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Episode 50

Writing Memoirs & The Keys to Comedy featuring Steve Bluestein

Episode  50
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Do unhappy childhoods carve comedians or is it the comedians who best survive the chaos? Steve Bluestein has both theories and stories and he implores us to be kind to one another because nobody’s childhood is perfect and we can all use some love and encouragement. Steve’s new book Point of Pines celebrates the little Massachusetts community that helped him know his worth. Steve’s is a world class comedian, playwright, podcaster and author. His wit and wisdom will delight and enlighten you. Plus Fritz and Weezy are recommending Blue Miracle, The Morning Show, Mare of Easttown and The American Meme.

Transcript

Fritz Coleman  (00:00:08):

Welcome to Media Path. I'm Fritz Coleman. And


Louise Palanker (00:00:10):

I am Louise Lanker


Fritz Coleman  (00:00:11):

Before we start the show mm-hmm. <affirmative>, ladies and gentlemen, I know you've seen our set decoration that we've done here. This is very impressive. Wheezy for as long as she's been conscious, has collected really cool lunch boxes. And later on in the show, we're gonna get you to give us a tour, a tour of the lunchbox on some of your faves.


Louise Palanker (00:00:30):

Some of them smell a little bit like sour milk. Is that


Fritz Coleman  (00:00:33):

<laugh>? That's okay. All right. Alright. You know, on Media Path, we're like your personal shoppers for media. We browse the rem bookstores, broadcasting cable networks and streaming services to find content that might pique your interest while not wasting your time. Hmm. We also have amazing, and in this case, hilarious guests. Today we're gonna talk to comedian, author, playwright, and now talk show host Steve Bluestein. Steve and I go way back in the standup world, and he was around at the very beginning of the Los Angeles comedy wave in the seventies and eighties. And there was lots of people and lots of stories about that era. And he's a playwright and an author and an actor, and a TV show writer and a producer, and he's gonna be with us in just a minute. Weezy, what do you have


Louise Palanker (00:01:17):

Story. I'm excited about that. Okay. So this week, um, I watched Blue Miracle on Netflix. I think it's new to Netflix. It's a by director Carlos Aguilar, sorry. Jimmy Gonzalez. Dennis Quaid and Anthony Gonzalez To save their cash strapped orphanage. A guardian and his kids partner with a washed up boat captain for a chance to win a big fishing contest, cash prize. Jimmy Gonzalez plays a once orphan street kid who is healing his own heart through the love he pours into the kids at the orphanage. He now runs in Cabo San Lucas. Here's where the formula kicks in hard. Omar needs money to keep the place open. They all enter a fishing tournament with Dennis Quaid as the grizzled, angry former champ saddled with the ragtag band of Misfits, <laugh>. Everyone pulls together finding their strength and a shared effort. You've seen this movie before when it was called Bad News Bears. The Mighty Ducks, little Giants Cool Runnings, Hoosiers, the Sandlot, fill in the blank, <laugh>, uh, <laugh>. But this time the water and sky are very blue. The people in this Mexican town occasionally even speak Spanish. There's a dose of religious symbolism with a coasting roll for a nail, and Dennis Qua is especially grizzled. And I just kind of liked it.


Fritz Coleman  (00:02:28):

<laugh>. That was the best review I ever heard.


Louise Palanker (00:02:30):

<laugh>, what have you been watching?


Fritz Coleman  (00:02:31):

Well, uh, this is a revisitation. Oh yeah, because I know you talked about Mera East Town, but I hadn't seen it yet. I, and I didn't realize how personally connected to me that the,


Louise Palanker (00:02:41):

And also when I reviewed it, cuz the way that, uh, that HBO rolls things out, it's with it dribbles and drabs and, you know, they don't just land the whole season. They do a couple at a time, so there's discuss


Fritz Coleman  (00:02:51):

No, but then two days after it's been on HBO o they do roll the whole thing out on Prime, which I did and I binged it over a couple of days.


Louise Palanker (00:02:57):

Well, now that it's all finished, they roll the whole out, but yeah. Yeah. Back when I talked about it, I had only seen two episodes, so we have much to discuss.


Fritz Coleman  (00:03:04):

Right. Alright, well, my first election, mayor of East Town, originally on H B O, now streaming on Prime Mayor as in m a r e as in her name, mayor Sheen. She's a detective in East Town Township, Pennsylvania. This is an actual town west of Philadelphia in Delaware County. More on that in a second. This show, I, I, I always have to compare stuff as a way of describing it. It's kind of a darker grittier Bosch <laugh>. She's a detective whose life is a shit show, all sorts of ongoing family issues, but somehow she stays devoted to crime solving and justice. Some of the crime she investigates involve her own family members by marriage. So there's lots of emotional jeopardy, chock full of breathtaking twists and turns loaded with all the frustrations of blue collar America that we're all experiencing right now. Great realism and writing, beautiful photography.

(00:03:59):

Just enough cool forensics to keep crime fans glued and amazing cast, including Kate Winslet as mayor. Guy Pierce is a college professor, writer and kind of a suitor for Mayor Jean Smart as mayor's mother in a really wonderful role. The smiles and laughs in this show, when they do come rarely, she is usually on screen. Julian Nicholson, who I became a huge fan of after her turn in August, Osage County and a really nice discovery, wheezy Soy Bacon, who is the daughter of Kira Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon. She's a really gifted actor. Oh, a chip off the old family block. Yeah. There's seven episodes. There's a big discussion because of the popularity of the series about whether they'll have a season two. They're still talking about it. They haven't decided yet. Here's why I love this show. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the series was shot mainly on location in the actual East Township in Pennsylvania, which is two miles from where I grew up.

(00:04:57):

Really. I grew up in a town called Wayne, Pennsylvania. I actually went to high school for one year at Conestoga High School, which is in East Town Township. All the names they used in the dialogue are genuine city names. They talk about Valley Forge. That's why I used to sled as a kid. They talk about Brandy Wine Park, where a hideous crime takes place. It's a beautiful place. The miracle is they were religious about duplicating the odd southeastern Pennsylvania dialect. Now, the creator and writer, Brad Inglesby was from a town called Burwin, which was right next to the town I grew up in. He went to Villanova University, which is right down the street. It's a really odd accent and you can hear it when me, if I'm tired or angry, <laugh> uh, water is water and down and where you go in when I get tired, it really, it rears its ugly head. But Kate Winslet and a young woman that place her daughter are British and they nail the dialect as to the other characters after the last of episode. There's a little mini doc about the making of this series, including the cast discussing the weird accent. Really fun being a native of that area.


Louise Palanker (00:06:05):

Oh, that's really cool. For, so I didn't realize how how closely you had grown up, uh, to that town. There's that, it's an interesting town and it's a lot like a lot of towns, I guess, where everyone is either related or sleeping with each other, or both


Fritz Coleman  (00:06:17):

<laugh>


Louise Palanker (00:06:17):

Seriously, or could be a, you know, combination


Fritz Coleman  (00:06:19):

Of the two. I'll tell you, you need to wait until the crimes start to occur before you write it off. Cuz uh, the first 15 minutes are gone. This is just a hugely dysfunctional family and I can't sit through this. But then after they sort of get in there and some of these crimes occur, then it gets really interesting


Louise Palanker (00:06:35):

And everyone's kind of working on something. And I really, I, I admire that in, in, in humans when, when they're digging in and they're working on trying to do better, you know, know better, do better and address, I mean, there's some scenes in therapy offices. There's, there's people that are struggling with some stuff and they're trying to make progress for the sake of kids and for the sake of themselves.


Fritz Coleman  (00:06:58):

Great realism. A as that's the reason I mentioned it's sort of the blue collar America that we're all experiencing right now. People just trying to make it a great show. And this thing is hugely popular. People are, uh, that's, that's why they're sort of negotiating to bring back a season. Two, they hadn't planned on it. Kate Winslet wants to do it, but, uh, it, they're getting a lot of eyeballs on this show. The


Louise Palanker (00:07:17):

Thing that you learned though, is that murder can really disrupt the therapeutic process. <laugh>,


Fritz Coleman  (00:07:21):

That's very true.


Louise Palanker (00:07:22):

<laugh>. So it's sets you back a few steps, but it's really a gr it's such good acting. Yeah. It's just such good acting. Okay, so Fritz, have you watched the Morning show?


Fritz Coleman  (00:07:32):

No, but everybody's told me about it. But I, I'll tell you a story about that when you're done.


Louise Palanker (00:07:35):

Alright, so we started watching the Morning show. Well, we had watched one or two episodes and then we were like, everyone in our family was like, you know, go back, finish it. All right. So this series on Apple Streaming Plus is an inside look at the Modern Workplace through the lens of the cast and staff of a popular morning show. The show explores vital themes that are deeply woven into male and female dynamics playing out in wherever we may work. But the tensions are magnified when your workplace is televised across America via a high profile morning show in the series, me Too has just exploded at the fictional U B A network. As morning show host, Steve Corre takes the hit for systemically toxic male behavior throughout the network. His co-host played by Jennifer Aniston, very publicly places Reese Witherspoon as an unknown young female journalist in his seat.

