thing was that we were able to walk and
talk with some of our own writing heroes; major screenwriters, legendary TV
writers like Allan Burns (Mary Tyler
), Jay Tarses (The Bob Newhart
), Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers
& Frasier
) and writers from The Simpsons.
It was a community of writers and ideas. 

Unlike the strike in 1988, we felt like we were working
together in battle. We were on strike; that’s where we should have been, out on
the picket lines.  We didn’t start the
fight or pick it, but once we were in it…we were in it for the duration. 

7.       How did you become involved with FremantleMedia, the company
responsible for shows like American Idol?
Can you reveal any details about your future plans with them?

I was approached a few years ago to work on a multi-part History
of Rock and Roll project. We’re still developing it and hope to get it made
sometime soon. They contacted me after Beautiful
appeared on the BBC, and I was flattered to be considered by them for
such a prestigious project.  And there’s
a production from my company that’s “in the works” that they’ll be

Your long list of credits as a
writer/producer of music specials for television is very impressive, from
benefit and live concerts to pop culture icon profiles. You’ve covered artists
and performers as varied as Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Christopher Reeve, Billy
Joel, the Marx Brothers, the Bee Gees, Jonathan Winters and Nat King Cole. Do
you approach an opportunity to write for and about these particular individuals
as an admirer, as a writer, or both?

For me, the idea usually starts in the same place—what is it
about these artists that I love and think is important for others to know about?
 I then figure out how to tell their
story using their work to speak for themselves, which is essential when the
artist is no longer with us.

I don’t ignore sensational aspects of an artist’s life, but
my focus is more on the artist and how they created their art. Naturally, their
private life will come into the story as it affects their work, but it won’t
come into the story unless it’s relevant. In some senses, I’m a fan and
proselytizer, but more than anything else, I consider myself a storyteller. I
ask myself, what is the most important story I can tell about that particular
artist, a story that you as a viewer need to know.  Watching these retrospectives, if you are a
fan, you might get a deeper understanding and love for the artist. If you’re
not a fan, you might become one. Or at least come to respect the artist.  The goal is to experience their art and at
the same time, enhance your appreciation of their work.  I want to keep the focus on where the art came
from, but also get the artists to reveal something about themselves.   Most of all, I make the show I would want to

Besides specials and awards show,
your career as a primetime television writer for series has been sporadic; a
staff writer on The New Leave It to
from 1988-1999 and Party of
and Beverly Hills 90210 retrospectives. Were sitcoms and primetime dramas just
not your cup of tea?

Not at all.  I’ve
always been a big TV addict, I love sitcoms and one-hour dramas. I started as
staff writer on The New Leave it To
in mid-February of 1988, but within three weeks the industry went on
strike. When the strike was over, I did one full season of that show.

That was just about my favorite job of all time, being on
staff on a sitcom. I would love to do it again in the future. You’re paid to reveal
your ‘inner smartass.’ There is nothing more fun that trying to make people
laugh all day long.

10.   Now that the Writers Strike is over, do you look forward to a
normal life of writing and producing again? 
Is there a specific project that you’ve been itching to return to?

don’t know if there is any such thing as normal life for a writer.  The last four months, however, have been very
abnormal.  During this strike, I shut
down for the first time in a very long time. The only writing I did was e-mail.
But the reality is that in the blink of an eye, many of us went from ‘striking
writer’ to ‘unemployed writer.’  It’s
very strange. But we are all pretty excited that we can get back to it.  We’re all going to have to readjust, but we
are all anxious to put this behind us and get back to where we were before the
strike started.


are two projects in particular that I want to reignite ASAP. One is a feature
spec, the first draft of which I finished just before the strike started.  I can’t wait to take that out into the

really proud of it.  I think writers often
feel that ‘this is the best work I’ve ever done.’  But this is a script that really ties
together everything I want to do as a writer, and hopefully someone out there
will see that and also see the movie I see.


other is a feature spec pitch that I sold. I am looking forward to my agent
completing the deal so I can start outlining and writing it.


I’ve learned not to predict what’s next in my writing career, because I certainly
didn’t plan my career to go the way it went. I didn’t plan to become a director
and yet I became one.

didn’t set out to make retrospectives, but I’ve done a lot of them. I didn’t
plan to spend lots of time developing and pitching as a producer, but that is
what I’ve done.


came to L.A. to
write sitcoms and write movies.  Last year,
with the developing/pitching/writing I did, I was back in touch with ‘pure’ writing.
 Even the picketing had that effect.  I feel much more like a writer today than I
did a year ago.

