James Lipton Love

pamie and stee give will ferrell more fodder

We’ve bashed the The Lipton before. We wanted to do it again.

Mike Myers was on Inside the Actor’s Studio. Because Mike’s actually funny, we had more fun listening to just James speak. Here, word-for-word, is half of the interview: the half that James Lipton said.

It’s best if you just say it out loud in your most pretentious, breathy voice.

(comments by pamie and stee are included in parentheses.)

Tonight’s guest has not only made us laugh, he has in some significant ways, changed the way we think and speak with some Saturday Night Live characters as Linda Richman [The audience cheers], Phillip the Hyper Hypo [The audience cheers], Dieter and his monkey [The audience cheers], Simon the cartoonist [The audience cheers], Lothar of the Hill People [The audience cheers], and the irrepressible Wayne Campbell [The audience cheers]. He has conquered the big screen with Wayne’s World [The audience cheers], Austin Powers [The audience cheers], So I Married an Axe Murderer [The audience applauds, James laughs] and 54 [dead silence]. He has won the Blockbuster Entertainment award for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and the MTV Movie award for Wayne’s World and both Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

(Ah, the coveted MTV Movie award. I know it’s why I went into acting.)

The Actor’s Studio is proud to welcome Linda, Phillip, Dieter, Simon, Lothar, Wayne, Austin, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard [pauses to laugh while the audience cheers], and — oh, yes! Mike Myers!

[Lipton laughs]

You join our growing Canadian contingent. [Laughs]

Yeah, there it is. What part of Canada are you from?

[Laughs]

Tonight is sliding out of control! pamie and stee give will ferrell more fodder

Where’s Scarborough? Where do your family’s roots lie?

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Uncontrollable laughter]

Is it true or not that you are descended from Wordsworth?

How so? Are you really? How’d you find out? Did you find yourself sometimes wandering lonely as a cloud?

(I imagine we should know what this is and it’s probably a reference to some Wordsworth poem, but really, it’s much more funny if we just assume Lipton has gone totally insane.)

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

It’s a great distinction.

(Yes, between fawning and ass-kissing.)

Are you a British citizen? Do you really? They, they are?

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

So, when you were growing up you heard Lillipudian spoken in the house.

What was your father’s name?

And what was his profession?

That is so neat.

(He said “neat.” Hee. I wonder how many of the students furiously taking notes wrote down “neat,” making a mental note that if Lipton uses “neat” that they will damn well find a way to work “neat” it into their next Object Exercise or their next movement class while they’re pretending to be a hat.)

And did you have siblings?

And how did you get along with your siblings?

Yes? Oh, were you?

You? Oh.

(No, you James. Always you.)

[Laughs]

They’re great practical jokers, those kids.

(Like when they pretend to respect you or, like, know who you are aside from a funny Will Ferrell skit.)

[Laughs]

Were your brothers funny?

Funnier than you, by any chance?

No!

Really?

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

What was the Pig and Whistle?

(It sounds like a pub. Something, I’m sure, judging from the color of his odd and scary skin, that Lipton is familiar with.)

Yeah!

[Laughs]

Oh, God, can you stand up!

(I’m not going to say what this is in reference to. It’s much better if you imagine something dirty. Or imagine that Lipton bent to literally kiss Mike Meyers’ ass because words just weren’t enough and upended his coffee [read: Seven and 7,] slipped on the liquid, and knocked Meyers on his ass.)

Oh, yeah, sure!

[Laughs]

What’d you study?

They know that I never let that go by. Can you still tap?

Right there on the wood.

(Again, much better if you imagine something really dirty here.)

[Kisses Mike’s hand]

(He kisses Mike Meyers’ hand about fifty times in this episode. It’s oddly touching.)

[Laughs]

Woo. Sometimes life is just good.

(God, I want that sound clip for my computer whenever I empty the recycling bin. Incidentally, this is where the show had to be paused and the two recappers had to be administered oxygen after laughing so hard they passed out.)

I’ve read that your father encouraged laughter. In fact, he discouraged anything but laughter.

(“In fact, he did not not not discourage not laughing, did he not?”)

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

One of the mysterious by-products of the Second World War was the sudden flourishing of British humor. Did your father expose you to that, to that, flourishing?

Ah.

Oh. Um. Benny Hill. He’s my idol. He’s wonderful.

(No he’s not. Liar. This is like watching the nerdy kid in school being stuck in detention with the cool kid and trying desperately to say all the right things so that the cool kid will like him, and not actually having any clue who Iron Maiden, the Forty-Niners, and Chasey Lane are.)

