I am Phil Hendrie, Actor (Futurama, New Girl, Team America), Radio Personality, and Writer - AMA
I'll be here answering questions for an hour or two. A lot has been happening in the radio world and elsewhere for me...
Thanks for all the great questions. I had a great time. Join us anytime at our website, www.philhendrieshow.com. We do a videocast every night of our show, and we have over 4,500 hours of archived material available for download. And be sure to check out www.philhendrieradio.com to subscribe to our free podcast.
Also, please check back for my friend, Peter Serafinowicz, and his AMA coming soon! He's a brilliantly funny guy.
That's a question people ask a lot, and it's a good question, because I've never really been aware of that phenomenon until people started bringing it up to me. The best way to answer that is to say that I have an ability to very realistically mimic human conversation. I know how to take the breath when I should, I know how to insert those awkward, uneven moments when people are thinking about the next thing to say, I know how to drop in and interrupt from the other person, which happens in normal conversation, and so when you put all of that together with a certain level of skill it indeed sounds like a real conversation, and real conversations do overlap. So I think that what you're experiencing is an audio illusion, if you will. Like a visual illusion or something similar.
Hello, Mr. Hendrie. Great Show as always. I only have one question. How has the internet treated you? You put yourself out there with DRM free downloads of your archives, so is it a success or not? Anyway, I love the archives and have listend to damn near every show live (til your first retirement in 2006), so I will hang up and listen to the answer.
It's been our new income stream. I think it may very well be the perfect place for the so-called "Phil Hendrie" brand. The kind of offbeat comedy that I do, which has never been something Talk Radio is fully comfortable with, is absolutely a hit on the internet. The only challenge that we have is getting that brand, getting that presence, deep enough into the world wide web to reach lots more people, and that's what we're working on now. But it seems to me that there's a synchronicity here. That the internet came along almost as if to be the perfect platform for my show.
Hey, Mr. Hendrie. Long time, first time here. I was wondering how far a man might take things (sexually) with R. Lee Ermey before he has to consider himself gay. I'm asking because I've been cyber-sexing for a while now with someone I'm pretty sure is R. Lee Ermey and I'm ready to take things to the next level.
I don't really know, but just be sure that R. Lee, when the time comes, will bring on a whole lotta heartbreak.
Phil, in my opinion, your show is the most entertaining thing on the radio today. I was an 8th grader in 2004, and that's the first time I heard you; my dad and I would stay up late every night laughing until we cried. You even got me interested in politics. I still subscribe to your podcasts, and now all my friends are into it, too. Thank you for your brilliance.
Here's my question: have you ever faced significant consequences - from a radio affiliate, a pissed off listener, etc. - as a result of your pranks? Obviously, when real people call in to argue with Bobbie or Ted, they're incredibly mad. Have you ever gotten into hot water for taking it too far?
Well I was sued by an NFL player once for basically satirizing a comment he made, by going on the air and calling him a homosexual. And I was sued for a sizable amount of money. Eventually the case was dismissed.
I'm a big fan. I've been listening to you since day one on KFI (1996 IIRC).
I remember being very upset that my favorite show (Mister KFI) had been replaced by some other dude....
Then I heard your "guest" Shaq. I have to say my being upset dissappeared in a hurry. By the end of the night, I was roaring with laughter.
Now on to my question(s)...
With all the time and changes over your career what moment/place/station/show/etc had the biggest impact on your life?
What do you wish you could have done that you didn't?
What are you most proud about?
A train trip that I took from LA to Seattle in the spring of 1990 is where I made the decision to commit myself 1000% to the art of radio, and essentially, the artistry of Phil Hendrie. I had really been half assing my art and my career up until that point. And I can remember where I was. I was on the coast of California. The Coast Starlight was the name of the train. I remember staring right into the setting sun and swearing this oath to myself that I was never gonna waste another second on the air.
OMG, wow. Huge fan of your work:
May I ask what was your favour role to play as an actor?
What's your favourite sports team (in each sport maybe?)?
Are you able to provide verification for reddit?
I liked playing Dick Green on Teachers. I wish that I'd had more time to develop him. But to be quite honest, the small part I just had in Judd's movie, This is 40, was a lot of fun. There was lots of improv-ing with Paul Rudd.
