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Episode 56

Double Dare & Entertaining a Generation featuring Marc Summers

Episode  56
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Marc Summers never wanted to host a game show for kids but he attacked the challenge with purpose and Double Dare quickly became the most-watched original daily program on cable television. Marc’s success secret is that he sees and seizes every opportunity and any challenge. He is here to share his wisdom and dishy show biz tales.  Plus Fritz and Weezy are recommending How To Be A Tyrant, Landslide by Michael Wolff, Atypical and Naomi Osaka on Netflix.

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Louise Palanker (00:00:00):

That's what,

Fritz Coleman  (00:00:05):

Hi everybody. Welcome to Media Path. I'm Fritz Coleman.

Louise Palanker (00:00:09):

Oh, I'm Louise Palanker. We got, it

Fritz Coleman  (00:00:10):

Was my chart. Thanks for showing up. Yeah, sure. Right here, media Path is your go-to resource for entertainment. Our mission is to hit you with so many fun diversions that you will completely blow off your more important daily responsibilities. And today we have a fantastic guest. This guy is a stellar example of how to diversify in the entertainment business. He's been a magician, a dj, a standup comic, a game show host, a talk show host, a producer and executive producer, and an author. And he's good at all of them. He's, Mark Summers known him for a long time, so happy to have him with us today. Wildly successful in many areas, but he's also had to endure some very serious challenges in his life as well. And we're gonna hit on all those topics with Mark Summers in just a few minutes. Wheezy, what do you have for us this time? So,

Louise Palanker (00:00:58):

I've got a couple of picks from a path we'll call, who am I? We'll start with a Netflix show called Atypical on Netflix. I like the way I said Netflix twice as if they pay me. They don't. <laugh>. Uh, Sam is 18. He's on the autism spectrum In his efforts to earn independence, and maybe even a girlfriend put his entire family on a fast track towards self-discovery. Atypical comes to us from Robia, Rashid and Seth Gordon. It stars Kier Gilchrist, Jennifer, Jason Lee, Michael Rappaport, and Bridget Lundy Payne as the sister who's just outstanding. She's so great. It's really fun. This show is about relationships. Each family has storylines which intersect in honest, direct, quirky, and compelling ways. The performances are exceptional. Atypical on Netflix. Four Seasons, strong and flowing. It's a great stream. Jump in. So the next pick I have is, uh, and I just, just came out.


So go ahead and check it on your Netflix. It might come up immediately when you click upon your Netflix. It's called Naomi Osaka on Netflix is a three part miniseries. Once again, continue to say the word Netflix as if I'm on their payroll. Naomi has been in the news for her refusal to take part in tournament interviews, citing mental health issues. This intimate series follows Naomi Osaka as she explores her cultural roots and navigates her multifaceted identity as a tennis champ and rising leader, directed by Oscar nominee Garrett Bradley. The series follows Naomi, over the course of two years, mapping out the development of her game and her views about the role she can play in the world. We open on home video of two tiny little girls being coached by their dad to play tennis. So what you immediately grasp is that tennis is somebody else's dream.


Naomi's voiceover tells us that they practice for six hours every day, and that her dad did not talk to the other tennis parents. To me, that means that the girls were mainly socializing within their own bubble and working so hard at tennis that they had little opportunity to think and feel and dream about their own destiny. It was being mapped for them. Naomi, of course, excels at tennis by age 20. She defeats Serena Williams and she's world famous. But all this was dad's dream Sports. Parents are an even rougher breed than stage parents. Kids are raised to be winners. Killers. Emotional development is not a priority, but this piece is not a bad dad doc. In fact, he seems lovely and is in it rarely. This is a documentary about Naomi's journey to discover herself. She has a lot to tell us on her own terms, and in this format, she can pilot the narrative. The show is contemplative and quiet and deliberate, mirroring what we come to know about Naomi's personality. The voice, which Naomi is finding now speaks out about human rights, racial injustice, and mental health, bringing awareness to these important issues. And perhaps most importantly, Fritz, you may now add to your collection. And Naomi Osaka Barbie doll.

Fritz Coleman  (00:03:45):

Nice. Yeah. I think she did the world of great service, calling attention to social anxiety. And Ken athletes, when they signed these huge contracts, be forced to do all this great public testimony in front of millions of the media. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and the eyes of the world. If that's not what you're good at, or have a pension toward, you know, uh, and, and I felt so bad for her. I really didn't. I think the whole world sort of empathized with her situation.

Louise Palanker (00:04:11):

Absolutely. And if you're not into sports and you never watch the interview process, there can be like a lot of judgment fueled in these questions. And it can, it can be very intimidating when you're a kid. Really. You're just a, she's still a kid. Yeah. You know, she's only 23 years old and you're supposed to, you're not Jen Psaki. Like, how are you supposed to field these questions with style and not just start crying?

Fritz Coleman  (00:04:32):

She might change the whole paradigm for that. Like, whether you're gonna have to be forced to, to do that. Yeah. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:04:37):

Yeah. Sounds gonna be interesting. I love that.

Fritz Coleman  (00:04:39):

All right. I have a couple of good ones. Okay. The first one is a Netflix, uh, series miniseries called How to Become a Tyrant. I was interested in watching this because as I've said on this podcast many times before, in the last four years, we've had our first exposure to authoritarianism. And the endgame of authoritarianism is a dictatorship run by a tyrant. We weren't there yet, but we got a little taste of the possibility over the last four years. This is a limited series that goes into the playbook that dictators use to maintain absolute power. Guys like Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, mofi, I mean, the Kim Dynasty of North Korea, Papadak Valier of Haiti, timely. Now that the assassination has happened to their most recent leader, there have been endless docs about each one of these characters. But this is not your typical dry history channel droning, it actually has a sense of humor. It's narrated by Peter Dinkle. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Mr. Game of Thrones. He makes snarky funny comments as he's hitting you with the tactics, the tie, all these dudes together, like seizing power, crushing their rivals, setting up a reign of terror, controlling the truth, creating a new society, or promising to the ultimate goal is ruling forever. Now, these are extremes of dictatorship in the 20th century, but some of the concepts are gonna feel hauntingly familiar mm-hmm. <affirmative> about what we've just lived through. And while we're talking about authoritarians mm-hmm. <affirmative>


Landslide is the latest book by Michael Wolf. And this chronicles the last days in the Trump White House. It's the third book he wrote about Trump. The bombshell one was the last one, fire and Fury, which was, yeah. The go-to book. It was talked about on the media for months. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, this is equally as powerful and even more meaningful, because after all the damning revelations he laid out in Fire and Fury, he got White House officials, including Trump, to sit down and talk with him again, which is mindblowing. It's chock full of smoking hot reveals. But I'll give you what I think was the most eye catching one in this whole book. The whole idea that Trump swearing that he won the election, actually won it by a landslide didn't come from Trump himself, it came from Rudy Giuliani. You might remember on election night, the first half of the returns were favoring Trump, which is how the pundits said it would go.


Republicans would come out of the gate strong, but as the evening progressed, the Dems would recover because the mail-in and absentee ballots. Well, when the momentums for Trump started to stall out about halfway through the night, and Trump's inner circle began to sense the things that were gonna go south, Rudy, who was, according to reports shit-faced, ran into the room and said to Trump, what you have to do is go on the air right now and claim victory. You gotta jump on it before Biden does. Cuz perception is everything. And Trump was persuaded. So that's exactly what he did. Then Trump gradually added his own color to this fantasy, like the election has been stolen. And then after election night, Michael Wolf goes into all the whackadoodle behavior that happens as more and more attorneys are hired to go out and stop the steal among the state governments and battleground states.


And you're thinking to yourself, how did they recruit so many Nutbag lawyers to threaten their law licenses by going to these various states with these conspiracy theories? And none of them worked. Lots of interesting stuff. This is one of four post-Trump books. I swore that I would never invest any more time in Trump oriented literature, but I couldn't help myself <laugh>. This might go down as the oddest and darkest time in American history. It's hard to get enough. And today's the day where Peter Rucker's book comes out called I Alone Can Fix It. Now, are you going to read all these books, Fritz? I'm gonna read, uh, I, I finished this one, and then I'm gonna read the Peter Rucker book. And I don't know if I'll read the other ones. I don't know. I I have this dark fascination with the whole thing. And, um, and, and here's, I think the, the eeriest overarching piece of information from this book.


Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I heard the two authors talking about this last night on Ms. N B C, that, you know, Trump may not, in his soul of soul believes that he won this election. He may not even care, but he obsesses over chaos. He just likes the chaos. He, he loves that people in his immediate circle fight with one another. He loves to see him face off. It makes 'em smile. So it may not be whether he wants to be president again. He just loves chaos. And so we have to get Dr. Freud in here to figure out why that's true. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:09:30):

And I don't know, I, I mean, I spent five years just obsessively reading these books about what was happening. And then somehow after Joe was elected, I just kind of, I said, you know, I can, Rachel can tell me everything I need to know that's in this book, or Nicole. And I just, I'm taking kind of a break from it. Although I could easily spiral back, back in if you're telling me that there's some stuff in here that I

Fritz Coleman  (00:09:52):

Have. Well, this was good. And, and again, it's a, it's, it's ridiculous because even after what was revealed in Fire and Fury by Michael Wolf, Trump did a, like a two hour sit down with him, <laugh>. And, and they attributed that to the fact that he doesn't get as much attention as he did when he was president. And he craves attention. So anybody that will listen to him, he likes to talk to. All

Louise Palanker (00:10:13):

Right, well, let's go over with, you know, some remote podcasting equipment and say, hey. Um, well, you can talk as long as you want,

Fritz Coleman  (00:10:20):

Dude. It'd be fun to be in the presence of Satan.

Louise Palanker (00:10:24):

No, I think I'll pass. I will pass him back.

Fritz Coleman  (00:10:26):

All right. Now to our guest, this man and I go back 25 to 30 years when we did standup together. And I think the last time I worked with him, it might have been at the Ice House, but it was probably at the last stop at Encino, which is now a barely legal time Massage Parlor <laugh>. He was the host of Double Dare on Nickelodeon. My children grew up and loved that show. He hosted Unwrapped on the Food Network. He executive produced Dinner Impossible and Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network. He hosted Home show on a abc, our Home on Lifetime. History's IQ in the History channel, wrote a really wonderful book, everything in its Place, my Trials and Triumphs with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. What an accomplished guy. Mark Summers. I'm so happy to see you again.

Mark Summers  (00:11:09):

So, well, it's nice to see you. Well, I remember the la I used to do the left up out in Newport Beach originally.

Fritz Coleman  (00:11:13):

Well, that was a good gig. That

Mark Summers  (00:11:15):

Was, you know, it was a great place to try out material because it was the best audience in the world, and you could go out there with the worst stuff and get a laugh and build confidence so that when you went to the improv, improv of the comedy store's. Right.

