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All right, let's do this, how are you, what the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the fuck? And here's what's happening. I'm Marc Maron. This is my podcast. It's called WTF. Welcome to it.
I don't want to get too lost in the darkness or the light, but here I would like to say that Marsha Warfield is on the show today. We reached out to her to have her on a while back, actually, and it was a tough to schedule because she lives in Las Vegas. But now that we're doing things remote, it was a good time to have her on since she's part of the Comedy Store history and a definite important player and in modern stand up history might remember her from night court.
She's going to be here. She is here. I talked to her. You'll hear it today. How's everybody holding up in this 50 state death factory? What's going on out there? Are you staying safe? Are you OK? Are you keeping it together?
Kind of. A lot of people are shredding. A lot of people are sad. A lot of people are losing people. A lot of people are just trying to. If I can keep it together, man, I get it, I definitely get it. It's a it's a it's a weird time because I think I said this towards the beginning of this thing.
I said, however long this is going to go on for, people are going to come out of it knowing exactly who they are, what they are made of. Who are you, because here's what's happening, I think. That a lot of people I would imagine that the veneer of self is starting to wear down to wear off the the sort of coating that you call who you are, the puppet you inhabit is is probably breaking down a bit.
And there you are. Right. Look at me. Look at me. When I when the puppets broken. For those of us who based a good portion of our relevance on how we're seen or what we do in the world, if you're not doing that in the world, even if you're just not going out in the world, I talked to a buddy of mine, hadn't been to a to a fucking grocery store in five months, really locked down.
And went out and because he had to go to the doctor and had a couple exchanges, just regular exchanges with human beings, and was moved to tears at the strange realization that it's we need that we need it.
So however you're deprived, I mean, a lot of you have people and a lot of people like me are sort of having people over having dinners with people, distance dinners and. Going out in the world a bit and, you know, safely sitting outside a lot, waving at friends, calling people, I mean, I really try to get as much of that as possible.
But I think on the other side of that, even if you have family or whoever you're hanging out with on a day to day basis, if your sense of self is based on how you are seen or what you do or your job out in it and you can't go out in it anymore, I would imagine that there's some moment of who the fuck am I happening?
Who I who am I without all that? Possibly broke, sadly, hopefully not, but who am I without that stuff, and that's some. There's a lot of soul searching going on that none of us signed up for. I'm fortunate in that I can do my job here. But I didn't sign up to be the guy whose girlfriend died and he's crying at night talking to his cat again, and the cat's dying, too. I didn't sign up for that.
I didn't sign up for the the man who has to sit quietly on his porch. With a heavy heart, wondering what it means, how do we integrate? Death into our lives. I think that's a question everyone's asking and it's something that we have to deal with personally. Ross, but also just the fact of. Have so much death around, hey, but I want to be a bummer. You know, my my my girlfriend got nominated for an Emmy for best directing for Little Fires Everywhere, I believe, for the finale episode.
Lynn Shelton is nominated for directing Emmy for four drama series or miniseries or whatever it is limited series. Very exciting.
She would be so fucking thrilled and she is so deserving of that nomination and of that award. She was great at her job. She was great when she did it with complete creative freedom and great when she did it to honor the vision of somebody else.
I'm very proud of her and I'm so sad. That she can't be here for this. This honor, whatever you think of awards, I've talked about it before, when your peers honor you.
It means something. And she would just be thrilled, and I know her family's thrilled, I know all of her friends are excited for her. And I I think everybody just wish just wishes that she would call them and tell them how excited she is. But it's it is it's a beautiful thing that she got nominated and, you know, whether she wins or not, it doesn't I don't think it matters to her. Maybe it does. I don't know how the afterlife works.
But but that was some good news and it was exciting news and bittersweet for sure.
For sure. But I'm very excited for Lynne. I will think of her as if she's here and what she would be thinking, she would just be bouncing off the fucking walls. I'll tell you that. It's weird, man, something is hovering around. My my being. With this loss everywhere and it's not bad. It's not bad, maybe it's because I'm in my 50s and maybe I'm heading into my late 50s, I'm going to be 57 in a few months.
