Monday, July 14, 2008

Interview With a Madman: Scott Parkin

I have written about genius Scott Parkin, but was delighted to have the chance to interview him by phone a couple of weeks ago. (When I say interview, I mean laughed my ass off for an entire hour and occasionally guffawed out a carefully prepared question.)

While I did prep some actual interview questions in advance, they were quickly thrown out the window when the improv started to roll.

I started with a simple question "where were your born?" I learned Scott was born and raised in Sacramento, California 46 years ago.

Then Scott asked me a question: "How many conservatives does it take to screw in a light bulb?" I replied "I don't know." Came the answer "Why do you hate America?"

Then I spilled my tea and had to leave the room for a moment. That's pretty much how it went for the hour we spoke.

All right, serious interviewing now.

Me: Tell me about your background. How did you come to acting?

Scott: I was always outgoing. I got started in the third grade playing an Israelite. After that it was the standard route; class clown, gifted English. I got sent to the drama teacher with note that said Starbuck? We were doing (Richard Nash's play) The Rainmaker, so I auditioned. I also did the Crucible. I was kind of a jock, but the drama class girls were wild and the teacher was young.

My dad was funny, and at my house if you wanted to get your piece in at dinner, you had to tell a story. Later my Sierra College drama teacher, Michael Hunter, introduced me to Improv in a big way.

I started in radio at age 21, worked in Tulsa and did improv in Dallas. I lived life and had fun.

Me: Who are your comedy heroes?

Scott: John Cleese, Jonathan Winters, Andy Kaufman, Chevy Chase (in Fletch/Christmas vacation years)

Me: Tell me everything about the Nolaf experience.

Scott: I got be a real jerk in the audition. They auditioned something like 500 actors. The director set up the audition with this; "This is an institute where they try to stamp out fun” and then they asked me for the names of some graduates. I tossed out Clarabel Clown and Ricky Stalin. I got to be a real uptight tool and I channeled every idiot I could think of.

They asked me for some names of inventions from Nolaf, I told them they include the following:

Farnsworth Puppy Kicker
Menthol Catheter
Pogo stump
Anger melon
Rusty Duvet

The team that put Nolaf together was amazing. Element 79 was great. Mekanism was great. The client was really great. The director, Tommy Means, gave me so much freedom. It was written so well, and the crew was so supportive and funny and smart that it was easy to go "way the hell out there" with the character. (A small prayer that the many of the outtakes never see the light of day until I'm to senile to care...)

This is the most fun I've ever had on a shoot. Right for me and right for them, and I am so proud of it.

Me: Well I have to tell you, the link to Nolaf was emailed or Twittered to me at least half a dozen times over two days and it was totally worth the time to take the Nolaf adventure. Do people recognize you from Nolaf?

Scott: No, not for Nolaf - I gained weight and had a comb-over for the role, so it's okay! It's really flattering that people liked it enough to email it around.

Me: What else are you working on? Where else can we get the "Scott Parkin Experience"?

Scott: I did a bunch of work for Sobe Life Water's Thrillicious. I'm the voice of a lizard (Donny.) I'm very happy about the work. This Internet (series of tubes) may take off yet.

Check out the newest episode:

Scott: I did a Honda Pilot commercial that's running right now. Naked balloonists. I think they were method nudists or Methodist nudists or method balloonists. They were naked and old. Things that don't work together, like tequila and waffles - ya know?

Me: What else is happening in your world?

Scott: My friend of 25 years, Ed Yeager has a new show coming on CBS this fall (Wednesdays at 8:30pm) called Project Gary (*update!) Gary Unmarried. It's kind of loosely based on me. We did improv in Dallas together and have remained best friends through all kinds of stuff. He did the toast at my wedding and his wife Linda decorated my one room guest house when my wife asked me to stop being married.

He has watched me stumble forward though being a single dad, to dating again and figuring out how to keep a girlfriend and try and be a dad.

Hanging out with Ed is great and watching the show come together is surreal and amazing. I was psyched and fearful. It was intimidating going into a room full of people who are exceptional seasoned TV and feature writers, but I am finding my way and beginning to get some stuff in the scripts and learn the process a little bit as we go forward.

Jay Mohr is hilarious and absolutely nails it and is so fun to watch. Jaime King and Paula Marshall are hilarious as the girlfriend and the ex-wife. It is all so new for me but even the jaded people are excited about this one.

Me: What's up next for you?

Scott: Surfing, camping, writing. Hanging out with my daughter, the most amazing 8 year old on the planet. Voiceover work is going well and I still get enough on-camera commercials to keep my headshots and drive all over and audition. When I do get stuff it is often people (agencies or directors) that I have worked with before so that makes it very loose and creative. We get to know what each other can do and that makes it easy to work. The last 3 auditions someone in the room has mentioned NOLAF which is so so kool. I'm gonna swing for the fence and try my hardest. It's intimidating, but ridiculously fun.

Me: Thanks Scott!

Scott: You are welcome Magno.

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