Born in New York on August 31, 1940, Hankin took an industrial design degree from the University of Syracuse; multifaceted artist, in addition to being an actor, Hankin is also a screenwriter, producer, director and singer; he began his career as an illustrator in the entertainment world, and studied acting at Syracuse University, Syracuse New York. In same class with Frank Langella and Carl Gottlieb. Was a member of the comedy improvisation groups Second City (Chicago) and The Committee (San Francisco). Hankin continues today his work in Hollywood film and Tv productions.
Larry & talked about his early career working with Woody Allen and opening for the Lovin Spoonful. We went on to talk about his film career and battles with dyslexia, ADHD, & OCD.
Make sure to check out his website to see all of his personal projects:
We talked a lot about his Mockumentary "How to Become and Outlaw" and you can catch the whole video here:
How to Become an Outlaw
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If you like the show, you can follow us on social media! Isn't that great!
And..if you want to see some of my comedy, you can check out my YouTube Channel and heck, maybe subscribe!
If you'd like to support the show and get some cool perks, check out our Patreon page:
A big thank you to my new Patreon Patrons!
Look for new stuff for Patrons soon!
If you like the show, you can follow us on social media! Isn't that great!
And..if you want to see some of my comedy, you can check out my YouTube Channel and heck, maybe subscribe!
Larry Hankin Part 1
[00:00:00] Scott Curtis: My guest today is Larry Hankin. And you know him from his roles as Mr. Heckles on friends, Doobie from planes, trains, and automobiles, and Joe from breaking bad and El Camino and so many more great characters. I mean, the guy has done so much, but did you know that he got his start in, stand up comedy and that's why I'm talking to him.
And he opened for people like Woody Allen and miles. Davis. And he also started the iconic improv group, the committee with his friends, and we're going to learn all that. And more from Larry Hankin. I can't believe it. I've got Larry Hankin today. Larry, how you doing? Um, I'm I'm doing okay. Uh, I just had to shut the.
Shut the window, this fire engines going off. Maybe my house is my, my apartment is burning down. I don't know. Well, we don't want that to happen. So I'm, I'm, I'm just steady weight. So I'm, uh, obviously I [00:01:00] told you I'm stoked to have you on the show. This is a big honor for me, and I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
Thank you. It's my pleasure. Actually. I like talking so good. Good. Well, I like listening, so we're going to get along real well. So I want to talk about, um, the fact of, I mean, you, you went to school to be in industrial design and. And you obviously steered away from that fairly quickly. Can you tell me what the path was right out of college.
Okay. Uh, okay. So I graduated, um, and as, uh, as, as an industrial designer, and then I was offered a job at general motors, designing future cars, uh, for, for a lot of money, man. You know, to start getting out of college and started like, I don't know, 75,000 or a hundred thousand dollars a year. Wow. [00:02:00] But I was a good student.
I mean, I really, um, OCD, so I get into things and I'm also dyslexic. So I get into things. So, uh, but uh, my best friend in college college, Syracuse university was Carl Gottlieb. I don't know. Your fans know who Carl got leave is, but he wrote all the joys movies or at least three of them. Yeah, he called he co-wrote the jerk too.
And if Jay, yeah, he's written a lot of movies, but he was my best friend. And he said, you know, so I get this call from general motors, you know? And, uh, I had gone to see them. They'd flown me in a couple other top students out to Detroit, gave us a tour and I just have. I have no censor. I, I have no boundaries smear, I mean, verbally.
Right. So I just speak my mind and anything that I didn't, [00:03:00] like, I told him, well, that's kind of crappy. And they didn't like that at all. I noticed that, you know, like I would pick up something and I go. What is, it was like a modern car. Somebody had made yeah. Desk, you know, we would take it a tour and pick it up and.
And he goes, Oh, you really liked that. And I was looking, I said, I said, no, actually it looks ridiculous. The head of the department made that one Oh eight, try to be, you know, but I could see it
going nowhere. I ain't, you know, but I don't. I see, here's the thing. I don't care. I mean, there's certain things I do care about. But if I don't care about it, that I don't care. Right. Whatever I do here, man, I care. Right. Or I didn't care about him or his head of the department's model. And then, and then he said something which was really cool.
They [00:04:00] said, all right, well now we're going to see the CEOs, um, lunchroom, I don't know, cafeteria Fios cafeteria. So he takes us in there and it's beautiful. It's not, it's like an upscale New York restaurant, man. Really. Cool that impressed me. I re I really was impressed. So I said to him, you know, there was like four or five of us students.
I said, what the man, we going to eat here? He said, Oh, no, no, no, this is where the COC, you don't eat here. I said, what the fuck are you showing it to us?
Got to, and, but I didn't, you know, I, I kinda knew I wasn't going to be here. I, I kinda, somehow I didn't know where I was going, but this wasn't my life that I had thought I was a good kid and I'd fulfilled my obligations to my parents by going to college and graduating. With honors. Right. [00:05:00] And I thought, okay, that's it.
Thank you. Goodbye. Yeah. And then luckily Carl Gottlieb, who was my friend called me and he said, Hey, man, I want to go to the village. I want to be a writer. Uh, he had been in the journalism school, been in industrial design school. And so he said, yeah, let's go to Greenwich real. And I said, man, I'm there.
Larry Hankin: Let's, let's do it. So we bought a car for a. $150. And the old car I lived in on long Island drive up to New York and we got this well, anyway, that was college. Okay. So we went to Greenwich village and we got to this apartment for a very, very, very cheap. It was a six floor walkup and a or fifth floor, fifth floor.
