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In his one hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Louis Nye talks about his start in radio, where he really found his foting as a performer. He talks about working with comedians/ performers like Steve Allen, Larry Gelbart and Don Knotts. Nye gives some advice for current students of comedy and considers the question "was it worth it?" Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 7, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Comedy and Career development.
During the first hour of her interview with Jenni Matz, Tracey Ullman touches: On her childhood and early influences, including how she started doing impersonations; on her career aspirations when she was growing up, and on attending a performing arts school starting at age 12, and the role that class played in acting opportunities in England at the time." On leaving school at 16 and moving to Berlin as a dancer; on how she transitioned into acting, and on being cast in the improvised play "Four in a Million", which led to her being cast on a sketch show on the BBC; on how she began recording pop music, and on making music videos and touring; on appearing in the dramatic film "Plenty". On what her family thought of her early success; on meeting her husband, Allan McKeown, and on moving to the United States; on being cast in a pilot, which she ended up being very disappointed in; on meeting James L. Brooks, and on his idea that she should have a sketch show on Fox, and on doing research into American comedy before starting her show. On her concept for 'The Tracey Ullman Show' before it began; on casting Julie Kavner and Dan Castellaneta on the show; on the challenges and experimentation of 'The Tracey Ullman Show'; on the preparation and pace of the show; on the show being filmed in front of a live audience. On her character "Kay Clark" on 'The Tracey Ullman Show;' on the character "Francesca" on 'The Tracey Ullman Show', and on "Ginny Tilman"; on performing different accents, particularly on 'The Tracey Ullman Show', and on how she transforms into characters; on playing "Carol", a Black woman, on the show, and on playing characters of different ethnicities; on her favorite sketches on the show, and on 'The Simpsons' getting it start as interstitials on 'The Tracey Ullman Show.'
During the final hour of her interview with Jenni Matz, Tracey Ullman touches: On how she prepares herself to get into character, and on how to be a good leader on set; on her writing process, and on collaborating with other writers; on why she loves working in television; on maintaining confidence in her work, and on enjoying her anonymity, and on her level of fame. On how television has changed since she started in the business, and on how the industry can or should change in light of the #MeToo and Times Up movements; on the then-current comedians and television shows she enjoys; on meeting some of her comedic heroes over the years, and on meeting Muhammad Ali when she was in character; on the advice and opportunities she's received in her career. On the advice she'd give to someone starting out in the television industry, and on the balance between being a performer and a well-rounded person; on the dangers of fame; on why she resists the term "comedienne"; on the value of oral histories; on her proudest career achievement; on her then-future plans and people she'd like to portray; on how she would like to be remembered.
During the second hour of her interview with Jenni Matz, Tracey Ullman touches: On 'The Tracey Ullman Show' winning Emmy Awards, and on the end of the show; on the legacy of 'The Tracey Ullman Show', and on what she did in the years following the end of her show; on her special 'Tracey Ullman: A Class Act', and on how that show led to her HBO special 'Tracey Takes on New York' and 'Tracey Takes On...'. On directing episodes of 'Tracey Takes On...', and on her and her husband's ownership of the show; on the character "Chic" on 'Tracey Takes On...'; on going out into the real world in character; on playing "Mrs. Noh Nan Nang" on 'Tracey Takes On...'; on the writing team on 'Tracey Takes On...'. On specific episodes of 'Tracey Takes On...', and on portraying the royal family; on the end of 'Tracey Takes On...', and on how 'Tracey Ullman's State of the Union' came about; on playing celebrities and public figures on .State of the Union., and on how she decided which people and characters to portray, and on how she gets into character for impersonations. On her production schedule on 'Tracey Ullman's State of the Union' since she portrayed most of the characters on the show; on the end of 'Tracey Ullman's State of the Union'; on the death of her husband, Allan McKeown; on how 'Tracey Ullman's Show' came about, and on her impressions of Angela Merkel and Judi Dench; on the impact of Brexit on the show, and on getting political in her work. On why "Kay Clark" has appeared in all of her series; on playing Betty Friedan in 'Mrs. America', and on the 'Tracey Ullman's Show' sketch "What Were You Wearing?"; on the role of comedy in the then-current political climate, and on Mel Brooks appearing in a sketch on 'The Tracey Ullman Show'; on the power of comedy.
