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“Then Ed, he got a better job in New York, and so then that’s when I started working as a single.”
Does he really think that Ed got a better job than he did?
Pause. “No,” he said.
“I had to try it. I had to find out. I had to give it, like, a year, to see if anything happened. ... One year became two and two became three and, like, four, and all of a sudden I made a record album [1960’s “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart”] and it took off.”
“Took off” is putting it mildly: It topped Billboard’s pop-album chart and won Album of the Year at the Grammys.
Newhart, who made a point of noting that what sounded like a slight hoarseness wasn’t what he considers his “real voice” (“sometimes I wake up with this voice and sometimes I don’t”), still believes that first album could have been better, too.
“I had my pauses in there, which were just things I heard in my head,” he said. “This is where it belongs and this is how long the silence should be.
“But in Hollywood, at Warner Bros., they [said], ‘Oh, we can save a little time there, snip, snip’ and so when I heard the album, it really wasn’t in my mind, what I had done. And when I was on planes and they would have one of my pieces on planes from the first album, I wanted to get up and say, ‘If you’re listening to that, let me do it for you, because here’s the way it’s supposed to go.’ ”
After Jonathan Winters died April 11, Newhart, whose BobNewhart Twitter feed has nearly 44,000 followers, tweeted, “Jonathan Winters was the king — a true genius. He was number one. There is no number two.”
When Newhart was first “toying with the idea of doing stand-up,” he saw Winters play Chicago’s Black Orchid.
“I went in to see Jonny and to take a look at what it was like to be a stand-up comedian. And I thought to myself, ‘Well, he’s the best. There’s nobody better than Jonny, so why even try? That’s as good as it gets.’ ”
“But then I thought, ‘You know, fourth or fifth isn’t terrible.’ ”