Bob Newhart dubs Richard Pryor: 'The seminal comic of the last 50 years'
The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles recently paid tribute to Bob Newhart on his 50th anniversary in show business earlier this month.
The Dish Rag talked to the legendary master of deadpan comedy about his career, his influence on young comedians and whom he considers to be the seminal comic in the last 50 years.
How does he feel about being so beloved by fans for so long?
"If I'm on plane, or at an airport or restaurant, people always come up to me and say 'Thank you for all the years of laughter' and I always say 'It was my pleasure.' That's true, it was my pleasure. I enjoyed it as much as they enjoyed watching it. It's a great way of making a living for 50 years, making people laugh. I don't enjoy the fuss so much though. I've had a great time. It's been a hoot for me. "
How about today's comedians who say they were inspired by him?
"I know many comedians out there say I influenced them and that makes me feel good. Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Kimmel. Some other people have said it and that's great. Jack Benny, people like that I watched them and they influenced me over the years. If I influenced somebody and they're doing well, it's like I'm giving back a bit."
Is he still best pals with Don Rickles?
"Yes. we're going to see Don next week, get together and have dinner and have a great time and I listen to how great his career is going and then I go home."
What about his rep of being the nicest guy in show business?
"That's just the way you're supposed to be. "
Onstage, he revealed his somewhat surprising admiration for another comic:
"I consider Richard Pryor the seminal comic of the last 50 years. His concepts were so pure and the characters he created were so wonderful. "
Does he remember the first laugh he ever got?
"Yes. It was last week, as a matter of fact."
What did he tell the network exec who famously asked him to work on his stammer?
"I told him, 'This stammer got me a home in Beverly Hills. I'm not changing anything."
On his recent TV work:
"I don't subscribe to the theory that under every comedian there is a Hamlet begging to get out. I loved doing "ER" and "Desperate Housewives." I love the writing on "Housewives" and the fact that they don't take themselves that seriously."
Follow Zap2it and Elizadish on Twitter and Zap2it on Facebook for the latest TV, movie and celebrity news
Photo credit: Getty Images
Reporting: Leah Sydney
Zap2it Elite Sheet Must Reads from the Web's In-Crowd