Walk-up. With no windows, it was a one window opened onto an atrium hole in the middle of the [00:06:00] building, which faced the brick wall. So we live with there, but that's my, my start. And, uh, I didn't have a job now. I mean, he had a job. He had already written letters ahead. Newspapers in New York, your neighborhood, newspapers, not.
New York times or anything like that little neighborhood papers, but he had a job, man. He was reviewing movies, which he wanted to write movies. So he was right in the ballpark. I had no idea, man. I air I was free. I didn't have my parents to, I had had fulfilled all my obligations to my parents. Oh yeah. So I was Freeman and the only job I could get that I wanted.
Because I wanted them. I wanted my days to be free. I mean, that was the plan I like days are going to be free. And I'll just kinda, I don't know, maybe [00:07:00] draw or I don't know. And that's why I got a job as a, um, the only job I could get actually was a job as a, uh, swabbing, uh, click swabbing at a bar after 2:00 AM.
From 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM. Chef came, it's like a bar and grill in Greenwich village in the neighborhood just to walk away from where we lived. So that's what I was doing. I, um, For about two or three weeks. Um, and I was stealing food from the, from the grill, from the restaurant part of the bar, uh, and, uh, I would always wear a raincoat to work and I got that from like the Marx brothers, you know, Yeah, spoons and stuff.
So that's where I got the idea. I wear a raincoat. Um, and then, uh, I would go to the restaurant partner and I would like a, like a rash [00:08:00] of bacon, you know? And I was sticking to my back then. I would wait by the door. She didn't lock me in. I never understood that, but they locked me I guess. So nobody could.
Break in, but I couldn't get out. So I had to be there from two until six, and then the chef, the morning chef would come in, he would open the door and then we'd go out. But I would always wait right by the door. Right, right. But as soon as they opened the door, I would talk to him or he would abode or anything like that.
And that was starving. Uh, and then Carl would steal food for me. Uh, when, when he went to review movies, you know, I guess they still do it, but then if you get him, cause he was reviewing movies, the same movies that the New York times guys were viewing and the big ones and all the neighborhoods and they go, and what they did is they showed you wine and the frozen shrimp, you know, the, the [00:09:00] culture impose.
So the Y you know, they get your like little fed little liquor, and then you go in and just bellow and you see the movie, you like the movie better. Oh yeah. And they also had, which was interesting because it counted was in those days, they actually served a real linen napkins, not, not paper napkins, man.
So, so he would take these linen napkins every time he at least go to three a week. take a linen napkin. Take a handful of cold shrimp napkin, wrap it up, put it in his pocket and he take it home for me to eat. So he was feeding me any and he was paying them. You know, if I missed the payment on the rent, he would kind of shut, you know, um, he would pay it, pay it for me.
Uh, So I would save the linen napkins. I thought that was really neat. And after about, I don't know, a month or two, they would just, [00:10:00] I would hang them all over and they would use linen white linen napkins. And then finally, one day he came in, she was like, I'm not going to do this anymore. What have I done?
You know, w why, why all of a sudden, you're not going to take shrimp for me.
And he said, because we were sued as smelling like fish. That's why yeah. He'll suit. Yeah. So that was the end of that. And so I had nothing to do during the day, which was what my plan was, but I realize the reality of that, which is man, it's a long day. If you have nothing to do, because you can hang out with this guy and that guy, but they have things to do so, but there was open mic nights.
In Greenwich village and that's where we were and that's where we [00:11:00] lived. And that's where I work at night. So I would go right before going to the bar to clean up the duct board and stuff. If I, if I never see another peanut shell, I will be very, um, and, uh, so I would go to the open mic nights there because they were free and you can just sit there for, you know, an hour or two.
Just listening to comedians and folk singers coffee. And I thought, you know, I was funny in high school. I won funniest in high school two years in a row. So I found funny and I can, I can do that. Sure. So I get up on stage and I was, God awful, man. I really was. Uh, it's not the same funny is not the same as hanging with your friends.
Yeah. As getting up on a stage and people want to laugh and that's what they're there, but, and here's the great bud about, and I, it, just [00:12:00] to this day, I love open mic nights because. You're you only have three to five minutes back and that's sometimes you would get 10. If you were going to close, right. You had shot the other night.
You go a little longer, but three to five minutes. So people will listen to you for three to five minutes, even if, even if you're bad, you know, they know you're going to be off and maybe the next guy will be really funny or it'd be a good folk singer, or they had patients. If I was bad, nobody Buddhists to get up the stage.
They, they just sit there. Oh, until you were finished and you get her off your next person. So it was really cool. And I was really because just, just talking and being funny and talk and hang it out. You just picking out stuff that you want to put on stage. You have to have specific stuff. Yeah. Okay. Until they left this [00:13:00] man, which was even more pressure.
So you'll, it's funny. It's funny when you wrote it. Yeah. So, but thank God because I do, I am a funny person. I mean, sooner or later, it starts you, you start to get the, the gist of it. And so after six months, I'm doing open mic nights. I was opening for Woody Allen, so cool man. And it was all because of open mic nights, the patients of the people, you know, in the beginning to sit there and not.
So I didn't have any guff, you know? Yeah. What was your material like back then when you got good enough to open telling only one joke. I remember not funny to see how to tell you how bad I was. Um, uh, the, the material that I had was like a, I was sleeping last night and a mosquito was buzzing around the room, which does happen, you know, [00:14:00] and I know I couldn't go to sleep, so it was buzzing and buzzing.
So what I did was I convinced the mosquito that I was a psychiatrist, and I asked him to lay down on the couch so I could psychiatry him. And then when he laid down on the. Or the couch. I slammed the couch up against the ceiling in question. Yeah. And that was where I was at. That was the kind of human ridiculous, trying to be ridiculous and funny.