You’ve described your father as inventing himself.

How? That’s good!

You’ve said about him, “He taught me to have no inhibitions and that has allowed me to be the architect of my own embarrassment.”

I’m liking your father more every minute.

Did your mother have a profession?

That’s distinguished providences. What was her name?

(That’s garbled English. What are you saying?)

[Laughs] Some silliness there, too!

(It’s great watching the most intentionally anti-silly man in the universe praise silliness. It’s really very silly.)

[Laughs]

(Here’s where they put this random close-up on the guy in the audience, and it looks like one of those close-ups they do on Letterman. We think it actually might be stolen from a Letterman episode.)

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

When did it first occur to you that acting was what you wanted to do?

How so?

No, it’s not.

Did your, did your — not at all.

(Guess not.)

Did your mother actively promote your career?

Was she really?

Really?

Really?

Really!

(“No. Not at all. I was just kidding to see how many times you’d say ‘really.'”)

How old were you when you first appeared on television?

Were you impressed with her?

(“Are you impressed with me? Even a little bit?”)

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

Didn’t you make a vow that one day you would work with her cause you saw her on television?

What did you see her on?

You heard it here.

What was Range Rider and the Calgary Kid?

We’d like to hear about it.

[Laughs]

Pig and Whistle. Tap dance. Ah.

(Those were exactly my senile great-grandfather’s dying words to me.) pamie and stee give will ferrell more fodder

This is the Actor’s Studio of Drama at the New School for Social Research. That’s the way we treat them.

Who played the Calgary Kid?

(“No! It was you? Because I was actually really asking.”)

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

Now, presumably during those busy years you were also going to school? What high school did you go to?

Don’t you think it’s appropriate you’d go to Stephen Lecock High School, considering what was going to happen to you? He was, he was a wonderful humorist.

[Laughs]

[squints and nods]

[Laughs]

Young people are all planning to go out into the world, following in your footsteps. We hope and they hope. Do. And, uh, they all worry when they leave here about, you know, getting a job quickly. How long was the gap between leaving High School and joining Second City?

(I guess The Actor’s Studio dropped their speech classes.)

How so?

You talked about that great company with Martin Short, Mike Nichols.

What did you do in the company?

When Marty was here we talked about the puzzling fact that Canada has become one of the world’s principle resources for humor. How do you explain?

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

Let’s eat Canadian tonight!

(We could explain that one too, but really, why ruin it.)

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

Right.

Would you call Second City your school?

Um-hm.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Sure.

What was Malarky and Meyers?

Yeah.

Sure.

When did you meet Robin?

And what were the circumstances?

Well, happily.

You’ve described your relationship with Robin as opposites attracting. Why opposites?

Mike, you and I have something in common.

(He just scared the hell out of Mike Meyers by yelling his name. Mike has to compose himself and stop laughing. He still scares him, even on the second try.)

Mike, you and I have something in common. Can you guess what it is? Mike and I have both been featured on Saturday Night Live.

[Laughs]

(This bit is very funny here where Mike tells him he thought there would be a point in the interview when Lipton would say, “And then … you drank poop.” It should be noted once again, that Mike Meyers is very very very funny here. And for putting up with Lipton so well, we should look past his recent bad behavior with the Dieter movie and such. Pamie would like to add that she harbors no ill will about Dieter because she’s sure it wasn’t going to be good. And Jack Black’s bruised enough these days.)

But, that’s not me, that’s Will Ferrell doing me. And I, I, I don’t have an English accent He does. When he does me. For some mysterious reason. I’m from Michigan for Christ’s sake. You and I talk just alike. And he has me talking very slowly. And never looking at my guests, I’m always like this…

(He just loves this attention. Don’t believe the pain and the swearing. He. Loves. It. Personally, I just love that Lipton said, “Will Ferrell doing me.”)

You know why? Because we only got two cameras out there and they’re both on you so it looks like that and he has me at a great disadvantage.

(Yes, Lipton, Will Ferrell does have you at a great disadvantage. He has a marketable skill.) pamie and stee give will ferrell more fodder

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

Yeah.

One of your most popular SNL characters is the beloved Linda Richman. Where on Earth did you find her?

Yeah.

Uh, uh, you have persuaded us that you are, uh, of the Protestant faith. Where do you get all these Yiddish expressions?

[Laughs] Yeah.

And how’d she take that?

Really?

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

I wonder, I wonder, Mike, if you would mind if I spoke to Linda for just a few moments.

(This is where we both shout, “Oh no. Don’t make him– Oh, God.”)