My favorite sports team? Now or of all time? I would have to say The Los Angeles Dodgers of all time. Right now though, and this is heresy coming from a Los Angeles fan, I gotta tell you in retrospect I love the way the 49ers played against the Giants in the playoffs last year, Harboughs walking off the field notwithstanding, the way they stuck with that kid who fumbled the ball, the way they fought their way back to being the San Francisco 49ers. I just really loved it.
Hey Phil, I love your show!
Do you ever have callers who are "in" on the joke but try to get on just to play along?
Yes, but we don't like those kinds of callers. They invariably sometimes do get on the air, and with all due respect to them, they never work.
You've recently expressed that you're not quite content with your current radio distribution. Are you looking into ways to get better timeslots and more stations? I've been listening for 10 years off and on and am a BSP member. Keep it up.
Once we are free to talk about those things we will. At present, I can't explore any of those options, because I'm under contract, but naturally, you want the very best support that you can find.
Hi Phil! Thanks for answering questions today! I wondered if you will be doing webcam (live) commentary with your characters. I know you did it awhile back, but I don't think I've seen it since. Anyway, I thought it was a hoot. :-) ~Andrea (spunkyandy)
Yeah, right now, every night at www.philhendrieshow.com we do a live videocast of our radio show.
ha-ha.... :) I mean there was a webcam on location and you were making comments on people walking by it....
Sounds like a good idea, but I don't remember that specific bit. We may just have to bring it back!
Would you ever consider a mockumentary style film about Bobbie Dooley and her antics as HOA President at Western Estates… btw I've been listening to you since the late 90s, and I'm friends with one of your nephews.
I would love to do any and all of those kinds of movies. And let me at this time give a shout out to two histarically funny and wonderful people: Liam Sullivan and his wife Alana. Two comic actors who also create films that I have promised a Ted Bell re-write to. I want to get that to them ASAP. We've been talking at length about working on that, but to answer your question: yes, absolutely. My characters are custom made for that exact kind of satire.
How does it feel to have your own wiki page? Because if I had one my mind would be blown
Every morning when I awake and the realization washes over me that I have my own wiki page I just wanna roll back into bed and take a few extra moments to pleasure myself.
Hey Phil, I have been a huge fan for many years and am also a BSP and will always be one.
I was wondering if you have thought about doing another "live" broadcast like the one from Disney where you kept getting kicked in the balls by that kid. HAHA I still laugh thinking about it.
I was also wondering if you had any thoughts about evolving RC into a post military acadamy character.
Thanks Phil for the years of laughs
Dave from Florida
Well, that was actually done from the studio at KFI. In order to pull off the any kind of illusion on air it's paramount, at least in the kind of comedy that I like to do, that you make it sound as realistic as possible. That means you have to have the exact right background effects. You have to, obviously, perform the characters as they should be performed. You have to have the right sound, in short. While most of that depends on me a great deal of it depends on the support you get from whatever station or network you're working on. At the excellent end of the dial, on that scale, I put KFI, Premiere Radio, WIOD Miami. At the piss poor, shitcan end of the scale... no comment. So, therefore, to do that kind of bit, where you think I'm really someplace that I'm not, everything has to be right. And again, with all modesty, I am the best in this business at creating that kind of illusion. And I know when not to try it.
I haven't put too much thought into evolving RC. I've often thought of him, and I probably will have him, going to work for his father in the Bay Area.
Hey Phil, I always wanted to know if George Dunham, the sports radio guy from Dallas, was in on the joke during the "BTK Clothing" bit by Brad Rifkin.
And also, other than Herb Sewell, which one of your characters do you think you'd find the most detestable if you met them in real life?
If indeed a guy named George Dunham called the show, I can assure you that he was not in on the bit. He sure as hell didn't check with me. I never had any phone conversation with that man other than when he allegedly called the show.
The only celebrity who was ever on the air and in on the bit was Gary Shandling with Bobbie Dooley.
Hi Mr. Hendrie! You are by far the most entertaining person on the planet. Your artistic ability rivals Da Vinci, Mozart, and even John Lennon. I haven't been a long time listener, but I got a BSP only a month after I started listening. Thanks for all the laughs and all the joy. You truly are a Giant.