But if ridiculous, isn't funny. It's just stupid. Yeah. Well, that's actually funny and that's actually funny and that non-sequitur stuff is good or, you know, 400 years later, it's somebody who thinks it's funny. Well, they did. Well, that's all I can say. Yeah. He sat there and waited for the next guy or folks.
Now you talk, you talk about your, your, um, [00:15:00] time on stage. Did you actually like write stuff out before you went up or did you never, did I ever write anything? And I didn't know, because I didn't know how to write a joke. I didn't know how to write a setup and a punchline because all of my stuff, when I was funny in high school and just with anybody or just with Carl the day before I got onstage, and wasn't funny, we would just, I would make the humor out of what was going on out of the reality, you know, what you were saying or what was going on and you just put.
Things together in your mind and you say it, you know, you find the mistake or the loophole or the irony going on, but to write it, you have to create an event. And then I couldn't do it. I, I may, it was the OCD. It was the dyslexia, it was ADHD. Uh, it was a lot of things I couldn't, [00:16:00] uh, But even when I was opening for Woody Allen and, and miles Davis and the loving spoonful, and I was doing arena events and, uh, I still never wrote anything.
What I did was the, uh, the way that I made my material, I was a star, a standup comedy star for at least two to three years. I was. Top of my forum opening for really star acts. Um, is that, uh, I never wrote anything. What I would do is you would have your hunks, you know, you get onstage and you go and you're, Oh, I got 10 minutes of really cool stuff.
All right. So if I knew I had 10 minutes. Uh, I've eventually I would break it out until you I'd have totally open for star. You'd have to have 30 minutes, but 10 minutes, what I developed is, okay, I got 10 minutes. So I would [00:17:00] say I would get up on stage. And I discovered this, that an audience will, I guess it was an open mic nights that turned me on to this and the audience will listen to you.
For approximately two minutes, even if you're not funny, it'd be, they just, they just sizing you up. They'll listen to you. Maybe it's going to say something interesting within a minute or two. They'll have their patients with two minutes after that you better pay off because then it's forget it then.
Boom. Book it off the stage. Where's the Kingston tree. So about a definite line. And I, so what I would do, I would talk about my day for two minutes, I had it down in my head, some sort of timing thing I would just get up and just, Oh, you know, flow. Just whatever. And if it wasn't funny being it, just going to the first joke, you know, the new, the, the, the good stuff to 10 minutes.
And sometimes if I was funny, just off the [00:18:00] top of my head for three to four minutes, you just keep going, you just play the role, you know? And then when they stopped laughing and you see, I could lose an interest, this new stuff that I'm just doing is not cutting it anymore. You go into your 10 minutes.
Right. And so now. I dunno if all comedians have this, but I do. And I I'm sure other comedians, do you have a photographic memory for laughs? Now, if I'm talking to you, uh, in a show talking to you audience, the first three minutes, first, two minutes, first minute, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. No less, blah, blah, blah.
Funny, laugh. Uh, funny, laugh, funny, laugh. Okay. And then they stopped laughing. I'm going into my 10 minutes. Boom. The next night. For whatever reason, I will only remember those three less. So I put them, I would start with. Uh, you know, minute [00:19:00] of just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then pulling those three lefts or what I thought were the three labs we remembered of the night before his opening monologue.
When I got laughs that would just come to me and they would, it would be perfectly formed from last night. I had a photo. Oh my God. Uh, so I had a photographic memory for, uh, I got, I gotta just, I'm gonna throw this away. Uh, I had a photographic memory for less than I think all comedians do have, so I never had to write anything because of that.
Right. You know, moving belt of, of information. Laughter I would just pick out the list and I did that for, for years, never writing anything, but that [00:20:00] formula of two to three minutes remembering the, uh, the thing from last night, putting it in and then moving it up and just on that conveyor belt. And then I would save the, you know, the funniest stuff for laugh.
Laughs. And get off now. As I became more and more proficient at this, I started to bring in critical thinking, which I never even thought I had. But the critical thinking was that's when the cops started to show up. Yeah. The critical thinking was where Lenny Bruce met the law. Yeah. You start talking about religion and, uh, drugs and the law.
And I thought all that was funny to me. Yeah. And it got bigger. Laughs. Interestingly enough. The more outlaw you get the bigger [00:21:00] laughs you get. Yeah. Oh, you're opening for the Kingston trio, which is not my crowd. And then guys come at you with a beer bottle upside down in your hand, across the dance floor.
Cause you're in a nightclub opening for the Kingston trio. And he's just saying to you, as he comes towards you, get the fuck off the stage and bring on a Kingston.
Whoa. Whoa. You just turned the corner. Did you make fun of Baptist or what your, why did you make fun of Baptist or what? No, it was talking about genitalia and, uh, and religion and we had all Baptists and no naked. I was talking about that. God, God, the word. The word gut. I have a bit where I had a microphone and I just took a little person.
And so, Oh, you know, here's the thing about religion, [00:22:00] which I don't understand, you know? And he has, well, here's this little guy, you know, and I put them on a top of the mic stand and I early talk to him. I go, Hey man, how are you doing? Wow. That's so that's really unique. I made you it's really cool. Which step between your legs, boom guy with, Hey, what the fuck?
Fuck. Yes, he did say, fuck. Get the fuck off the stage in regard to Kingston trio. It's I'm talking about a new naked guy. Get the fuck off mistake because this guy was, as Lindsay said, a starker. Okay. Yeah. With a beer bottle upside down in his head, I just. Okay, man, you got the stage and then, uh, you know, so I was fired.
