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Jan. 12, 2021

Episode 54: Steve Bluestein

Episode 54: Steve Bluestein

Comedians come in all shapes and sizes…Steve Bluestein comes in one shape. Funny. His talent has been honed from years of pounding the boards in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno, Tahoe and countless comedy clubs across the nation. Born in Boston, his heart was always in New York, where he moved directly after graduating from Emerson College. It was there he first went to Bud Friedman's Improv and got bitten by the comedy bug.Moving to Los Angeles, he immediately became one of the Comedy Store regulars and was a member of the Comedy Store Players as well as a founding member of The Groundlings Theater. It was there, at The Groundlings, he learned the improvisational skills he uses in his stand up act.In the last few years, his career (which had included television, feature films, cable and personal appearances) has taken a new form. After writing for Normal Lear and Playboy, he joined the sit-com staff of THIRTEEN EAST for NBC, then went on to write TOTALLY HIDDEN VIDEO for Fox TV and THE NEW CANDID CAMERA for Universal.Not content with simply writing for television, Steve turned his talents to the theater. His first effort, the play, “Rest, in Pieces” which has had several success theater productions around the country. He then went on to pen five more stage plays “Gary's Gold”, “Why Wendy” and “The Vegetable”, being three. If you were to ask Steve what is his passion, he would say… “ I like to take serious subjects (i.e. death, cancer, murder) and dramatize them with humor. When I see an audience laughing through their tears I know I’ve done my job.”Steve's most recent projects are "I CAN'T LEAVE MY BUDDIES BEHIND" and "RICH AND RICHER". These full-length feature film scripts add to the body of work of this prolific writer\/comedian.Steve’s first book is "Memoir of a Nobody." If you’ve ever been put on hold for 30 minutes, if you’ve ever had to deal with tech support in India, if your dog ever threw up on your new sofa… this book is for you. It’s a hilarious look at the insane life of one of America’s funniest comedians. The book is a collection of short stories and essays about life, love , comedy, show business and overcoming a difficult childhood. It’s a feel good piece that makes the reader laugh and cry.Steve is quoted as saying, “Of all the things I’ve done in my career, I’m most proud of the book. I was always in control of my comedy. Now I put it on the page and the reader is in control. It’s a whole new experience for me and I’m loving every minute of it.” "It's so Hard to Type with a Gun in my Mouth" is the perfect pick me up for anyone who is in the mood to laugh.Although writing is his passion, stand up comedy is his joy. Reviewers from coast to coast have praised this innovative comedian for his quick wit and boyish charm on stage. Be it the deep south, mid-west or West Coast, Steve charms his audiences with an improvised rapid wit humor that changes from show to show. Quoting a review from Laughlin, Nevada, "You've simply got to see him. He's hysterical.”

Steve & I talked about him being a founding member of The Groundlings, His addiction & recovery, and His new book "Point of Pines" where Steve talks about finally finding happiness and contentment.

Check out all of Steve's books here:

Steve Bluestein

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Transcript

Ladies and gentlemen, my guest tonight is Steve blue from so many comedy specials and an author. And. Original at the comedy store. I can't believe I got this guy. It's Steve Blustein. How are you doing? Hey, are you great? We're gonna start this off a little bit unusually because I do a lot of background on the people that I talked to. And I did a little bit on you that, uh, the. Surprised me in a little bit. So I watched, first of all, I watched the, uh, Ron Russell's drive by, which was an interview he did with you early in the pandemic. You wouldn't consider it early by the time he did it. But considering where we're at now, it's early and you did a great job, but, uh, you mentioned that the robe you were wearing during the interview was a J crew robe. And I went into your YouTube channel and found a YouTube. Video from 2011, talking about a J crew robe that looks like the same robe. Can you tell me if that is the same robe? Has anybody else made that connection? Well, no one, the thing is when I was working, when I was working in Vegas, my pitcher also managed Anthony Newley. And so he took me backstage to meet Anthony. Newley a bathrobe and matching. I thought that was the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life. Um, and I always wanted one and then there, I was at J crew and there it was, and I bought it and I'm never giving it up. Oh, it is. It is just like, no, I, you know, I'm, I'm one of those anal retentive people, uh, that, you know, as a 35 year old socks that look brand new. Yeah. Yeah, I got, I got to say, when I saw that, I'm like, Oh man, that looks like the same robe and it's nine years old. And yet there you are wearing it and it looks like brand new. Oh, it was. And you're right. You know, I was one of the original founding members of the Groundlings in Los Angeles and Gary Austin. Gary Austin was in the comedy store players. And I was also in the comedy store players. And I said to Gary, is there a class that I can get into, uh, you know, to hone up on improv? And he says, well, I'm starting one. So I joined that class and in that class, With Cindy Williams and, uh, Oh God, I can't think of any, but, uh, I'm so bad with names, candy Clark and, um, A bunch, you know, a bunch of people and that class became the Groundling. Now that you're frozen. Now talking about, uh, being one of the founding members of the Groundlings, your style of comedy is very in the moment and very. And prov inspired. And were