Lipton is such a tool for doing this. Performers hate this more than anything, and they get it enough from random fans. Really. Give the man a break.)

Linda.

You and I have something in common. “Coffee Talk” and “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

(Look at that brilliant expression on Mike’s face, there. He’s all, “What the fuck is this man talking about? He’s insane. I make millions of dollars and he’s having me be a trained monkey to have my characters swap war stories with him?” Also, Lipton is such a no-talent, that he can’t even believably “talk” to Linda Richman. It’s just … well, funny.)

I think sometimes you probably can’t tell the two shows apart. How did you become a talk show host? How did that happen to you?

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

My wife asked me to ask you two questions, Linda.

(This is great here because Mike’s clearly trying to not be in character anymore, and he’s all, “Oh, still talking to Linda.” Lipton’s wife is one scary looking woman, by the way. And Lipton is one scary-ass man for insisting on showing his wife on camera all the time. Like, “Look. Not gay.”)

Who does your hair? And who’s responsible for the dazzling wardrobe?

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

I am sometimes criticized for being too effusive with my guests.

Oh.

Who the hell was that? I was talking to Linda.

Some might say. Yes. Some might say, Linda, that you are also over-enthusiastic about a certain person. I almost hesitate to say her name.

(It would be great if Mike just refused to play along and just said, “Who? I have no idea what you’re talking about. Oh, Streisand. Yeah, she’s fine.)

Oh, I. I’m sorry.

[Laughs]

When you become farklempt, what does farklempt mean?

Yes? Yes?

Got it. Mike, only one more question. That is, do you have a family, you have a daughter for example? Is she married?

(Talkin’ to Richman still. Still, And now talking about Mike Meyers himself as Linda is really a parody of his wife’s mother. All very meta, we know.)

Her husband works?

Have you seen him work?

That’s your opinion.

Do you think he’s funny?

Hard for you, impossible for the rest of us, I must say. Thank you very much.

Another of your most popular characters is Phillip. The Hyper Hypo. Um, when, where and how was he born?

I wonder if I could have a word with Phillip?

(Good Lord.)

Phillip, how old are you?

[Laughs]

I noticed that…

[Laughs]

Potatoes and what not!

I … no. I, I can’t help noticing that you are not wearing your helmet or your harness tonight.

Mm-hum.

Me? I might have given you some chocolate. [Laughs] Hmm.

Bare? Shaved it bare? Tail and mane, too? [Laughs]

(Oh, just dirty and wrong.)

Now, a, a lot of our students would think that you’re a very lucky kid because you get to play with girls like Nicole Kidman and Kim Basinger. Does that have an effect on your metabolism? Is it anything like chocolate?

(Please stop improving, Lipton. Please.)

What? Oh! [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs]

Rob Lowe has described you, uh, Philip…

No, but you, Mike, at the Canyon Ranch, and you got a hold of some chocolates and stuff.

So, it’s sort of a, sort of a personal matter, this little Phillip, for you, huh?

Now some of these characters. Any of them. All of them, a way for you of exorcising demons, of, of expressing yourself in ways you wouldn’t dare otherwise?

(That’s not even a question.)

And when…

Are you ever introverted? Are you really?

[Laughs]

[Laughs]

Mike, every comedian I’ve, I’ve ever known seems to like to play kids. On this stage. We’ve seen that with Jerry Lewis and Billy Crystal. Marty Short. Whoopi. There has to be a reason. Why? What is this affinity between comedians and kids?

Kid’s stuff.

I think that Dieter qualifies as one of your strangest creations.

(He doesn’t even ask this time, instead assuming that Mike Meyers is having a good time. Which is, naturally, a terrible assumption.)

Dieter, once again, I can’t help but noticing the similarities in subject, and I hope in style in your talk show and in mine. Where did you acquire your passion? I think that’s the only word for it. For film. Yeah.

What?!

(That’s what we said.)

But why were you in prison? I can’t imagine you being in prison.

(But you can imagine yourself locked up, can’t you Big James.)

[Laughs]

And magic? Really? An aesthetic prisoner. That’s.

(My great-grandmother’s final words.)

I, I would have thought something else, because when you tease us with tales about your personal life…uh…

Some of the tales that you tantalize us with are just a bit kinky. Yes. Perhaps not to you. [Laughs] Hmm.

(Have we not crossed some line here, people? Really.)

Generally speaking on this show, we avoid the more personal questions, but frankly, I think our students would like to know, what’s with you and that monkey?

I suspected as much.

(James serves them up, and Mike Meyers knocks them down.)