Yeah. But I, I, before I was fired, I quit. Yeah. I mean, cause I, I that's the one thing that probably saved my, my sanity is I don't care if I'm fired. [00:23:00] I've been homeless in my life. Uh, and it was clean. I was cleaning duck boards before, you know, I was opening for the Kingston trio. And man, you know, my roommate was stealing food for me.
What the fuck? You mean? You know, you don't have to stay, not, not get upstate. I'm getting off the stage. I don't want that. But if he says you're fired it fine, man, I've been there. I've done this. Yeah. No, no biggie. Where you, where you physical, when you were on stage, did you, did you like act out when you were doing the stories or the character, you know, get off the stage and that would hold the boom, but no, I wasn't.
Physical that mic is your key to far away from that mic? Yeah. Uh, well, you're of a, um, I mean, you're extremely tall, uh, especially for, I mean, you were born in 40 and you're 64, right? [00:24:00] Yeah. Yeah. So I'm in I'm six, five, and I was born in 64 and I'm in like the 99th percentile. So you're in like the 99.9 seventh percentile of height.
Did, did that, did your height play a factor in how crowds responded to you? No. No. Except. My manager did. Um, I was discovered, I was discovered by Bob Dylan and that's, that's a fact, uh, cause I was in the village and he was in the village and he would come see me. I didn't know this until he told me. Um, but he would come and see me all the time.
And he brought me to his manager. Uh, uh, man, I got a blank on it now. Uh, Oh, man. That's so sad.
I've never forgotten his name. He brought me to his manager, uh, come to me later. Uh, so he brought me to the manager and he asked me, [00:25:00] Hey, and he asked his manager to come and see me. He said, I want you to handle this SKUs. That's fucking funny, man. So he brought me down and then, so I went to his office, uh, and no, he, uh, What did you do?
Oh, he invited me up to Bearsville to hang with the band and, and Dylan and, and that whole, this, uh, all those people. And one day Robbie Robertson come to me and said, w w um, when we're doing the movie and Bob said, you could write a movie. I don't know where that came from. I'd never climbed, but I see it still, all of these funny you can read, you know, uh, so that's funny with junior cert because they can do things that other people can't, everybody can do that.
Yeah. So, uh, Robbie called [00:26:00] me on hold and say, Hey, you know, Bob said, you can write a movie. Why don't you write? And I said, yes, because I always say yes, you know? Yeah, sure. Yeah. So I wrote this, uh, kind of ballad of reading jail by Oscar Wilde type of, uh, treatment at all, rhymed for like four pages of this God who comes to earth.
It was cool. Yeah, but that's not a move. Yeah. Writing is writing. That's what I thought. So anyway. One day, Robbie comes to my house and he says, Hey, you know, what's going on with the, with the writing, it's kind of long, uh, you got anything? And I said, yeah, I finished it. Here. It is. So I gave him, I don't know, five, six pages.
I said, as a treatment, you know, we know that's fine. We need a story. So he tell you and he didn't read it. He just took it. And he'd split. He just showed up on my door and [00:27:00] said, you got the thing I got. Yeah. Here. Boom. And he left next day. Um, he comes to my door again, cause he had rented a house up there cause they, cause now he had one, her brother's who was working with Robbie, paid me money to, to now do this treatment.
So I had Brittany and I rented a house. He comes to my house the second day and he says, knock, knock, knock. Oh, Robbie. Hi. Was it? Well, you only, wow. You read it already. Yeah. Did you really write this? Yeah. Mind if I show it to Bob? Yeah. Okay. And then he just, boom. Okay. I didn't know what was going on then the next day I got another kind of door.
I hope it is Bob in the band. You write this. I go, yeah, [00:28:00] what's going on? He's getting the car. So we all piled in this station wagon
and we go to his manager's house and he wakes his manager up. This is like 11 o'clock in the morning or 10 o'clock in the morning, dad, you know, but they wake him up to manage their way come. He comes down his pajamas and bathroom. Then we're in the kitchen. And he goes, Whoa, what's going on? He says, Larry just wrote this.
You should, you should have hired. You should sign him, sign him. He's a funny guy. And he wrote this and he needs a manager. So we, he and Bob hands, his thing, it's his writing. And he doesn't look at it. He just takes it in his hand. And he goes, uh, and I guess, and they all said, yeah, he's funny. He's funny.
You should sign him. You should sign him. And we just, this is the answer to your [00:29:00] question. He said, he's too tall to be funny.
And that kind of put the kibosh on the whole party. That's funny. I mean, he couldn't think, no, he's not called. They know nobody's funny. Nice to talk to me funny. And so, and then he said, I'm going back to bed and then he just went back. Yeah.
So they handed the thing back to me and they said, well, Oh, he said, well then how about getting this published in Playboy? He said, no, I'm going back to pit bull. And Bob says to me, he says, well, that was my shot, man. So that was nice of him. No, they drove me back home. And, uh, that was the end of that. So I w I went home years later, uh, I met the guy who paid me, [00:30:00] the guy from Warner brothers, the producer who paid Robbie to pay me a whole lot of money, thousands of thousands of dollars.
And I saw him at an airport and I recognized him and he saw me. So I just went over to him. And as I'm walking over to him and I hadn't talked to him or seen him since way back, couple of years, years since that happened. But he knew exactly why I was walking towards him or I got to him. He said, it's okay.
Don't worry about it.
I'm sorry, man. I'm sorry. Okay. Don't worry about it. We wrote it off.
Yeah. So yeah, being tall. I still, I think I knew what I finally, what he was talking about in movies. The shorter you are the funnier you can be because you can beat up tall, over tall people is what Charlie [00:31:00] Chaplin's host . Yeah, he were so tiny that he was always a hero. You know, we always get the big fat guys to be, you know, the enemy.