you one of the first guys who really perfected the crowd work aspect of it? I can't take credit for that, but I certainly was in the first group that was doing it. I, you know, I was, I was in a show at Caesar's palace with, with Phyllis Diller and Pat Cooper and. Uh, in that show, which was really early on in my career, I was talking to the audience and Phyllis got me backstage one night and said, don't talk to the audience. And I said, why? She said, well, it comedians just don't do that. And I went, Oh, okay. And I continued to talk to the audience because what had happened was. I had been on the road for years, years, and I was opening for Donna summer at the MGM and right in the middle of my act, I stopped and I looked at the audience and I said, if I have to say these words one more time, I'm going to kill myself because you know, Two shows a night, seven nights a week. You and the show you have to do 19 minutes, so, and not 20 and not 18. So it ha it has to be well scripted so that you're out on time. Uh, And I just stopped. And I looked down at the guy sitting on the ring and I said, what do you do? It's gotta be more interesting than that. And that's how I started working the crowd. And what happened over the years was I would have. No an hour, an hour and a half worth of material in my head. And I would talk to the audience. And what do you do? You're a doctor. I do the doctor chunk. Right? And then what do you do? I'm a nurse. I do the nurse chunk so that every night the show was different. So you could see me five nights in a row and you'd never see the same show. More importantly, I was kept, I was kept amused. No, I was, no, I was no longer bored. And, and when it became fresh is when it became funny. Right. And some of the things that I've seen, you know, I watched a lot of video of you, some of the things we're not doctor and nurse. I mean, the, the dude that you, uh, Called the whitest man you've ever seen and called him a grown up. Oop. Um, the, the way you were able to play off that and even do a callback on crowd work was just masterful. Are we still there? Are you there? Yeah, I lost you for a sec. I know, what do you have? Like two cans and a string. What kind of setup do you have? Yeah, I got fiber. Yeah. Well, I have fiber too. Yeah. Well, I am bright. That's why I'm regular. No, I have, uh, what were we talking about, uh, talking about the crowd work and, and the fact that you not only can do crowd work, but you, you were talking about, uh, the, um, you know, a doctor bit and a nurse. No, I was, I was, I was talking about, uh, I was on a clip, uh, make me laugh with, um, Gary Shandling and Gallagher and the woman who was in the seat who were trying to make lap in order to stop from laughing. She was doing the, uh, Lamar glow. Yeah. So I took her. Exercise. And I did, what's called the transformation. It's an improvisational technique. I took her or her blowing and I turned it into something else. And that changed according to the producers that changed the direction of the, of the show from that moment on, because no one had no one had strayed from there. To do it. And as a matter of fact, they use that episode to sell the show when it was split back on the year. Unfortunately they didn't ask me back on that show, but I'm really surprised that we're losing each other. I know you're calling from I'm in Indiana, but uh, Oh, another Indiana. I just did another interview. Let me take this phone because this is my landline. So it shouldn't be, it shouldn't be a problem. I don't have any problem with anyone else who calls me, but let me, not that I want you to feel guilty. I'm going into the guestroom and see if that's better. Yeah. So far, so far, we're looking good. So, uh, I think we're good. So as far as your, your style of comedy, I mean, I, I talked to a lot of people who write a lot and I talked to a lot of people who work out, stayed, work out their stuff on stage a lot, but it seems to me that you never have the same show twice. Is that right? Never ever. Yeah. That's and that's not because I'm trying to entertain the audience. Cause I was trying to entertain myself. I, you know, I, I have add and I have to be entertained all the time, but I could never write for myself, sit down and write material for myself and then go on stage and do it. I had to. Right. It onstage in front of the audience. And even if it was an ad-lib, it stayed in every night. It was, it was locked into my memory. Now I can write, I, I, you know, I write jokes for other people. I wrote for Joan Rivers. I wrote for Marilyn Michael, there were Phyllis Torres. I wrote for, uh, uh, She's so famous. I can't remember her name. Wait, I can, RA's kind, you know, Barbara Streisand, sister, I write, I write, I wrote, you know, all those jokes. No problem. But for myself, I have to do it on stage. Yeah. So thinking about that, you, you had to go on stage quite a lot. Did you just walk in with a bunch of premises or did you look at the audience and say, Hey, this is what's going to work with these guys? Or what, how did it work? It's interesting because I would never walk in at, in my early years, I would never walk in with a bunch of premises. I would always look at the audience and talk to the audience and get the material from talking to the audience today. I walk in with premises today, I think. All right. I want to talk about getting older. And I'll make notes, memory, this, that, you know, and I'll put them on a stool and then I'll just riff off of that. But in the early days, it was strictly from talking to the audience, obviously that worked for you. Did you ever, I mean, did you ever go through just like terrible bombing sets doing that or did, I mean, I, um, Never the reason I never bombed was because I was so afraid of bombing that I did anything in my power. I would take my, I would drop my pants if it would get a laugh, you know what I mean? Yeah. Um, but, um, I, yeah, I, I. In