With that said I was curious as to how you feel about the lack of creativity on the radio? There is definitely no other radio show like yours, and it seems like your show is better fit as a podcast (but I could be wrong). Is that the direction the show is headed? With all the problems at TRN (lack of responsibility/leadership, legal issues, etc.), is the show packing up and becoming a full-time podcast? I'm just curious if you ever entertained that idea or if those are anywhere in the plans for the future.
PS Thanks again Phil!
Radio, starting with the post-war years and the advent of television, became a stripped down model that had one thing in mind: survival. That meant ad sales and low overhead. Anything that did not serve those two masters was quickly eliminated. As a result, unlike television, film, literature, and other entertainment, actual creative content and artistry was never encouraged to any significant degree. It is, to this day, in radio, rarely understood and oftentimes mocked if it does not meet those first two criteria. I'm through fighting that fight. And that's why new media has come along at the right time for me.
Hey Phil! I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for being awesome. I have been a listener of yours since I was little! I loved your show growing up, so amazing!
My question for you is what was your inspiration for Bobbie Dooley.
Thank you so much for doing this! <3
Edit: I accidentally a word.
My mother, for the most part... And a lot of female voices that I heard around that time, which was 1997-- on the radio, talking about very earnest political issues having to do with the city of LA. They were all very monotone people. The one thing that's very characteristic of Bobbie is that she's extremely monotone. And that's exemplified by her constant, "mmmhmm mmhmm". A lot of people ask me about that, and I think it simply is a reinforcement of how monotone she is.
Um, Mr. Hendrie? A lot of times I find that you seem to have more fun just talking to a character without any intent on talking any calls about it. Is that true, and if so, why?
Also, is part of each bit/character your way of giving people a chance at telling off people who are just like your characters?
It's a good question. The high I get from both kinds of performance is pretty equal. When you've pulled callers to a bit that are over the top, hooked by just about every ridiculous thing you've said, and are repeating those things back to you and the character, it's a comedy orgasm. By the same token, when you are in an absolute groove, in that zone, creating just a bit with a character, and I can think of one in particular, when Ted Bell was on our show many years ago (and we re-did the bit about two months ago-- with not quite the same results), he was crying because he felt he needed rape counseling after his wife tried to put her finger up his ass. We did that bit for a half hour with absolutely no phone calls, with a camera crew from Channel 5 doing some B-roll, and everybody having to stifle their laughter. It was hysterical. The setup required to get phone calls, to create that comedy with a caller, can also turn off the larger audience, because you're in the mechanical process of trying to hook callers. It can be redundant. It can be very factual and not very funny. And so by the time you draw those callers you've lost your audience. Sitting there and freelancing with a character and "winging it" means the humor is immediate, not trying to compare it to the humor you get from callers, but the humor is immediate, completely controlled by you, and I frankly feel that again, given the reality we try to adhere to on the show, is still really high quality stuff.
Thank you, Walter. Let me explain how I created the character of Walter Bellhaven. Herb Sewell, another character, was incarcerated with Walter at Atascadero Forensic Hospital. Walter is a serial murderer, but according to Herb, gave fascinating botany lectures on weekends to the other nuts.
Maybe I'm confused with something else, but years ago you did a show about a married couple driving around lost in a bad part of town, calling into the show for directions. It escalates till someone gets shot… any idea where I could find this? I can't find it on BSP.
That was an early KFI radio bit from 1997. It was Margaret Grey and her husband Frank. Unfortunately, those shows, when recorded, were recorded on old logger tape. The quality was horrific and often those tapes were erased inside of a week. Long story short, there was simply no preservation of that material.
Hello Phil! I remember when I was a kid and somebody played me a tape of (I think) Ted Bell selling passes for like $500 to go sit on a bus outside of the superbowl with some popcorn and I just thought it was the funniest thing I had ever heard.
My question is have you ever been offered a contract by any other talk radio show (O&A, Stern, Mancow, whoever) to bring over your voices and characters as a part of their show?
No, not to be part of an ensemble. I don't think they would ever really offer me a deal like that, because I think they, especially Howard and Mancow and Bubba, understand what I do.