I would like to thank David for participating in this interview,
and for sharing some of his incredible experiences! He was very generous with his time and information, and it was a real pleasure to speak with him at length about writing, television and music.

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A few years ago, Kevin Collins was a writer on the Showtime series Soul Food.
He started out as the assistant to the Executive Producer and
transitioned to Writer’s Assistant, which led to a freelance job (and subsequent membership in the WGA) and then to a position as a Staff Writer.

Right now, there is nothing that Kevin would like more than to grab a picket sign and join the ranks of his fellow screenwriters in Los Angeles. But he is physically drained.

And there is nothing that Kevin would like to do more than network with the other writers on strike. But he is mentally exhausted.

Because right now, Kevin is battling a rare form of thyroid cancer. He just completed week 5 of radiation therapy, and has 2 more weeks to endure.

His pencil is down, but his medical bills are on the rise.

though Kevin is undergoing treatment as we speak, he very kindly took the time to
answer a few questions to provide his perspective about the
current writer’s strike.

Jo: What are the benefits of being a member of the Writer’s Guild of America?

Being a writer is much like being an independent contractor. The Guild
is out there negotiating to make sure you are handled in a professional
manner. This ranges from pay to health and retirement benefits. The
Guild is also responsible for tremendous programming of seminars and
events for writers who want to grow creatively and professionally.

Jo: Do you receive residuals from the many episodes of shows that you’ve written?

Kevin: Yes, residuals are great, in particular for most writers who work on and off.

Jo: Is your medical insurance being covered by the WGA?

The WGA covers medical insurance for writers who are working. When I
was employed as a writer, I was covered, and my coverage spanned for a little more
than a year after my last job.

Jo: What is your overall opinion about this strike?

Kevin: I see our strike as the canary in the mineshaft that is the entertainment business. The ‘industry’ is and has been rapidly changing, but the business models are not keeping up. There is a great need for reform throughout and writers are simply trying to push that along.

Jo: Do you see the potential for a quick resolution?

Kevin: For the potential to be there, all involved parties must have some common ground. So far, that doesn’t seem apparent.

Jo: How do you feel about the digital distribution of TV and film?

Kevin: In recent years, we have seen Netflix grow into a great business model, mostly due to the convenience. It’s no longer necessary to go out and wait in line at a store. The future of that business is on the demand/downloading ability. What would be easier than coming home and having it already on your TV?

Jo: How has the writer’s strike affected your career?

Kevin: It has affected
every aspect of my life, not just my career. Certainly, getting treated
(surgery to remove the thyroid and 22 lymph nodes, followed by radiation) has required an almost complete interruption of
everything I was doing. At the same time, this kind of event is
inspirational, in that it makes you reflect on all aspects of your
life. I am sure there will be evidence of this in my future projects. But you can’t work during the strike. Even if you have the greatest idea, you just have to sit on it.

Jo: So you are honoring the Pencils Down Means Pencils Down credo that Writer’s Guild members are encouraging/enforcing?

Kevin: Absolutely. It is strange that the strike is coinciding with my radiation treatment, because it truly has been a reflective period for me to “think.”

Jo: What were you working on before the writer’s strike began?

Kevin: I was working on several scripted TV show concepts and a screenplay.

Jo: After the strike is resolved, what will be your first move?

Kevin: To go out and begin pitching my ideas.

I only met Kevin once, several years ago through a very good mutual friend. I find his positive outlook and spirit, in the face of illness, mounting bills and an industry on strike, to be quite inspiring. And I wish him great health and recovery.

So keep your eye out for the name Kevin Collins on future small and big screen endeavors, because he is one of the many thousands who are responsible for the entertainment that we take for granted, and he deserves our support. While you’re at it, add some Soul Food to your Netflix queue, my friends.

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recently returned from a cruise to Alaska, where we were treated to
performances by the hilarious Michele Balan on the ship. As a huge fan of NBC’s
Last Comic Standing (she was a
finalist and the Last Woman Standing in Season 4 last year), it was great to
experience her show live.  I highly
recommend that you get tickets to see Michele the next time she comes to a town
near you!


we only met briefly during the cruise, Michele was kind enough to answer a few
questions after the trip ended.


Did you watch any of the first three seasons of Last Comic Standing? If so, did it inspire you to audition?