(00:08:21):

It's fascinating to Google the show and read as conflicted critics Great at Poorly while avidly devouring every episode. This could be because it's a delicious soapy look at the bigger than life world of Rich New York celebrities, while being a slightly inept look at an important multi-layered topic. But I will argue that as over the top as it may be, it is asking us to explore complex questions about the intersexual dynamics in our own lives. If you would like to learn more about what launched the Me Too movement in a, just as riveting, but yes, this really did happen way, then check out Catch Kale by Ronan Farrow, which is very modernly, both a podcast and a book. And it chronicles Ronan's dogged hunt for clues and witnesses in the crimes of Harvey Weinstein while running up against the systems that protect powerful men accused of terrible crimes in Hollywood, Washington, and beyond. And I also recommend The Chasing Cosby podcast from the LA Times. So those are real, that's real life. And if you think that that morning show is kind of over the top, this is really what happened.


Fritz Coleman  (00:09:27):

So here's my morning show story. Okay. First of all, that show was just being completed in its production and its writing. When the Matt Lauer issue happened at N B NBC and they needed a weatherman. So iSay Morales, the, uh, really wonderful, uh, Latin American actor came over and hung out with me for a few days Yeah. On the set of the NBC Studio to just sort of get the mechanics of working in a chromic key and how it worked, could not have been more charming and gave me a, this amazing box of baked goods as a thank you when it was done. But he said, this is gonna be really interesting to see how people react cuz it's like, you know, today's news, me Too, Matt Lauer type material going on in there. I have not seen it yet, because of course I can't get Apple TV yet, but I will.


Louise Palanker (00:10:11):

Well, when Ronan was exploring the Harvey Weinstein landscape and meeting up against resistance at nbc where he worked, he worked at msnbc, it was because they were really trying desperately to keep a cap on the whole Matt Lauer


Fritz Coleman  (00:10:23):

Situation. Exactly. Yeah.


Louise Palanker (00:10:25):

So it really


Fritz Coleman  (00:10:26):

Is. And the dust from that whole thing is not settled over there.


Louise Palanker (00:10:28):

No either.


Fritz Coleman  (00:10:29):

Right. Great, great, great selection. Alright, so here's a documentary, uh, uh, streaming on Netflix called The American Meme. This is a doc about social media stars, Paris Hilton, Josh Ostrovsky, Britney Furland, and Caril Betsky, and how they hustle to build their online media empires with hundreds of millions of followers and how they face the pitfalls of fame. This film is interesting and very disturbing. At the end, you'll be certain that we have inched closer to the apocalypse. <laugh>, everybody's aware of Paris Hilton's rise to fame. She's pre Kardashian in this new genre of being famous for no apparent reason. She's an ongoing thread throughout the movie. This whole thing is about what happens when you pour gasoline on narcissism. This obsessive quest for views and likes, how insane money is made by these online influencers. Now, the most fascinating character is this guy at Caril who was born in Russia. He's family escaped and came over to the US and he stages events that he records on TikTok and Facebook, the happenings, digital raves, I guess you could call them. You watch praying that your own daughter never ends up in one of his videos over and over again. Shots of girls getting topless and being gagged with champagne bottles being bathed in champagne. His whole scene is like Caligula on ecstasy.


Louise Palanker (00:12:00):

Where's fairy ale with a warning shot across the bow


Fritz Coleman  (00:12:03):

<laugh>? Exactly. If you're a parent, these images will haunt your dreams for weeks. What makes this film interesting is that it brings into view what we already wonder about. How far down the dark road with social media are we, how close to the abyss are we? It's real. It's disturbing and fascinating the


Louise Palanker (00:12:24):

American It is because I guess, I guess fame or attention is, uh, human instinct. We need to be validated, but it also can be a drug. Like anything that we need, we need air, we need water. I don't think too much air has ever, ever been a problem <laugh>, but uh, yeah, the things that we need, food, uh, um, attention, those things can become an addiction.


Fritz Coleman  (00:12:47):

Did you watch it?


Louise Palanker (00:12:49):

No. I'm gonna watch it based on your issue.


Fritz Coleman  (00:12:50):

Yeah, you should. And I'll tell you, there's sort of a, a a, a sweetly sad moment, and that is the Paris Hilton, whoever's doing the interview, asks her why this is all important to her. She says, because all my many fans, and she calls 'em Hilton, that's her Parisians or something. Sure. She says, my fans don't judge me. They just love me for who I am. And what she was reflecting on was how badly she was judged when she first got famous and people just put her down and she, or


Louise Palanker (00:13:20):

For how her parents treated her. Yeah. Aren't we all just reacting to that? Yes. At the end of the day. Yeah.


Fritz Coleman  (00:13:24):

So


Louise Palanker (00:13:25):

It's, which brings us to Steve Blustein <laugh>.


Fritz Coleman  (00:13:29):

Right. Alright, because let me introduce this great guest. This man's been a standup comic since the seventies. He's worked in Vegas and Tahoe and Reno and Atlantic City anywhere. There are showrooms being run by guys with shiny suits and lots of vowels in their last name. This guy has worked there. He's written for television, including for Norman Lear. I can't wait to talk about that wound. He's produced television shows. He's a wonderful playwright. He won the Chameleon Theater Circle Playwrights Award for his play when one is Gone. He was a finalist in the Palm Springs Playwrights Festival. He's written three books, point of Pines. I love this title. Memoir of a Nobody. And Take My Prostate Please. He's got his own talk show on YouTube called, let Me Say This About That. A very funny man. Steve Bluestein. Hello to the Coachella Valley.


Steve Bluestein (00:14:20):

Hello. How are you guys? <laugh> lemme just say, I just saw that movie about the fish, the fishing thing. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. It was, it was interesting. It was good. <laugh> and, and I own that shirt, Fred.


Fritz Coleman  (00:14:34):

Oh, you do? Oh


Louise Palanker (00:14:35):

Wow.


Steve Bluestein (00:14:36):

I have that shirt. Well,


Louise Palanker (00:14:37):

Thanks. We found it on so many levels already. This is wonderful.


Steve Bluestein (00:14:40):

Yeah. That's funny.


Louise Palanker (00:14:41):

Yeah.


Fritz Coleman  (00:14:41):

So good to see you, my friend.


Louise Palanker (00:14:43):

I, I, I read over the weekend, I, I read, uh, point of Pines and so I have a lot of questions and, but before I get to them, we have found, uh, the, the Pines on Google Earth. Thomas, if you can click on that, because you went back and you said a lot has changed and maybe not just, uh, so much about change, but also because it's, it's coastal and things just change. Right. You know, so a lot of the change had nothing to do with people destroying it. It could have been Mother Nature or us destroying the planet Earth. But, uh, maybe we could go down the street where you learned how to ride your bike and you could, you know, point out some highlights.


Steve Bluestein (00:15:19):

Great. I I, what


Fritz Coleman  (00:15:20):

Is this Tory Pines or what, what pines are we talking about?


Louise Palanker (00:15:23):

Just explain where it is.


Steve Bluestein (00:15:24):

Po Pines is, uh, uh, just outside of Boston and it's in Revere, Massachusetts. And it's a neighborhood in Revere, uh, Revere sort of, uh, has, you know, landlocked areas. And then it has this area, which is a point and is surrounded by water on, I guess three sides. Uh, it's not a peninsula, but it's sort of rounded. And that's where I grew up every summer in, at the point of Pines.


Louise Palanker (00:15:56):

And you would spend all, all summer there or just parts of the summer?


Steve Bluestein (00:16:00):

Parts of the summer. Whenever we could get away. We were at The Pines because they were the people there were like family to me.


Louise Palanker (00:16:09):

Okay. So take a look, Steven. Show us around.


Steve Bluestein (00:16:12):

All right.


Fritz Coleman  (00:16:13):

Look at that.


Steve Bluestein (00:16:15):

Look at at that. Is that your street? I could see it. I wish I


Louise Palanker (00:16:18):

Could see it. Oh, it's Wither B Avenue in Revere Mass.


Steve Bluestein (00:16:22):

Yeah.


Louise Palanker (00:16:22):

Yeah. And I can see you. That's a


Fritz Coleman  (00:16:24):

Beautiful street. Very sort of middle American, beautifully maintained houses.


Steve Bluestein (00:16:28):

It's very middle America. That New


Fritz Coleman  (00:16:30):

England flapper houses.


Steve Bluestein (00:16:33):

There's a house there. I can't see what you guys are looking at.


Louise Palanker (00:16:36):

Okay.


Steve Bluestein (00:16:36):

There's a house there that sort of aluminum siding brown, a light tan with a parking lot between it and the house next to, next to it. And if you're going down the street would be on your right hand side. Anyways, that's the house that I grew up


Louise Palanker (00:16:54):

In. And the way that you described it, it was very much designed for communal experiences and events and bonding and everybody just kind of sitting out and enjoying the summer together.