Fritz Coleman  (00:11:26):

Good. You know, and there was nobody from show business down there ever. You could just try it out ever. And that was a great room. And if you wanted to work Monday nights, it was a sacrifice. But you, but it was worth it because Monday night they had a strip show before they had the comedy show show. I don't remember that. And the audience was enlightened. By the time you get on this enlightened, there were women's. Seriously stoked. By the time you get on, let

Mark Summers  (00:11:48):

Me apologize for my voice. I'm just getting over bronchitis. And I was, uh, scratchy throat. So I'm, I'm, this is the first day I can sort of talk. So, uh, it's not my normal broadcasting voice, but I'll do the best I can. Well,

Fritz Coleman  (00:11:58):


Louise Palanker (00:11:59):

Tell you. Well, we're excited to hear what you've been holding on to saying for these last two <laugh>. Now, mark, I'm gonna take you back. Okay. I have a little like, trip down your memory lane for you, Thomas. If you could click on these, um, these photographs. Uh, so do you recognize where we are, mark?

Mark Summers  (00:12:15):

Uh, if I had my glasses with

Louise Palanker (00:12:16):

Me, I promise. Okay. So fresh off the boat from Suburban Buffalo, I was an intern on a show called Our Magazine. You were starring the Unnervingly handsome Gary Collins. Gary Collins.

Mark Summers  (00:12:24):

You were an intern on

Louise Palanker (00:12:25):

The show. I, so we know each other. Oh my God. You were the warmup guy. Yes. And what I remember most fondly, mark, is that when an audience member would ask How many people work here, you would say about half. Thank you. Thank

Mark Summers  (00:12:36):

You so much.

Fritz Coleman  (00:12:37):


Mark Summers  (00:12:38):

As a warmup guy, it always works. Where the hell did you get that

Louise Palanker (00:12:40):

Picture? I took it. I was like a dvy little intern that came on set with a camera.

Mark Summers  (00:12:44):

You've gotta give me a copy. That's crazy. Gary was the nicest guy to me, so nice. When I was trying to become a host and I was some young kid, um, I got him to sit down and do an interview with me where I got to, you know, do six minutes as a resume tape <laugh>. Okay. And he said to me, you don't have host hair. I said, what the hell does that mean? He said, you don't look like a host. So he said, here, go to my barber. So it was this very nice lady. I think she was on, uh, the lot at Paramount. And I went over there and I went to pay and she said, Gary's got the first one. They're on you after this. And you know, there aren't many guys left like that. Who did? Oh my.

Fritz Coleman  (00:13:17):

This kind of, oh, he was in this guy. Yeah,

Louise Palanker (00:13:19):

He was, he,

Fritz Coleman  (00:13:19):

I liked his wife too. She

Mark Summers  (00:13:20):

Was a sweeter. Yeah, she was lovely. Yep.

Fritz Coleman  (00:13:22):

So now, so I, I think what might be the proudest, uh, career achievement for you, I think you'll agree, is you are the godfather of slime <laugh> on Double Dare You brought Slime into the American zeitgeist. Yeah. Really. It was so much fun to see people get slimed and you ultimately get slime. What is slime? How did that happen?

Mark Summers  (00:13:43):

Well, back in the day, the original recipe was vanilla pudding, uh, green food, coloring and applesauce. Oh wow. Now I just, we just brought Double Dare back and we shot 60 of them. And, and they have this company that makes, um, uh, slime for Nickelodeon. And you can change ready for this term, the viscosity of it. <laugh>, do you want it to be thin? Do you want it to be thick? Do you want it to hang on your

Fritz Coleman  (00:14:06):

Face? You want it to ooze or hang?

Mark Summers  (00:14:07):

And so we, we spent a whole day at the factory just trying to figure out what kind of slime we should be using on

Louise Palanker (00:14:13):

That show. So you raise a generation of slime scientists. I,

Mark Summers  (00:14:16):

You know, I did. And what's fascinating is, to me, all the reality shows that are going on today are actually being done and produced by people who grew up watching me. That's, yeah. And then they just took it another step further.

Fritz Coleman  (00:14:27):

Sure. Well, I'll tell you, you were really good cuz you never talked down to the kids. You were, they were equal participants with you in this high jinx that was going on. And

Mark Summers  (00:14:36):

Do you know why that was? I never wanted to host a kid show. I had been around town forever. Like you trying to do something. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you got on doing weather. Mm-hmm. And you were having a really good standup career and I was still doing warmups. I wanted to blow my brains out. <laugh>. And, um, a friend of mine, Dave Garrison, who's sadly no longer around, was a ventriloquist. And he got called for the audition. Now they had auditioned a thousand people in New York City. Didn't like anybody. Dave gets this phone call here in LA and he goes, look, I don't wanna be in front of the camera anymore. I wanna be a producer. Why don't you go to this instead of me?

Louise Palanker (00:15:06):

Oh my

Mark Summers  (00:15:07):

Gosh. So I walked in and they said, Dave Garrison. I said, well, my name is Mark Summers, but, uh, Dave couldn't make it. It's okay if I go on instead of him. Yeah. Okay, come on in. And so I was the first guy to audition in LA They had auditioned another thousand people. And so it came down to me and another guy, and I called up the exec producer and I said, well, how you gonna make the decision? And he goes, I don't know. And I said, uh, well, what's the big problem? He said, well, when you guys auditioned, you did not, uh, audition with kids. We had adults playing to party kids. And I said, well, uh, I, I have kids. He goes, yeah, that doesn't mean anything. I said, well, I used to be a magician and I used to do magic show. He goes, yeah, it doesn't mean anything.


So I said, well, why don't you put me and whoever this other guy is in a room with kids and, and do the show and let the best man win. He said, I'll call you back. And an hour later he called me, he said, what are you doing over Labor Day? I said, coming to New York. He goes, yeah. So they flew into New York <laugh>. Wow. And they put me in a studio with kids and then I left. And whoever this other person is, I still dunno who it was, came in and did his thing. And two days later they called me and they said, congratulations, you are the host of Double Dare. And I said, explain something to me. <laugh>, you are just a thousand people in New York and a thousand people in la. Why did I get the job? And he said, well, quite honestly, the two guys, you know, you and the other guy were about the same. But at the end of his audition, he looked in the camera and said, is that it? Or You guys want me to do something else? And I looked in the camera and said, we'll be back with more Double Dare after this <laugh>, because I threw a commercial. They thought that was more professional. And that changed my life. Oh,

Fritz Coleman  (00:16:31):

Wow. Yeah. That's really

Mark Summers  (00:16:33):

Interesting. And so I didn't wanna be a, a kid show host. And so I approached it like I was doing Jeopardy or Wheel, and I decided, you know, I never talked to the kids in a squeaky voice. You know, do you have a girlfriend? How are you <laugh>? So I just treated them like grownups. Yeah. And, uh, would make fun of them at times. And they would sort of screw around back to me. And when they went to focus groups, the kids said they thought I was like some crazy uncle or, or maybe some, you know, teenage friend that they had. Sure. They never thought at the time I was 34, married and had two kids, but they thought I was like 25. So it worked out.

Fritz Coleman  (00:17:04):

My kids love that show. How old are your kids now? They're, well, the, the ones that watched you were 33 and 31. I'm sorry to tell you that my friend. You know, you're old, don't you? Oh,

Mark Summers  (00:17:12):

Well, my son just turned 41, so yeah. Oh,

Fritz Coleman  (00:17:15):

<laugh>. Yeah. Well, but I, but I, I will say Nickelodeon was the only, you know, they didn't wanna watch Disney cartoons all the time, but Nickelodeon was the only channel we as parents were comfortable letting them watch and all that on any given weekend was funnier than Saturday Night Live. That was a funny show at, it was Keenan Thompson, his career. Yeah.

Mark Summers  (00:17:34):

And still obviously doing great.

Fritz Coleman  (00:17:35):

Yeah, doing great. Saturday

Mark Summers  (00:17:36):

Night. So

Fritz Coleman  (00:17:37):

That was, that was a great era for my kids that, that year when you were on there,

Mark Summers  (00:17:40):

It was fun, fun time. I really enjoyed it.

Louise Palanker (00:17:42):

So what do kids say to you who grew up watching you and are now in the industry? You're now doing something professional. What do they say about how you influence

Mark Summers  (00:17:48):

Them? I tell you, it's, I'm at that point in my life where things are creepy because people come up to me and they go, oh my God, you're an icon. I was literally, I was sitting, uh, outside at, uh, cheesecake Factory in Beverly Hills a Saturday. And a car drove up, went, oh my God, my child is, you know, <laugh>. And so the impact that I had on this particular generation, I didn't realize quite honestly until we brought it back. And I went out just now, we just stopped it when Covid started. But I did an 18 month 70 city tour, and it was for moms and dads and kids. But basically a bunch of 40 year old people would come dressed in double Dare t-shirts, <laugh>, just wanting to relive their childhood. Yeah. And it was just crazy to me. It was so much fun.

Fritz Coleman  (00:18:28):

So was that to promote the new manifestation of Double Dare? Yes. Yes. And are you involved in that as an EP or anything?

Mark Summers  (00:18:35):

I'm ep. Oh, good. And um, it was so funny, you know, I had been driving Nickelodeon crazy for years to bring it back and they said, no, no, no, no, no. So I get a phone call one day saying, your persistence is paid off <laugh>, we're gonna bring it back. But you are not the host, the

Louise Palanker (00:18:48):

Original guy that auditioned. Yeah.

Mark Summers  (00:18:50):

And, and I said, who's gonna host it? And they said, well, we hired, hired an in influencer. And I said, excuse me, I'm a 68 year old Jewish man. I have no idea what that is,

Fritz Coleman  (00:18:58):


Mark Summers  (00:18:59):

So they said, well, look it up. And, you know, here was this lovely lady, Liza Koshi, who was all of 22 years old. And she was the host, I was the ep and I was, I was the announcer. I became Harvey, the guy who used to announce for me. Right. And then she'd bring me out to do physical challenges and things like that. And, you know, it was just fun to come back and, and play television. And it was the first job I ever had in my entire career because back when I was, when I started Double Dare, I was getting paid 500 bucks an episode, which I thought was a fortune back in the day. So I didn't know what to expect, you know, fast forward the tape and the first offer was the most ridiculous offer in my life because I didn't have to renegotiate. Yeah. It was like, really, you're paying people <laugh> this much? Do now Holy Mac.

Fritz Coleman  (00:19:40):

I'm gonna go back to the beginning cuz you're from Indianapolis. Yes. That's a great growing ground for hosts back there. Were you in town when Letterman, was Letterman still on TV when you were there?

Mark Summers  (00:19:48):

Um, I was working at a radio station in Ellwood, Indiana, W B M P fm doing weekend six to 11, playing, uh, 101 strings in ManVan. And, um, I was only 15 <laugh> and the guy who drove me up lost his job. And so I had to quit. Dave took my place.

Louise Palanker (00:20:05):

Wow. Wow.

Mark Summers  (00:20:06):

And then Dave was doing a show called Clover Power, which was for four H like at one o'clock in the morning on the weekends, <laugh>. And, um, was, he's funny.

Louise Palanker (00:20:15):

Was he 15 too?

