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Interview: Zach Galifianakis

By PETER KEOUGH  |  October 5, 2010

Do you have comics who inspired you?
Growing up, my uncle had Cheech & Chong records. But my cousins and my brother and family and friends were actually more influences than anyone. My brother and I used to do sketches about the Iran-Contra affair, and we would perform it in front of my parents. I didn't have much access to comedy albums. People in my town weren't listening to George Carlin or anything. It was more this very organic thing. I mean, I love Eddie Murphy, I love Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and after when I went to college, I paid attention.

It was your calling?
Yeah, from an early age I knew I wanted to figure out how to do it. I went to college and did the college thing because I promised my parents I would have something to fall back on. I had a nervous breakdown in college and quit and went to New York, with the intention of being in show business, but I had no idea how to go about it. I was really desperate. I mean, I took a couple of acting classes, but I was laughing during them. They're therapy sessions, most of these classes in New York. People were crying. It wasn't for me. So I started doing stand-up in the back of a hamburger restaurant in Times Square. I was a busboy in a strip joint [at the time]. I met a woman and she said, "Why don't you try stand-up?"

Wait. You had a nervous breakdown in college?
Yeah. Where I'm from, you don't talk about it, you just keep going.

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  Topics: Features , Movies, Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm,  More more >
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