In yet another "Life Imitates Phil", did you happen to catch this news story from a few weeks back? That was the entire subject of a Father McQuarters bit from around ten years ago, about how the church would pay off victims of abuse, apart from a discount for any role the kids played in enticing the priest. I swear you can predict the future sometimes...
I did. It's vile. I think it's just another indication of the psychopaths running loose in all walks of life, including the Catholic priesthood.
Phil - I've been a fan of yours since I was an early teenager. You are awesome. I had the chance to interview you on my radio show a few years back about your use of Twitter (you were ahead of the curve for radio hosts at the time) and you were an absolute gentlemen, so thanks for that! You are, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest comedic minds of all time.
Have you talked to the Adam Carolla folks about being a guest on his show? I know he called the show years ago and talked to RC, and you two seem like you would play off each other famously.
I was a guest on Adam's radio show, and very proud to be. It would be fun to do it again. I got an e-mail from Mark Maron, in fact, to be on his WTF podcast, but I haven't heard anything. I hope he's OK.
Did your kids/stepkids ever try to pull Bobbie Dooley's trademark (hmmmm hmmmm) on you when were telling them what to do growing up?
I used that move to keep my sanity while growing up with a forever nagging stepmother. It was perfect.
Thanks for the laughs over the years Phil!
No, they never did. I think the times that I interacted with the kids comedically was either at dinner or driving them to school, when a number of characters would pop out.
Why are you so against piracy? Also, do you think piracy serves a purpose in modern times?
I'm against piracy the same way I assume you're against someone coming into your house and taking what you own, or what you've created to sell-- merchandise to market to the public.
Piracy serves no purpose other than as a false issue, upon which some people stand to claim support of free speech. But if you think about it, those same people are brought to heel very quickly by large monied companies like Sony and Warner Brothers. Therefore, the only people left for these pirates to pilfer are small operators and artists who don't have a lot of money for attorneys. And they do... They steal from the very same little people they claim to support. That's unconscionable and it's beyond me how anybody could agree with that.
So what's your deal with TRN? Are you going to split and self-syndicate, change syndicators or what? (And yes, I saw this: http://www.radioink.com/article.asp?id=2528151&spid=24698) Thanks, Phil. Rock on, bro!
I appreciate your question, but I can't really comment on the particulars of my deal. In referencing the TRN lawsuit against Dial Global, I simply was expressing my constitutional right to take exception to two things. Firstly, my radio show is mentioned along with three others, that are syndicated by TRN, in the opening pages of their suit. Secondly, as was indicated in the story, the lawsuit expresses a presumption by TRN that they represent "hosts". That is overreaching when it comes to my show.
I heard you say on a recent show during a Time Warner rant that your studio was like a block up the road. TRN had an intro on their site saying you broadcasted out of your home. Which is it. I ask because I wonder if you think technology (ISDN lines, remotes from home, etc,) have hurt broadcasting?
We have a studio in Ventura.
Technology has not hurt broadcasting. In one of the all-time ironies when it comes to radio, today, we have some of the most marvelous opportunities, technologically, to broadcast from anywhere and in many different configurations, and we have never had such a dearth of quality content. It's appalling.
Hi Phil, I wanted to say thank you for the many years of great comedy. My favorite bit might be when RC Collins felt he had the right as a handicapped person to disable peoples cars if he wanted their parking spot. My question for you is, Do you have any advice for people who want to pursue an artistic path (writing in my case)? - THanks, Matt
I want to recommend a book to you: The Artist's Way. One of the first lessons is to immediately, everyday, put onto the page your stream of consciousness, WITHOUT EDITING everything. Once you're satisfied you've done that honestly you can then begin your edit process. What I'm saying is start immediately on your craft. The "job" part of it will follow much easier than you think.
Do you like gladiator movies?
Oh gosh, I just adore them!
Hey Phil, how in the sweet living hell do you keep the players straight on your Milwaukee Lions Podcast episodes? Do you have a cheat sheet? And are the commercials pre-recorded?
That's a great question. You simply have a roster sheet in front of you-- the same way any play-by-play guy has a roster sheet. And when I fuck up, and I fuck up a lot, I've created a character named Touch Gerber, who is the son of one of the owners of the team, who's supposed to be Jack's spotter, but obviously is terrible at the job because he's always running out getting ice cream and cotton candy.