Mark Summers  (00:20:16):

No, no, he was, well, Dave's four years older than me. Okay. But Dave Garrison, the guy I mentioned earlier who was the ventriloquist, was the Variety Act on once. And, and he got done doing his act with Dudley. And so Dave and Dudley were there and Dave walks over to him. Keep in mind it's one o'clock in the morning, Clover power, w l w I in Indianapolis, <laugh>. And Letterman says, so Dave and Dudley, which one of you guys does the laundry? <laugh>? I mean, Letterman sense of humor was the same back then Yeah. A as it is now. And so I, yeah. And so when Dave became, uh, standup out here, I was working on the Mack Davis show doing warmups. Oh wow. And, uh, we had a writer, Terry Hart, he said, I'm gonna bring somebody to the studio today who I think, you know, and it was, it was Dave. Aw. And so Dave and I used to play racquetball together. And, uh, then when the strike started the Comedy Store, that was a whole other issue. So yeah. I've known Dave, God knows how many years, you know.

Fritz Coleman  (00:21:04):

So you did, you were a DJ and a magician to start that was your starting to show business. Yep. So how did the, how did the transition to standup comedy start?

Mark Summers  (00:21:13):

I always wanted to do standup. I went to a school called Graham Junior College in Boston. And it was a school for a bunch of misfits. We didn't really wanna go to school. Um, the school had two colored studios, a black and white studio, a radio station. It was insane. And so I got into this school and I meet a guy by the name of Bert Du Brow who became the exec producer of Sally, Jesse Raphael and Bert, uh, and, uh, Jerry Springer. I met a guy by the name of Paul Fusco who created Alf, uh, Andy Kaufman went to our school. So it was an amazing, uh, place, uh, to learn. And I was in my dorm one night watching TV and I turned on the Tonight Shows. I would watch all the time. And this young comedian by the name of Alan Bursky. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I said, well, Jesus, he's 18 years old. If he can do it, I can do it. And so my mission was to get the hell out of Boston, move to LA and become a standup comedian.

Fritz Coleman  (00:22:00):

Mm. Wow. And so I was at Mitzi's Memorial at the comedy. I was as well. And, uh, were you there? He was there. Oh my gosh. And Alan spoke and he was one of the funniest guys. He was there.

Mark Summers  (00:22:09):

Alan's still funny

Fritz Coleman  (00:22:09):

Below. He really very funny.

Mark Summers  (00:22:11):

It was weird to go to that though. I didn't recognize half the people. Cause I, I haven't seen him in so long. No. But, um, you know, I, I just wanted to get on and I was working at the Magic Castle. I was doing 28 shows a week, uh, back then for 145 bucks. But I didn't have enough stage experience. And so I wanted to get really good. So in 73, I became a regular the, or at the, uh, magic Castle. And I auditioned in the summer of 76 for Mitzi and actually became a regular, the first time I auditioned. Wow. You're

Fritz Coleman  (00:22:38):

One of the, oh wow. One of the rare ones. Tell us, tell us a joke from that act.

Mark Summers  (00:22:43):

Oh, geez. Something I can use here. Uh, let's see. I remember this, I'm a Jew from Indiana. Uh, we do exist, <laugh>, uh, I belonged to an unusual congregation back there, Bennet Hoosier <laugh>. Uh, my mitzvah was at the Moose Hall in Indianapolis. <laugh>. I mean, that was kinda my act. I said, uh, you remember those, uh, you, what was the thing you, you heard about those, uh, la cars? Worst thing about 'em. Le brakes. You know, I mean, it's

Fritz Coleman  (00:23:03):


Mark Summers  (00:23:04):

I was David Brer sideways, you know,

Fritz Coleman  (00:23:06):


Mark Summers  (00:23:06):

But for whatever it was worth, it worked. Yeah. And I used to open, this is funny, I used to open for Gallagher at the Laugh Stop. Okay. Oh. And so I'm

Fritz Coleman  (00:23:16):

Backstage one night. You're so diametrically opposed to Gallagher that Oh

Mark Summers  (00:23:19):

My God. So Gallagher comes up to me. Can I swear on this show? And Sure, sure. So Gallagher comes up to me and he goes, summers, you're an asshole. And I said, excuse me, Leo, why is that? And he goes, because you walk out out there with a deck of cards and, uh, and you're, you're a prop act. I said, well, you're the biggest prop act. We

Fritz Coleman  (00:23:36):

Talking about hammer water, but you don't

Mark Summers  (00:23:37):

Understand that. Uh, how much are they paying you to open for me? I said, 150 bucks. He goes, you know, if you are a comic, you'd get 300. So I didn't realize, because I was cutting ropes and saying, pick a card, they were paying me half cuz I was a novelty act. Wow. So I started to wean the magic out and start doing standup, and all of a sudden my pay went up.

Fritz Coleman  (00:23:59):

And so I never heard that. Yeah, that's very interesting.

Mark Summers  (00:24:01):

Gallagher taught me that. Wow. And so yeah, all of a sudden I wasn't, you know, uh, one of the dancing bears from the Ed Sullivan Show, I was like a standup <laugh>. And so the, the worst job I ever had, I got called to open for the Bay City Rollers at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Oh. In, in Santa Monica. It sounds

Fritz Coleman  (00:24:17):

Like a taste

Mark Summers  (00:24:18):

Of Heaven to Well, you know what it was, they were supposed to be the next Beatles. Oh yeah, sure. So, um, everybody told me not to do it. He said, the guy said, uh, it was Wolf Wrist Spiller concerts. And he said, you've gotta do 12 minutes. Okay. And he said, if you get off that stage 30 seconds before, I'm not gonna pay you. Okay. It was a $500 job. I needed the money. Uh, David Copperfield, who hadn't really exploded at the time, was doing magic. And a friend of mine and I called David and he had just opened for them in New York. And he kind of worked

Fritz Coleman  (00:24:47):

For your life.

Mark Summers  (00:24:47):

He did not, uh, talk, he just did magic and he did delusions. So they said, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the comedy of Mark Summers and all these 13 year old girls are yelling, get the F off the stairs.

Fritz Coleman  (00:25:00):

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Oh

Mark Summers  (00:25:01):

God. I, I, I, Jim, uh, wrist Miller, who was off to the corner said, I will hold up fingers as to how much time you have left Okay. And how much time you've done. And I was out there with the flop sweat and trying to get the attention. And I looked over to Jim and he went, I thought I'd been out there for an hour and a half. I had only done two minutes. Oh, wow. And I, I did the full 12 minutes and he put his arm around me as I walked off stage and he said, I have a compliment for you. And I said, what's that? He said, you're the first act across the country that didn't get anything thrown at them. So I said, well, thank you. That's fantastic. So, uh, you know, you learn obviously cuz you've,

Fritz Coleman  (00:25:33):

Steve Martin's got in, in one of his books, has great descriptions of the hideous nature of opening for rock acts. Of course. And that was his worst experience in life. But I will tell you that I, you did show warm warmup and you were very good at it. Thank you. And that teaches you momentum. And no matter what's happening, don't stop.

Mark Summers  (00:25:52):


Fritz Coleman  (00:25:52):

Can't. So our mutual friend, Jimmy Brogan, used to do the warmup for Cheers. He was the best. And he had laryngitis. And he called me the day before they taped on Friday at Paramount. And he said, would you fill in for me tomorrow? Oh my. You look enough like me. Oh yeah. Right, right. We were mistaken for one another. And now two Presbyterian ministers from the Midwest and we go up on stage together. But, uh, he was the ma he's the master in rising with the, and, and uh, and I said, wow, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go warm the audience up for cheers. That's a, that's a notch in my saddle. It is the worst standup experience I've ever had. And the longest lasting it took five hours cuz they were a film show. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they had to change the film canisters every 10 minutes. And the first three rows are family and friends who have been there for every episode. And first of all, what you have to understand is you're never gonna be as funny as the show.

Mark Summers  (00:26:48):

I I, well, you can't be, you're not

Fritz Coleman  (00:26:49):

Allowed to be. No. You're not allowed to be <laugh>. And it's not about you and your brilliant standup. It's keeping the energy alive. And I, I've never worked that hard and I never want to do it again. But I have, it's brutal. I have such respect for those of you, you and Mark Sweet and a couple of those guys that have made careers out of doing it brilliantly. Oh, I don't know how you do it.

Mark Summers  (00:27:11):

Yeah. Sweet. Started off as a magician as well. Yeah. That was his career. Uh, and then he got in, he's one of the highest paid warmup guys out there, from what I understand now. I was, um, a page at cbs and I was, uh, working on Mary Tyler Moore in Newhart. Oh wow. Uh, Lorenzo Music was the exec producer, played Carleton in the doorman eventually. But he did the best warmup I'd ever seen in my life. And I thought, well, I, I didn't even know what that job was. I could do that. So one day I knocked on his door, I said, hi, my name is Mark. Um, someday day. If you can't do the warmups, can I fill in? He goes, you ever done it before? And I went, sure. And I lied and mentioned shows that of course I had never done <laugh>. So a week later the phone rings and it was Lorenzo.


And he said, we're doing a show called Doc with, uh, Barnard Hughes. Yes. And, um, can you fill in for me? I, I, yeah, sure. Well now I'm pooping my pants <laugh>. Cause I have no idea what I'm doing. And so I brought magic tricks and I wrote stuff and whatever. And I went out there and somehow to this day, I don't know, I killed and running down the stairs when I was done that night was Grant Tinker, the man who owned the company. Wow. And he's put his arms around me and said, that might be the best thing I've ever seen. Oh my goodness. And I thought to myself, wait a minute, I've seen Lorenzo music for the last weeks. Nobody's better than him. And he goes, no, no, you killed it. So that opened up doors for me. Wow. Um, I tried to be a writer on the Mac Davis show when, uh, Danny Simon Neil's brother was the head writer mm-hmm. <affirmative>.


And I didn't get the job. And I said, well, who's doing the warmup? Because I don't know you wanna do it? So I said yes. So I started doing warmups on Mac Davis. The exec producers were Smith Heian and, uh, Steve Bender. They went on to do Shields and Yanell and a million other shows. So whenever they needed a warmup guy, they'd call me. Right. So that opened up the doors. I was doing, um, extra work on soap. And a dear friend of mine, Howie, he originally was Howie Squiz. Now Howie Stevens was doing the warmup, but I didn't think how he was having a particularly good time doing it. So in between season one and season two, I made a cold call to Paul Whit, the exec producer. And I said, hi, my name is Mark Summers and uh, I've been an extra on your show.


Um, I'm just wondering, are you guys thinking I'm making a change on the warmup guy? He says, well, what brought that up? And I said, well, I've been there and I know I was a friend, but he seems to have tough time. He goes, you know what? We're doing a dress rehearsal this weekend. Why don't you come in and do it if we'd like you, you got the rest of the season. If not, see ya. Well, I did it that night and for the next three years I did the warmups on soap. And next to me was Barney Miller, Dave Letterman doing the warmup on Barney Miller. Oh, wow. And to the right of me was Bom buddies. Pop Saggot was doing the warmup on <laugh>. Oh my. So, I mean, so many of us got started doing that job.

Fritz Coleman  (00:29:50):

It, it, it, it will give you calluses. Oh my God. It'll give your standup calluses

Louise Palanker (00:29:54):

Doing the, what's the trick to it? Is it, is it crowdwork?