the beginning and the very, very beginning, like when I was a month doing standup, I bombed every night for a year. And it wasn't until, uh, John Savage, the actor came in to, to the comedy store one night and he said, and he saw my set and he pulled me aside and he said, you know, you're really good. And I said, I am. And he said, yeah, you really are. And from that moment on, I never bombed again because I had to self-confident they didn't have the self-confidence and doing standup is all about confidence, right? If, if you, if the audience senses your vulnerability, then you're dead in the water. And the analogy that I use is in the cartoons. When the guy drops off a ladder and hits the ground and he breaks up into a million pieces, then he pulls himself back together. We laugh because that's the relief, but if he falls off the liner and he's lies there in a pool of blood, we go, Ooh, that's not the that's not comedy. Comedy is always the release. And it's, it's obviously an important thing. And I, I feel like it's the hardest art that there is to do. And yet I, you know, I keep going back to Ron's video of you and you just fall into it. I mean, I don't think there is ever a situation you could be put into the, you couldn't just joke your way out of it. Yeah. I mean, it's. I don't, I, you know, I hate talking about myself because you sound so self, you know, systematic and self satisfying, but it's, this is with me. It's simply a fact. I just have been given a gift of being able to make a joke out of almost anything, you know, almost anything, uh, I was at my best friend's father's funeral. And it was, uh, he was like a father to me, the guy who passed away and he was a military guy and they had a military guard there and they had the flag and they were folding the flag and it took them. It took him 15 minutes to fold the flag and to no one, I just said, that's how I fold my sheets on the entire and the entire, the entire plate turned around and went, but they laugh, you know, of course it's funny. All right. Here's the best example of it. Uh, my mother passed away. Uh, on Tuesday, my, at the previous Thursday, my, or the proceedings Thursday, my aunt passed away. So I went to the funeral home and. The funeral director said to me all, this has been a very tough week for you. I went, yeah, it really has been so much. We lost two people and he said, okay, now what can we do for you? And I said, Oh, I'll just have what my cousin had. Okay. And he just looked at me and then he said, And then we would talk him or anything. How would you like to pay for this? And I said, I have a group on, but so, and of course nobody laughed, but I just, I just did it for myself. And then, uh, about six weeks later, my aunt and my mother are buried next to each other in Crips, you know, in the wall. And he called and he said, Your aunt's tomb is going to say her name and her date of birth and the date of death. And then underneath is going to say, mother grandmother, aunt and friend, what would you like your mothers to say? I said, see other crypt long silence. And he said, Really? No. Oh, man, that that's great. And I'm totally on board with you for that. I remember when my, uh, my grandmother passed away, uh, we were driving to the cemetery and I think I was, I don't know, I was probably 20 something. And, and somebody asked in the, in the limo that we were in, you know, what would you want to have on your, uh, Tombstone. And I said, well, I told you I was sick and, and we all got out of the limo, just cracking up and yeah, well on mine, it's going to say willing to sublet. Well, you know, when my, when my stepfather died, my mother and I had a tumultuous relationship, she was not, she was not on board with me being in show business. And she did everything in her power to. Uh, stop it and the gated and negate me as a person, human being. And, uh, my stepfather died and I flew back to Boston for the, uh, funeral. And, uh, we got, we went through the service and we went outside. To get in the limo and everybody got in the limo and there was no room for me. She'd forgotten a place for me in the car. And so the limos are pulling away from the curb. And I said to the hearse driver, can I go with you? So I I'll, you know, I was driving with the casket and. One of my aunts pulled up and she said, Stevie, do you have a ride? And I said, yeah, I'm going with Manny. Who was my step? Oh, that's great. Throw some dirt on me and we'll be done. Yeah, we'll be done. It will be done. So let's back up. What got, what started you into doing stand. Well, I was, uh, an assistant buyer at the may company and budget lady sandbags. So it's a natural segue into show business. And, but I had moved, I had moved to California and I was living in Hollywood in one of these apartment buildings. That has a swimming pool in the center and all the apartments look into the center. So everyone's scent would gravitate toward the middle and sit around the pool in the building, lift Dave Madden, who was Rubin on the Partridge family. And he would hear me making people laugh because, you know, I, I, I always had this ability to make people laugh. He would hear me and he pulled me aside one day and he said, You know, this, this new club that just opened, it's called the comedy store and you should go down there and sitting next to me at the time was Albert Hammond, who was a songwriter at the time, but since won an Emmy and is in the songwriters hall of fame. And he said to me, Steve, he's right, you should do it. So Albert Hammond. And David mad. Dave Madden took me to the comedy store and I walked in the first night and sat and watched the people on stage and said, I can do that. You know, I can do that. And I came back the next week with some routines I had written and I got off stage and Sammy's chore came over to me and said, You keep coming back, you have the sound you have. Now, if he hadn't said