In her three-hour-and-fifteen-minute interview Tracey Ullman talks about growing up in England and how she started doing impersonations as a kid. She discusses attending a performing arts school starting at the age of 12, leaving school at 16 to be a dancer in Berlin, and how she made the transition into acting. She details how she came to be cast in the improvised play "Four in a Million" and how that led to her being cast on a BBC sketch comedy show. She talks about her years as a pop star and meeting her husband, the late producer Allan McKeown, and moving to America. Ullman goes into detail on the creation of 'The Tracey Ullman Show', including how it began with meeting James L. Brooks, her concept for the show, and the casting process. She then shares stories from the run of 'The Tracey Ullman Show', with a discussion of a typical workweek, specific characters she created for the series, including "Kay Clark" and "Ginny Tilman", winning Emmy Awards for the series, and its eventual end and legacy. Ullman then moves on to her special Tracey Ullman: A Class Act and how that led to her HBO show 'Tracey Takes On…' For 'Tracey Takes On…' she talks about specific characters, directing episodes of the series, and the show's writing team. She then talks about her next series, 'Tracey Ullman's State of the Union', including why she decided to feature more impressions of celebrities and public figures and on getting more political in her work. Ullman discusses her then-most recent series 'Tracey Ullman's Show', talking about sketches that went viral and the characters she's carried throughout her series. She concludes by sharing how she gets into character, her writing process and how she collaborates with other writers, how the industry has changed since she started out, advice to aspiring performers, her proudest career achievement, and how she would like to be remembered. Jenni Matz conducted the interview in partnership with the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College on January 30, 2020 in North Hollywood, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Characters & Catchphrases, Comedy Series, Comedians, Creative Influences And Inspiration, Criticism Of TV, Diversity In Television, Emmy Awards, Fame And Celebrity, First Big Break, Historic Events And Social Change, LGBTQ, MeToo Movement, New Media, Performers, Producers, Pivotal Career Moments, Pop Culture, Television Industry, Women, and Writers.
The American Comedy Archives Oral Histories consists of audiovisual interviews conducted by comedian Bill Dana, archivist/historian Jenni Matz, comedian Eddie Brill, archivist/historian Robert Fleming, and television producer/professor Dan Pasternack with comedians, directors, writers, producers, agents, and experts on comedy. Oral history interviews were conducted with Bea Arthur, Ed Begley, Jr., Shelley Berman, Lewis Black, Kevin Bright, Eddie Brill, Jack Carter, Dick Cavett, Tim Conway, Irwin Corey, Norm Crosby, Billy Crystal, Bill Dana, Sam Denoff, Vin DiBona, Phyllis Diller, Diane English, Barbara Feldon, Budd Friedman, Larry Gelbart, Shecky Greene, Dick Gregory, Charles Grodin, Pat Harrington, Jr., Hugh Hefner, Buck Henry, Doug Herzog, Arte Johnson, Austin "Rocky" Kalish, Irma Kalish, Hal Kanter, Don Knotts, Norman Lear, Rose Marie, Peter Marshall, Dick Martin, Jamie Masada, Jackie Mason, Chuck McCann, Jayne Meadows, Carlos Mencia, Howard Murray, Jan Murray, Bob Newhart, Louis Nye, Gary Owens, Janis Paige, Bill Persky, Tom Poston, Carl Reiner, Jack Riley, Tony Roberts, Paul Rodriguez, Andy Rooney, Jay Sandrich, George Schlatter, George Shapiro, Leonard Stern, Howard Storm, Tracey Ullman, Dick Van Dyke, Dick Van Patten, Betty White, Fred Willard, Henry Winkler, Jonathan Winters, Steven Wright, and "Weird Al" Yankovic. The bulk of the interviews were originally recorded on DVcam tapes from February 2005 through May 2007 and duplicated at Emerson College. Some of the oral histories were done in conjunction with the American Television Foundation. In addition to the video oral histories there are transcripts for certain interviews.
