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Q: When you started doing stand-up, getting a phone call was still kind of a big deal. Do you think your phone routines resonate to a younger generation that are on their cells all the time?
A: Huh. No, they probably don’t resonate for the reasons you pointed out. Phones are getting so small it’s hard to tell now if they’re talking on a phone or if they’re schizophrenic. I’m glad you can’t talk on your cells while the plane is in the air. That would drive me crazy.
Q: I know you take a lot of vacations with Don Rickles. Where’s the best place you’ve traveled to?
A: The one we love the most is Venice. On a separate trip with my wife, she had an idea. ‘You know how they say in the States to always follow truck drivers because they know the best places to eat? Well, why don’t we follow the gondoliers to their favorite restaurant?’ So that’s what we did. It was terrible. My wife didn’t want to offend them, so she put the sardines in a cigarette box and we left. Next thing you know, we’re being followed by about a hundred cats.
Q: There was a terrific documentary recently on Richard Pryor and you’re quoted at length about your admiration for him.
A: It was so appropriate that he was the first winner of the Mark Twain Award because Twain told stories about life on the Mississippi at the turn of the 19th century. Richard did the same with stories from the inner city, a world I would not have known otherwise. The language never bothered me. You can’t take that away.
I presented him with an award one time. He was in a wheelchair at the time. We were backstage and he looked up at me and said, “I stole your album! I stole your album! When I was a kid in Peoria, I tucked it under my jacket and walked out of the store.” I said, “Richard, you know I get a quarter for every copy that’s sold.” He said, “Somebody give me a quarter!”
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