anything to me, I probably would have gone home and gone to the back to the may company and become a divisional manager by this time. And, um, but he did and he gave me encouragement and that, and I came back every, every night for two years and I was one of the original. Comedians who started the comedy store. Wow. And even before Mitzi, well, Mitzi was married to Sammy, right? Yeah. But Sam, Sammy ran it first and then Sam Sammy ran it first, but the club opened up to a huge crowd because everybody in show business, Came to hang out at the comedy store, uh, to be seen and to be on stage and what was happening with them. He was giving everybody drinks, you know, the comics who were there and they were drinking and they were drinking him out of house and home. So he was losing money on the club. And at the same time, the crowds became, began to diminish because the. The, um, newness had worn off and people and people weren't coming. And so Mitzi and Sammy were getting a divorce and Mitzi got the club in the divorce. And she was the one who said you need to structure the show so that the audience knows that at nine o'clock so-and-so will be on and at 10 o'clock. So until it will be on, and she was the one who devised the light over the picture, she was the one who devised getting their show scheduled and, uh, And it took off from there. And then Jimmy, Jimmy Walker had just gotten good time. And part of his deal was that tandem with paper writers to write for his standup. So Jimmy would bring six writers, five writers to the comedy store every night and he would go on stage. And he would be the main draw. And that's when the word got out that you could see famous people on television at the comedy store. And then Richard Pryor came and then red Fox came and then flip Wilson came and then we were off and running. Do you feel like that the, um, That the experience you got from the comedy store was what kept you in comedy? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, everything I learned about doing standup, I learned at the comedy store. I had never done stand-up and I'd always been funny. I'd always been the funny one, but I had never done stand-up. And I believe you're the, you're the person who put, uh, Driessen up when he first got to LA, is that right? Right. Tom slept, slept in my house. Uh, when he first got, as a matter of fact, he wrote a joke about me when he was standing there. He said he has a friend who alphabetizes their laundry and that's because. That's because I'm very, I'm very anal and I still am to this day. I must have everything organized. And I talk about that in my new book. Point of times, point of Pines is it's an area in Massachusetts where. I grew up in where I, I learned about what love is about from a family. Cause my original family, my, my parents were a nightmare. They were dysfunctional. They fought, they were violent. I w I, we ended up homeless. It was a nightmare, but at the point of pain, I learned what love was. And I wrote this as sort of a tribute to those people. And, uh, it's different from my other book because memoir of a, nobody is strictly comedy, one essay after another about, you know, about opening for Donna summer by opening for Barry Manilow, but OBD for Kenny log-in, you know, what went on backstage, you know, who was an asshole and, and, uh, that's a totally different kind of book. Um, then point a pine, but it's been out a week and it's already gotten 25 star reviews. Oh, that's great. Yeah. The memoir listen, memoir of a, nobody has 96, five star reviews on Amazon. And that came out in 2011. Is that right? No, no, no, no. That came out in 20. No, Marvin, nobody must be three years ago. Okay. Uh, it's pleased. It's so hard to type with a gun in my mouth came out early. Right? Right. Yeah. Well, actually those two books are the same book. Okay. It's so hard to type with a gun in my mouth with self-published and it did so well that I had a publisher picked it up, but he didn't want to publish a book with a gun in the title. So I changed it to memoir of a okay. Okay. So thinking about how you are. I mean, you obviously take a comedic and, and a bit of, um, I don't want to say sarcastic, but you take a little bit of a cynical view of things, and then you come up with a book called point of Pines for you found out what love is all about. Did it, did it take you to that? Yeah, it did. And it had it, it took my parents passing that apps that freed me from, because up until that time, I would say X, Y and Z happened. And my mother would say, no, it never happened. It didn't happen like that. And so I grew up thinking that was, I was insane. There was something wrong with me when she left, when she died, I was able to. Be my, be my own person for the first time. And people surrounding me came and validated my feelings validate yet to saying yes, I saw it. That's what happened. So obviously coming from the. Background that you have with, you know, no validation. Um, you, you need the validation and comedy was a release for that. Do you feel like if you were brought up in a, a normal, happy family that you would be a committee? No, absolutely not. Uh, th there is. The way I describe it because I was sitting with a group of kids, immediate, maybe 10 of us. And I said, just said, anybody have a trauma in their childhood. And Tennessee hands went up, you know, one was crippled and in a cast from this chest to his legs as a child, the other father died, mother died. They had an illness. There was some trauma that. Left them with that hole in their soul, which needed to be filled. And you know, for me, the reason I'm no longer doing up and I'm more behind the scenes is because that hole has been filled. I no longer, there is no longer a need. No Howie Mendell. Said to me when they called me up and he said, come on, this goes back when, just before, just after he got St elsewhere. And he said, come on, I'm going to the comedy