Mark Summers  (00:29:57):

I think it's, uh, getting them to like you up upfront. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because Yeah. Uh, you know, at some point you run outta material and you show pictures of your kids. I didn't even want, you know, <laugh>, the hardest show I ever did was Alice because, um, it was basically old people who would fall asleep in the audience. And Linda Love

Fritz Coleman  (00:30:15):


Mark Summers  (00:30:15):

Air condition, the whole group. Uh, vict Beck, nicest human in the world. But, uh, Madeline Davis and Paul and Bob Carroll Jr. Were the exec producers of that show in the writers who happened to have also done I Love Lucy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And with all due respect to them, they used to basically recycle. I love Lucy s scripts to Linda and that's what they did. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And there was nothing, in my opinion, particularly funny about that program. And so you have old people with not a lot of jokes. All they waited for every week was Kiss my grits. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And after they did kiss my grits Yeah. They'd laugh, applaud, and that was it. And they'd fall asleep and they'd fall asleep. Yeah. And so that, and I did that show for eight years. Wow. Guess who I replaced on that one?

Louise Palanker (00:30:52):

I can't. Gary Shandling. Gary Shandling. Yeah. Wow. So what do you think that, see all these great people did warm up. How do you think it, like it strengthened them? Them,

Mark Summers  (00:31:02):

Um, I guess it gives you the confidence mm-hmm. <affirmative> to stand up in front of an audience often with no material. And Brogan will tell you this, Brogan was the best at where you from. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And if could take where you're from for 25 minutes mm-hmm. <affirmative> about your city, your town, your family mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, you know, where you're going for dinner, all that kind of stuff. And I think that's what you have to do. You have to interact with strangers who are basically other than the first three rows from out of town. And you have to explain to 'em how this whole thing works. Cuz they, they go and turn on their tv. They watch All In the Family for 30 minutes and they, they don't realize it took three and a half hours to do that.

Fritz Coleman  (00:31:35):

And now it's completely different. The last couple of years that Jay did the Tonight Show mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they had a guy and it was all about like EDM music and t-shirt cannons and all that kind of stuff. There were no jokes was all, it was like a, you know, it was just an energy thing. It was No they don't,

Mark Summers  (00:31:51):

But that's what Jade wanted.

Fritz Coleman  (00:31:52):


Louise Palanker (00:31:53):

Yeah. It's not

Fritz Coleman  (00:31:53):

What I did. I'll do the jokes. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, really.

Louise Palanker (00:31:56):

Yeah, true. Yeah. It's just kind of keeping people charged when they'd be falling asleep. Yeah. Yeah. And they, and like, so what you don't know if you've never been to Hollywood and you've never gone to a a, uh, the recording of a TV show is that it takes several hours and that the warmup guy could be saying, Hey, funny story about my dad that happened last month, and all of a sudden they're ready to shoot again. Oh yeah. And you have have to stop. Stop. Yeah. And then when you come back, you have to decide, do I continue that story or do I go with some new energy? It's, it's, you're constantly being interrupted and you have to have the ability to get up in front of people in, in a moment for two minutes or for half an hour and explain to them what the holdup is and, and be entertaining. It's, it's a lot.

Mark Summers  (00:32:34):

I was doing a pilot with B Arthur after a Golden Girls. Oh my. And um, I was out on stage for maybe 20, 25 minutes and the exec producer, could you come here for a second sec, uh, b uh, has a message for you. Uh, what's that? Uh, shut up. Don't talk. We'll pay you sit over on this chair when the show's over with, we'll, we'll pay you. But her fear feeling is, you're funnier than the script. Don't say another word. So there was silence between the acts. Cause that's what Beam wanted. Wow. It was amazing.

Louise Palanker (00:33:04):

Wow. And how did that go?

Mark Summers  (00:33:05):

Uh, not particularly. Well she get picked up <laugh> <laugh>. I got to be a page on Sunny and Cher and I did the last episode of Sunny Really Share, I was on Carol Burnett, I was in All In The Family. I did the first episode of Good Times. Think about this. It was 1974. And Mr. Leer felt that only black people should be in the audience. He thought it was only a black show. So the rehearsals normally do an afternoon dress rehearsal mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and then the audience goes away and they do changes and then you do the air. Well, they were running way behind and we had an entire group of very nice people that they brought in. Um, and I had to go out and tell them after standing out in the heat for two and a half hours that we weren't gonna be doing this show.


Ooh. So Mr. Leer says, uh, excuse me, can I talk to you? Yeah. And he gave me a wad of money and he said, give them each $20. Tell 'em to go over to the farmer's market, tell 'em to have dinner, and then tell 'em to come back. And I said, Mr. Leer, with all due respect, if I started handing $20 bills to the audience, they're gonna leave and they ain't ever coming to back <laugh>. And he said, do you really think that? And I said, yes sir, I do. And so sure enough, about only half of them returned enough to be in there. We did the show and they realized after shoot, the first one, it wasn't a black show, it was a show. Mm-hmm. And you didn't have need to have black people in the audience. You needed to have just people in the audience. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that was an interesting time to be working over there. And you know, people just Oh man. Didn't know, you know, what, what was going on at the time.

Louise Palanker (00:34:26):

Yeah. Now, after my stint as intern on our magazine, I got a job as a page at Metro Tape. Oh my. So I worked on all the Norman leadership comps. You did?

Mark Summers  (00:34:35):

They moved over there. Yep. Oh my god. Yeah. I was over there. Uh, the very first, uh, real job I had in town was writing Truth or Consequences. The last year, Bob Barker hosted it. Awesome. And we shot it over there. And I thought I had died to go and gone to Heaven cuz I used to run home from nursery school and watch Bob Host Truth or Consequences when it was on N B C. And he was my idol. And the fact that I was gonna get a chance to work and meet with this guy was like the most amazing thing in my life.

Louise Palanker (00:35:01):

Wow. Wow. So what was he like?

Mark Summers  (00:35:03):

I can't tell you. He, uh, <laugh>, we, we haven't talked in years <laugh>. Wow. Uh, he, he, it's all about him tough cooking. Yeah. He, uh, on his, uh, uh, sleeves, he has monogram W G M C on his, uh, I'll tell you a funny story. Uh, so he had the, uh, dressing room over at the Carol Burnett Studio 33. And then they did, uh, price over there when Carol wasn't shooting. And he had a sign W G M C, world's Greatest mc Well, Bob Eubanks was shooting a pilot, God, 33 1 year. And Bob just for the heck of it, took the W GM C sign and hit it, and Bob gets to the studio and refused to go on until they found that sign. And so CBS was scattering and they finally got ahold of Eubank at home and said, what in the hell did you do with that W G M C sign? He said, I hit it under the couch. And they went under there, put on Bob went out and said, you know, here's your next item up for bids. Oh wow. But let's just say his ego wouldn't fit in the room. Wow. Wow. And I could tell you a

Louise Palanker (00:36:00):

Lot more than that. How do you get to be that guy?

Mark Summers  (00:36:03):

Um, I think, you know,

Fritz Coleman  (00:36:05):

Being cow how too for 30, 40 years,

Mark Summers  (00:36:07):

But enough people, people kiss your ass and you start to believe it. And, uh, you know, there was a time the story goes that, um, TV guide wanted to do, uh, a cover with Barker and Jackberry and a lot of the guys, gene Rayburn mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, uh, and Barker said, uh, you can do a cover with me, but I I'm not, I'm not doing a cover with those guys. Oh my gosh. So, you know, um, he became full of himself.

Louise Palanker (00:36:31):

Yeah. But I say, I think that fame just exacerbates your already personality.

Mark Summers  (00:36:35):

Oh, probably. But he used to say his thing, you know, Bob never got married and his opening line was, uh, Dorothy Joe's wife, Dorothy Joe and I have something in common. She's in love with me and so am I. And I think that was, that was the truth, you know? Yeah.

Fritz Coleman  (00:36:48):

So how did you make the transition to the lifestyle shows like, uh, home on a C or a b, abc, our House on Lifetime, the Food Network shows.

Mark Summers  (00:37:00):


Fritz Coleman  (00:37:01):

Did you have, was that rich?

Mark Summers  (00:37:02):

Everything that happened in my career has been a mistake. <laugh>. Um, so I had done some segments for the Home show on abc. I, I was teaching 'em how to do magic and just silly stuff, filler stuff. And so Howie Stevens was a regular on the home show and, uh, they were having a contest and they had to give somebody $50,000 as the grand prize in West Virginia. Well, they had told Howie it was on June 4th, well suddenly got changed and they had to move it to June 3rd or something. And Howie said, well, I've already made plans to go to Europe, so I'm not changing 'em. And they said, no, no, you have to change it because you have to go to West Virginia. And he goes, no, you didn't hear me <laugh>. I'm not, I'm not changing them. I'm going to Europe. So j uh, Jim Woody, who is the, uh, executive charge of production home show called, he goes, Hey, summers, I need you to do this thing for me.


What's that? I need you to go to West Virginia, give this woman 50 grand and then fly home. Now keep in mind, you're just filling in for Howie. Um, it's a one time offer. Don't call me and say you wanna do more of these. I said, okay, fine. So I flew to the award, we're live, and the lady said to me, I said, here's a $50,000 check. And she goes, you know, I always wanted to meet Gary Collins cuz he's so handsome, <laugh>. And I said, well, you know what, Gary, I'm flying back this afternoon. Maybe I should fly back with her and you should give her the money. And uh, Woody Fraser, who was exec producer, said in my ear, nice going, mark. So I flew back with this woman the next day I was on with her. Gary gave her the check <laugh>, they thought that was so good. They fired Howie and I became a regulator for the next three

Louise Palanker (00:38:34):

Years. You just keep

Fritz Coleman  (00:38:34):

Grabbing. It's a lot of people outta work there. I

Mark Summers  (00:38:36):

Really am. But you know what, it wasn't my choice. Right. I just kind of did things.

Louise Palanker (00:38:40):

You're plucky, that's one through line. I like that word. That's a thread. You are plucky. You go for it. I

Mark Summers  (00:38:44):

Go for it every time. Yeah. I I was never scared. And um, you know, look, I'm still friends with all these guys. Yeah. But, um, I just, I think on my feet and it somehow has worked. And so Woody then created a show for me called, uh, what would you do that we did at Nickelodeon? And uh, Woody and I had a company together. We brought back a wild, crazy kids for Nickelodeon. Um, and, and did many things together. And so I've been able to cross back and forth as a producer and his talent and it's just been

Fritz Coleman  (00:39:09):

Fun. I think Double Dare was the first child focused game show that was successful. Am I right?

Mark Summers  (00:39:17):

Probably right. I grew up with a show, uh, video Village that became Kido Village and then Shenanigans. Uh, but it didn't have the impact that, that double deer.

Fritz Coleman  (00:39:25):

No, it wasn't like interactive type. No,

Mark Summers  (00:39:28):

No. So yeah. Thank you. Yeah. I think, uh, we kind of put Nickelodeon on the map and it put me on the map at the same time.

Louise Palanker (00:39:34):

Wow. And now you have Mark Summer's Productions. Yeah. That's So how did that come into fruition?

Mark Summers  (00:39:38):

Um, I got, uh, <laugh>, I was doing a home show piece, uh, at the Toy show in New York. And, uh, I was interviewing this guy who had a company called Tiger Toys, and he had a co a toy called two xl. It was a robot. And when I got done off the air, he goes, I have this robot. Do you think we can turn into a TV show? So I came up with a show, um, called Pick Your Brain, and two XL was the star of the show. And, uh, tiger Toys financed my company and I needed an entity to get started. So Roger was the one who helped me start Mark Summer's Productions. And then we just started producing television shows and we did Dinner Impossible in Restaurant Impossible and a bunch of other things along the way.