Right. I think that's maybe what, but as a pharmacist stand up. No, there's a lot of tools. Stand up. Yeah, there is. Yeah, there, there certainly is now. And it's funny how, I mean, you've been in movies and TV for a long time. It's funny how you don't understand the height of the people on the screen until I see you come up because it's all relative to you.
So, um, just same height. So everybody's a head shorter than you. And I'm like, okay. So they're all about, you know, Five seven, five eight. And, and, and there's, I didn't, I didn't realize that until, uh, in the beginning of my career that did play a big factor. They would say he's too tall for the star. He's going to be with, he [00:32:00] can't be, that was a rule.
You can't be taller than the star. You're with the rule for a long time. And it doesn't, it doesn't apply anymore. But back when I first started. Yeah, he's too tall for the park. Yeah. There's nothing you can do about that. Yeah, no. And like, um, uh, it is, uh, uh, big time, uh, Shane, you know, the movie Shane. Yeah.
Okay. Who is that? Who is the star of Gary Cooper? No, no, no, no, no. Gary Cooper. It was his, he, his father was the head of a studio. Um, let me see if I can find it. Whoever the star of Shane was. The guy who played Shane, he was very short, very short. Now movies first started, I don't know if you know this, but a lot of people in Hollywood know this, that a lot of the stars in the black and white [00:33:00] Island movies.
Definitely. And then when silence started to go black and white, all the stars, then in that era, We're short and had big heads. This is true. Like he's too tall to be an actor. He's shortened got a big head. He can be an actor. Wow. And the reason was for the closeups. And when you walking in and doing like a cowboy, you know, where from your belt to your head?
Oh boy. Well, You want to have somebody with a big face? I don't know the real reason, but it's true. And it's been published that way. I mean, it's a little known, but well documented fact. Yeah. No, no, it doesn't, you know, that's all that fell away. Right, right, right. For a while. So I mean, things that you couldn't change had a lot to do with whether you were hired in that [00:34:00] call, having a bigger head, Jord being tiny and funny, weird rules, man.
But yeah, it, it, it comes into play. Yeah. So, uh, tell me about the committee and how that started. Well, okay. Um, so I was, uh, Being pulled off the stage by the police is his, how that started for the Kingston trio. I was doing my God stuff, my genitalia stuff, my legal stuff. And, um, I got into the God, the God thing, actually with the little guy on the thing, it seems that God and a little guy that was, I typically walk audiences, get them off the stage, call the police.
So I was in the middle of my bit. Everything was going great. I was opening for the loving spoonful it's big arena, Washington university in St. [00:35:00] Louis, Missouri. Big big time and laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh. And they go, okay, now let's talk about God. Wow. I just felt, you know, I don't know, two, 3000 sphincters you're shut like that.
Um, and I just kept going, but I, I felt it, man is a thing you can just feel really sad. Okay. I'm going to get this little guy and I put them on a thing. No, nothing silence out there and it's Oh, what is this little thing between your legs? Boom. Get off the stage. Get off the stage. I said I just was blown away.
Okay. Kingston, trio beer bottle, a starker. I understand that. College students rock roll, man. So that's what I said to them. I said, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. You know, your college [00:36:00] students show, what are you booing? How could you BU they shut up for them? Yeah, me talking to them. That was cool.
Whoa. He's talking to us. Wow. So I said, you know, so they calm down. They shut up. Very cool. And I said, yeah, I mean, that's ridiculous. Okay. So where was I? Oh yeah. Okay. So what do you got between a booboo and they, now they started pulling this, the rests offer the, the seats in this arena, in this auditorium, but wouldn't armrests.
They. Pulled them off and we're throwing them up on his page. The first three rows get off the stage and the loving spoonful often the, uh, in the wings, they're going, no, keep talking, keep talking. What are you crazy? [00:37:00] No, stay healthy. They wanted a riot. I went, yeah, well, they, they, they kept a man, a riot, a real riot.
So I'm going. No, no. And I go, wait, wait, stop, stop. Let me stop no distance. This is all ridiculous, you know? And they say, so he say, I'm going to, I'm going to go on with this anyway. No, no. I said, okay. I made a deal with them. That's what stopped them. I said, okay. Okay. Okay. No more, no more God stuff. I do the clean stuff.
And I, you know, went to bet chose what was clean. It was okay. And I did that and then it was fine. They had gone over. So about what about 10 more minutes? And I started to get the, really the big laughs that you expect and stuff. Uh, so when I got this really big laugh, I go, okay, now we're going to talk about God.
and then they got really angry, but they had no more, you know, armrest to pull off. They were all littered on the stage. So I stopped because they had the lights on the lights up. I see. In the back row. No girl's ever threw anything. I didn't see any girls through any . I seen the back row. The guys in the back rows are pulling their arm rests off and passing them down.
Same munition, come rolling down. And then boom, boom. And as they're throwing this and passing this stuff down, I see a phalanx of cops, 10 cops on each wall aisle. Come marching down up on the stage. And I just stood there, you know, and sat a silence and they stopped throwing the stuff, watching the cops come up and they just both not angry.
[00:39:00] I don't think these cops understood why they were taking this person off. The whole show arrived. And they said, he's up there now? I know he's piled in. And there was this one guy on stage and they'd come down when they show the cops. So there's nothing going on and they come up and they just very nicely took me by one arm.
Each copy, each guarded by 18 other cops walked me off the stage to the applause of the audience. And then they held me back there. They didn't hold me. They just stood by me. And I go, you know, it's empty back there. There's nothing going on back there. So the other cops split, the 18 cops just left and I'm standing there with these two guys that's what's going on now.