store tonight. And I said, Y you have a series. And he said, okay. Oh, I have to. And at that moment at that very moment, I knew that I didn't have to that whatever the, the need had been. It had been removed from me. And I had quote, unquote healed that I didn't have to do it anymore, but I continued to do it for years later. I just, the Gusto, the joy was out of it for me. And that's when I went to playwriting and TV writing and, uh, writing these books were books. Wow. That's, that's very telling. So do you feel like every comic that's working today and still needs to find what you found? I can't speak for every comic working today. I don't know. Most of them are so neurotic and six that they wouldn't be able to. To, uh, validate what my, what I just said. Did you, uh, did you get into the whole, uh, drug culture that was going on there at the company? Get into it? I started it. Yes, of course I did. And I'm sober now. 39. I'll be 38 years in April. And so I was right in the thick of it, you know, in the seventies, I mean, who wasn't in the seventies, right. People who were born in the eighties, but, but yeah, but I found myself going from someone who said, I never. I never worked stoned two working stones and then thing I never drive stoned and then driving stone. And then I thought, gee, if I've come this far, if I slipped this far in such a short period of time, where am I going to be in 10 years? And so I, um, I started going to AA and I've been sober ever since 39 years, 38 years. But you know, I was going to tell you something, but now it's completely slipped my mind. That's old age. That's another reason I don't do stand up anymore. I can't remember from one minute to the next, no doubt. Yeah. Ask you a question. Okay. Yeah. Um, let's, let's talk about, um, the people that you came up with and, uh, the way comedy is today, what, what are the differences between say the comics that were at the comedy store in the seventies and the way comedy is today? Okay. That's a great question because it's a very simple answer in the seventies. The comics all had idols from the sixties and the fifties and those guys, Jack Benny, Milton, Milton Berle, uh, Jackie Gleason, uh, uh, Danny. Hey, all those guys, they had learned how to do comedy in vaudeville. Which led them to films. And they, they, they learned their craft. They learned that Kraft period. They learned it involved, but they it's just that in the movies and in television. And so we were learning our craft from people who had learned aircraft from people who had really learned that craft today. They don't have those people. And so. Yep. The comedians are all learning from each other. And what you end up with is a generic sound that every comic has coming up. Now, they all sound the same. They all deliver the same. They all talk about the same material. They all, they all. Talk like they sound like they should be funny, but they're not funny. Nobody makes you think there are exceptions. Uh, John Mo Rooney, John Mulrooney from Saturday night live. I get Malaney, John Malaney. I give him a Rooney and Malaney. I'm a two. What do you want from me? He's absolutely brilliant. He's absolutely brilliant. He's the funniest. He's a funny, I love this guy. He is hilarious. He was his concept. Yeah. He tells a story and he paints a picture. Yeah. He tells a story. He paints a picture, but he tells it in such a way that's different. And that's the answer. That's the re the success, the incident success in stand-up. Cause you must be different from the pack and all these guys sound the same. I watch these comedy specials. On Netflix and all the, and I want to, they're not funny. Yeah, they are not, they deliver like, they should be funny. They have the self-confidence that they're funny, but they're not funny if the audience. It's sweetened and I'm sitting at home or people are sitting home and they're not laughing. They're not funny. Right. And I didn't know how the hell these people get special. Right. I am totally on board with you. I can't tell you how many I've watched and I've turned off after 10 minutes because I can't give it my time. Um, you know, I, uh, there's another woman, uh, African-American uh, lesbian red hair, uh, Come on. Help me, uh, you know who, I mean, she's, she's not Leslie Jordan, is it? No, that Leslie Jordan is a man. Uh there's yeah, I think the last time I looked it wasn't that Leslie Jordan, the character unwilling gray. Yes, but there's another one. Oh, sorry. Um, no, that wouldn't, she's so funny. She's she's married. She talked to him about being married to a white, a white woman and they have two white kids and she's the only black person in the family. And I can't why anyways, she's absolutely brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. As a matter of fact, she's so brilliant. I was channeled, surfing and stopped dead in my tracks because. Not only is she funny, but she paints the picture so that the audience can be there with her and can laugh along with her. She's just brilliant. I love her. I love her, you know, and Elayne Boosler is hilarious. Uh, Kathy Laderman is hilarious. Um, Who else do I like Howie Mendell? I love Holly. I love how he, because he's the real deal, right? He is the real deal. He is not only a comedian, but he's an actor. He's a producer. He's inventive. He says style setter. He is the real deal. One of the things talking about comedy today, I feel like it's all very, um, If, if we're talking in musical terms, a solver, very staccato, um, in the it's. So. I feel like there's nothing new in comedy. Um, because everything comes. That's what I'm that's, that's what I'm saying. There's nothing new. They all sound the same. Everyone's saying the same thing. They're all talking about the same relationship. Oh, give, gives the hell about your relationship. Come back to me. Be going to talk about relationship. They come up with something new. Yeah. It's