Interview: Andy Richter

By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  November 25, 2009

I always liken it to people hearing about a restaurant, having read good reviews, and finally deciding to go to the restaurant, and then running back into the kitchen to tell the chef how to cook the food.  It gets irritating when you’re the guy who’s supposed to be funny, and the ones who aren’t think they have good ideas on how you can be funny.  Granted, [comedy] is a very ephemeral skill in that sometimes what you’re doing works and sometimes it doesn’t. So, I’ve learned to put myself in situations where I can do what I do and be happy doing it, and make people happy doing it. Life’s too short. Have a good time.

I was just talking to Jonathan [Groff] about this actually; somebody sent me a link to a bunch of stories about the Andy Barker P.I. DVD release, and some reviewer wrote, "This clever show represents another one of Andy Richter’s hopeless attempts at prime time stardom.’" "Hopeless attempts," like I have "prime time stardom" needlepointed above the mantle. I’m just trying to make a good show that lasts! The notion of ‘prime time stardom’ is horseshit anyway. [Those articles] drive me crazy because it makes me feel bad about humanity, just how shitty everybody is about everything. Everybody’s always trying to say something snotty.

Let’s switch gears and talk about happy things; namely, your crushing defeat of Wolf Blitzer in the name of charity on an episode of celebrity Jeopardy!. If you could hand-pick competitors for another Jeopardy! round, who would you choose?
Let’s see. Should I pick dumb people so I could beat them, or should I pick smart people so it’s a challenge?That’s the question of the hour.
What’s interesting about this whole invitational tourney is that it’s spread out over a year, so they’re doing nine initial shows, so there will be nine people in three semi-final rounds in April, which will all be shot on the same day. And then the final. should I make it that far, will be taped on that same day as well.  I’m  just curious as to see, as the time goes one, who my competition is going to be.  I like the fact that it’s different walks of celebrity life; sports people and news people and actors and comedians, a whole different mix. And it’s also good because I think the others think I’m probably dumb. They see me on a talk show being the lumpy guy and I’ve played a lot of idiots. So it’s good to not be dumb.  Maybe that’s a testament to my incredible acting skills?

Why did you pick St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as your charity?
St Jude’s is a place that provides free care to kids with cancer. It’s hard to deny the worthiness of them.

Any suggestions on Thanksgiving dishes?
I grew up in a small town in Illinois and a good thing that farm folk used to do at a ‘fancy’ dinner, was, for the bread portion of the meal they would have huge cinnamon rolls instead of regular dinner rolls. I remember going to a wedding rehearsal dinner where the food was ham, roast beef, fried chicken, broccoli and cauliflower smothered in cheese, and cinnamon rolls. And the mother of the family went, “It’s just simple farm food!” but she said it with a real edge like, I know what I’m doing to you, but I’m still playing the country naivete card. You can’t eat anything in Illinois and get out of the way of a heart attack bomb.

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