As a fan, there hasn't been an hour I haven't loved and thought was flawless. But as the artist behind the craft, what percent of bits afterwards do you think you did a really good job and what percent are you unhappy about?
And do you have a picture in your head of what your characters look like? (If so, I'd love to hear some examples and see if they match mine)
I'd have to say it's 50/50.
Oh yes, I do. I know where the characters are from, what they look like, what their childhoods were like. This is a normal function of performing a character. I think a lot of actors create the bio before they've actually gotten in the skin of the character. I don't know how that's possible. I have to perform the character a few times to begin to get a sense of who they are.
That's interesting, do you have any characters that you've noticed talking with fans that look much different than how they think they look?
Also, I recently majored in history and have a strong interest in WWII (you've talked about your interest and books you've read about the topic). What's the best book on WWII that you've read that you recommend? Thanks Phil!
Forgive me, but I have to mention three books.
Number one, without question, is "At Dawn We Slept." The most comprehensive book written about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The others would be "Stalingrad", by Anthony Beevor, and "Barbarossa", by Alan Clark. Both of those books concern Germany's attack on Russia, which was the single most disastrous decision Adolf Hitler made, and in fact, decided the course of the second World War.
So, how'd you get into writing? Did you know people or what?
I started writing when I was twelve years old. Writing was simply an outgrowth of what I do on the air. I had to write the bits. So I really started the acting part before the writing part. I had to write in order to articulate what it was that I was trying to do.
Thanks. Which do you prefer?
Also, do you make money off of the writing, or is it just one of the foundations of your overall career?
I prefer acting. Writing is much more difficult for me.
Will you be doing any live shows in the LA area? Also, do you remember a bit where a guest was going on about giant spiders in the bible?
Yes, to the nature of which I cannot discuss right now, but I'm looking forward to it.
I don't remember that bit; I apologize.
Hi Phil, I've been a fan of yours since '97. I was in junior high when you first came to KFI. Way past my bed time I used to lay with my little handheld radio pressed against my ear and stifle my laughter into my pillow. All your Art Bell stuff (Peenman Enterprises and goblin juice), Dionne from Phelan, getting that woman to dial numbers on her rotary phone with her nose.. sometimes I got busted because I couldn't laugh quietly enough. You were the best part of every night and the best stuff about your show became a huge part of my sense of humor. We even got our ugly mugs photographed together at a signing event for A Chilling Day for Talk Radio when I was about twelve and I got to see your live show at the Museum of Television & Radio in 1998.
My questions/comments and you can address whichever you want:
Where do you get your metaphors from? One of my favorite parts of your show is all the bizarre turns of phrase you use. In one of your bits, a character is upset because his wife cheated on him and the character says "that man just came in here and apple tree'd my wife." Alternately, "he brought lumber into my house." Are these phrases you've heard somewhere, or do you just turn a random noun into a verb?
What is the origin of the Pizza Hut prank? Did someone accidentally call the station thinking it was the number for the restaurant? One of the funniest things I've ever heard: "Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. We'll be there in 30 minutes, or you pay DOUBLE."
Did you ever get that pool finished? Sometimes I like to think you finally got it done after all those problems and realized "fuck it, I hate swimming" and had it filled with sand.
Do you remember a bit where you welcomed a caller onto the air, let her talk for quite a while, and then when she was finished you announced her onto the air again, repeating the whole process several times? She was really confused by about the fifth time you said "Let's go to Mary on the 5, Mary you're on the Phil Hendrie Show hello?" (or whatever her name was) and each time you started reintroducing her I lost it a little more. I don't know if I've ever laughed that long in my entire life and I never heard you do that kind of thing again or bring it out for a replay. Guess this is more of a comment than a question.
One comment about The Death of Dylan bit. Do you remember having Bud resurrect a snippet of it as a Comedy Gold segment and coming to its defense by arguing "Commy Gol' is the essence of commy"? I had never heard the original bit and I know you're not a fan of it, but that whole Comedy Gold segment was laughs from start to finish. I just thought you were doing it live, having Bobby say something terrible just for Bud to think it's uproariously funny.