like, it's like everybody doing, uh, uh, uh, Airline joke, you know, it's, it's, it's been done and you're just putting a new paint job on it and it's not your stuff. So I, I agree with that. Again, they, they learn from other people, they hear other people do it and they think, Oh, that, that got a laugh. That's a good, you know, that's a good area. I'll, I'll, I'll write some new stuff about that, but it's not new because we've already heard about it. We've already talked about it. So they're learning from each other. Um, did you ever collaborate with anybody on any or any, or your jokes? Um, Brandy Kirby, who was the funniest human being on the face of the earth? Uh, we'd go in the very beginning. We'd go on the road with me and we would write, and Randy would say something and it wouldn't be a joke. But the essence of what he said would inspire me to go on stage and make it a joke. And so that's the only person I ever worked with, uh, with the exception of Mary Willard. She and I were writing team. Uh, we worked on, uh, we worked with Norman Lear together, Mary, with married to Fred Willard. I Ms. Fry. I miss. I miss them both talk about two human beings who touch someone's life for 40 years, Fred and Mary withdrawer Christmas party every year, that would, and they would invite just the creme de LA creme of comedy. And, uh, it was. I loved fast. It was an absolute luck and Mary ran it and we sang Christmas carols. And of course, uh, the thing was to make everybody laugh. And the great thing was every year this happened, we would all be sitting around in the living room and Joanne Worley would have been at the party and she's there. And then we're sitting around and we're thinking Christmas, Carol, and suddenly Fred will get up and go. Oh, look, there's someone at the window. And Joanne Worley would be outside tapping on the window. And I had prayed with Joanne, Joanne come in and Joanne would world Fred. I was just in the neighborhood and I heard the singing and I thought I'd stopped by. And as luck would have it, I brought my piano player and she had, she brought a plant. And then the piano player would go to the piano and Joanne would do some hilarious songs, but it was the same thing for 40 years every year, you know, it was so, and then one year, uh, you know, th th the 12 nights of Christmas were sung and the big thing with five golden rings, you know, you had to do something hilarious on five golden rings. Well, one year I ran into the. Kitchen and got their upright vacuum cleaner, plugged it in. And when 12 golden Reeves came in, I came out and vacuumed in the middle of the song, which just brought Mary, just got hysterical, ELAP. Oh man. That's great. So thinking about comedy from the seventies versus today, do you feel, do you feel like the comedy. Was okay. First off it was very competitive, uh, especially at the comedy store to the point of being cutthroat. And do you feel like it was more of a meritocracy back in the day than it is now? Oh, you're gonna, you're gonna throw a mirror, mirror progress, pronounced, meritocracy, which doctor is he? It means you, you get ahead by merit rather than, uh, by any other means. Yeah. Um, and listen, there's no meritocracy in show business. There are people who are stars today who sat at the comedy store for years. Never got a laugh, one, got one lucky break. And then they're, you know, in there. And that's not, that is not sour grapes. That is the truth. There's one particular person, I think who was. She was on a plane with nobody else was doing, you know what I mean? She was so different than everybody else. And the audience who would stare at her, like she was the painting know, 15 minutes of silence. I, at one point during her set, I came in and said, I'd like to do, I'd like to return a book. You know, it was, it was so quiet. It's like a library. So, um, and she got. She got seen when I buy a producer, she got put in a movie instant star. Wow. And then there are people who bang their head against the wall for 20 years, 30 years, and have nothing, you know, and had no recognition. I can give you a list of people right now. You've never heard of, who've been working, doing stand up forever and with no recognition. And for no apparent reason, it's just being at the right place at the right time. And a lot of the people at the comedy store really used it as the training ground. It should become like, you know, for instance, Richard Pryor, I hear stories of him just shitting the bed, uh, for, he would stand up there for an hour and getting nothing. And he would turn that hour into a new special, because he worked at. Yeah. I mean, look, I saw David Brenner come up at the comedy store every night with a joke and each night try a different word to see which one would get it to work. It's a, it's a craft. It is absolutely a craft and you have to learn how to do it. And unfortunately, most of the time. People today, haven't learned how to do it. They've just learned how to grab for the Gusto. You know what I mean? And yeah, you talk about, uh, David Brenner, who, um, I would compare to like a Seinfeld who was very analytical about the words and the meter and all that. And then you've got yourself, who's such an improv improvise, improvise, improv soul. Um, the is, uh, I'm sorry, I've been drinking, but, uh, that is so, uh, um, In the moment and you don't worry about the words so much, but yet you're able to put them in there's. I, there's not very many people who do that coming, coming along the way. Um, you know, it was you Robin Williams. Uh Detta um, and Paula Poundstone brilliant at it. Um, uh, Oh, there's one other guy talks to the audience he used to write for, he was the head writer for Jay Leno. And I, I can't think of his name and it's not because they're not important people. It's just because I can't remember where I parked my car. The garage of the house. Yeah. Oh, it's so frustrating. It's so frustrating. You