Louise Palanker (00:40:16):

So do you find a lot of the fans that were with you for Double Dares Children are now with you for all these types of shows?

Mark Summers  (00:40:22):

That's the cool thing. They grew up with me. Yeah. You know, and I, I'm now on like the third generation because now their kids are watching me. And, uh, it's, it's just been an amazing career. Uh, you know, I, I've had so much fun. I always say I've never worked a day in my life because I just got to play TV all the time. And I'm sure you feel the same

Fritz Coleman  (00:40:38):

Way. I think that's your appeal. I think you look like you're having a great time. As I say, you don't talk down to people. You have a great warmth on television. And so that's why you've been able to host across a bunch of different types of platforms.

Mark Summers  (00:40:50):

Yeah. I did a show called History IQ at the History Channel. I

Fritz Coleman  (00:40:53):

Love that show. Thank you. Kids probably learn more out of that show than they would out of a book in an 11th grade history class.

Mark Summers  (00:40:58):

It was, it was hard. Yeah, it was really hard. We did that for two years. That was fun. Yeah. I've done sort of a pope of crazy shows. Uh, I've hosted over 25 programs. I used to host the Rose Parade for Fox. I mean, it's been fun. Uh, you know, the answer's always Yes. Somebody calls says, do you want to? And before they even say, well, there's, I go, yeah, I'll do that. You know?

Fritz Coleman  (00:41:15):

So what are you doing right now? Anything? You said that things toned down with the

Mark Summers  (00:41:19):

Pandemic. Yeah. Pandemic sort of brought into a screeching halt. Um, a couple years ago. I did, uh, I have a partner in, uh, Shive. Uh, we produced shows together. We did a, um, shark special for, uh, shark Week for Discovery a couple years ago in Cuba. And we got together and just did a show, uh, the last Unknown. Uh, we went to the Ellucian Islands to a couple of islands that supposedly had not been inhabited in hundreds or thousands of years. And once we got there, we found Coke. Well, no Starbucks. We found some down planes from World War ii. What tunnels from the Japanese. And it became sort of a different show in, in many aspects. We were going to look at the floor in the fauna, but the things that we discovered sort of gave it a left turn. And it's on discovery. Plus we have been, uh, we went on the air, I think March 16th. And we have, uh, trended every day since then.

Louise Palanker (00:42:02):

So Mark, when you get there, where do you sleep and go to the bathroom

Mark Summers  (00:42:06):

On, on boats. Uh, really? Yeah. It's, it's pretty dangerous out there. Uh, just to get permission, uh, to go out and do these things is is not that easy. We own the islands, the United States does, but they pretty much don't allow anybody on them. Wow. Yeah. So, uh, but that was fun. Going to Cuba and shooting there was fun. Um, you know, it, it is all amazing the fact that people actually pay you to do this stuff. Yeah. So what did you do? You did, uh, a page at uh, yeah, at at Metro. And then where'd you go from there?

Louise Palanker (00:42:35):

Uh, I got hired at Metro on a show called PM Magazine. Oh yeah.

Mark Summers  (00:42:39):

And who were the hosts at the

Louise Palanker (00:42:40):

Time? So we had David Sisson Uhhuh and uh, David. And, uh, it'll, it'll come back to me. Yeah. Yeah. And that led to, we, we had a different disc jockey's hosting PM magazine all summer long. Really? Because Cynthia Tres was my boss and she had this idea that if you had different disc jockeys hosting, cuz David went back east and Sandy, Sandy Newton. Oh my god.

Mark Summers  (00:43:03):


Louise Palanker (00:43:04):

And I used to work with her an hour. Yeah. I love her. Her dad, she's a doll.

Mark Summers  (00:43:07):

Yeah. Her dad started all the group W stuff. Oh yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:43:09):

Yeah. He was, she's talented. Oh, she's good. So David decided to go back and do religious broadcasting in Virginia. Really? And so Sy Cynthia said, well, let's have a different disc shaki every week and then we'll get the cross promotion. Great idea. So she had, one of them she had on was Rick Ds and I was told I didn't have a FM radio in my car, but I was told Rick, Rick Ds is funny. I always wanted to write comedy, so I wanted to study him, but he was on vacation the week before he did this. So I never really got a chance to hear him. But I just wrote scripts that were funny to the best of my ability and he liked that. And he hired me to write the weekly top 40 countdown. Oh my God. And that led to me and some disc jock. He's a KISS fm forming a company called Premier Radio, which is now a division of iHeart. Yeah. So that was my trajectory.

Mark Summers  (00:43:53):

Congratulations. That's way cool.

Louise Palanker (00:43:54):

Yeah. I got launched.

Mark Summers  (00:43:55):

You really did. It was just, and the diesel is what in Kentucky now? In a ranch,

Louise Palanker (00:44:00):

I guess. Is

Fritz Coleman  (00:44:01):

That what I heard? There was an acre ranch down there and he grows hemp and cattle. Does

Louise Palanker (00:44:04):

He really grow

Fritz Coleman  (00:44:05):

Hemp? He's a very, yeah, he's a very entrepreneurial dude.

Mark Summers  (00:44:08):

Yeah. But you know, he was responsible, uh, for the beginning of hgtv. Did you know Oh,

Fritz Coleman  (00:44:12):

Was he Yes, I did know that. Yeah. I did know that He's a break, but she, she as a, as a comedy person, you will appreciate what she did. She and her, her partners came up with this great idea, which was, why don't we have a comedy writing service for small and media market that can't afford their own writers? Good idea. And then once or twice a week, we'll fax some new jokes. And the next thing you know, they got 500 radio stations on their thing. And that's what blossomed the company. Wow. But what a great idea,

Mark Summers  (00:44:41):

Right. Who, there was a kid, uh, used to do voices on, uh, D's, who was my voice of two xl, and I can't think of his name right now, but, uh, you know, there's a lot of

Fritz Coleman  (00:44:49):

James Taylor.

Mark Summers  (00:44:50):


Fritz Coleman  (00:44:51):


Louise Palanker (00:44:52):

That's James Arnold. Taylor.

Fritz Coleman  (00:44:53):

James Arnold Taylor.

Louise Palanker (00:44:54):

Really? Yeah. He's now a top voiceover guy.

Mark Summers  (00:44:56):

It's amazing. Uh, all these young comics, uh, and voiceover guys would make a lot of money doing those, uh,

Louise Palanker (00:45:02):

Voices. Right. We used Jeff Altman Ronnie Show, which Rick had used. Yep. And we just syndicated them to, we'd write the scripts and the disc jockey would have their line. And then, you know, Jeff, or as Carl, the engineer would have his line, and or Ronnie, Ronnie Shell was the talent booking agent. Bernie, Shelley. Ronnie and his Secretary Seal. And Ronnie did both voices. Wow. And then the dish jockey got to interact. So it made the dish jockey the star of the bit, rather than Casey Kason, which replaces an air shift. Our, our philosophy was let's enhance an air shift. Yeah. So we started doing what we called the Plane Wrap Countdown, where they get to countdown the top 40 records and they'd say, Hey, we talked to Huey Lewis. Press a button. Huey Lewis starts talking. What

Fritz Coleman  (00:45:37):

A great idea for smaller media

Mark Summers  (00:45:38):

Markets that makes, yeah. Cuz it makes you look like you're a big time, uh, station.

Fritz Coleman  (00:45:41):

Did you ever do standup with Ronnie Shell?

Mark Summers  (00:45:44):

Um, I, I will tell you this Ronnie Shell story <laugh>,

Fritz Coleman  (00:45:46):


Louise Palanker (00:45:47):

Shell story is my favorite.

Mark Summers  (00:45:48):

Yes. Um, I was working for Ralph Edwards, uh, mostly as a writer. Truth of Consequences, cross Wits. Um, and, uh, Ronnie was getting ready to do a, uh, game show, I believe it was called Talk About. And, uh, Ronnie, with all due respect, very talented man, was not a particularly good game show host <laugh>. Okay.

Louise Palanker (00:46:07):


Mark Summers  (00:46:07):

And, um, it was the day of, and they realized that Roddy was not doing well. Okay. So, Ralph Edwards, a man I grew up watching on This is your,

Louise Palanker (00:46:16):

He was such a nice

Mark Summers  (00:46:17):

Man. The sweetest man in the history world came to me and said, I need a favor. And I said, what's that? He said, I want to shoot a 30 minute pilot with you as the host. Okay. And I want Ronnie to sit down and watch you. Oh, <laugh>. So I did the show. Okay. And they had Ronnie make notes, and I went up to Mr. Edwards afterwards, and I said, with all due respect, Mr. Edwards, if I'm teaching the guy to be the host, why don't you just hire me? And he said, oh, I, I, I couldn't do that to Ronnie. I couldn't possibly do that. So Ronnie did it and, uh, you know, the rest of his history, so to speak, fail. Yeah. Yeah. Did you watch Mike Binders?

Fritz Coleman  (00:46:50):

Uh, yes, I

Mark Summers  (00:46:50):

Did. What'd you think of? Uh,

Fritz Coleman  (00:46:51):


Mark Summers  (00:46:52):


Fritz Coleman  (00:46:52):

I, I love the nostalgic part of it, but I thought it was very dark.

Mark Summers  (00:46:57):

The first two episodes were when you and I were there. Yes. When they got into the Joe Rogan stuff. I I, they lost me.

Fritz Coleman  (00:47:03):

Yeah. And I understood why they did that. It was cross promotional opportunity. They used all the big guys. They could, they could showcase Letterman and Leno and Joe Rogans started appearing and Whitney and all these Letterman Yeah. The Letterman and all the current comics. I understood why Showtime probably insisted on that. But the whole comedy attitude, those people who stand up, they focused on it was, it seems so to me.

Mark Summers  (00:47:29):

And it wasn't that way.

Fritz Coleman  (00:47:31):

No, that's, that, that's my whole point.

Mark Summers  (00:47:32):

Exactly. You know, we used to root, when somebody got on the Tonight Show, we would all sit there and watch 'em and and applaud them. And they made it seem like, well, he stole my joke, and why is he on there instead of me? No. And I don't remember that time. No,

Fritz Coleman  (00:47:43):

I, I think that what, what they were, what they were trying to do was to, uh, uh, they were just trying to create controversy because it's, it's promotional. But I I, I, you're right. I, I remember watching so many guys do their first tonight show, like Louie Anderson. We were all gathered around the TV at the Improv. There was like 300 people in there watching Louie. Do I

Mark Summers  (00:48:03):


Fritz Coleman  (00:48:03):

When Robin did his first show? No. They were very, uh, supportive of other comics, but it, but just the, the material. Yeah. It, it wasn't as dark as it was portrayed there. And I just, I felt, I felt a little, I was a little melancholy about it. At the end of the experience, the

Mark Summers  (00:48:18):

Thing that made me happy was, do you remember the doorman Harris, Pete

Fritz Coleman  (00:48:21):

Harris, Pete?