And it's going to happen it's going to happen to all of us at some point, but. But the things that die, they just hover there, they're still here, everything's still here, everything's still with you. It's just there's there's less. There's less clutter, there's less responsibility in a way, but that makes the love even more pure. Strange thing, life. And I know that, you know, honoring the dead and honoring the legacy of the creative people that have been in our lives like Lynn and like her, her parents, you know, put out a statement about her Emmy nomination that was quite beautiful, a testament to her collaborative abilities, but also her complete control over her craft.
But it basically says. That Lin is honored by the television academy is not only a tribute to her accomplishments as a director, but her style of directing always in control but kind hearted, making the final decisions but always soliciting input from her coworkers, co-workers.
Yes, that is how she regarded everyone on set from Grip's and gaffer's and set and costume designers to the director of photography and the actors. This is an honor for the ultimate collaborationist who knew that she would produce her best if she teased the best out of her teammates.
Very sweet. She certainly teased the best out of me. I'll tell you that.
Take a breath, man. Take a breath. Cry it out, people. So I got an email that speaks to something I've been saying to other people. Young people are like, when are we going to go back to work? When are we going to go back to work? And the only thing I can think of, and I've been saying this for weeks, months, is that there's no work until there's a test that we can all take every day, something easy, something practical, something that we can have Kanof in our medicine cabinet, something in, you know, simple as a as a as a diabetes test, as a blood test, as maybe even a little machine that does it, I don't know.
But I don't see how anything happens without that.
And I got this letter from this guy, a teacher who said, Dear Market can his name is Daniel. Dear Mark, I can honestly say that not a week has gone by in the last 12 years that I haven't thought about writing to you about something never more so than during your recent tragic time of loss and grief. I am so sorry. Thank you.
I finished 12 years of graduate school in 2008. The economy collapsed and I was unemployed for ten years.
I'm just a few years older than you. Throughout that decade, sharing your journey kept me searching for my podcast from a garage I founded. I'm a public high school science teacher. You also helped me quit smoking. This is why I'm writing now. There are new developments. There is a growing realization. The only way out of this crisis will require cheap, daily, rapid at home tests for covid-19. The good news is that these tests exist now.
We call upon Congress to mandate and fund the approval, manufacture and distribution of these tests to every household in America.
When I say we, I mean me and a guy I know named John. OK, that's what in parentheses, please add your voice to ours. It's louder.
Your activism has inspired me to send the attached letter and accompanying information to all of my elected representatives, my union, my favorite media outlets. This is an underreported story. I hope you will talk about it. Mark, you have all my love, admiration, gratitude and my deepest sympathy. Daniel. So look.
This is true. And you should know that. It obviously has to happen, it's happening in other countries, but here we have such a tremendous leadership vacuum and a government that is so fucking broken that I don't know if it's going to happen.
Will there be wealthy people who are able to obtain that home rapid test? Yes. Will there be industries that use them to make sure they can generate revenue? Yes. Will you be able to get one because your government thinks it's a smart thing to do?
Of course not. Of course not right now, they can't even agree to emergency spending methods or mask mandates. It's fucking ridiculous, it's a grifter's picnic. And this will not change, folks, until you get rid of the people who are the problem, if you want rapid at home testing. You better vote in November. It's not happening until there are new people in charge.
So right now, I'd like to share my conversation with one of the great women of comedy, Marsha Warfield. We talked and she was in Vegas. She's in Vegas. Was a nice chat. It's nice to see her. Nice to meet her. And now it's another person I can put into. The pantheon of people I have talked to from the Comedy Store is history from comedy history. This is me and Marsha Warfield.
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Hi, Marcia. Hi. I just texted Mike Binder to to ask him if you talk to him for the documentary. Yes, I did. He it was funny because I interviewed him years ago in the old garage in person. And when I talked to him, he didn't even want to talk about the Comedy Store. And I told him, you got to talk about the Comedy Store, and now he can't get enough of it. Now it's like he is the guy that's putting together the most thorough history of that place, about 400 hours or so by now.
It's got to be. It's got to be. And I went over there.
It's so weird because I went because I was a doorman at the Comedy Store in the 80s and I went over there and we and Peter Shaw let us go through, you know, her stuff in that office, you know, stairs.