And they said, we have to guard you until the loving, spoonful start [00:40:00] playing why? And they go well, because you're going to run out there and do it again. So would you stood there while the stage crew put up the musical instruments and then they started to play and once they started to play, they said, bye.
That was it. And so I just, the long story how I got, but I enjoy, I enjoy the students. Yeah. That's, that's, that's a great story. So we, we fly now cause I was with the loving spoonful and there was, I was probably their group. So we, we, we flew together and took buses together. We're going up to Northwestern university, which has a Michigan.
So he flew up, get on a bus, go to the hotel, get out and check in. And as we're going to the elevators, three men stand between us and the elevators. And these are the three men, a police [00:41:00] captain. A priest in the white collar, the whole shtick white hair, white collar, and a gentleman in a suit with white hair who turned out to be the Dean of Northwestern.
And they say, is there a Larry Hankin in the group? So the two managers who were with us, there was four 11 spoonful, Larry Hankin, and two managers. Okay. The two managers immediately stepped between the group and the three guys, and they say, what is this about? And they say, um, we have, uh, we've had a phone call from Washington university from the Dean and they turn to us immediately and they say, and they didn't mention my name.
They just pointed like this. They go. Why don't you? I want you gentlemen to go up to his room. You pointed to me, but then want to say my name. So would identify me. [00:42:00] Cool. We say go up to his room, lock the door. Don't let anybody in except us too. Okay. And we just silently went and got in and they guarded.
And now in the room there, the loving, spoonful, it just like you got to do your show me do it, man riots so badly. I mean, uh, you know, after a while I was thinking, well, maybe riot, right. May not be that bad for me. That's not good. No comedians for riots is not good. Yeah. I think. And Lenny Bruce, me and the cops just murdered.
No. Yeah. It's literally. Well, no, what's the opposite literally or figuratively. Yeah. Yeah. So, so we, we stood and then finally there's a knock on the door and who is it? It's us. Okay. They let us have all right. We made a deal. Here's the deal. Okay. They don't want you to go on. They said to [00:43:00] me, they don't want the comedian go on.
Definitely. They say, we go. Why? Why? I said the Dean of Washington university called the police here. And said that the loving spoonful have a filthy mouth comedian opening for them on those days. Like the death warrant. Yeah. That was Bruce. That was a female comedian and I was a filthy man communion. So they seem to kind of go on and you can't go on.
And they said, well, here's the deal. The deal is he can go on. If he doesn't do any filthy mouth material, the minute he does any kind of filthy mouth material is shutting out the lights and the concert is off. So it's up to you guys. We're going to dinner and then they split.
So we're discussing that you got to do it, you're in it. Yeah. But it's, you know, it's good for you, but not for me. But I said, well, okay, man, I'm going to do my, [00:44:00] my let's see what happens, you know? So I went out and I just did verbatim the act I was going to do for Washington university. Nothing. They just laugh.
I knew it. Nothing happened? No, no, no. Ryan, no, they, they only laugh. Yeah.
So that was that. But I called my manager who bind by now was Woody Allen's manager, Jeff. And they said, Hey Jack, man, I can't go through this. I mean, I'm a middle class Jewish kid. I'm not, I'm not prepared for this cop thing. And this bullshit that's going on. It's not fun anymore. No, I was doing it for the fun, not for the money to travel.
I was doing it for the, I love making people laugh and it's not hot, you know? So he said, why don't you join second city? And then you own the theater and you talk about the same thing [00:45:00] Lenny Bruce talks about, but they throw the people out, not the actors out. And I go, okay. So I auditioned for. Second city, uh, with, um, Robin Williams, as a matter of strange coincidence, you know?
So, uh, I auditioned for second city and I got in and then I was there for two months, three months, and we had too many people in the company. It was nine people. Uh, it only works with five or six people cause it's the all improv. So nobody knows when, or they're not going to go on. And it was nine people.
Sometimes people don't go on at all, you know, so that, so they, they let us go me and, and, and, uh, Jack Burns, they let us go. And, uh, I was just couch surfing in Chicago. With no income for about two weeks and then a guy named Alan [00:46:00] Meyerson, who I addition for second city in New York, came through and said, you know, where is there a guy comes?
I was in the bar. I hadn't worked, but I would hang around the theater. They were the only people I knew in Chicago. So I'd go to the theater every night and just hang out. Uh, and till I had, you know, went back to my couch whose counsel was sleeping on. Yeah. And a guy comes in and says, zero, Larry Hankin down here and you go, yeah, me, what?
He goes, there's a car outside. They want to talk to you now, why I go out? It's a snow storm outside Chicago, and there's a car right there. It's a station wagon it's packed, has got trunks and well, all kinds of bullshit piled on top. And the car is jam packed with people and, uh, two kids. So like seven people, at least minimum in the car, basically it was Alan.
Meyerson the [00:47:00] director of the committee, his wife, three or four other actors and two kids and all their stuff on the top. And they say, hop in. What do you mean? ? I mean, I knew them from the audition, but w where are you going? We'll go to San Francisco. We're going to start the committee. We w we want you, uh, Oh my God.
No way, man. I mean, you got to theater. No, well, I, yeah, well, we're gonna, we're gonna raise money out there. No, look, send me a ticket. I'm going back to New York. That's the only home I know. Um, So send me a plane pick and I'm not going goodbye. And I went back inside and they pulled away and then sure enough, two weeks later I got a plane ticket.
So I just flew out cause I had nothing going on. And uh, I flew out to the committee and in the two weeks, I guess they had called ahead and had done all this pre-work before they even drove to Chicago for me. And they had a, uh, a [00:48:00] theater being started, they were building, they had. Hollowed out, uh, uh, uh, Chinese, uh, uh, supermarket, a small one, but enough for a theater, big enough for a theater 500 seats.