Mark Summers  (00:48:22):

And I said, if Harris Pete is not on this documentary, then, then it wrong watching. Yeah. Harris, Pete sure enough there.

Fritz Coleman  (00:48:28):

Harris Pete was a big hockey fan. Yes. And his entire apartment was like a museum of hockey memorabilia. And he was the funniest guy ever.

Mark Summers  (00:48:35):

And you know what he's doing now?

Fritz Coleman  (00:48:37):

Oh, don't tell me.

Mark Summers  (00:48:38):

No. The Harris Pete is the happiest human I've ever met my entire life. He gave up standup, although he, he works Vegas like two weeks a year. He lives in Montana, basically doing odd jobs and working as an umpire on, uh, minor league baseball games and, uh, anything to do with hockey. And, uh, I call him every now and then. And I've never met a man who's got such a lilt of joy in his voice

Fritz Coleman  (00:49:06):

<laugh>. And he represents a type of person that I've met and stand up. There are people who are so infinitely funny Yes. And funnier than two thirds of the standups making a living at it. Yes. But for some reason, I don't know if it's because they're comfortable being the doorman, or they never, they never walked up the two or three steps to the next level. Yeah. Harris was always the, in a conversation. He was the funniest guy. Oh my God. In the room. My God. But he was the doorman at the Comedy store for 30 years.

Mark Summers  (00:49:35):

For years. Yeah. I mean, look, we can sit there. I mean, look at Argu Hamilton. The man never left. You know, there's stories like that that you go Really? I mean, you know, but I talked to Binder about this once and he said, I knew that the Comedy store was a stepping stone. I didn't want to get stuck there. No. And he's gone on to do other things. He's had

Fritz Coleman  (00:49:53):

A great career.

Mark Summers  (00:49:54):

He's had a great career. But some people just

Fritz Coleman  (00:49:56):

Don't. When I got there, Argus was gonna take Johnny Carson's place.

Mark Summers  (00:49:59):

Everybody thought that that was because he was, uh, the mort Saul of our generation.

Fritz Coleman  (00:50:03):

Yeah, great, great topical joke. Right? Oh yeah.

Mark Summers  (00:50:05):

But, uh, it was a different time. And, you know, keep in mind, when I used to stand in line on Monday nights, there were only 50 people. Now there's 550 people. Cuz everybody thinks they're funny and most people aren't. Other than Sebastian Maniscalco, I can't think of many people who make me laugh right now.

Fritz Coleman  (00:50:20):

No, that's a, that's a good point. Also, you were here, uh, for the era of I'm dying up here. Yeah. And probably read that book. I knew him. I love that book. Yes, I do. I thought the book was a really interesting little microcosm of standup and the strike and all that. But then the show that Jim Carey produced so dark was nothing like it. It was very dark.

Mark Summers  (00:50:40):

It, it wasn't, it's

Fritz Coleman  (00:50:41):

Hard to write a show about standups.

Mark Summers  (00:50:43):

Well, and a guy who ultimately killed himself by jumping off of a ceiling or a roof of a hotel next door mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And the joke was he tried to dive into the ceiling where the, uh, uh, room where the, uh, you know, stage was, and he couldn't even do that. Right. <laugh>, um, you know, Steve was a troubled boy and, and, uh, a sweet guy. And actually funny. But, uh, you know, that strike destroyed a lot of people. And to this day, there are comics who crossed the line at other comics who didn't. Who,

Fritz Coleman  (00:51:10):

If you mentioned animosity. Yes.

Mark Summers  (00:51:12):

You know, uh, if you mentioned a named my friend, Ellis Levinson, who didn't cross the line, I remember Ellis, if you mention certain comics who did Ellis still gets the hair on the back of his neck to stand up. He gets angry. Yeah.

Fritz Coleman  (00:51:22):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, that was a really contentious time. It was, it's like politics now. I mean, the rumor that Ali, Joe Prader is the guy that lit the improv on fire Yes. To make himself look good for Missy. Yes. Oh my God.

Mark Summers  (00:51:33):

Well, and, and, you know, see, I know. Think about that whole

Fritz Coleman  (00:51:35):

Thing. I know.

Mark Summers  (00:51:36):

Um, it, it, it was an odd time, needless to say, and I had just become a regular when the strike happened. And so I got a phone call from Letterman saying, we're having a meeting. You need to come to my house and get together. Well, I said, what's it about? He said, we're thinking of striking. And I went, oh, Jesus. So I didn't show up, and about two days later, the phone rang and it was Dave. And he said, you're either with us or against us. Wow. What are you doing? Well, Dave already had a career. Jay had a career.

Fritz Coleman  (00:52:04):

Yeah. All this guys had

Mark Summers  (00:52:04):

A career. I didn't. And I was terrified. Yeah. But my choice was to strike. Yeah. Um, and my fear was, you know, is Mitzi gonna retaliate? Will I ever, and remember Shandling crossed the line and he said, look, I don't care about this strike. I need to work. And, and went on and it helped build his career. Yeah. Because while the rest of us were carrying signs that says, no money, no. Funny. Yeah. He was up there getting experience, you know?

Louise Palanker (00:52:28):

Yeah. It's fascinating how the fallout from that strike is still affecting

Fritz Coleman  (00:52:31):

Us. Absolutely.

Louise Palanker (00:52:33):

It's, anyway, it just informed so many people's view of themselves in the world.

Fritz Coleman  (00:52:38):

We had Tom Dreesen on here, and it was great. He's written some great books

Mark Summers  (00:52:41):

About Tom is amazing. I used to write for Tom.

Fritz Coleman  (00:52:42):

Yeah, yeah. He's a he's a great guy. Uh, but there's so many misconceptions about everybody's relationship in that strike. I know. I mean, I read the book and I, and I kept asking Tom questions and he goes, no, that's not what happened. And I thought, what? That was in the book? What?

Louise Palanker (00:52:56):

Yeah. And Elaine said the same thing.

Fritz Coleman  (00:52:57):

Yeah, yeah. Elaine Boosler said the same thing. Really? He was totally misrepresented in that book. Interesting. And that guy was a newspaper writer. Yeah. So, I don't know,

Mark Summers  (00:53:04):

You know how I became a regular at the improv? Yeah. No, I could not get Bud to put me on ever. Okay. He just wouldn't put me on. So I'm watching the 11 o'clock news, see that there's a fire at the Improv. I get up the next morning at seven o'clock and drive to the improv, and there's Bud. And he goes, what the hell are you doing here? I said, gonna clean this place. He goes, what do you mean? I said, well, you gotta open again. Let's, let's start cleaning up. Here's the thing I found fascinating. I was the only comic who showed up. Wow. Out of all the people who worked that club I, who didn't work there. Yeah. So for the next three weeks, I worked with Bud and Dottie Archibald's husband. Okay.

Fritz Coleman  (00:53:43):

Yeah. Oh

Mark Summers  (00:53:43):

My. And we cleaned that place up and I became a regular, started MCing on weekends. And his way of thanking me was, I'm gonna put you on now.

Louise Palanker (00:53:52):

That's, that's a really important story.

Fritz Coleman  (00:53:54):

That's really

Mark Summers  (00:53:54):

Interesting. Yeah. That's what I did. I mean, I didn't care how he did it. I was going to become a regular, now the improv was the hardest room to me in town.

Fritz Coleman  (00:54:01):

Yeah. I never had a killer set in there the whole 10 years I worked there

Mark Summers  (00:54:05):

Where the Laugh stop, you could always score. Yeah. And the Comedy Store was, you know, 60 40. Yeah. I, I think I bombed every time I

Fritz Coleman  (00:54:11):

Was 50. I think it was because it was a heavily, uh, weighted show business audience in there, and it was really a tough call.

Mark Summers  (00:54:17):

A New York crowd, and it was like cavernous. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:54:20):

And it was, people came, they come there to schmooze. Yeah.

Mark Summers  (00:54:23):


Louise Palanker (00:54:24):

Really did. You know, even when they go into the showroom, they're not really there.

Mark Summers  (00:54:28):

I would agree. Yeah. I would agree. But, uh, you know, all that experience, uh, paid off because the more you got on stage, the more you got in front of a crowd, the more, even if it was for six or eight people, y you did it.

Fritz Coleman  (00:54:40):

I, I learned a great lesson about that exact topic. Um, they, they would do their open mics, the improv on Sunday nights Yep. Where Bruce Smirnoff would have this jar and everybody would write their name on there and they'd call the numbers out. And invariably I'd get on at like 10 after one in the morning. But one night I, Leno was getting ready to do a Tonight Show shot or something, and then they'd let him go up. And the only people that were in the room were open Micers. There were like 10 of us and no audience. And Leno went up there, did

Mark Summers  (00:55:09):

His act,

Fritz Coleman  (00:55:10):

Did his act like it was the Roman Coliseum. <laugh>. And I learned, you know what, he just, he has the amazing ability just to, to focus on the job at hand. Yeah. And, and our response wasn't even important to him. I think he just wanted to vocalize his jokes mm-hmm. <affirmative> and practiced the run. And I thought, wow. It took it's extreme discipline. But I learned he's

Mark Summers  (00:55:32):

A pro. Yeah. Nobody works harder than Jay. Let him, you know, he, he's, it was interesting, um, I always find him funny as hell in a club. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And if you'd get at the, to the store early, this is 76 for years before you out in front, it was always be David and Jay talking. Yeah. And Dave would always say, where'd you come up with that? You know, he used to think that Jay was the funniest guy in the world. And then when you realize what happened over the years between the Tonight Show and Oh yeah. You know,

Fritz Coleman  (00:55:56):

All that stuff. Well, they were the closest friends. And, and, and that's really what called J to national attention. Yes. Was his interaction with Dave on Dave's show. Yeah. They were, it's your beef. They were perfect together. Yeah.

Mark Summers  (00:56:05):

Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. No, no, it was, uh, it was an amazing time. So, um, you know, everything changes. And, uh, I think the, the sense of comedy and the way you become successful today is different. You can become a YouTube star. Uh, you can do your own channel. Um, and somehow that magically works with people. And there are some people, Jay Jay says that all the people are doing podcasts are jerking themselves off, which just makes me laugh. <laugh>, um, you know, cuz a lot of comics can't do anything else and they can't get on. So they became, uh, podcast guys. Um,

Louise Palanker (00:56:38):

That's why we have the desk.

Mark Summers  (00:56:39):

Well, you know what, but here's the difference. You're broadcasters and that term isn't used anymore. No. To me, Dave was the last real broadcaster. Oh, yeah. On television. And to have that experience, you know, I, I used to think Hugh Downs used to host the Today Show mm-hmm. <affirmative> and they to walk down the hall and he would host concentration. Yeah. And there was a period of time where as a broadcaster, you were expected to be able to do new sports entertainment, but you're not allowed to do that anymore. You're putting into a little box and you're only X or Y you're not allowed to cross over. I was filling in once Gary Collins was on vacation, and I was doing, uh, the hosting of the, uh, home show on abc. And I had never really hosted a live network show, talk show. So the night before, they send over all the material and all the books, and I crammed everything into my head.