I watched some of the episodes as I knew a lot of the comics that were on it. I
think I watched more of Season 2. That season inspired me more to
audition.  I certainly would not have
waited on a line, but a lot of the more professional comics got audition times,
which I did. But that was all they gave me (a time slot), the rest was up to


What was the audition process like for the show?


It was a 3 minute audition in a large comedy club in front of 2 judges and 3
producers (who were hiding in the back). It is like doing comedy in your mirror
and waiting for a laugh…or trying jokes out on my Shitzu!


I went to a high school dance on the Queen Mary as a teenager, and I can’t
imagine that the accommodations are anything but dusty and uncomfortable – what
was it like briefly living on that ship while filming?  


Exactly how you described it.. dusty and uncomfortable! It’s also supposed to
be one of the top haunted places in the U.S…but it’s so dusty, the ghosts don’t
even want to stay!


Did you enjoy living among your competition? 


No. It was way too competitive and noisy. Comics only want to one-up each
other…it got pretty annoying.


How did the exposure from Last Comic
affect your career?


It’s been great. It has been a gift…I am now a 15 year overnight success!


Have you remained friends with anyone from the show?  


Most of us have stayed in touch and we talk from time to time. Some I don’t
really speak with at all.


If they asked, would you be a guest judge on Last Comic in the future?


I would love it. I hope they would ask.


I read that you are slated to perform on Jay
. Will that be your first visit to his show?


I am in the process of preparing to get on the show…not finalized yet…so cross
everything. But it’s certainly looking very positive.


Where is your favorite place to perform?


I like most places. I am not crazy about doing colleges; I do a few, but I
always think they are saying, “Who’s mother is that?”


Obviously you gauge your content based on your audience. But are there any
topics that you consider off-limits in your act?


I might make some adjustments to my act based on whether I play a gay cruise,
or Jewish Country club! J


You’ve performed on both Olivia and RSVP vacations. Did they each contact you
after watching Last Comic? 


I actually performed on both before the show.


I noticed that you were wearing the seasickness prevention bracelets on the
Alaska cruise. Do you prefer performing at land-based destinations? 


I love cruises, but yes, I am one that is more prone to sea sickness than most.
I very rarely get sea sick on land!


You were born and raised in New York. Have you lived there ever since? Would
you ever move out to Los Angeles or anywhere else?  


Yes, I was born and raised in NYC and still live here. I thought about moving
to LA but I have been too busy to pack. So I just go there a few times a year.


Is it true that you used to be an executive at a computer company? How did you
contain your sarcasm in that environment…or did you even have to?  


My sarcasm and humor is what made me a good sales person. I was an account
executive and sold computer packages.

What made you decide to leave the corporate world behind for the life of
stand-up comedy?


Everyone always told me I was funny and I should be a comic. I finally listened
and left my corporate job. It was a tough decision, and I had a rocky road
emotionally and financially getting here! I stuck with it, and here I am. So I
certainly have no regrets!


Before Last Comic, you were a “female
female-impersonator,” and Bette Midler was your specialty. Did she ever catch
your act?


No, she never did. At least I don’t think so…well, she never called!


Jo: Who or what has been the biggest
influence on your career?


MB: Bette was a big part of it, and a lot
of old “Borscht Belt” (a.k.a. Jewish Catskill) comics.


How often do you personally check your MySpace page and messages?


I check all my emails and answer them all. Of course, sometimes it takes awhile,
like this interview did. My apologies!


On the rare occasion that you do have down time, do you watch television? What
are some of your favorite TV shows?


I actually like a lot of the crime dramas…the Law & Order’s and CSI’s.
I like Frasier and Golden Girls reruns at night (when I am
up till 2:00 am trying to fall asleep).


Are you auditioning for movies or television, in addition to performing as a
headliner at comedy clubs and benefits across the country?


Yes, on all. I’ve been doing so many things, and glad to have all the
opportunities. You never know when any of this comes to a screeching halt! I
could go from Last Comic Standing to
the other reality show, Where Are They Now?


What are you currently working on/aiming for? 


I have a few tour projects and possible TV projects in the works…so maybe one,
or all will come through (then I will need an understudy!)


thanks to Michele for taking the time out of her busy schedule for this


can order her DVD (“Live…Just Barely”) and CD (“Neurotic by Nature”) directly
by visiting:
Or become one of her MySpace friends:

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