Actor/comic Kevin Pollak mocks celebs and more at Funny Bone
By Jason Webber
Kevin Pollak understands the often thankless role of a journalist because he’s one himself – in addition to being an actor, comic and author. When he called me at our prescheduled interview time, he sheepishly asked if we could postpone our discussion until 9 p.m. that night because he was getting ready to tape an episode of his interview program “Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show.” I immediately agreed to talk with him later that night. But wouldn’t you know it? At 9 p.m., I was stuck in a massive traffic jam due to the construction on I-75 (screw you, ODOT). When Kevin called, I winced and asked him if we could postpone the interview for an hour so I could get through the traffic. With a hearty, understanding laugh, he agreed. Outstanding. Outstanding, this guy. I finally got Pollak on the phone and the result was worth it – this man is one of the friendliest, funniest cats you could hope to speak to. No wonder celebs enjoy talking to him. Pollak will be bringing his spookily accurate impressions and uproarious wit to the Funny Bone from Thursday, Oct. 11 through Saturday, Oct. 13.
So who did you interview today on your show?
My former co-star Tom Everett Scott. He was the star of “That Thing You Do!”
How’s he doing?
He’s fantastic. He’s got a big studio comedy coming out with Billy Crystal and a bunch of other people. He’s doing good.
Your show is really one of the best chat shows out there. Of all of the guests you’ve had, was there one who really stuck out as being the very best interviewee?
Yeah, I don’t do well on ranking people like that. There have been so many; today was 155 and there have just been so many amazing ones. There have been heroes like Christopher Guest, Eddie Izzard, Seth MacFarlane, Billy Bob Thornton, Matt Perry, Dana Carvey. The list is ridiculous now. Even when I start to name them, I say to myself, “I just left off 20 of my best.” So I can’t even begin to name one.
You also do the “Talkin’ Walken” podcast where you interview people while doing your Christopher Walken impression. Have you ever heard any feedback from Walken himself?
You know, I have not. Not a word.
You’ve done dozens and dozens of movies but I think one of my favorite roles you played was the brownie Rool in “Willow.” What was it like working with Val Kilmer?
I actually didn’t work with Val. They shot his scenes and all the rest of the movie separately. Me and the actor who played the other brownie, Rick Overton, we shot all of our stuff after they had shot the film. They put the existing film on a monitor and then Ron Howard could determine where Rick and I could be superimposed. So we shot on blue screen. It was just he and I.
Tell me about the book you have coming out this fall.
It’s called “How I Slept My Way to the Middle” and it’s filled with anecdotes and stories. The standup and impersonations became a big part of these stories and experiences. People always wanted to know what it’s like to work with Nicholson or De Niro or Schwarzenegger and so I incorporated those stories into my standup act, and then someone approached me from the book publishing world and suggested I put these stories into a book. So that’s where it is.
How do you deal with hecklers at your show?
There’s no real set design on how to handle hecklers. It’s more about staying in the moment and speaking directly to the audience. It’s always about commenting on exactly what the heckler said and what situation you’re in, so every single one is different from the next.
You’ve done impersonations of dozens of people over the years from Peter Falk to Christopher Walken to William Shatner. Have any of them ever gotten mad at you?
That’s part of the act, actually. A lot of my standup show is telling the stories of meeting these people that I was intending to mock and never meet and then suddenly I met them. So the standup act and the book is about how it goes when you end up meeting people that you’ve mocked.
My favorite impression of yours is William Shatner. So just for me, could you do your impression of William Shatner saying “Jason Webber is a stud?”
Really? (pause and then in a pitch-perfect Shatner voice:) Ah..ah…yes, yes…ah…I would have to say…ah…that..i-i-i-if he was curious…ah…a-a-a-about whether or not Jason Webber was a stud…ah, the answer is “Yes.”
Kevin Pollak performs at the Dayton Funny Bone 88 Plum St. in The Greene Thursday, Oct. 11 through Saturday, Oct. 13. Times and ticket prices vary. For more information call 937-429-5233 or visit www.daytonfunnybone.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jason Webber at JasonWebber@daytoncitypaper.com