My real anger comes from the fact that from the time I was kid until now, it's gotten worse. And that my generation, in a sense, is a major letdown. It really is to have ended up at this point in time. Mine was a generation that had everything and understood the concept of the common good. That's not communist, that's the only way in which a civilized society can exist. Unless you want to really believe that Ayn Rand knew what she was talking about.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOME OF THE YOUNGER MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE AND YOUR ACT? WHAT DO THEY LIKE ABOUT IT? I've always felt like I appeal to the younger members of the audience, because that's really the time when you start to feel your first rage. You've got puberty to deal with, and you're dealing with an adult population that doesn't speak to you.
Every generation goes through stuff, but the common link is that growing up is a pain in the ass, and it's frustrating. My anger appeals to that sense of frustration. It says, "Good luck, kids. You can be frustrated and angry at any age."
YOU STUDIED AT YALE DRAMA SCHOOL. ARE THERE THINGS IN YOUR PERFORMANCE THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO DO BECAUSE OF THAT EXPERIENCE? Hopefully, because I was a playwright, my writing is different because of having that training. I watched these great actors for five years while I was there, and I'm sure that had a profound effect.
I did a lot of work with Mark Linn Baker, from Perfect Strangers. He and I have known each other for years, and he taught me a great deal about comedy and how it works. I have other friends from there who also have done that. It also has to do with god knows how much I watched the Marx Brothers and Jack Benny and all of that kind of comedy, all the way up to Lenny Bruce and George Carlin.
JACK BENNY WAS MAYBE THE BEST AT GETTING A LAUGH FROM JUST A QUIET, SLOW BURN REACTION, AND YOU DO A VERSION OF THAT TOO. YOU USE SILENCE TO BUILD INTO THE LAUGH.I'm sure it had an unconscious effect on me. But, Mark would always say, "Watch Benny. He holds." It took me a long, long time as a comic to get used to using silence, because if you do clubs long enough, you're basically afraid that someone during the silence is going to yell, "And fuck you, cocksucker!"
WHAT DO YOU IN BOSTON WHEN YOU'RE IN TOWN? I like walking around Boston. I did a play at the A.R.T. way back. A Chris Durang play. And, that had a big effect on my comedy. I literally would do my play and then three or four times a week would go do stand-up at what was Catch A Rising Star. Or a couple of the other clubs around. Mainly at Catch, because it was right there in Cambridge. It was great. I'd watch a lot of really good comics.
WHO DO YOU REMEMBER FROM THOSE DAYS? Tony V. David Cross. Cross Comedy was there. I spent a lot of time with them. Don Gavin, I saw on occasion. Don was just great. It was the late '80s.