2005-02-21 - 2020-01-30
During the first hour of her interview with Jenni Matz, Margaret Cho touches: On where she's calling in from; on her name at birth; on when she started to go by the name "Margaret"; on her parents and growing up in San Francisco around her parents' bookstore; on watching television as a kid; on her parents wanting her to be Americanized; on her interests growing up. On what drew her to comedy and what she enjoys about performing; on her first time on stage; on what she learns from bombing on stage; on imitating her mother in her act; on opening for Jerry Seinfeld and the doors that opened for her; on being inspired by Janeane Garofolo; on how her act developed. On her early guest roles on television; on her role in the TV movie/pilot 'Move the Crowd'; on how 'All-American Girl' came about; on the groundbreaking aspects and criticism of the show; on how she learned that 'All-American Girl' was cancelled and how that motivated her to go do comedy "for real" with stand-up. On her first comedy show/special after 'All-American Girl', 'I'm The One That I Want', and how comedy helped her at that time; on the craft of comedy and her writing process; on her comedic influences; on getting to work with her mentors; on advice from other comedians that she's taken to heart; on balancing serious topics and humor in her comedy; on cancel culture and on whether she's ever felt restricted in her comedy; on the role of comedy in today's political climate; on John Oliver and whether or not comedians should deliver the news.
During the second half of her interview with Jenni Matz, Margaret Cho touches: On her VH1 show 'The Cho Show'; on playing "Teri Lee" on 'Drop Dead Diva' and her love of procedurals; on shooting 'Drop Dead Diva' in Peachtree City and moving to Atlanta; on why 'Drop Dead Diva' was successful and on 'Drop Dead Diva' tackling body issues head on; on her guest roles on '30 Rock' and on being nominated for an Emmy; on playing a North Korean general on the 72nd Golden Globe Awards, hosted by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, and on criticism of the character. On Eddie Huang approaching her to discuss 'Fresh Off the Boat' since she had previously navigated a show starring an Asian-American family on U.S. primetime television; on what had changed in the culture between the time of 'All-American Girl' and 'Fresh Off the Boat'; on the legacy of 'All-American Girl'; on playing Ken Jeong's sister on 'Dr. Ken' and on knowing Ken Jeong for decades; on Ken Jeong not guessing her identity on 'The Masked Singer'; on hosting 'All About Sex' on TLC; on reuniting with 'Jerry Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee'; on a comment by Bobby Lee on the Virginia Tech shooting and humanizing an inhumane act. On her time co-hosting 'Fashion Police'; on playing a villain on an episode of 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'; on what the COVID-19 pandemic experience has been like for her; on the violence against Asian-Americans during the pandemic and on the many streaming services she's been watching; on doing remote shows and connecting with fans during the COVID-19 pandemic; on what production has been like during the COVID-19 pandemic. On her podcast; on the progress television has made in Asian-American representation in front of and behind the camera; on being a role model for Asian-American female comedians; on advice to aspiring comedians; on the value of oral histories; on her proudest professional achievement and career regrets; on what she's most looking forward to when the COVID-19 pandemic ends; on how she'd like to be remembered.
In her nearly two-hour remote TheirStory interview, Margaret Cho talks about growing up in San Francisco and getting into stand-up comedy as a teenager. She discusses a pivotal career moment - opening for Jerry Seinfeld - and how that opened doors for her, particularly at MTV, and she describes how she honed her act over the years. She details her groundbreaking 1994 ABC series, 'All-American Girl,' shares how much creative input she had on the show, and addresses some of the criticisms of the program. Cho then talks about returning to stand-up after 'All-American Girl' was cancelled and speaks of the healing power of comedy. She also describes her experiences on VH1's 'The Cho Show,' playing "Teri Lee" on 'Drop Dead Diva,' guest-starring on 30 Rock and being nominated for an Emmy for her role, and playing a North Korean general on the 72nd Golden Globe Awards. She talks of being a mentor to Eddie Huang and to Ken Jeong as they developed 'Fresh Off the Boat' and 'Dr. Ken' for television, respectively, recalls her time on 'The Masked Singer,' describes hosting 'All About Sex' on TLC, and talks about reuniting with 'Jerry Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.' She speaks of co-hosting Fashion Police, guest-starring on 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,' and hosting her podcast, and shares what the COVID-19 pandemic experience has been like for her. She discusses the violence against Asian-Americans during the pandemic, offers advice to aspiring comedians, and comments on how she'd like to be remembered. Jenni Matz conducted the interview in partnership with the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College on June 2, 2021. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Censorship / Standards & Practices, Creative Influences And Inspiration, Criticism Of TV, Diversity In Television, Emmy Awards, Historic Events And Social Change, Natural Disasters, New Media, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Underrepresented Voices, Women, and Performers.