How do you do female voices? Is it something you were always pretty good at, or did you have to work up to it? I'd say this is by far the most impressive part of your range. Any time I introduce someone to your show, they can eventually get their heads around you doing all the voices, but it takes them a lot longer to adjust to the fact that you're doing Bobbie, Clara and Margaret.
What's your next big thing? I still think your untitled cartoon pilot should have gotten picked up.
One more thing. I've been doing voice acting on YouTube for a bit less than a year now. Because I've had a little success, I'm now trying to make a professional run at it. By far you are my biggest comedic influence. One of my earliest voiceovers draws a lot from Herb Sewell, especially the nervous laugh and especially the way I move closer to the microphone when I want to emphasize something. It's really a tribute to you and I would love it if you listened to it sometime, low as the production values are. I've heard enough Combover Boy bits to know your feelings on originality, so I should say that this is the only time I ever emulated any of your characters. I just wanted to share that with you because this is probably my only chance to tell you what an impact you've made on me and how much I admire all your work. Thanks for doing this AMA.
Hey, KellyCommaRoy...first off thank you for joining me here...its a good long question so I'll answer it as best I can..our little phrases and pieces of business are indeed taken from TV shows, films or real life experiences. "Apple-tree-ed" sounds like something I simply heard in a movie.."brining lumber" is a sexual/baseball term thats colloquial ...The
Pizza Hut prank was a wrong number, correct..even though we told the chap he was going on a radio show..
We did get the pool finished, used it for 6 years and then sold the house..I miss the hell out of that pool!
The Dylan is dead bit came out of a desire to do something different on the show, and Bobbie seemed to be the right person to try something dramatic with. Since Bobbie is sort of a tragic figure anyway... And then Bud's whole commy god thing is just extracting a little bit of comedy out of the Dylan is dead bit. It was an experiment, which is what you have to do, that I wasn't a big fan of, after the fact. Let me just put it that way.
First and foremost, I don't see them as voices, I see them as characters. So what I'm doing is, I'm forcing the physical instrument to do what I need it to do to create the character. I don't go at it the other way, which might be what you're referring to. I don't try to stretch my voice to see how funny it'll sound. I think of characters and then I use the instrument to create the character. So, in the case of Margaret we're talking about a little bit of my mom, as well as a lot of other females of that generation. And the same is true of Bobbie.
We've got some really, really fascinating things ahead in the world of new media. We have some fascinating things ahead in the world of live performance, that is, stage performance. And um, another episode of New Girl. And we've also written, along with Alex & Chris, a terrific pilot idea. In fact, it answers a question that's often been asked, which is "how do we take Phil Hendrie off the radio and put him on TV."
Any chance that you'll bring back that conceited British music critic character? He's the reason I got into your show in the first place.
Yeah, and we actually have a couple of times off and on, but I feel that character needs to evolve a little more to find the tracks, and I don't think we've really settled that character down into his own track yet.
Hey Phil Have you thought about creating "head toys" for all your characters? Thanks!
The thing about merchandise is that it has to be "lovable." I have to come up with a cartoon version of each character in order to make them lovable. Human looking dolls are not lovable, but cartoony looking dolls are. So that's the challenge, and merchandise right now is sort of a bottom rung priority-- other than what we already have in our store.
Hey Phil... Been a fan since you were on the affiliate in Albany, NY. Would love to have you back.
So your guest interviews on your radio show were so spot-on and well-timed. You NEVER missed a beat and it was utterly convincing.
I noticed when I watched your Rose Bowl Parade coverage years ago that it didn't seem to work and you just sounded like you were a crazy person talking to yourself.
It occurred to me that the one difference was that the characters voices were not going through a 8khz phone line.
Has psychoacoustics been a consideration in your act and the development of your characters?
No, it never has, and to be honest I don't know what that is.
As to the Rose Bowl broadcast, indeed it was me on a microphone attempting to create an ambient difference. That is, moving myself forward and away from the microphone to create the illusion of different people. I think in your case, it obviously didn't work.
How's the weight battle going nowdays?
Thanks for asking. As of today I am at 224 lbs. I began this diet on Mar. 19, 2012 at 289 lbs. So thats 65 lbs lost... I feel great, and god damned if I don't look great too.