And apparently I didn't let the guest talk. I just was trying to show everybody how smart I was. <laugh> and ABC after the show wanted to fire me and said, this guy sucks. We're not allowing him to be on tomorrow. And Woody much thankful, cleared a desk and said, he's my guy. I'm sticking with him. Okay. Get outta my office now. So Woody brings me in the office, he goes, look, summers, they want you fired. Okay. You can't do tomorrow what you did today. If you do, I can't help you. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I went home, studied the material for Tuesday, we went live at eight o'clock in the morning. I'm standing on stage with the I F B in my ear. And, uh, Denise Contes, who was the producer in the booth, said to me, mark, did you read all the material last night? Uhhuh <affirmative>. Okay, now just go out there, forget everything you read and just have a conversation. Yeah. And that's what I did. And that was the day I became a host.

Louise Palanker (00:58:23):

Oh wow. Changed my life. See, but the ability to learn rather than to just object, you know, to what, what, what the opinion is. It, it's, the first reflex is You're wrong. I'm doing this correctly. And then you have to take a breath and say, okay, what are they saying to me that I can learn from

Mark Summers  (00:58:39):

Dick Block, who's my mentor, still around 95 years old, said all TV shows are the same until the person says hello. If you like the way to say hello, you'll stick around. And if you don't, you won't. And that's Johnny Carson. Okay. Think about all the people who have been successful. People love Johnny. Okay.

Fritz Coleman  (00:58:54):

You know, it's so funny that you mentioned that I had this discussion with somebody like three days ago for a period of time. They don't do it all the time, but they play the old Carsons on serious XM radio. Right. Listen. And then you realize the power and the talent of Carson. Oh yeah. When you hear his voice and how he inflects and he's so comfortable in his own skin, on camera, on camera <laugh> or on, uh, audio. But I thought, wow, there he is right there. He he,

Mark Summers  (00:59:22):

He, he was the best.

Fritz Coleman  (00:59:23):

Yeah. It, it, uh, it, it, it, it was soothing it. And it's the same thing that you and Letterman brought to the game. It's that Midwestern, uh, sensibility.

Mark Summers  (00:59:33):

Dick Cavt. Mm-hmm.

Fritz Coleman  (00:59:34):

<affirmative>. Yes.

Mark Summers  (00:59:35):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Have you ever had Bruce Smirnoff on this show? No. I haven must This man has the greatest stories. You must bring him on and have him tell you the story where Johnny Carson got drunk and, and Bruce had to drive him home.

Fritz Coleman  (00:59:48):

Oh yeah. It's in his one Oh it one man show. Yeah. His one man show. Yeah. I've I've heard about that <laugh>. Oh my

Mark Summers  (00:59:52):

God. It's so good. Bruce has more stories than Carter Jve liver pills. I mean, I gotta tell you,

Fritz Coleman  (00:59:56):

Just from working at the Improv, right. I mean, that's what stuff that happened by accident, by

Mark Summers  (01:00:00):

Accident. And he's in Florida now doing the condos and

Fritz Coleman  (01:00:02):

Stuff. No, I know. I I he's great. He's, when, when I was trying to expand my standup business, uh, somebody uh, recommended that I do an audition for Bruce because he books the condos. Yes. And I had a particular one person show that was about being old and everybody thought this was play well in the condos in Florida. So, uh, I, uh, I called him up and I sent him a tape. And I knew Bruce for when he was running the open mics at the Improv. And he said, you know, I, I just can't do it to you. I said, what? He said, you're just not ethnic enough. That's stupid hyster. He said, people down here. And he was being honest, and I'm so glad he did. He said, this is a, probably 85 to 90% of the people you're gonna play to down here are transplanted New York people. Yeah. They love snarky A little maybe a, a Yiddish joke at the end of the thing. And it's, it's the cadence of the New York, the Jewish New Yorker. And I was insulted for like 30 seconds. And then I talked to other comedians who have worked down there. He said, oh, he did you a giant favor because when you die down there, it's an indescribable death <laugh>. So he saved me for myself then. Yeah.

Mark Summers  (01:01:15):


Fritz Coleman  (01:01:16):

He, but he's had a great career booking accent.

Mark Summers  (01:01:17):

Yes. He's the nicest guy in the world. Yeah. And is had, uh, more stories. I mean, he's got the funniest stories. And I, I knew him for years. We started, we used to stand in line Monday nights together. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. It was, uh, Bruce Bernoff, me and a guy by the name of Alan Profit. Do you remember Alan Prophet?

Fritz Coleman  (01:01:31):


Mark Summers  (01:01:31):

Yes. Alan's real name was Alan Schabowski. And, uh, I said, where'd you come up with Prophet? He said, well, there was, uh, Alan King. Uh, and I thought, well, king, I'll be Prophet <laugh> hysterical.

Fritz Coleman  (01:01:42):

We gotta talk about your book cuz you did a lot of people, a lot of good service by writing this book. It's called Everything in Its Place. My Trials and Triumphs with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. First of all, what, what are the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive disorder?

Mark Summers  (01:01:58):

Well, they, they vary from person to person. And by the way, the rule book changes on a regular basis. Mine was neatness and orderliness. So, uh, we had fringes on a rug and I would have to straighten the fringes every day, otherwise I'd feel you, you have intrusive thoughts. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if I don't do this, something bad will happen to me or my wife or my kids. Right. Right. And so it drives, you know, I, this is something that's, uh, passed down in families. My mother had it, my father had it. Both their parents had it. And so I was doing a live talk show Biggers than Summers on Lifetime. And we had, uh, Dr. Eric Holland on as a guest. And I had done the research the night before and I thought, oh my God, this is what I have. I've never been, I didn't know that it had a name. I just was sort of keeping this inside thinking I was crazy. And so I have to make a decision. Do I go on TV the next day and lie and pretend I don't have this? Or do I come out and and expose myself, which I did. And the next thing I know, the phone's ringing. You know, the Today Show and Oprah and People Magazine want to have this conversation about the guy who used to host the Messiest show on TV had

Fritz Coleman  (01:02:58):


Mark Summers  (01:02:58):

Excessive Impulsive Disorder. And so it, it blew up. And I wasn't Oprah and I was on the Today Show and on People Magazine and, and all this stuff. And so I was approached to write a book and out of all the things I've done in my life, it's probably the most important because Oh yeah. People come up to me and say, I didn't know what I had until I saw you on these shows, or until I read your book and because of you, my life is better. And it changed everything. And you go, you know, I've been on Oprah, I've been on Howard Stern, I've done The Tonight Show. Yeah. It's all irrelevant. The fact that I helped change this person's life Oh yeah. Meant more to me and it still happens. Um, so, you

Fritz Coleman  (01:03:36):

Know, and so do, and so how do you get out of the habitual things? Is it like, uh, is it behavioral stuff? Is it medication?

Mark Summers  (01:03:44):

Well, it's about serotonin not getting from point A to point B. Oh, okay. So, uh, I think the first thing you have to do, I've never done drugs and I don't drink much, but if you're an alcoholic or a drug, a drug addict, and I've known many, sadly in the entertainment industry, until you're ready to get better, you're not going to mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I've done interventions with plenty of people to try and save them. And some of them jump on board the wagon about I don't wanna live this life anymore and others choose not to. And so I had just been fed up. I, I didn't, I couldn't do it anymore. I was a nervous wreck. And so Dr. Hollander became my doctor, uh, at the time, put me on medication and um, would go to sessions like you go to a psychiatrist. And then I went, um, and did behavior therapy, which is basically retraining your brain to not wanna do these things.


Dateline caught wind of this thing. And they basically followed me for a year. And if you watch the first episode and it's online, um, my house, I lived up in Calabasas. The time was a show place, but I didn't want anybody in it. I didn't want anybody to sit on the couch. I didn't want anybody to sit on a chair. I didn't want my kids to have friends over. I just wanted it to be perfect all the time. And so they followed me through the transition. And my graduation was for me to get up at seven o'clock in the morning and leave my house and not come back until they called me. And when I did, I walked in and they had turned my living room into a TV studio and initially my knees buckled cuz I thought, oh my God, I'll never be able to get this place back to the way it was, which was perfect. But you know what, uh, all the trading that I had and the medication and the behavior therapy, uh, got me through. And so I never say that I'm a hundred percent cured. I don't think you ever are. I always say I'm 82% cured. Yeah. And there's a bit of it that still hangs out there. And depending on how stressed I get, uh, it pops back in.

Louise Palanker (01:05:32):

Sure. It's, it's a manageable condition. It's not so

Mark Summers  (01:05:34):

Well, I have the tools now to make

Fritz Coleman  (01:05:35):

Sure. Do you and Howie Mandel do, uh, support groups?

Mark Summers  (01:05:39):

I talked to Howie the other day. Um, I did an intervention on Howie years ago, and Howie said to me, there's nothing wrong with me. Everybody else has the problem.

Fritz Coleman  (01:05:47):

Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, I just like, I think you've done the same thing with your book and everything. Howie made it okay to talk about that topic. Yeah. He's the first ma star that ever discussed and revealed having had that,

Mark Summers  (01:06:00):

Uh, he got a pass. I wasn't able to work for about a year and a half after I came out with it. Uh, somehow how he got away with it

Louise Palanker (01:06:06):

Because you went first,

Mark Summers  (01:06:07):

Uh, maybe, you know. Absolutely.

Fritz Coleman  (01:06:08):

Uh, so you revealed your condition before He did. I did. Wow.

Louise Palanker (01:06:12):

I wasn't, yeah, I did. You ran interference. I did listen. And then it becomes a, a thing whether you're, whether you're, you know, Caitlin Jenner, you know, it's like, oh yeah, you're, you, you know, you're transitioning. Yeah. You know, that first person has to run interference, but Chaz Bono did that for her. Yeah. So, um, but I wanted to just say that I think we all have inklings of this. I think this is what superstition is about. I think this is what certain religious rituals are about. I think this is what it's about. When kids are doing step on a crack break your mother's back. Absolutely. We all have an inkling towards these types of, oh, I have to touch this or wear this. Or, you know, oh, if you go over to watch a, a game at, at, at your friend's house and the first time you appear, the team loses, you know, you're disinvited. So like you have the power, you know, <laugh> to determine which choose. So we all have to, I think, work on this.

Mark Summers  (01:07:00):

And Howie works out a regular basis. You know, during this Covid thing, I've been going a little wacky myself and, uh, I called Howie the other day to commiserate about, you know, what are you doing right now? Are you seeing anybody? Are you on any medication? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because we talk the same language, by the way, the nicest human being in the history of the world. Howie Mendell is the sweetest boy ever, you know?

Louise Palanker (01:07:18):

He is.

Fritz Coleman  (01:07:18):

Wow. That's awesome. Great. Worked his way into several areas of success. Think about him pretty much like yourself. Yeah.

Mark Summers  (01:07:23):

I mean, he's a great producer. Yeah. Um, he, he has a company that edits, uh, America's Got Talent. Um, he, he's an empire. He really is. Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, great career. It, it's fun to see these guys grow. And the fun part for me now is, um, after I, uh, you know, had the old O c D thing and uh, then I was in a car accident and broke every boat in my face. Whoa. And, um, I thought to myself, well, you know, how many more chances am I gonna get? And I always wanted to perform on Broadway. That was my goal. Yeah. And so I met a guy who was a Broadway producer and, uh, called him up and I said, look, I know I'm not gonna get an opportunity on Broadway, um, but what can I do to like start doing theater?