Steve Bluestein (00:17:04):

Exactly. It was two families. Uh, the ho the host, the house was like, uh, a commune where, you know, everybody had their own home, but they were always together and outside was, you know, just a, a party, you know, always a party outside. And it's, they even, they even created this gigantic patio between the two houses where we, you know, which even en so it en it encased another house into this commune. It was amazing. Really.


Louise Palanker (00:17:36):

So, explain what was so different about being there from being, uh, in your own nuclear family home.


Steve Bluestein (00:17:44):

Alright, so my family was, if you look under dysfunctional in the, you see, you see my family, uh, they were divorced. They got divorced, they were violent. My father was violent against my mother. My mother was a bitch. And, um, well, I mean, let's say it like it is. And they were too busy fighting with each other to take care of me. They, you know, they took care of my physical needs, no clothes, food, doctors that was taken care of. But emotionally, I was left on my own. And the point of pines was complete, was the antithesis. They were warm, loving people who taught me what a family should be and included me. And because I was an only child, so, uh, I took the brunt of everything that was going on in that household. And


Louise Palanker (00:18:50):

They, and they weaponized you. They used you, you know, you were not just collateral damage, you were actually used as a weapon.


Steve Bluestein (00:18:57):

Right, exactly. You tell your father this, tell your mother that. And I was right in the middle. And finally, uh, a child psychologist sat me down and said, you tell your parents to fight their own battles and leave you out of it. It was the first time anybody had ever said to me, you have rights. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you don't have to be part of this. And, uh, so the, the two families in the Pines, they were an extended family. You know, they, there was cousins and, and, and neighbors. And suddenly I was in a group that I wasn't judged. Cause in my own family, all I was was judge. My, my mother's family hated my father's family. My father's family hated my mother. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I was collateral damage in that because when I was with my father's family, I, even though they were pretending or or including me, I always felt this, uh, victim. And I could never let my guard down. That's not what happened to the point of pines. The point of pines. I let my guard down and I was just a child.


Louise Palanker (00:20:09):

Well, you should know, Steve, that Fritz had a similar childhood. Not, you know, completely parallel, but he, you know, you were both kind of only children who were boys, so that you were sort of like the lone carrot in a boiling pot of soup. And, you know, and Fritz can describe what, you know, what he experienced.


Fritz Coleman  (00:20:27):

No, that's true. I I was just saying that what you said resonated with me. I was an only child too. My mother's father hated it. Uh, my, my mother's family hated my father's family and vice versa. And when my mother and father no longer got along, uh, which was 25 years before their, you know, he passed away and that was the end of their marriage. But, but, uh, but, and I was very similar to my father. He was a great dry wit and I looked like him. And because I was so similar to my father, my mother had this subconscious resentment of me. Yeah. And it was like I was the lightning rod and I was the more vulnerable way for her to take out her anger about my father. It was really an interesting psychological Oh


Steve Bluestein (00:21:11):

Wow. And is exactly what happened to me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, you know, I always, even as a child, had a sense of humor. And I would be making people laugh, uh, around the kitchen table. And my mother would say, A clown, I'm raising a clown. Oh my God. So I never, and to the, to the day she died, she never came to a single show. I saw not one, not a single show. I did not one. She never said, she actually said, when I finished writing memoir of a nobody, she actually said in front of people, what did you write a book for? Nobody cares about your life.


Louise Palanker (00:21:52):

So something was very threatening about this to her.


Fritz Coleman  (00:21:55):

What does your father do for a living?


Steve Bluestein (00:21:57):

My father. My father worked for his brother, my uncle. And they worked, uh, they had a, uh, a stationary store. And to this day, I can't go buy staples without buying something


Fritz Coleman  (00:22:12):

<laugh>.


Steve Bluestein (00:22:13):

I have enough pens. <laugh>, I have a sense in my house, we could, we could read, rewrite the Declaration of Independence 127,000 times with the pens.


Fritz Coleman  (00:22:26):

You have a situation very selmer to Johnny Carson, which we, which, uh, uh, uh, some of his comic energy, not all of it, but some of it came from his desire to please and entertain his mom, who was not to be entertained or pleased. And regardless of whatever he did for her, I mean, and I don't know if you read Henry Kin's book about him. She, uh, I mean he gave her an around the world cruise and she never said thank you. He could not make this woman happy. And it was the cause of all of his angst for the most of his life. Yeah.


Louise Palanker (00:22:54):

Because you don't know how to stop trying Yeah. When it's your mom. Yeah,


Steve Bluestein (00:22:57):

Exactly. And it took, it took years and years and years. And do you wanna hear, this is a true story. I was sitting in a doctor's office in the waiting room with a friend, and I was on one side and there was a woman stranger on the other side. And my friend and I were talking about my mother and what was going on that week. And there was a lull in the conversation. And the woman reached over and said, I'm sorry, I, I, I don't wanna ea drop, but I can't help but hear what's going on. He, she said, I just wanna tell you that if a mother says there's something wrong with the child, then there's something wrong with the mother


Louise Palanker (00:23:38):

<laugh>. Oh, that's so good. Wow. That's


Fritz Coleman  (00:23:39):

Perfect.


Steve Bluestein (00:23:40):

And it hit me like, uh, someone took a shovel and hit me in the face with it, because that summed it up in a nutshell. Wow. And my life turned around at that point from that moment on, because then I realized when my mother would, you know, give me this venom, I, I, I realized it's not me, it's her. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, and takes a


Fritz Coleman  (00:24:04):

Long, long time for a child to get to that point where


Louise Palanker (00:24:06):

You're, and those women live forever,


Fritz Coleman  (00:24:09):

<laugh>, they,


Louise Palanker (00:24:09):

They will die.


Fritz Coleman  (00:24:10):

Mine lived to be 96,


Steve Bluestein (00:24:12):

Live till 94.


Fritz Coleman  (00:24:14):

See, see what I mean? Yeah. I always said, controlling people will choose the time and place of their demise. <laugh>, that's exactly what my mother did. She, she said, no, I, I'll go when I'm ready.


Steve Bluestein (00:24:24):

Well, so, you know, here's an interesting thing about, uh, being an only child. This, it has its good side and its bad side. The good side is you could put me in solitary confinement for the rest of my life. I would be perfectly happy. I would play with the bugs. You know, I draw on the


Fritz Coleman  (00:24:41):

Wall. I'm, I'm, I'm exactly like that. To this day, I'm still like that.


Steve Bluestein (00:24:46):

I, I can entertain myself. The, the other side of the coin is I always wanted a brother or a sister, someone to share this grief with. But as an adult, I realized that if I had a brother or a sister, they would probably be as screwed up as I was. And then I would be dealing with that. So I'm very happy to be an only child. No,


Louise Palanker (00:25:13):

That's a good, that that is a good point. No, absolutely. They clearly, both of your parents clearly did not have the ability to comprehend or feel the damage they were inflicting on you. So they were broken as children. And you described to a certain extent, your grandparents, but your heart and compassion are fully functional. Was it point of pines that nurtured that in you? Or are you just wired differently than your folks?


Steve Bluestein (00:25:35):

I, you know, what? I suffered so as a child that I don't want anybody to have to go through what I went through. So I, I, and I had a lot of therapy, a lot, their entire homes with wings that were built on my, on my therapy. We call this the Bluestein Suite.


Fritz Coleman  (00:25:58):

<laugh>, you know, and,


Steve Bluestein (00:26:01):

And so I'm very aware of the, that perception is not reality, even though it feels like reality. It's not reality. And I try to make people understand that, that how they feel is not actually what's happening. Mm-hmm. It's just a reaction to what's happening.


Fritz Coleman  (00:26:21):

If you didn't have humor, you'd be really screwed up, Steve. I'm telling you.


Steve Bluestein (00:26:24):

Well, you know, you know, I struggled. I struggled terribly in the beginning at the Comedy Store because I came from the May company. The some, most of these people had been doing comedy for a long time. Like Pat Prof was in Minneapolis, and he was at Doug Rigs and Bo Capal, they, they came schooled. I was, you know, brand new. So, uh, and being in so insecure, it was horrible until, you know what the night it changed was, uh, John Savage was a friend. He, uh, and he came to the Comedy Store one night and I had been bombing bombing bombing, bombing bombing. And he came to the Comedy Store and he watched my act and he said to me, you are really good. He said, you're an actor. He said, do you understand that? And that was the first positive feedback back I got. And from that moment on, I never bombed again. Wow. I mean, I bombed <laugh> in front of big audiences, but not the way I was doing.


Fritz Coleman  (00:27:33):

You just needed to be substantiated. That's a great story. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, and I want to talk about that phase. You, you mentioned Pat Proft, cuz you were back at the beginning of the Comedy Store after Mitzi took it over. And part of the first Comedy store players, which were the first improv group there in Pat Proft. And talk about some of the other famous people that came outta that original group.