And why do you invite people to touch your monkey?

Does he have nice, smooth little fingers? [Laughs]

(Ick.)

Of course. Of course. Why, Deiter–

(Look at Mike try and not be Deiter anymore. I feel so bad for him.)

Why do you end each, uh, section of “Sprockets” with that dance? That delightful dance.

You mean sponsors watching the dance? The lively ending? [Laughs] [Laughs]

Yes. [Laughs] Yes. [Laughs] Yeah. [Laughs] See? I rest my case. That’s kinky. [Laughs]

(Please. Stop.) pamie and stee give will ferrell more fodder

What was the origin of Lothar of the Hill People?

Right. I see.

Lothar, my wife asked me to ask you [Laughs]… who does your hair and wardrobe?

(Another shot of said wife, looking nearly as uncomfortable as Mike Meyers.)

I’m talking to Lothar, not to you.

[Laughs] [Coughs] [Laughs]

I can recall a song that went, “Men, men, men, men. Men, men, men, men. Men are better than women.” I gather that, that, the hill country is not a hotbed of women’s rights.

Yes?

[Laughs] Really? [Laughs] Now, I’ve heard, uh, that you and Tyler and Ord discuss on occasion the difficulties of “Walking with women,” which is a term you seem to use. Do you have any words of wisdom for the young men in our audience on the subject of, “walking with women?”

(God, this is retarded. Who likes Lothar, anyway? Two other things: I think James Lipton actually thinks Lothar is a real person at this point. And also, I’ve been to The Actor’s Studio. I don’t think many of the guys in the house are worrying about “walking with women,” unless they’re going to a sale at Barney’s together.)

[Laughs]

Thank you, Lothar.

I’d like to ask you about a couple of your “Saturday Night Live” colleagues. Phil Hartman.

(I hope he asks Mike Meyers if he can “talk” to Phil Hartman and Chris Farley now.)

At. A. Loss. We’re all at a loss. Chris Farley.

[Laughs]

As anyone who’s ever attended one night of this series knows, I am a [sic] absolute freak for mimicry.

(Pamie’s koo-koo for mime, and stee’s bonkers for juggling!)

Really?

You’ve never had a cup of tea at the end?

It’s circular.

On a very different note. Over the last seven years of this show, perhaps the most important thing to arise is the influence on the personal, professional life of one guest after another of the loss of a parent. Either through divorce or death. When did you lose your father?

(How is that a sentence?)

How did he die?

How old was he when the disease first affected him?

Is it as hard to watch as it would seem to be?

(This show is.)

It’s had a profound effect on you, hasn’t it? In many ways.

Yeah. Yeah.

Now, I left out one astounding character, of course, from “Saturday Night Live” years. And that person is the irrepressible scamp Wayne Campbell. When and where was he born?

(“Irrepressible scamp?!”)

That’s… Um-hum. Um-hum.

You and Wayne and Garth have made some very important contributions to the American language. Were you reflecting the sign of the generation or are any of those inventions?

Really?

Yeah. So, “Not,” “No way,” “Way,” “Excellent…”

I’m dying to speak to Wayne, of course. Wayne…

(Mike starts goofing on Lipton right here, looking around frantically asking, “Is he here?” It’s very funny.)

Wayne, as you see, once again, this evening the coincidences are extraordinary.

But more than that, I host a show… right?

There you go. And there are similarities. Both of us are on cable.

Exactly. Right. Right. And I’m, I’m always looking for tips. What is the…

You certainly do. What would you say is the secret of your show’s success? What has made it so incredibly popular? I wanna know.

Yeah?

Writing, writing, writing? I thought you….

If you could have one person from the past that’s no longer with us, who would you invite to be on “Wayne’s World?”

Yeah?

Well, on that subject, when Aerosmith was on the show you guys were very serious conversation [sic] of, of, dialectical materialism, you and Dana. And…

But, but, Wayne, where would you get this information? Is it a subject of interest with you?

I got it. Um-him. And you are pretty sure that Garth’s your best friend. What’s he like? What’s Garth really like?

Verbal? Much shier than you. Much shier.

Really? Still? And yet he shares your interest in Supermodels.

One one occasion I remember that the two of you dreamed you into Madonna’s bed.

Woooah. It is. But no matter who dreamed it first, we all want to know what the experience was like for you. I mean, she is, after all, a true Babe-alonia.

(Yeah, we’re starting to think this was a terrible, terrible idea.)

And what was it like? I mean, I saw her kissing you.

What is that form the two of you use to conjure up the…

Simple as that.