Yeah. And they were building it. So we were Hearst in this theater and also with the, uh, mine true, which is a famous company in San Francisco already. And we shared a rehearsal space and that's how the committee started with, uh, and the rule was in the beginning. Once the theater was built, we rehearsed for two months, two or three months, and the theater was finished and we opened a theater advertised and the rule was w one, the first rule was don't quit your day gig.
I didn't have a day gig. So how did they gig? Don't quit it. We, you know, we don't know what's going on. Uh, and then, uh, the second thing was, um, if there was more people in the audience than was on stage, [00:49:00] we didn't have to do a show. So for a while, there's only, only four people in the audience in the, in the show.
So you don't have to go on yay and still get it. Yay. $150 a week. I think we're good. Yeah. Well that went on for a while and then one day, man, and I'll never forget this. This is one of my big days of my life. We were inside rehearsing. Uh, the afternoon of a, like a Saturday night show, we were hurting a couple of new things.
So we were inside until the box office opened. So we're hearing like some from, from three till six 30 or something like that. So right before we broke up, uh, you know, go have dinner or something like that. You got a half hour before the show starts, whatever I said, I'm going to go outside for a second.
Just before they broke it up. So it was about six 30. I go [00:50:00] outside and there is a line around the block. Wow. I'm not talking about around the corner. I'm seeing the end of the line was here and the beginning of the line was here around the block. It blew my mind. I ran across the street just to see the whole thing.
And it was amazing. And I ran back inside and I got it. My best friend at the time, ambled in camp, a bus, he was a folk singer at the time. Gibson and camp focusing it Gibson. Yeah. I have handled him. Come outside, come outside quick, quick, quick, what, man, what? No, you got to see this man. And I took him outside at the Holy cow line.
Right. And then we walked the line. All the way around the block, just saying hello to people all the way around the block and just, uh, just Martin and, and from then on that's [00:51:00] that's all we had. Did somebody discover you and the word of mouth got out or what happened and to make that happen or the committee in particular?
Uh, the, the committee to fill up that theater? Yeah, it was just word of mouth, man, because also it was a Berkeley and, uh, Uh, you know, the Berkeley steps and Mario Savio. I mean, it was the sixties man. We were there a couple of months before the sixties exploded. And when it exploded, I'm talking about exploded.
We were on the cusp of the, the new comedy, the new, I mean, it was Nixon. And not in other words, everybody was hating everything that was going on, you know, the sixties, the Vietnam war and everything like that. And we were doing that stuff. And all of a sudden Mobby or Sabio at Berkeley was saying, [00:52:00] Hey man, Vietnam is bad.
Nixon is bad. This is bad. This is bad. The community is doing that kind of stuff. Let's go see him and boom. So the sixties came through the door. Every star in the United States came through our door for the, for tenure. Well, for five years, easy from 19. 60 until 65 and then we just kind of leveled off and I stayed the whole time.
I was there from opening doors to the closing doors, 10 years, 10 years, the sixties to the seventies, uh, by 67, we were just getting, you know, crowds and stuff like a normal theater, you know, we were doing fine. Uh, but it wasn't, we weren't, uh, you know, the. I dunno the taste of the week, the clothes, the clothing of the week.
Beautiful. Uh, but [00:53:00] in that time, uh, penny Marshall, like every star in Hollywood was flying up because we were as famous then as second city. But people in Hollywood who wanted to go to see second city, that was like a plane flight, the hotel thing. And it was like two, three days. It was a weekend. Right? For San Francisco, you could fly up for $35 round trip, you know, fly up in the afternoon, see the show.
You could actually sleep in your bed at night. If you want to get a late flight or you just sleep over in a hotel and fly up and fly back the next day, which they did because they, then they could see the next day. Know you fly up late Saturday afternoon and see a show. Go to a hotel then. Tourist San Francisco for half a day and fly back.
It was like a little, you know, a mini vacation. So all the stars. So we were known down there and, and we were being flown back and forth. Hey, come on down and do us a [00:54:00] TV sitcom. But Kenny Marshall was the one who discovered me. She specifically said, Get Larry Hankin down here, uh, because she was doing Laverne and Shirley and she wanted to, uh, the episode that I was, that she wanted, she wanted me to for a specific episode was a Laverne and Shirley were going to their prom and the Vern penny Marshall wanted there was a dance sequence and she wanted a physical comedian.
And she said, Larry Hankin is a tall. She mentioned, yeah. Oh, she said, he's a tall physical comedian, which I am. So she said, I want to dance with him, you know, get him down. And I wanted that to be so, and they told me that, you know, so I went down and I, I did the thing and, um, the, the, the rehearsal was really funny.
Because we were rehearsing a dance routine. Now she needs [00:55:00] a physical comedian. She really is more physical than she is like verbal, but TV sitcoms, a verbal. So she did that, but she wanted to make it physical, you know, like, uh, dips and twirls. And you know, she, she wanted him to make a thing out of it because, uh, she thought, well, Larry can do that.
So let's, let's do it. So we're rehearsing. And she wanted to do this dip where I dipped her and I dropped her. Now she knows how to fall. She's really a good physical, she probably could be stunt person. If she ever wanted, you know, back in the day, she could have been a stunt person. So she said, just drop me.
So I didn't want to do that because I was afraid I would injure her. You know, I was just looking out for my job and I didn't, I don't know. So I said, well, what about if I dropped you on the couch? In other words, I dipped you by the couch and you fell on it. And then I fell on you see, then that I don't hurt you, but then I can get myself into the choke.