Steve Bluestein (00:27:55):

Well, alright, so I was there even before Mitzi took it over. As a matter of fact, I was, Mitzi asked me to come Mitzi Shore, who was the owner of the Comedy Store. Uh, she asked me to go to the meeting in which Sammy agreed to give Mitzi the store. So I was there, that's how early on I was. Oh, wow. And, uh, in the beginning, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, let me listen, I'm old now. So names are hard. Olivia older, hold on. Um, Craig g Nelson, Barry Levinson, uh, uh, uh, cliff Wilson. Mm. Uh, red Fox, these were people that came in to hang out and just stand on stage at the Comedy Store. But in the comedy for players, the original four that I saw were Pat Pro, Archie Han, Valerie Curtain, and Gary Austin. And the first night I walked into the Comedy Store, I saw them and I approached Valerie and I said, you know, I've never done this. Are there any classes I can get into? And she said to me, you know, I think Gary is starting a class. So I approached Gary and I said, can I join your class? And he said, sure. And that class became the Groundlings.


Louise Palanker (00:29:18):

Oh, wow.


Steve Bluestein (00:29:19):

And I was in the first show the Groundlings ever did with Valerie and Archie, the three of us, and a bunch of 'em. So this


Fritz Coleman  (00:29:28):

Is before they had their own stage down Melrose Avenue. They were working at the Comedy Store.


Steve Bluestein (00:29:32):

Please used to drive to Vermont to a little theater called Ello. A little theater called The Seller, uh, theater. And uh, that's where we, that's where we learned. And Jack Sue, Jack Sue from, uh, a flower drum song. And Barney Miller, he was a Are We Live Is that person. We have


Fritz Coleman  (00:29:53):

Seven or eight producers that are just walking by, uh, on their own. Okay. We can't stop.


Steve Bluestein (00:29:57):

Uh, yeah. Jack Stu was in this class and I learned the basics of improv from Gary Austin in this little theater downtown. And, and, uh, it was an amazing time because,


Fritz Coleman  (00:30:10):

You know, your self-esteem, I mean, you came out of this bad family situation, but your self-esteem must have been fairly hardy. Because anybody that can do improv, I bow in their direction. To me that's like nude hang gliding, <laugh>. It just seems so hard. And Well,


Steve Bluestein (00:30:27):

You know what, it's, I think it was stupidity in my, I, you know, I didn't know it was hard. I just learned how to do it.


Louise Palanker (00:30:34):

Well, I think if you're clever and if you're talented at it, there's this group energy that kind of lifts everybody up. And so I think that was perfect for Steve in that, at that time in his life. Yeah.


Steve Bluestein (00:30:43):

Well, I also learned how to use it in my standup. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I was standing on stage, I think it was at the MGM Grand and I was opening for like, uh, maybe it was Donna Summer, I don't remember. And it was 3000 people in the main room. And I was doing my act and I stopped and I just looked at the audience and I said, if I have to say these words one more time, <laugh>, I'm going to kill myself,


Fritz Coleman  (00:31:11):

<laugh>.


Steve Bluestein (00:31:12):

And I looked down at the woman in the front and I said, what do you do <laugh>? And, and we started bantering back and forth. And I used all my improvisational skills working with this. And that's how I started talking to the audience.


Fritz Coleman  (00:31:26):

Now you're a brave performer, cuz I remember one of the last times I saw you do, uh, do a standup. It was at Ibes, which was a fantastic room on the west side that closed after the LA riots. But you used to go up on stage with a stack of three by five cards and just read your jokes right up to three by five cards or he


Louise Palanker (00:31:44):

Cards he's going, Steve is


Fritz Coleman  (00:31:46):

Gonna get, but I always thought that took maximum.


Louise Palanker (00:31:47):

Oh my goodness. What have you got? What's Fred


Fritz Coleman  (00:31:50):

Now? They're a little bigger now, now they're eight by fives or whatever the hell <laugh>.


Steve Bluestein (00:31:54):

Uh, I'm working. Don Barnhardt asked me to come to Vegas to work his club. And I said, Don, no, no, no. Done. No, I haven't done standup in so long, I can't do it. And he said, yes you can. He says, I, he says, I don't care if you bomb every night, I just wanna see you on stage again. Mm-hmm. So I said, okay. And then I went, oh, what have I done? I don't. Cause I lost my three by five I lost. So I had no idea what my act was. And so I started writing a whole new act about moving and moving to the desert and all this other stuff. And I started with my three by five cards and I'm gonna use them in, oh,


Louise Palanker (00:32:41):

Do you wanna try, do you wanna try something on us?


Steve Bluestein (00:32:44):

Well, I, when I was selling my house in Los Angeles, I had, uh, I had, uh, a real estate broker said, Del Berkowitz with Grew You Real Estate. And it says right on the card, if we can't sell your house, screw you.

(00:33:03):

<laugh>

(00:33:04):

Ele Sadel would say,

(00:33:07):

You know, you've got such a special home Mi

(00:33:10):

<laugh> so


Steve (00:33:11):

Special. I love everything you've done with this house. It's because


Steve Bluestein (00:33:15):

It's special. Look


Steve (00:33:16):

How special this house


Steve Bluestein (00:33:18):

<laugh>.

(00:33:18):

A year later. It hasn't sold. I said, Joe, what's going on? Just,


Steve (00:33:22):

Well, it's so special. Who could live here?


Steve Bluestein (00:33:25):

<laugh>.


Fritz Coleman  (00:33:28):

You wrote for Joan Rivers, right? <laugh>. Yes. So did I, I wrote for Joan Rivers for 10 minutes. For $10 a joke. I


Louise Palanker (00:33:34):

Sold Joan Rivers jokes. Yeah. Everybody, all three of us in town


Fritz Coleman  (00:33:37):

Knew a joke about Joan Rivers was, and you, you probably, were you a staff writer or was just like a piecemeal writer like


Steve Bluestein (00:33:43):

I was? No, we had the same manager. Oh. So I would just throw her jokes whenever I


Fritz Coleman  (00:33:48):

Could. So you would write a joke for Joan Rivers, she was the cheapest person in show business. She'd pay you $10 a joke. Yep. But then she'd send you a 12 page legal document to sign and the paper was worth more than the 10 bucks.


Steve Bluestein (00:34:01):

Yes. Well, my two jokes, my, the two jokes that I love that I wrote for Joan Rivers was she said, uh, I took Elizabeth Taylor to McDonald's. She got stuck in the Arch

(00:34:12):

<laugh>.


Fritz Coleman  (00:34:14):

That's a good


Steve Bluestein (00:34:15):

Joke. And, and then she was doing an I I'm getting older jokes, you know, I'm getting older. And she said, my vagina, it's so dry. I douche with a dust buster.

(00:34:25):

<laugh>. <laugh>,


Louise Palanker (00:34:28):

The one that I remember selling her and I kept my memory could be way off on this, was that I was so ugly when I was born. The doctor kept yelling, push, push. And my mother was like, I'm pushing. And she said, I'm talking to the nurse


Steve Bluestein (00:34:41):

<laugh>.


Louise Palanker (00:34:43):

Something like that, you know? Yeah. There were, you know, just like, I'm so ugly. I'm so this, my boobs are falling. Like, you know, it was just plugin punchline.


Fritz Coleman  (00:34:52):

Fun though. I wanna talk about Boston cuz you mentioned Point of Pines. How, how far from Boston was that?


Steve Bluestein (00:34:59):

Uh, you, let me just tell you, I was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts. And to give you an idea how close to Boston it is, Logan Airport's parking lot is in Chelsea Mass.


Louise Palanker (00:35:13):

Oh, wow. And


Fritz Coleman  (00:35:13):

That, well, I only bring it up because so many talented comics have come out of there, you know, uh, and and out of Emerson College in particular, Leno I guess went there, right?


Steve Bluestein (00:35:24):

Yes.


Fritz Coleman  (00:35:25):

I went there. Yeah, I know. Well, that's why I'm mentioning it. Otherwise it would be a pointless comment. <laugh>. But, uh, Dennis Leary. Yes. Uh, Wendy Lehman, I think went to Emerson. Right.


Louise Palanker (00:35:35):

And Norman Leer.


Fritz Coleman  (00:35:36):

And Norman Leer to Emerson. What a, what a hotbed of talented, funny people. Well,


Steve Bluestein (00:35:41):

All this comedy stuff started way after I had left Boston. Oh. Because I graduated college in 68 and the Comedy Store opened in 71. And so I was in Los Angeles at that time. And the comedy boom in Boston was a result of what we were doing in Los Angeles because mi you know, people don't know this, but every comedy club in the country that you go to, the Basic factory is based on what Mitzi's structure.


Fritz Coleman  (00:36:16):

Absolutely. Absolutely.


Steve Bluestein (00:36:18):

Every and, and, you know, bud Friedman had the first club. There's no two, no two ways about it. Because I went to his club in New York City in 1968 because I wanted to see the Ace Trucking company. Ironically, I became a part of the Ace Trucking company many years later. But the, the improv was mainly a place where the theater kids would go after the theater. After the


Fritz Coleman  (00:36:48):

Theater school. Yeah. Talk about that. That that was cool. I mean, the people who were performing on Broadway after the show went down at night, they'd go in there and do a comedy or a song


Steve Bluestein (00:36:58):

They do singing and, and comedy and sketches and, and it was everything. It was variety. Sammy Shore wanted, uh, a place where he could be showcased. The Comedy Store started. So Sammy could be showcased cuz he was, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, Elvis's.