[Laughs]

Now, Mike, how did Wayne Campbell go from the small stage to the big screen?

Oh, boy.

One of my favorite scenes in your entire canon… and don’t tell Mr. Farrell that I used the word “canon.”

(“Me me me! Attention back on me!) pamie and stee give will ferrell more fodder

[Laughs] [Laughs] [Laughs]

One of my favorite of your scenes [sic], it happens occasionally, is when you and Garth lie on the hood of your car. And what are you doing?

Yeah, I, I, I, I —

And that’s one of them.

How much of the film was improvised?

Right. Right. Right.

The teamwork in that movie has won awards. Talk to us about working with Dana Carvey.

When you were shooting “Wayne’s World” did you have any idea that it would turn to one of the megahits of that year?

Really?

…has emerged over the years of this series is the break in the career when somebody stops to rethink and retool. Refill the tank. In 1993 after three successful films, you took a break. You remember? Why did you do it?

Where did you go?

Did it happen in a bathtub? Or, uh…

(“Or, uh” indeed.)

You said that Robin encouraged you to write it down. What were you doing?

What year were you born?

What the hell do you know about the Sixties? What does… you are fixated on the Sixties. Why?

(That Seven and 7 really kicking in at this point.)

Yeah. Yeah. Huh.

How long did it take you to write “Austin Powers?”

What’d you write with?

You co-produced Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Why? Wow.

What is the production company called that I see on the credits?

(What a stupid question.)

Once again, as in So, I Married an Axe Murderer you were playing two roles. Do you look for that kind of challenge?

You don’t.

Yeah. Go on about your business. Uh, how did you come about the name Austin Powers?

In British films there are a number of models for Austin. There is Matt Helm, Derek Flynt, but of course James Bond.

Sure. Sure. Yeah. Of course. Where’d you get the hair on your chest? Which one of the James Bonds inspired that?

[Laughs] [Laughs] Oh, yeah.

Was Dr. Evil meant to remind us of anyone? Who inspired him? Really?

(God, us and Mike have had it with the leading questions. Just ask him directly, putz.)

That was Lorne.

Yeah. Yeah. There’s a lot of bathroom humor in Austin Powers, including a character named Number Two. Now, the British pantomimes, and British humor is absolutely rife with bathroom humor.

From Briggs into poo-poo. Yeah.

(Hee.)

That’s very much the British side of you.

Who plays Mustafa in the film?

I was in three of them!

Austin Powers won the MTV Movie Award for the best dance sequence, which it deserved. When you won that award, for whom did you dedicate it?

(“For whom” are you such a putz?)

You also won the Best Villain, and were nominated for Favorite Actor. It’s a tour-de-force. One of the most extraordinary things in the movie is to watch you play with you. When the two of you are face-to-face at last.

(Of course he liked it when Mike played with himself.)

What comedians have impressed you in your life?

So do I. So do I.

Elevated anything he touched.

Yeah. Yeah. Can the craft of comedy be learned or taught? Or do you have to be born with it?

In 1998, you made an unusual choice. A serious role. In, what did you play in 54?

Yeah. Yeah. And he went to prison. And he died at 45. Of AIDS. Tough life.

Absolutely.

How long’d it take you to write Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me?

Ooh.

Who played Fat Bastard? What is Fat Bastard made of? There’s a nude scene that is the most repellant thing I’ve ever seen.

Now, you’ve said, “We dispose of our last monster by having him have a satori about his own weight problem.” What is this about a satori?

We have a bunch of writers out there. Is this satori the way that your ideas come to you, or the way they evolve?

[Laughs] That was the nature of my question, and you’ve answered it.

And we’re gonna look forward to it.

Classroom begins with the questionnaire that was invented by Bernard Pivot.

Tell Ferrell it’s easy.

What’s your favorite word? What’s your least favorite word? What turns you on? Anything.

[Laughs]

What turns you on?

What turns you off?

You don’t require any forgiveness. Maybe you’re just right.

What sound or noise do you love?

What sound or noise do you hate?

What is your favorite curse word?

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

What profession other than yours would you not like to attempt?

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say to you as you approach the gate?

You can tell he’s been watching the show.

(Yes, James. God and Mike Meyers both watch your stupid show. Everyone watches your stupid show. It’s true.)

Well, we’re addicted to you, and I’m going to let the students now have their time with you so teach them. Thanks.

(Thank you Mike Meyers, for being so intentionally funny. And thank you James Lipton for being so unintentionally funny. Really, otherwise we couldn’t have gotten through this. Thanks.)

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