Hi Phil, huge fan, thanks for all the laugh-out-loud moments. IronSwine is so completely, hilariously out there. What was the big bang moment that gave birth to the bit? The IronSwine theme music is perfect ... what is it? Also love, love, love Margaret Gray!
Playing the theme music to Ironside on the air one night. I was fooling around with music beds and just kept going back to the Ironside theme, and Bud popped out. At the time swine flu was epidemic, and we'd been talking about it, so the two melded together into this strange beast called Ironswine. I think, as I recall, Bud originally played some doctor that was trying to kill the swine flu virus.
One more question, I love the idea that you and Ted are buds and you have been to his steakhouse many times, out of all your characters, which one would you actually want to hang out with, and what would you guys do?
I have this thought that a night out with Don Berman would be the one of the most unforgettable nights of my life. He would somehow convince me that he's cool to drive, even though he is obviously shithoused, and I would inevitably trust him that he could do it, I myself also shithoused.
Well, I would hang out with Margaret's husband, Frank Grey, because it would be a lot of lunches at Ted's with Cutty Sark, caesar salads, and Frank fucking up everybody's gender. It would be a hoot. Frank's wealthy, he's a former television producer, so he'd have a lot of stories. And he's also an entertainment attorney, so I could get advice. All over lots of bourbon and good food.
I've heard Matt Groening always wanted you on The Simpsons, any reason why that hasn't happened?
I think Matt has a phenomenal cast and lots of go-to people. I don't think it's anything other than the fact that right now there isn't the opportunity to bring anybody new in. He's always been a terrific friend and supporter. He's a genius.
Hi, Phil! What do you prefer, Coke or Pepsi?
Since I was in the hospital for pneumonia three years ago, funny as it sounds, I've become a Pepsi fan. I have no idea why. But I don't even drink cola anymore. I'm a Red Bull Zero fan now.
- Do you get lost in the character? I mean by that after the show is it tough to get your head to shut down or are you just exhausted?
- Do you have a bullet points for how you would like each show to go as that at times you have up to four characters arguing at the same time?
- What specific constraint of radio frustrates you the most?
No, it's not difficult to shut down after the show. I am, in fact, pretty tired. I never go into character outside of the radio show.
Yes, I bullet point the bits. And keeping it loose enough, obviously, to improv anything you might want, but keeping it tight enough that you have somewhere to go after each aspect of the bit is expressed.
Well, that can be answered so many ways. I think this is not really a constraint, but rather a sad reality, because there are no constraints in radio, per se, the FCC and the language barrier doesn't bother me, and at certain times of the day there's very little of that kind of control to worry about. But what I see as a glaring weakness is the quality of industry leadership we have right now. It's never been worse. It's never sounded more confused. The suits have never been emptier. But I am sure out there somewhere are broadcast executives and programmers looking to reinvigorate our medium. Godspeed to them.
If you had only primitive weapons, and had to fight a dinosaur to the death in a "Dinosaur Death Match", what is the biggest dinosaur you think you could defeat? You don't have to give a specific dinosaur, just give us a general size. Also you can't set traps.
I would imagine it would be an herbavor, so the animal would simply be fighting defensively, and not needing me for food. And that would simply then mean outlasting the creature, but I'd have to be creative. So let me go out on a limb here and say, given time, and my human intelligence for hiding, perhaps making some primitive noose out of vines, and all of that other Swiss Family Robinson horseshit, I would say a brontosaraus.
Hey Phil! I am a big fan from way back, I started listening in Orlando, FL around 1999/2000. I was so happy when I moved back to TN and found you syndicated here as well, then heartbroken when you retired. I have since listened to your new show, and I have a question about that as well. Here we go. 1) I love Ted Bell, he is one of my favorites. What were your inspirations for such an over the top character as Mr. Bell, and what are your favorite bits with him from the old days? I always loved the Shrimp Cocktail bit from 2001! 2) I remember the 2001 Rose Parade webcast, what gave you the idea to try that on the Rose Parade, and why did Harvey Wireman rape EVERYONE? 3) I noticed on your new show, the theme changed from the classic liberal theme to a very conservative theme. What happened in your life to cause this radical change in direction?