Fritz Coleman  (00:37:20):

Yeah. For 20 years. He wrote a great book about that called Second Banana. And it was really wonderful about being, how, how hard it is to be an opening act.


Steve Bluestein (00:37:29):

Right. And, and so he, so that's what happened. And what happened was that everybody else got work out of the comedy store. <laugh>, but Sammy. Yeah. And that's why he lost interest.


Louise Palanker (00:37:42):

So what are the elements of a good, successful, highly functional comedy club that Mitzi put in place that she understood were essential


Steve Bluestein (00:37:51):

Focus.


Louise Palanker (00:37:52):

Okay.


Steve Bluestein (00:37:52):

Number one focus. That means dark room stage with lights where the hot, you know, where the actors and all the attention is toward the sage. Now you mentioned Ibes. Ibes was the good comedy room, but it had its detriment, which was, it had a mirrored ceiling and the lights on stage bounced off that ceiling and Wow. Lit the audience.


Fritz Coleman  (00:38:21):

I didn't even think about that. That's a great point. Plus the, the bar was back there and the blenders would go off just before a punch line.


Steve Bluestein (00:38:28):

That's, and Mitzi moved the bar outside of the room. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he painted the room black and, and she got the, and she instituted the light, which, you know, even as a professional, I still look for the light. Yeah. <laugh>. Because I don't know when to get off unless somebody tells me


Louise Palanker (00:38:47):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. So the light is you get lit at five minutes, 10 minutes, whatever. And she


Fritz Coleman  (00:38:51):

Was so married to a black environment that she made it in her house, black environment. Cause all the furniture in her house was black as


Louise Palanker (00:38:57):

Well. But you, you have to see people close together. People laugh better if they're sharing the laughter. Right. The ceiling needs to be low. Yeah. So that the, that the sound stays contained. Uh, you have to mandate no talking. Sometimes I've, I've performed in clubs where it's like, well these people bought steaks so they can talk and put their back to the audience. No, no agree. Because they're ruining the show for everyone around them. So, go ahead Steve. Well,


Steve Bluestein (00:39:19):

I, I, one of the, uh, when I was brand new, I like, the second thing I c m sent me out was a, a show in, at the Dre country at the Dal Hotel in Miami. And I got on stage and I, you know, I'd been working and, you know, silent, absolute silent. The flops sweat starts and, and I get off the stage and I, I'm, I'm completely suicidal. And there was a comic in the audience, I, I can't remember his name, but he was one of the old school comics. He comes running after me running out. He says, Kate, hey kid, what? You are wonderful. I said, wonderful. I just bumped. He said, are you kidding? They're all eating dinner. You can't fight the fork


Louise Palanker (00:40:06):

<laugh>.


Fritz Coleman  (00:40:07):

I know.


Steve Bluestein (00:40:09):

And from that moment on, I will not work in a, in a any environment where people are knife and forking it, you know, hand foods are okay. Right. Because they can still look up at you. But if, if you got the knife in the fork, then they're down in their plates and they're not looking at you. Yes.


Fritz Coleman  (00:40:26):

Hand food a, a great venue is, uh, the u u upper room at Vitello's. I don't know if you've ever worked there. It's beautifully done. It's a great sound system. Uh, the only drawback is that they serve full on entrees. And it's really disconcerting cuz you have no sense of how you're doing. Well


Louise Palanker (00:40:46):

Doesn't Mike Laci serve entrees too though? What's that? And he's got a great room.


Fritz Coleman  (00:40:50):

He does, but I think he's, Steve will back me up on this. I think he serves his food before the show starts. Yeah,


Louise Palanker (00:40:55):

Yeah, yeah.


Steve Bluestein (00:40:56):

That's any show in Vegas. The the, the food is served, the dishes are cleared. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and then all the drinks come out at once. If there's a four drink minimum, you get four drinks, they put 'em down, you pay your bill. Done. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the comedy, the ice house, which I loved because it has every element of a perfect room. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, small, low ceiling hardwood floors, a audience packed in tight,


Fritz Coleman  (00:41:25):

Slight incline from the front to the back of the room finger


Steve Bluestein (00:41:28):

Slightly incline from the front to the back, but at the end, at three quarters of the way into the headliners app, they love the room with the check. Yeah.


Fritz Coleman  (00:41:39):

God no, I always hated that.


Steve Bluestein (00:41:41):

And then everybody's looking at the check and Did you have the beef and <laugh>? Where's the taco? And I didn't. And they're not paying attention to


Fritz Coleman  (00:41:49):

You. No. And you're going into your big closer at that time in the night, no matter paying


Steve Bluestein (00:41:53):

Fact, just when you should be peaking. Cuz my act was, was built. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> just when you should be peaking, it drops off. Right. And then you have to build up again. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I, I just, and so what I started doing was saying to Bob Fisher, who owned the Ice house, I don't want a headline here anymore. I'll middle mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And because George, George Miller told me that, he says, I don't headline there anymore. How can you fight that? So George was the middle. I said, well if George's gonna middle, I'll middle.


Fritz Coleman  (00:42:24):

And and that was always a problem on the first show cuz they were so worried about turning the audience over. So they brought the checks out like two thirds of the way into the show. Oh, yeah. The second show you could tell him to hold off until the end.


Louise Palanker (00:42:35):

Crazy. I think you guys have the chops to run your own club.


Fritz Coleman  (00:42:39):

Oh, I don't. Steve does. Listen,


Steve Bluestein (00:42:41):

Let me just tell you, I, I would rather inject iodine in both eyes


Fritz Coleman  (00:42:46):

<laugh>


Steve Bluestein (00:42:48):

Than have to deal with comedians. Thank you.


Fritz Coleman  (00:42:50):

Oh, no.


Louise Palanker (00:42:51):

All right. So we wanna hear some good comedy stories, but let's talk about the, the generation above you. So when you started going to comedy clubs and hanging out there and making friends and, and peers and stuff, who were the people that you ran into that had preceded you, that you looked up to that you have some interesting stories? Well,


Steve Bluestein (00:43:08):

David Brenner.


Louise Palanker (00:43:09):

Okay.


Steve Bluestein (00:43:10):

Uh, uh, and, um, uh, uh, see, this is the old age. I'm talking about this on


Fritz Coleman  (00:43:17):

Stage. Freddie Prince?


Steve Bluestein (00:43:19):

No, Freddie was after me. Freddy was younger, uh, from, um, oh, Gabe Kaplan.


Fritz Coleman  (00:43:26):

Steve Landesberg.


Steve Bluestein (00:43:28):

Steve Landesberg. Right. The, they were all ahead of us. They all, you know, uh, the impressionist, um, help me,


Louise Palanker (00:43:37):

Um, Fred Trave?


Steve Bluestein (00:43:39):

No, Fred.


Louise Palanker (00:43:40):

Oh, rich Little Fred.


Steve Bluestein (00:43:42):

Rich Little and there, but there was a comedian though.


Louise Palanker (00:43:46):

Oh, Frank Goen.


Steve Bluestein (00:43:47):

That's it. Frank,


Fritz Coleman  (00:43:48):

Go. There you go. Good one. Weezy. I


Louise Palanker (00:43:50):

Watched a lot of Mike Douglass <laugh>.


Steve Bluestein (00:43:52):

They, they were all, they all came in and flip Wilson, like I said, for Red Fox. But you know, the truth of the matter is the comedy boom didn't really actually start until Jimmy Walker got his deal with Tandem. Okay. Which was to, not only was he being paid a salary, but he was given five or six writers who were writing material for him. And he would take that material and try it out at the comedy store at the height of his eb fame with, you know, Mike


Fritz Coleman  (00:44:31):

Yeah. In tandem. Yeah. Place. It was Carson moving out here. Right. Because, uh, then the comedy, yeah.


Steve Bluestein (00:44:36):

If you're talking about that's the shift of show business to the West Coast. Right. I'm talking about the comedy boom. Oh, okay. When people said, let's go to a comedy club. Oh,


Fritz Coleman  (00:44:47):

Okay. Gotcha.


Steve Bluestein (00:44:47):

That, and Mitzi would, would showcase, uh, make sure that Jimmy was on at the nine o'clock at the peak and 11 every week. And he, and, and she would advertise that he was gonna be there. And people came and droves to see Jimmy. And Jimmy brought Richard Pryor mm-hmm. <affirmative> and that, and then all, all hell broke loose. Mm-hmm.


Fritz Coleman  (00:45:10):

<affirmative>. Wow.


Steve Bluestein (00:45:11):

And then the crowds were packing, you know, I remember standing outside of the comedy store and just seeing the smoke pouring out, like the building was on fire.


Fritz Coleman  (00:45:21):

<laugh>,


Steve Bluestein (00:45:23):

You know, people smoking.


Fritz Coleman  (00:45:25):

But, uh, but it, it, it didn't run like it runs now where you had lots of lower and mid-level comics first and in the big acts at the end. It was all, it sounds to me like it was just a place where pre-established guys got a chance to work out.