It [00:56:00] was good fun. She just wants to be funny. She don't care about who does the thing. No, she's really great. So we're rehearsing and all of a sudden, I hear, we hear, Hey, what's going on? And, um, is that like, well, no. Okay. Something else I just spoke about, um, I shouldn't say, Hey, what's going on? And you look up and it's the producer director of the show.
Uh, um, Marshall, Gary Marshall. Yeah, her brother he's what's going on. And she says, well, we're rehearsing the dance state. She's no, you're not. What's this touchy feely going on.
And she says, what are you talking about? This there with the couch thing he's laying on you. What is this touchy feely? No, there's no touchy feely here. Well, this is a [00:57:00] dance routine where we're rehearsing a dance routine. It says, well, you ears day. This routine with no touchy feely. That's all. Okay. Got it.
And I look at penny, I go. I mean, it's her idea, you know, I didn't say that, but I'm looking at her like what's going on? And she just shrugs. And she said to me, he's my older brother.
It's like family. Yeah. Okay. So we cut. So we cut that. I don't, you know, I mean, The crap that you run into. There's no way you can think ahead to that kind of critical thinking. Doesn't work in situations like that.
So, uh, that's how I, okay. So [00:58:00] I do the show. Okay. And then I get a call about three days later after it aired. And I got to, I think he was in was even before it aired, but three days later I get a call. Uh, hi, my name is I'm so-and-so. I'm a, I'm an agent. Yeah, I'm an agent. No, I hear you didn't have an agent.
That's why I called which like one. Yeah. How about coming in? I go, okay, fine. And so I went in and he, we just talked for, I don't know, two or three minutes. You want an agent? Yeah. How about me? You're fine. Okay. Boom. And I said, wait a minute, how do you even know that I exist? You know, I w I I'm in San Francisco, I just came down here, but his little thing here, he says, well, what we do is which I thought was kind of cool.
Let me said me and my partner, we just, every once in a while, I'll go to the production companies. We in person, we don't call you, go in person. And we say any new, interesting [00:59:00] people. Come through, you know, that you, uh, auditioned any interesting people come through that don't have, uh, an agent and they said, yeah, there's a guy, Larry Hankin, tall guy.
He was already saying, he's kind of funny. He doesn't have an agent. We just called him and he's okay. That's how we, so that's how I got into show business. Yeah, that's the only, and then the money was so good and that's the trap. The money is so good. You drop your thing. Stand up. You know, I was making so much money.
I didn't have to work. Uh, I didn't have to tour. Um, I would just wait by the phone and then, you know, every two or three weeks I would get a job or four weeks, you know, and you, you got enough money so that you can save what, you know, through the dry times. So it didn't, they pay you a lot of money, but over a year it doesn't come to amount of money, a lot of money at all, because you're paying [01:00:00] rent when you're not working all that time.
Yeah. Yeah. So it's just, you know, an ordinary stuff, but at least I didn't have to tour, which is kinda, you know, making, cause I was alone, no agent or nobody was booking my flights for me or getting hotels and stuff. So that's how I, you know, I started doing TV sitcom at, to my, to my, uh, to, I think to the detriment of my psyche.
After a couple of years, it started to depress me because I was seeing other people's words. And, you know, I made my bones by working off the top of my head. Yeah. And I'd been very successful opening for really big acts. You know, I was, I did the Playboy circuit. No, I w I worked Las Vegas. You know, and then, but, but they're paying you so much money, you think?
Yeah. When your lump sum, there you go. Wow. I don't have to do this anymore. So yeah. We're like a vacation for the first year or two, [01:01:00] and then you start going and then sometimes you're standing on a set. And, um, um, I'm standing in a setting looking at myself in the mirror and it's a grown man. Like you, Larry bring wearing this stuff here.
What, why are you saying these words? These are, these are not your words. So it starts to, and then finally, But then, you know, something like John Houston or, uh, uh, bill hater or, um, uh, Larry David or John Houston, you know, you go, well, it's worth it kind of wow. I mean, uh, because, uh, I was never in it for the money.
I was, I was always in it for. For, for cool stuff that I thought was cool. John, you and I didn't, I didn't ask what the salary was. John Houston. You got to audition for John Houston. Um, there, yeah. [01:02:00] Yeah, no doubt thinking, thinking about, uh, what, you know, obviously the saying other people's lines and working off a script and stuff like that.
That was, that was what brought on the depression. But you have, um, You've gained a respect within the industry that don't people give you a little bit of leeway now. Um, they let Larry Hankin be Larry Hankin. Yeah. But in the beginning they're paying you a lot of money, so you can just keep your mouth shut.
You do it. And what did we say? But you're paying so much money. And then, then the, the go-to argument is then don't take the job.
Okay. Hey, I mean, I get it. Yeah. So what are you complaining about? You're saying where's, you know, like, why did you take the job? Give me so much money, then shut your mouth. And I mean, they don't, it's not [01:03:00] that there's no anger or Holly will, that's my anger. That's not good enough. They just say, just, just say the words and hit your Mark.
They're very nice. They were nice people. Very, uh, very social. So how did you, it's just not how I work, but to answer your question specifically, if I keep the word of either work with the rules and the director, or don't take the job. So I know I don't like doing, saying these words, but I took the job. So I know my place and when I'm in front of the camera, I am a, I'm serious.
This is what I do for a living. Right, right. So I don't, if the camera is on, [01:04:00] I'm a professional person and there's no getting around that. I mean, I can joke with you all I want in these stories. Yeah. But if there's a camera and they turn it on and they say, action, Larry, I, I'm not Larry. I'm the character.
And I do what tells the story of the narrative.