And he said, you know, I just bought a, a place in, uh, long Beach Island, New Jersey. Um, I don't know what shows we're doing this year, but um, let me find out and I'll call you back. So he called me a couple weeks later, said, we're doing Grease. Do you wanna play Vince Fontine? Cool. And I said, do I have to audition? He said, no part yours if you want it. So I did Greece for three weeks up in Long Beach Island and I met all these kids, literally kids who had grown up watching. Oh yeah. So they were more excited, uh, about me being there when I was a nervous wreck, wondering, can I even still do this? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. And so three of them, one is a guy by the name of Drew Gasparini. He was on stage with me and he was a beautiful composer. He's worked his ass off and he is now writing the music for, uh, karate Kid, which is premiering on Broadway in, uh, in uh, a year. Wow. Okay. So there's story number one. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he introduced me. Oh, by the way, we had this lovely young boy who was in Greece with us, who we all used to stay back stage and watch rehearse cuz we thought this kid is gonna explode. His name is Anthony Ramos. Oh my. Who is now the

Fritz Coleman  (01:09:13):

Star. So good. So

Mark Summers  (01:09:15):

Good. And the the best kid ever. Yeah. He's 28 and he's kicking ass and taking, he's so good. And I was introduced to a gentleman by the name of Alex Brightman, who I had lunch with yesterday. He's in town doing a pilot, but Alex Brightman, uh, besides starring as Beetlejuice on, uh, Broadway and having the lead in School of Rock is a brilliant writer. And he wrote me a one-man show called Everything in Its Place, the Life in Slimes of Mark Summers. Oh wow. Wow. Which we did, uh, at a place called Bloomington Playwrights in Bloomington, Indiana. We did it at, at the Adirondack Theater Festival. And believe it or not, next June, we're bringing it back. I'm gonna be doing it up in, uh, Pennsylvania. And, uh, the goal is to take it off Broadway. And that's, uh, what we're shooting for now. That's so

Fritz Coleman  (01:09:57):

Wow. Yeah. Well, your, your, your, your career story and your life story is so interesting. You battled cancer. Yeah. If you don't mind just telling us what that was like. And,

Mark Summers  (01:10:08):

Uh, I had stomach pains one night, didn't feel good, went to the doctor. Um, they did, uh, all sorts of tests and they weren't sure. They said, you have some sort of blockage, we're not sure what it is, but we're gonna have to operate. So, uh, they operated, I woke up, I'm a standup comic. I was trying to be fun and funny, so I was sort of groggy and a little bit of pain. And the doctor was hovering over me. I said, Hey Doc, how am I doing? Do I have like cancer or something? And he goes, as a matter of fact, you do, you need to see an oncologist right away. Oh my God. They had taken 17 and a half inches of my small intestine out. Whoa. And they didn't know what kind of cancer I had. And so it took them a month to get me properly diagnosed. And I have something called cll, chronic Lymphatic Leukemia. And uh, so I was on chemo the first time for two years. It worked, uh, for about eight. Then I had chemo a second time, then they tried chemo a year later, a third time didn't work. And so I'm now on, um, these pills called Autin. They only cost $148,000 a year. And, uh,

Fritz Coleman  (01:11:08):

Why do they do

Mark Summers  (01:11:09):

That? Yeah. Why do they do that? Tell me. And so, um, I'm for the rest of my life on a brutin. Yeah. Uh, the CLL is, uh, but

Fritz Coleman  (01:11:17):

You're in remission now, correct? I'm sorry? You're in remission

Mark Summers  (01:11:19):

Now? I'm in remission currently. Uh, these pills have kept me infected just in my, uh, six month checkup last week and, uh, knock on something man. And so, um, initially I was depressed for a year. I couldn't sort of move on and finally was able to pull me up, uh, out of that situation and put it on stage and talk about it. And, um, and that was the best, uh, therapy I could have. Yeah.

Fritz Coleman  (01:11:42):

It will, it will benefit people to hear you tell the story and it's a, it's an additional challenge for you. Having the O C D and cancer is the ultimate lack of control over your life. Yeah. So you had to deal with it emotionally as

Mark Summers  (01:11:56):

Well. Um, absolutely. And you know, you first play the Y Me game and I'm in the oncologist's office the first day with my head down thinking, what the hell's going on here? And this guy comes up to me, takes his hat and starts hitting me. He goes, summers, what are you doing? And I didn't even look up and he goes, wake up, look at me. And I looked up, you remember Fred Trave? Yeah.

Fritz Coleman  (01:12:19):

I saw his wife two weeks ago. She came to my show and Simi Valley, Lois, the nicest lady.

Mark Summers  (01:12:24):

Oh, nicest woman ever. Yeah. And Fred was going through a horrible bit of, uh, cancer, uh, when we were going to the same oncologist. And he unfortunately died. They mis they mis doses, they gave him the wrong, um, medication. They gave him doses as Lois had told me. I think, uh, he was only supposed to get three and they gave him five or six, which basically

Louise Palanker (01:12:45):

Killed him. Oh

Mark Summers  (01:12:46):

My God. Um, and I, I was talking to Lois a lot after the whole situation. I've talked to her in years. But, uh, once again, a lovely lady and Fred, I did a show, I did the warmups on a show called Anything for Money that Fred was the host of and we got to know each other real well. And he used to do these great voices. Uh, on my background. We used to have answering machines. Yeah. He used to do you know, Michael Kane and Jackie Mason and all these fantastic. And a lovely man who passed away weight.

Fritz Coleman  (01:13:10):

Yeah, yeah. He was like one of the big guys that Merv Griffin guess. Yes. He looked at a million Griffins

Mark Summers  (01:13:15):

And the horn, by the way. He used to

Fritz Coleman  (01:13:16):

Play the

Mark Summers  (01:13:16):


Fritz Coleman  (01:13:17):

All the time. She's a sweetheart. She's very How doing Supportive. How doing she's doing beautifully. She does, uh, she's the executive director of an organization called Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters. She is? Yes. I didn't know that. And it, it's, uh, old people and their parents <laugh> and uh, she, she organizes these lunches. But all the old game show house, wink Martindale, Peter Marshall, all these guys are members of this organization. Oh, nice. And when they do a lunch, it's like being in a museum of broadcasting. Oh my God. And she happens to be the executive director of,

Louise Palanker (01:13:49):

Is that the lunch that I came to where they were honoring you? And I 

came with Cipriano? Yes,

Fritz Coleman  (01:13:53):


Louise Palanker (01:13:53):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's really fun. We sat next to, uh, what was the, uh, Tom Kennedy? Oh, Tom Tom Kennedy. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Fritz Coleman  (01:14:01):

Yes. I mean, it, it was like, it was like a history lesson.

Mark Summers  (01:14:04):

I, uh, somebody did a documentary on me and I invited Peter Marshall to come and he couldn't, couldn't make it. So I invited him to my house and he came up and he was drinking some water and he now, Pete's 94 years old. Sure. Okay. And he started to choke on his water and he said, this may be it. And I said, no, Pete, you can't do that in my house. I'm not in

Louise Palanker (01:14:22):

His house. He's got this and he's a meat freak. Talk

Mark Summers  (01:14:24):

About this guy's got more stories.

Fritz Coleman  (01:14:26):

Oh yeah.

Mark Summers  (01:14:27):

Oh my. He came to the house and we went to dinner and for three hours said things and told me stories. Yeah. That would make your head explode. Whoa. Uh, cuz he knew

Louise Palanker (01:14:38):

Every, every,

Fritz Coleman  (01:14:39):

All those guys see

Louise Palanker (01:14:40):

The Rose Marie documentary. Oh,

Mark Summers  (01:14:41):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I mean, Peter is is great and I understand he's doing better. He had Covid and was in pretty bad shape.

Louise Palanker (01:14:47):

Oh, he got Covid. Oh

Fritz Coleman  (01:14:48):

Know that. No.

Louise Palanker (01:14:49):


Mark Summers  (01:14:50):

Bad. Um, but he's doing better now. And uh, he, he's the best guy ever. The best. We'll

Louise Palanker (01:14:55):

Have to have a

Mark Summers  (01:14:56):

Long career and wink. I mean, think about Wink.

Fritz Coleman  (01:14:57):

Yeah. Yeah. He moved to Palm Springs. Oh he did. He won't come back from meetings he needed somewhere where those obscene colored jackets that he wears <laugh> were less offensive. <laugh>.

Mark Summers  (01:15:06):

He's the only guy who made, uh, doc Severson looked normal. You know,

Fritz Coleman  (01:15:09):

<laugh> really still, you know, white shoes and like a plaid jacket. Oh

Mark Summers  (01:15:13):

My God.

Fritz Coleman  (01:15:13):

40 years too late.

Mark Summers  (01:15:14):

And, and uh, the color of his hair is like the color of Trump's face. You know, that's <laugh>. It's pretty bizarre.

Fritz Coleman  (01:15:20):

But those big pipes, those big broadcaster pipes. Yeah, I remember listening to him on KM p c when I first moved out. Oh yeah. Those were

Mark Summers  (01:15:26):

Voices. Oh my God. Yeah. That's great. Seacrest says that to me all the time. He goes, you know, seven says, forget the Larry je right now. He goes, you know, when guys get to your age, they start to sound like old and creaky. He said, you sound exactly the same as when I was a kid. You know, how the hell does that happen? Yeah.

Louise Palanker (01:15:39):

Got a young voice. Yeah.

Mark Summers  (01:15:40):

Been lucky for that.

Louise Palanker (01:15:41):

Well I just wanna thank you so much for, this has been

Mark Summers  (01:15:43):

So much

Louise Palanker (01:15:43):

Fun. It's just been a blast. I'm gonna read the closing credits. You can close your eyes for a moment. Okay. <laugh>, 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 you've been enjoying. You can contact us at our social media or email us at Media Path We wanna thank our wonderful guest, Mark Summers. Our team includes Dean 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 Planker here with Fritz Coleman and we will see you along the media path. Can I

Mark Summers  (01:16:25):

Make my uh, noise with my cup one more time? <laugh>? Yeah, do

Louise Palanker (01:16:27):

Go ahead and do that. Where can we find you online? Mark Summer.

Mark Summers  (01:16:30):

Uh, it's at the real Mark Summers on, uh, you know, all those lovely social media things. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (01:16:34):

The real Mark Summers on Twitter and Fritz has more to tell you. Alright.

Fritz Coleman  (01:16:37):

If you enjoyed this episode of Media Path and how could you not, it would help us to be more discoverable by potential new listeners. If you would leave us a quick review on Apple Podcast and if you're new here and this is your first time with us, please check out our back catalog. You may find all kinds of binge worthy material. We've had Diane Warren and Bill Mumey and the Castles, and Henry Winkler and Keith Morrison. Lots of great people. Gary Puckett. We had Bill Medley last week. He was unbelievable. My God, I'm so in love with him. He was really, really wonderful. And, uh, thank you for spending an hour with us and we would be overjoyed if you took a moment to share your thoughts with us or recommend us to a friend be safe.

Louise Palanker (01:17:16):

That was great. That was Gary. He was cool.

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