Steve Bluestein (00:45:39):

Well that was how it was in the beginning. And then when Mitzi took it over, she started developing comics. You know, she found, um, Yaakov Smirnoff. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And she said, Steve, wait till you see this guy. And I, I said, I Russian. Yeah. Nobody's doing that. <laugh>. And she was right east and he had an incredible career. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, and, uh, she was, she could find, she could find talent, she could also kill talent, you know, like she would say to some of the women, you, you had to work in Old Yellow, you know, you know, you know what I'm saying? Oh yeah.


Fritz Coleman  (00:46:16):

So, you know, I talked about that with Elaine Boosler, but you might have a better opinion or a more objective opinion cuz Elaine, who was really classy about the way she answered the questions, wouldn't give it up. That Mitsey really made it tough on female comics and relegated them up to the belly room and all that other stuff. What, what, what was it like


Steve Bluestein (00:46:34):

When, when I, um, when I heard about the Belly Room, there were no female comedians working. There was Robin Tyler and her partner. There was, uh, Elaine, but she came later mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And she had been working in New York and she came to LA to be showcased. And there was, uh, there, uh,


Fritz Coleman  (00:47:02):

Even Lotus Winestock


Steve Bluestein (00:47:04):

Lotus was later. Oh, this is All Lotus was developed by Mitzi. Hmm. Um, and, and I heard that she started, Mitzi said she wanted the women to have their own room because there weren't that many comedians and she was developing a place for them. Now that being said, it was a horrible room. It was tiny. And people were going into the belly room waiting to get into the main room. It was a holding tank. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. It was a holding tank. So they weren't really a legitimate, uh, audience, you know, but she did give women a chance. And now, you know, there are just as many women comics as there are men. Yeah. And, and you know, when you talk about comedians and, and talent and stuff, you have to realize that you're dealing with ego. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, every comedian who worked the comedy store thinks they should be a headliner. Mm-hmm. So if Mitzi says no, there's the resentment,


Louise Palanker (00:48:15):

You know? Well, were you running into a lot of people and, and sharing your, your, your childhood stories or what had motivate you to go into comedy standing on a, a stage and saying, you know, please love me. Did you find that people had just natural ability to be funny and a, and a and a healthy childhood? Or did you find that people had been overcoming something and had developed their, their sense of humor as a survival mechanism?


Steve Bluestein (00:48:41):

Well, it's interesting because I was once sitting at a table with a bunch of comedians and I said, who had a happy childhood? And not one of their hands went


Louise Palanker (00:48:49):

Up. <laugh>. Okay.


Steve Bluestein (00:48:50):

Every one of them, uh, Alan Bursky was in a cast up to his waist through his old childhood. My parents were divorced. Uh, someone's father died, someone's mother died. There was a flood, there was a fi you know, there was some trauma that, that got them to that table. A and, um, I I, I always say that there are two kinds of comedians. There's the intrinsically funny person that's like Howie Mandel and Elaine Busler. And, and the example I use is, uh, David Brenner was walking down the street in New York City and a manhole blew 25 feet into the air. And while it was up in the air, David said, heads


Louise Palanker (00:49:39):

<laugh>.


Steve Bluestein (00:49:41):

And, and that's an intrinsically funny person. He sees life and he reacts to it comedically. Then there are people who have learned, if they say seven words in a row and stop, the audience will laugh. They're technicians. Hmm. Both are funny. I personally enjoy the intrinsically funny people. Absolutely better. Because like Monica Piper and I, we have suddenly become these, this really good friends because she called me up one day and she said, look, I'm doing a one-woman show and I'm gonna come to your house and I'm going to, uh, do it in your living room for you <laugh>. And I said, just gimme a minute so I can shove knitting needles in both eyes,


Louise Palanker (00:50:26):

Eyes.


Steve Bluestein (00:50:29):

So she came to my house and she did her one woman show in my living room. And I kept throwing in lines, you know, as she was talking, I'd say, say this. Uh, and when it was done, she said, how was it? I said, it's wonderful. Aw. I was prepared to hate it. It it, it's wonderful. And


Fritz Coleman  (00:50:50):

It was on Off Broadway for a while, right? It


Steve Bluestein (00:50:52):

Ran for Off Broadway for over a year. Yeah. And it was called not That Jewish. And because of that, not that connection, of course I told her to change the title. Um, uh, because of that connection, we have learned that we have the same sense of humor. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we see things exactly in the same, same viewpoint and we call each other. Nobody makes me laugh. Nobody, you know. And, and so she, she makes me laugh. There are people that just make me laugh,


Fritz Coleman  (00:51:24):

You know? Uh, and it's funny that you mentioned that because it seems to me that back during the time when you were starting, um, with the Comedy Store players and starting standard, maybe it was cuz the business, the Comedy Club business was still in its infancy that the performers were more supportive of one another. And even the, even the Leno Letterman, George Miller era, those guys hung out and lived in each other's cars and went to each other's homes. Yeah. On Thanksgiving it seems like it was more fraternal. Now it's just like cutthroat.


Steve Bluestein (00:52:00):

Well, it's interesting because David Brenner said to me, I don't understand this. He said, in New York, we're like a family, we're supporting each other. And out here it's more cutthroat. And I'll have to say, and Bo will hate me for saying it, but I have to say that it was because of Bo Capital, who was the most competitive human being on the face of the earth, that he set the tone, uh, of those years. Uh, he's a wonderful guy and he's a very talented and, but I think back then he was really a different person. And, uh, and it was very competitive. You know, it it, until Alan Bursky said to me, um, look, it's not a race. We're not here, you know, to, to see who beats who. And that kind of took the pressure off,


Louise Palanker (00:52:58):

But it can feel like a finite, uh, goal that's only available to some, when you saw, when you guys watched Jimmy Walker get that show and then you watch Norman Leer take care of him and hire writers and make sure his standup was in. And then Mitzi puts him in the, you know, the, the prime position of, of the lineup. And then it's like, okay, who else is gonna book a deal? Who's gonna get on Carson? There were like specific things that some people were getting and some people were not getting. So it can seem less collaborative when there's only one on stage at a time.


Steve Bluestein (00:53:26):

Well, yeah. And like I said, everyone thinks I should be headlining.


Fritz Coleman  (00:53:30):

Right. You know, everyone about that same topic, Steve, uh, I ran into Johnny Dark at a coffee shop and he was a close friend of Letterman's and Letterman would, uh, I know <laugh>, he's holding his You okay Steve? No, he's fine. He's fine. Uh, but, but, uh, he was a close friend of Letterman's and Letterman was always really good to his close friends by giving him pops on his show. And he, and this was when Letterman announced he was gonna retire. And I said, so what do you think Letterman will be like without TV after he retires? And he thought about it for a second and he said, Howard Hughes <laugh>. That was so funny. But that, that's not, that wasn't the point of what I wanted to say. He said something, he said something, uh, which is a great philosophy. He said, the hardest thing about show business is learning to deal with the success of your friends. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which I thought was brilliant. And that really is, I mean, don't be, don't begrudge them. Everybody supported Leno when he started to make it. And I guess it sounds like the same for Jimmy Walker, but it, it, it takes somebody comfortable in his own skin to be able to do


Louise Palanker (00:54:36):

That. But those people aren't comics. That's the problem. <laugh>. Yeah.


Steve Bluestein (00:54:41):

Well, you know, I, Elaine is incredibly, Elaine's taken a her energy and in and into animal rescue. Oh


Fritz Coleman  (00:54:50):

Yeah.


Steve Bluestein (00:54:51):

And her, I mean, the heart of that woman is as big as this room. Oh yeah. She would, you know, she would crawl in her hands and knees to save a dog someplace in, in Alaska. Yeah. And, you know, I wouldn't do that for my cousin


Louise Palanker (00:55:06):

<laugh>, but if you, you know, take some of you, you would for some of the cousins, Steve, um,


Steve Bluestein (00:55:12):

Maybe Deedee


Louise Palanker (00:55:13):

It. Okay. For Deedee, it takes someone who can have some sort of passion outside of standup to find some sort of joy in something that isn't as competitive. I, I think is, is healthy. Right. And for you guys to write books and to have these other outlets for your creativity is, I, I think is really healthy so that it's not always this sort of stage time jockeying for a spotlight.


Fritz Coleman  (00:55:38):

That's a good point. What's your favorite kind of writing, Steve? Which kind is most satisfying to you?


Steve Bluestein (00:55:43):

I, I love writing alone. I love, I love writing the books. You know, I wrote sitcom for years and it was eight guys in a room working on one joke for four hours <laugh> until I wanted to kill myself. <laugh>, I remember, uh, I was on a show with Mary Willard. We were partner, we were a team. And they literally, it was nine o'clock in the morning and at three o'clock in the afternoon, they were still working on the same joke. And I said, excuse me for a minute. I went up to my office, I wrote 12 jokes, I threw it on the table. I said, pick a joke, <laugh>, let's get outta here. And it was a nightmare. So I writing alone, and I love, I love playwriting because more than film writing, I find because I'm dyslexic. I find film writing to be too big. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you have to be big in film writing. You have to, you have to get on a plane and go to Georgia, you know, in a, in a play. You can do it in one room.