Ted Bell started as a dentist named Mark Barkencroft, based on my dentist in Atlanta, who had a pronounced overbite. And he then became a sports announcer when I moved to Miami, but for some reason when I got to LA the entitled personality of that character and the obvious physical homeliness seemed perfect for a Beverly Hills restaurant owner. And I just decided to change his name and occupation, but keep his personality. That's really what happens when you change a character. You don't change anything about the character except the name, the occupation, and the residence, but the essential guts of the character stay the same.
Doing the Rose Parade was David G. Hall's idea: the real David G. Hall, who was program director of KFI at the time. It was a great idea and became sort of an instant classic. The idea of Harvey as a sexual assailant was born of his frustration with RC Collins, who he encountered early on. Harvey was powerless in the face of RC's sarcasm and juvenile shots. And that frustration boiled over into him wanting to assault and humiliate RC. I think the first time Harvey wanted to jump RC was when I was doing a remote from the Queen Mary in Long Beach.
I believe it's unfortunate that I ever let politics pollute the show to the extent that it did. I think it confused the audience and drew away from the comedy; however, to answer your question, 9/11 is what happened to me, as it did a lot of people I think. I was a classic 9/11 Democrat.
Have you ever considered a bit you do as just for the people who are in on it?
Nah. You don't ever try to be inside. You always try to make the bit as accessible as you can. I would say that there's two rules: be funny, and be funny to as many people as is possible.
Hey Phil, Great show as always. How do you successfully screen the calls, and how many callers that try to get through are actually aware of what the show is? I don't think i've ever heard a bad apple slip through!
The screening process is part basic mechanics and part intuition. I know what it is that I'm asking of the callers. I know how a normal person is basically going to react. I know that callers have a certain level of interest, and I know that cranks, or people that are just trying to get through, simply do not have that depth. Most of the time they think a vague question or opinion is good enough, which of course, it isn't.
Have you every thought about using pre-recorded sound voices of your characters so that you can overlap your real voice and have a 'guest' saying something at the same time? Like record 2 different Bobbie segments of 'hmm mmm' (so they sound different) and have them on a sound board, so when you're talking to her you can play the clip so it sounds even more like a real caller?
I used to do that in different configurations. Pre-recorded material is very hit and miss. "Drops", as we call them, are rarely used to great effect, unless the person using them is skilled at it. The best I ever knew was Neil Rodgers.
When you voice Futurama is it one of those shows where everyone does their voices separately or were you in the room with everyone else?
It depends upon, literally, the actors' schedules and the studio time available, etc. You can be in the studio with all of the actors. As I recall though, I voice tracked by myself. But I could be remembering that wrong... I know on King of the Hill we often worked ensemble together in the studio.
Phil! As a man of many voices, you must be a man of many drinks.
However, is there one you prefer over the others? Do you have a favorite cocktail or liquor (perhaps even while doing your show)?
My favorite drink of all-time, without question, and I believe will be for the rest of my life, because I've spent my life looking for it, is a double Don Julio Blanco on the rocks. No lime. No lemon. No pussified salt.
What is the most over the top reaction you've ever gotten from a caller? Thank you for margaret by the way, she was easily my favorite character.
Well that would have to be the famous "Greenskeeper", who we thought was going to stroke out. That bit is available on one of our early CDs, but also on one of our free podcasts. The greenskeeper is a man who had called our show to take issue with Dean Wheeler, a character of mine, commenting on the early career of Tiger Woods. Dean was making all kinds of racially charged comments and this Greenskeeper, a man who appeared to be perhaps in his sixties, was becoming so incensed that he began to lose his ability to breathe. And he had lost his breathe at one point and he sounded as if he was gonna faint or have a stroke. And I thought about that guy after we got off the air and sort of for the next few days, checked the news to see if anyone had a heart attack on the golf course.
Hey Phil, thanks for taking the time to do this AMA! Who's funnier, Mike Judd or Judd Apatow?
Who's funnier, Lenny Bruce or Laurel & Hardy? You're asking me a question that cannot be an either/or. I love both Bruce and Laurel & Hardy equally, as one loves ones children. I would have to say the same of Mike and Judd.
How do you voice Steve Dooley? I swear I've heard Steve and Bobbie talking at the same time. How do you make it sound like he's talking in the background?
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