know, when you meet them in public and go, Hey, I had, I had the pleasure of seeing, uh, Paula Poundstone last year and, uh, it she's, she she's brilliant. She's fantastic and brilliant. And, uh, I did not know that. That she was such a crowd work person. I mean, obviously I had seen her in television specials and stuff like that and saw her act, but that act was not so much crowd work, but she, I mean, just massive, you know, the thing is with, when you're doing a talk show, they do not want you to work the crowd. Yeah. That that is, they want seven minutes. And they know that that, that the toilet is the last word and they go to commercial. They don't want, they, you know, and so Paula and myself and anybody else who works, the crowd has had a lot of trouble getting on the shows because our style was different than say a Driessen who was specifically seven minutes. You know, he really craps. It is sad. So it, it was different, but Paula had the best job. Absolutely. Maybe Paula was, you know, had been involved in it in the lawsuit and she was in the hole for about a million dollars, uh, for, uh, legal fees. And, uh, she said, you know, when you're, when you're in debt to a, for a million dollars, things become. Become in perspective. For instance, my kids said, mom, can we go to Disney world? And I say, I don't see why not. Absolutely brilliant. It's absolutely brilliant because. It's so true. You know, when you're in the debt for a million dollars, what's another 300 bucks. Yeah. That's just, just a drop in the bucket, baby. Yeah, that's great. Yeah. Um, so let's, let's talk about. The best and worst advice you got as a comic coming up, what was the best advice you got? All right. No, I'll just start with the worst. The worst advice was given to me by Rudy DeLuca, who was a partner with Sammy shore at the comedy store. And he later went on to work with Mel Brooks. So he's got, you know, he's got comedy chops. His advice to me was you talk too fast. You can't, you have to stop. You must not always. Cause I have a very rapid fire delivery. I'll always, that comes from fear of silence. You know, if, if I feel that if they get away from me, then they won't laugh. I lose them. So I I'm constantly talking to guests. So the next night I went up and did what Rudy said and completely went in the toilet. Completely and went into the toilet for a year. After that every night I blocked it until, uh, John Savage came in and said, you know, you're really good. And then I got my confidence back. That was the worst advice. The best advice was time heals, all wounds. And that was, uh, My agent told me that after I had gotten, uh, I had some really personal tragedy and was falling apart and he said, time, time heals all wounds. And it made me understand that I may, I may be feeling badly now, but I will feel better. And I got out, I got out of it. They got out of it. Do you feel like your perseverance is kind of a flip off to some people say that again to my, a flip off? Yeah. Like a, like a big F you to, to, to anybody who doubted you, anybody. That was a, that was a name, you know, you know, I've seen so many comedians. Who struggled to get to the top and then got to the top and then became major assholes, major conceded, abusing, awful assholes. And I understand it. I could never be that way a bitch. That's not my makeup, but yeah. I mean, especially to my mother. My mother said to, to actually said to a friend, I just don't find them funny. And, uh, who said in front of a group of my people, my friends. Why did you write a book? Nobody cares about your life. Wow. That's that's verbatim. And I turned around to look at my friends who, whose mouths were. A gap, you know, they were just could not believe so. Uh, no. When I sit here in my 4,000 square foot house with a swimming pool and I look at my stock, my stock portfolio, I say, yeah, I wish my mother was around. So I could say, fuck you. Yeah, no doubt. So, if somebody was say, say I'm a brand new comedian and I come to you for advice, what would you tell a comedian today that they should do to stand out from all the rest of the comedians and be noticed and be a good comedian work nude? No, I mean, you know that, what you're asking me is. About attitude and attitude is what, um, how a comedian sees the world. Joan Rivers was, you know, Phyllis Diller was ugly. Uh, Jack Benny was cheap. Uh, uh, um, uh, Seinfeld is an observer. David Brenner is an observer. That's their attitude. That's how they see the world. Well, it takes years for a comedian. To find that attitude, some people are born with it. They're just, they just have natural attitude and it just comes naturally. But some have to develop one and that the only way they can do it is to do the work, just get up every night and work. Very good advice. So let's get a little bit deeper into your, uh, the, the new book, the point of Pines, a horrible childhood and a wonderful place. You say, this is the one the, you know, you finally found some peace and some happiness, uh, who are the people that you met that put you into this place? Well, my mom had these high school friends, uh, two sisters. And they were her closest and dearest friends in high school. And when I grew up, when I was born, I would call them my aunt. They weren't N T E D and N T M E. And these, those women, their husbands and their children became my family, the family that I always wanted. And, uh, when the book came out, of course, a lot of those people. From the pine started reading it and they have all contacted me to, to, uh, to say how I hit it right on the money. But I got, I got an email today from a guy who said, That he wanted me to know that he'd been going through some medical problems and was very depressed and had a very horrific childhood. And he read the point of Pines and he was inspired and lifted. And that she, he said that he, I reading the book, helped him in healing, and that was