Fritz Coleman  (00:56:45):

And if you write a joke, you can imagine the audience laughing at it too. When you're writing for something that's gonna be performed live, I'm guessing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.


Steve Bluestein (00:56:52):

Yeah. But it, it's not even that, it's just the building those relationships in small places that's more, uh, appealing to me. And I've got eight plays sitting in a drawer right here that, cause when I thought, you know, when I was done writing television, I thought, well, I'll write plays. That'll be easy. <laugh>. I'll just write, I'll just write plays.


Louise Palanker (00:57:17):

<laugh>.


Steve Bluestein (00:57:18):

I should have just slammed my hand in this drawer.


Fritz Coleman  (00:57:22):

While we're talking about your playwriting skills, a sad coincidence is your play Rest in pieces. Another great title. Had a New York staged Reading with Olympia Dukakis, who has just passed away recently in the last year or so. Yeah.


Steve Bluestein (00:57:37):

That, that play has had more stage readings. And it's had, uh, two, two productions. And, uh, Olivia Dukakis was in one and, uh, oh, here we go again.


Fritz Coleman  (00:57:54):

She knew you couldn't remember her name. She'd be mad.


Steve Bluestein (00:57:57):

No. Uh, I, I can't remember. And you know, I'm writing this thing from my act, but I can't remember names. I can tell you the color of the hair. I can tell you what they were wearing. I know I can describe their house. I know their car. And I, you know, I said, do you know that woman, that woman, she had blonde hair and then her husband had an affair and she left them. But then she came back because he, he was the only one who would take her craziness. Who was that? You mean mom?


Louise Palanker (00:58:21):

<laugh>. I think if you google all the elements, it spits out the answer. Right.


Steve Bluestein (00:58:27):

<laugh>. It doesn't work that way. I just can't remember the name. James Coburn. Not James Coburn. And anyways, uh, he's dead too. James


Louise Palanker (00:58:35):

Coco, they're all dead. Jimmy Coco.


Steve Bluestein (00:58:38):

No, no, no. They're all dead. They're all, uh, Lee Marvin,


Louise Palanker (00:58:42):

You can't just keep saying names for you.


Fritz Coleman  (00:58:44):

No. Well, James and Lee Marvin were offering the


Louise Palanker (00:58:46):

Sco. Oh yeah, they are. So, uh,


Steve Bluestein (00:58:49):

But Kobin was wrong.


Louise Palanker (00:58:51):

<laugh>, I wanna talk, I, I don't know if Fritz has heard you talk about the parties at Fred and Mary's, but I think Fritz would enjoy hearing some of this stuff cuz he loves showbiz lower.


Steve Bluestein (00:59:00):

Well, uh, we're talking about Fred Willard and his wife Mary Willard, and they were the universal party givers in Los Angeles and ev uh, new Year's, Christmas, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day. Fred's birthday. Mary's birthday, 4th of July. These were the parties. And I'm not talking about 15 people and Cheese Dip <laugh>. I'm talking about,

(00:59:31):

I'm talking about a hundred people, 150 people and a caterer. And the, and Mary was, Mary was so special. Um, she would create, she would write plays on the 4th of July that encompassed our history. And she would have all the children play the, you know, play the parts <laugh> all the children so that they would learn about American history. Wow. Uh, she was just amazing. And Christmas, every Christmas party was exactly the same. Every deer for 30 years. And it went like this. You'd come, you'd have some d'oeuvres, and then you'd me around outside and you'd eat and you'd joke. And then Mary would say, Jo time. And, and Fred would get up and do something. And then Joanne Worley, who had been at the party the whole night, suddenly disappeared. And then all of a sudden you'd find her outside tapping on the window <laugh>. And Fred said, oh, look for, it's Joanne Worley.

(01:00:37):

And he'd let her in and she says, Fred, I wish just in the neighborhood. And I heard all these people singing. And so I, I thought I'd come in. He said, oh, too, come in. She says, yeah, I hope you don't mind. I brought a piano player, <laugh>. And she'd go over and she knew 15 minutes <laugh>. And she'd sing. And, and she, I just adore that woman. And then, then we'd sing Christmas carols, the highlight being the 12 nights of Christmas. But the big deal was five golden rings if you had to do something funny on five golden rings. So, um, da uh, Perlow, Bob Perlow and I, we would always come up. So one year, Dave, uh, Bob called me on my cell phone during that ti timed it and it rang and I went, hello. And he went, fuck <laugh>. And the next year I went into the kitchen, I got their vacuum cleaner, and I plugged it in. And when it came time to go five, I came up with the vacuum cleaner on, and I started vacuuming, went, hi, no man. It was, it was like that. And


Fritz Coleman  (01:01:49):

She was as funny as he was. I was on jury duty with her one time, and it really made the week go fast. She was very funny.


Steve Bluestein (01:01:56):

Oh yeah. She was very, but she was, she had a heart of as big as all outdoors. And when Mary passed away, I, I grieved, I grieved more for Mary's passing than when my mother died. I really did. Her, there were 250, 300 people at the funeral. It was just, and and it was, Mary would pick the cream of the comedy world to come to the parties. So, oh, sorry. You weren't there. Uh, Fred, uh,


Louise Palanker (01:02:31):

<laugh>.


Fritz Coleman  (01:02:31):

Oh, no, I, uh, I was in Fred, Fred used me in his Christmas show. He would do this Christmas show every year and a couple years. He did it at the El Port Tao Theater, which is where I had my one person show. And he would invite me just to come out and do a couple of Christmas weather jokes and then walk off and he would sit in this throne and they'd have all these odd characters. They had a great Donald Trump impersonator for the last couple. I remember that. But no, I I he had a long career and was, they were lovely people.


Steve Bluestein (01:03:00):

They were, they were truly lovely people. And, and, you know, and those, those parties, I mean, everyone who was important in comedy was there. Yeah. And Mary kept Fred's name in Everybody's on everybody's lips because of those parties. That's so interesting. They were, they were amazing. They were just amazing. And I wrote about it in memoir of a Nobody.


Louise Palanker (01:03:25):

Yeah. That's why. That's what it, it's Have you, you have to read that


Fritz Coleman  (01:03:28):

Book. I have. I, I wanna read


Louise Palanker (01:03:29):

It. His book is the, that's the first book I read. And then this weekend I read Porn of Pines. And so, you know, Steve's one of my favorite authors. But I wanna talk about, now you have a YouTube show and a podcast. So can you talk about those projects?


Steve Bluestein (01:03:41):

Well, no, it's not a podcast, it's a YouTube talk show. Oh.


Louise Palanker (01:03:44):

So it's all one thing. So there's no difference between talking a blue streak and the, um,


Steve Bluestein (01:03:50):

Oh, well, yes. The, the podcast was on my website. Okay. But I think the last time I did an interview was in 1947. Okay.


Louise Palanker (01:03:59):

I,


Steve Bluestein (01:03:59):

I haven't, I haven't, uh, done that because I've, you know, there's just so much I can do.


Louise Palanker (01:04:04):

Right, right, right. So now you're doing, let, let me say this about that, and it's on set of sales network on YouTube. So tell us about that.


Steve Bluestein (01:04:11):

Yeah. Uh, you know, I'm retired. I, I sold my house in la I, I bought this house. I'm writing about that in my act too. I bought a big house in the desert. I knew it was big when I, because when I was standing at the baggage claim area, they told me that the gift shop was down the street. <laugh>, you know, that, that's, that's, that's a big


Louise Palanker (01:04:34):

House. It's a big house.


Steve Bluestein (01:04:35):

Uh, yeah, it's a big house. Uh, and I was retired and happily, happily retired, you know, and I got a phone call out of the blue, hi Steve, we'd like to give you a talk show on the YouTube network. And I went, really? And they said, yeah. I said, well, you know, I, I moved out of la don't worry, we can do it from your house. I said, Hey, listen, perfect. I don't have to leave the house. You know, when between Amazon and the Bank of America's direct deposit mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I haven't, I haven't left the house in 35 years.


Louise Palanker (01:05:10):

Yeah.


Steve Bluestein (01:05:12):

You know what I'm saying? I could get a heart and lung machine from Amazon. That's all I need.


Fritz Coleman  (01:05:17):

<laugh>.


Steve Bluestein (01:05:18):

So, so, so I do this talk show, and to my utter amazement, it's become hugely popular. Our, our last show got 8,000 views, over 8,000 views. And I, and I said, who, who are these people? And, and it's just been great. Now Fritz is gonna do it on the 18th.


Fritz Coleman  (01:05:42):

I can't wait.


Louise Palanker (01:05:43):

I hear he's good.


Steve Bluestein (01:05:45):

Yeah. I Doctor gonna say I can't do it. Yeah. <laugh>.


Louise Palanker (01:05:47):

Oh, no, no. So it's great. So you,


Steve Bluestein (01:05:49):

That's my negative childhood coming in.


