I was a janitor at City Hall, in Cambridge, put myself through college. We'd sit around and I'd tell jokes, make everyone laugh, and they said, "Lenny, you should run for mayor." And I didn't realize they were kidding.
They punished me — they took me out of my janitor's job and put me cleaning garbage trucks from the inside out. I said, "Listen, I'll never run again, give me my old job back." Later on, I applied for a lead paint inspector's job and I remember the interview. They said, "What do you know about lead paint?" And I said, "Well, I know you don't eat it." And I got the job.
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU'RE WAITING FOR WORD ON WHETHER YOUR SHOW WILL BE PICKED UP. DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP SOME IRONS IN THE FIRE? Unfortunately for me, being an actor is a great job when you're working, and it sucks when you're not. Eighty-two percent of members of the Screen Actors Guild are unemployed. You look at the actors that are on TV or films — it's the same people, they work all the time. You got your George Clooneys, your Brad Pitts, your Angelina Jolies, you know, Gwyneth Paltrow, that whole gang. Then you got the other guys — worker bees, drones. I've been really fortunate, I've been blessed, I've worked a lot over the last 20 years. Denis Leary is one of my best friends — that guy, whenever he does a project, he usually calls me.
I UNDERSTAND THIS SHOW IS A BENEFIT FOR YOUR SISTER, WHO HAS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. CAN YOU TELL US HOW SHE'S DOING? Actually, I have two sisters with MS and that struck me as kind of odd, to have two girls in one family — I come from a family of eight and two of my sisters have multiple sclerosis. One of them, Rosemary, was just diagnosed about four years ago. And my sister Bernice, who we're doing this for, has been confined to a wheelchair for, I guess, going on 16, 17 years. And the reason I'm doing this — she had been married for 38 years and her husband decided that he didn't want to be married anymore and she's pretty much on her own. We're a close-knit family. She's one of the most spiritual people I've ever met in my life. She was totally against this. She felt embarrassed. She said, "I don't want charity." I said, "It's not charity, we're doing dinner and a show and you'll get some money. That's all."