better than a standing ovation. You know, and that's my other book. I have another book called take my prostate, please. And I wrote that book because I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and I went through the experience and every day I would sit down and I would write what happened that day. And it became a book that I thought would be helpful too. Women whose husbands are going through prostate cancer or men who are experienced prostate cancer. And of course I did it with a little bit of humor because that's how I see everything. So all the other books are humor pointing to paints is rather, um, is a serious book. And I said, I said to a friend, that's not a joke in it. And she said, I found three, which made me laugh, which made me laugh. She's because she said, even when you're not writing funny, you're right. Funny. And I thought, that's funny. That's true. Yeah. It's in your DNA. So you just can't get away from it. Well, you want to talk about DNA, listen to this story. So I have a Russian. Travel agent. And I was talking to him in one day and I said, you know, I, I, I have all Russian relatives. All my grandparents are from Russia. He said where? And I said, Oh, DESA. And he said, well, then you must have a good sense of humor. And I said, what do you mean? He said, Oh, sins are known for their sense of humor. And over the centuries there's been a comedy festival. It goes back to the medieval times. And I said, well, do you know what I do for a living? He said, no. And I told him, he said, well, that makes perfect sense. It's definitely some. And when I think about it, my cousins on the blue Stein side, they all have my sense of humor. My cousin, David, my cousin, Bobby, uh, my aunt D my uncle, Sam, my father, we all had the same sense of humor. That's great. And it's great that you could take that and make a career out of it. Well, yeah. Uh, and that. What's interesting is I made a career out of it. My cousin, David, and my cousin, Bobby didn't. They have the same sense if you, because they had solid upbringing, solid family, familial upbringing. I did, I saw violence and anger and hatred, and there was something missing that make net. Led me to think that I needed to stand on stage to be validated in the beginning. There's something that's been on my mind since you said it. Uh, so you say you've got, um, ADHD, which is it's very prevalent among. Comedians and a lot of my talk to, um, suffer from that. How are you able to sit yourself down and write a book when you are suffering from that? Well, I get up at six o'clock in the morning and I write for two hours, uh, and it's like almost at that early hour. Sometimes I get up at four o'clock in the morning at that early hour. It's like the motor hasn't kicked in yet. Do you know what I mean? And then I'll be writing and just go, I can't stand her another minute and I have to get up and leave. And I, the first time I realized that I had, this was right after I graduated college and I was looking for a job and I had to put the New York times down on the floor and I was looking through the help, wanted ads and I was scanning the ads and I just couldn't, I couldn't focus. I couldn't. Yeah. I couldn't see what w what, and I had, uh, what I had to do was cut a little hole in a three by five card and put it over the ad and slide it down. So we'd block out all the other information so that it, because there was too much information going in and, uh, it was, it was screwing up my brain. Yeah. I have some of the same thing. And it seems to get worse as you get older, for some reason. Yeah, it is. It's much, it's much, much worse now. Uh, you know, well, look, this is my life. Uh, the Coachella Valley comedy pester con contacted me and they were, they said, we'd like to honor you this year. Uh, at the Coachella Valley festival and I was beyond gratified, you know, I was just thrilled. And then the, uh, the COVID happened to the Coachella Valley comedy festival was canceled and I never heard anything else. This is the story of my life. Yeah. Yeah. It's, that's a, that's a comedian's life. So that's really goes well, I, you know, I have to say that I'm in a, uh, Place where I need to read the point of pine. So I'm definitely going to get it for myself. And I see that that's available on Amazon and probably a lot of other books, sellers, but check. Yeah, it, it, it, if you go to Steve blustein.biz Ford slash book, all my books are there and you can link it'll link you to Amazon or Apple, Apple books or Kindle. There cause they're all available on Amazon, Apple or Kendall. Okay. Everybody that's listening. That'll be in the show notes. So make sure you check out the show notes and you can go right there and pick up any of Steve's great books. And I tell you, Steve, it's been really great talking to you. Um, I, uh, I try to make it about the guest. And I had to talk about dressing a little bit, cause he was actually the first guest I had on the podcast. And, uh, I, uh, he, he was one of the first comics I ever saw in my life. I'm I'm, I'm a young 56 and I saw him on the Mike Douglas show and he was, uh, one of the first guys that I saw and he was my guy. I used to watch a TV guide and see where he was going to be and watch him and yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic guy. And, uh, um, I just got to say, you know, talking to you is it's one of the high points because you guys paved the way. And, uh, I don't think anybody has been able to replicate what came out of the comedy store. And I don't think anybody really will unless, uh, we, uh, have a complete, uh, uh, meltdown of. Of comedy and then rebuild it from the beginning. Well, I hope I'm not there for it. I couldn't, I don't think I could live through it twice. Well, thank you so much for paving the way and thank you so much for spending an hour with me. I really enjoyed learning pleasure anytime, anytime. Thank you, Steve. Thank you.