Louise Palanker (01:05:51):

No, no. It's, it's really fun. I watched a few and it's really fun. So how do you decide who to talk to? It seems like you've been picking people that you are simpatico with and that you have wonderful stories. Just that, uh, experiences to share.


Steve Bluestein (01:06:04):

No, I'm only interviewing my friends.


Louise Palanker (01:06:06):

Okay.


Steve Bluestein (01:06:07):

That's, that's all I, you know, and I have literally a couple of hundred people I can call on. And, uh, if anybody that I don't know ever comes on, then I may go into cardiac arrest. <laugh>, I, I dunno. I dunno.


Louise Palanker (01:06:21):

So it's that familiarity that makes it feel more like a conversation than, than a show. Right.


Steve Bluestein (01:06:25):

Like Mark Summers was on this, uh, last week, and, uh, mark and I had not been friends because he came to the Comedy store after me.


Fritz Coleman  (01:06:36):

He had a great career.


Steve Bluestein (01:06:37):

Oh my God, we should all have a great career. Like, yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, when my play was in Delaware, he was in Pennsylvania. And he called me and said, I'd like to come down and see the rehearsal. I said, sure. And, uh, that artwork was done by, uh, uh, one of the prostate, you know, one of my books is called Take My Prostate, please. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, that, uh, was done by one of the prostate group, uh, websites, which I thought was wonderful. And I, I said, look, if I look that good, I'd be happy <laugh>. So I use


Fritz Coleman  (01:07:15):

That. You look that good. I'm gonna throw some names at you. I want you to react to them. Okay. Briefly. Alright. Mitie, shore


Steve Bluestein (01:07:23):

Lover, she gave me my career. I, you know, Mitzi was living in a little house. She had the big house in on, on Doheny. And then they sold that she was incapacitated. And I went to visit her and I said to her, everything I have I owe to you, and I will not let them forget.


Fritz Coleman  (01:07:42):

You're not the only person that said that. Robin Williams,


Steve Bluestein (01:07:47):

Uh, Robin was great, you know, he lived with, um, he lived with Elaine Busler, and I pulled her aside one day and I said, Elaine, get him some deodorants.


Fritz Coleman  (01:07:58):

Right. <laugh>,


Steve Bluestein (01:08:00):

He was, he was, you know, nature man. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But it was pretty strong. And, you know, he was, he was, Robin was unique. Misty said to me, I, I remember the day, like it was yesterday, I was in La Jolla and I saw his picture on the wall and I said, who is that? And Misty said, ah, that's our next star

(01:08:22):

<laugh>.

(01:08:24):

Um, that's not what I wanted to hear. I want gonna be the next star.


Fritz Coleman  (01:08:27):

Right. Richard Pryor.


Steve Bluestein (01:08:29):

Uh, Richard, you know, I, I, I wasn't close with Richard. We were friendly. We said hello to each other because I was always, you know, too shy to become, to become close to him. But between Richard and Jimmy, see, Jimmy started it. And then he brought Richard in and Richard really opened up, you know, cuz Richard had the name already. So Richard really opened up the world to comedy


Fritz Coleman  (01:08:58):

From Paul Mooney.


Steve Bluestein (01:09:00):

Uh, totally insane. Totally insane. Loved him, loved him, uh, made me so uncomfortable because mm-hmm. <affirmative> was, he was insane. And, and yet he always treated me beautifully. Always, you know, liked me and, and was, but I couldn't, I couldn't get close to


Louise Palanker (01:09:21):

Him. No. He was scary to me. He was, he was me.


Fritz Coleman  (01:09:23):

No, he was a very scary guy. He was mean on stage and offstage.


Steve Bluestein (01:09:26):

Yeah. I


Louise Palanker (01:09:27):

Think he wanted to be imposing. I think it made him feel powerful. Yeah.


Fritz Coleman  (01:09:31):

But very few people knew that, you know, he, he, I think he wrote the majority of Live on the Sunset Strip. Richards,


Louise Palanker (01:09:36):

Yeah. People Red


Fritz Coleman  (01:09:37):

Suit special


Louise Palanker (01:09:38):

Comedy people, I think. Do not give him credit for that. Hey, we promised, uh, Steven, you may have zero interest, so, you know, maybe listen to music while this is happening. But we promised a tour of the lunch boxes that we've just installed on the front of our table. So


Steve Bluestein (01:09:53):

Look at the time,


Louise Palanker (01:09:54):

I guess <laugh>, I guess starting at the upper left, I, that's a happy days lunchbox. And then we have a Bees.


Fritz Coleman  (01:10:02):

Why did you start collecting these? How long?


Louise Palanker (01:10:03):

Well, I, my friend Mark Davis gave me, and he's Richard Cheese, you know, lounge against the machine. He, he gave me the bee's lunchbox that he found it for like a dollar 99. He knew that I loved the bees. And then once you have, uh, a couple of things people think that you collect and they give them to you. So then I started, I went college


Steve Bluestein (01:10:21):

With Henry Winkler.


Louise Palanker (01:10:22):

What's that?


Steve Bluestein (01:10:23):

I went to college with Henry.


Louise Palanker (01:10:24):

Oh, that's right. He went to, oh


Fritz Coleman  (01:10:26):

My God. He


Louise Palanker (01:10:26):

Went to too. Were you in placed together?


Steve Bluestein (01:10:29):

No, no. He was a year ahead


Louise Palanker (01:10:30):

Of me. A year ahead. Okay. So let me see. So we've got, yeah, happy days. The bgs and then Flipper and that I loved Flipper.


Fritz Coleman  (01:10:38):

Wow. That's gotta be so


Louise Palanker (01:10:39):

Weird. I wanted a dolphin and my parents were very strict. No, dolphin <laugh>. And then Bobby Sherman, we have Bobby Sherman and the, this one I love. It's Chuck Connors on Cowboy in Africa, which ran for one year, but somehow they had the lunchbox deal. <laugh> sealed. But I love Chuck Connors from, uh, rifleman. Yeah. You know, he just walked down the street shooting.


Fritz Coleman  (01:10:59):

I had that gun with a big round caulking mechanism. Yeah.


Steve Bluestein (01:11:02):

Right.


Louise Palanker (01:11:04):

And then we have Is that, what's next to it? Is it


Steve Bluestein (01:11:08):

Et


Louise Palanker (01:11:08):

Family affair? Oh, that's right, Steve et Family affair. Family affair. What? Wow. Mrs. Beasley Doll with Buffy. And then we have the Musketeers and Walton's Little House on the Prairie ET and the Brady Bunch. Can I, yeah.


Steve Bluestein (01:11:24):

Can I think one thing about the Waltons


Louise Palanker (01:11:26):

Oh yeah, please.


Steve Bluestein (01:11:27):

I I absolutely could not relate to that family. You know, my, the people, the families that I related to were the monsters and the Adams. Right.


Louise Palanker (01:11:37):

I read that in your book,


Steve Bluestein (01:11:38):

<laugh>. I love those people. The Waltons, uh, father knows best, uh, Donna Reed. I go, what the hell? Where's the fighting? Where's the, where's the blood? You mean


Fritz Coleman  (01:11:50):

Where you didn't have a sister saying goodnight to you from the house next door. <laugh> tonight, Bobby, or


Louise Palanker (01:11:55):

Whatever. Thanks Steve. Boy. So did it. Is that it? Did I cover everything? Let me see the wide shot one more time. And


Fritz Coleman  (01:12:01):

You know, you gotta run that on eBay just to get a, I I think


Louise Palanker (01:12:03):

You could. We can. I have more lunch boxes in my office. We can swap them in and out every week. And you know, Eagle Eye viewers can point out


Fritz Coleman  (01:12:10):

This. Steve, thank you so much. Honestly. Hey,


Steve Bluestein (01:12:13):

My pleasure. It was, it was a joy. You know, you could also bring lunch to the office.


Louise Palanker (01:12:17):

<laugh>. I could, I could. Good point. When you come, Steve, I'll have lunch. So here come the closing credits. We would love for you to join us online on Instagram and Twitter, where we are at Media Path Pod and on Facebook where we are. Media Path Podcast. You can find full episodes with all kinds of bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. We would love to know what media you have been enjoying. You can contact us at our social media or email us at media path podcast gmail.com. We wanna thank our wonderful guest, Steve Blustein. Our team includes Dean of Friedman, Francesco Demond, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Fiac, Thomas Hubble, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Maddox. I am Louise p Planker here with Fritz Coleman. And we will see you along the media path. What else, Fritz?


Fritz Coleman  (01:13:02):

Well, if you enjoyed this episode of Media Path, it would help us a great deal to be a little more discoverable by potential new listeners. If you leave us a quick review on Apple Podcasts, and if you're new here and this is your first time with us, please check out our back catalog. You'll find all kinds of binge-worthy stuff, including our most recent interview with a great Steve Bluestein, Gary Puckett, the Cowsills, Keith Morrison, Henry Winkler, you name it. We have 'em all. Thank you for spending an hour with us and we will be overjoyed if you took a moment to share your thoughts with us or recommend us to a friend. Be safe. Thanks for listening.

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