And I and I have her driver's license that's still with my driver's license.
And I just know it's a one of a kind souvenir. Everybody who was at the store when I was there does a spot on Mizzi, of course.
So you grew up. Where did you grow up in Chicago the whole time? In Chicago? Yeah, I left Chicago. I started doing standup in Chicago in 1974. 74. Yes.
What was the scene in Chicago like? Who was around? What was that like? Where were you performing?
Well, I started at a place called the Pickle Barrel Town.
Driessen had just broken up with his partner, Tim Reed. Right.
And had started a Monday night open mic ha to work out.
And at that time, that was almost pretty much brand new. The improv was around in New York and I think the Comedy Store might have been starting over. I mean, but it was a new concept and it was new to Chicago we weren't known for.
Standing right here is mostly a sketch town Compass players, Second City. I talked to Tom fairly recently, and that was that was pretty amazing. He's got kind of an amazing story in him and his partner, Tim.
Was it Tim Reed Timmer? Yeah, they were.
They were kind of a big act for a while. Well, yeah. And they were groundbreaking. I mean, they were the first interracial comedy team and comedy teams were more much more common than they are now. Right.
But they did pretty well. And then they went their separate ways. And so times had this open mind and they featured it in the Sunday sometimes.
And you'd never done comedy before. You just were curious.
And now it's 22 years old and working at the phone company. And I saw no future there and had no idea what I wanted to do. So I saw that and I told a friend, I want to go down there and do that. They said, anybody can go up, I'm going to do OK. So I started writing stuff down, but a couple of months went by and I didn't go and she kept asking me, Renagel, when are you going?
And I kept saying, Well, I'm not ready. I'm not ready.
So she showed up at my house one on Monday at about six o'clock in the evening. Yeah. Put your clothes on. We're going. I'm not ready to go.
Put your clothes on. We're going to put my clothes on.
And we went down there way too early. Yeah. SAT there. And finally, about nine o'clock. Yes, Tom showed up and went and introduced me. And at that time we introduced all the comedians as virgins.
Yeah. So, yeah, I finally went on about to have to go. Nine scotches. Yes, I'm into comics, three drunks at a table and the guy sweeping up the bodies on the floor. Right. Yeah. And so I went on and I did the stuff I had all that opened with. My name is Marsha Warfield and I'm a virgin, so please be quiet.
Yeah. And went from there. The comedians love me and the drugs were like, yeah, all right. So Tom invited me back and that was the beginning.
Did you and Tom come out at the same time out here? No.
Tom left maybe a year or so before I did. And I worked around Chicago. I did a lot of jazz clubs. I did a lot of folk clubs. I did a lot of, you know, whatever was available. And then I got a job as a house comic in an upscale urban jazz club. They had a 16 piece band.
They were trying to bring, you know, an upscale venue to the far south side of Chicago. You know, that that's that's a pretty remarkable thing, and it was 1974. But I'm 22 years old. I have one cocktail dress at that time. You have to dress up. They'll have stuff with clubs. We still have Mr. Callies in and the happy medium in places where, you know, you you have really dressed up and had dinners on Nancy Pelosi.
Know Frank Sinatra. Right.
And so I got at my one cocktail dress and I went down there and they they gave me the top six over and it was a hundred bucks a week, two shows. And I panicked. Wow.
And they asked me if I wanted to get paid at the end of the week or every night. I said, I'll pay me every night. So every night the owners individually would come to me and ask me if I get paid and I'd say no.
Yeah, yeah, well, I would have never given a hundred bucks a night. And I did that for as long as I open. And then I went on and did other things. And after a couple of years, I figured, you know, all the clubs were closed and all the dinner clubs.
Yeah. Everybody was moving to to Los Angeles. The Tonight Show had moved in of me three from New York.
Yeah. And now when you were doing those clubs, were you opening for a lot of musical acts? Yeah, well, I did. I did. Like I said, open it with the band. Yeah. 16 piece jazz band.
Yeah, I did a lot of those kinds of shows and and then a lot of times we would just, you know, find a venue and ask them if they had a monk and said yes. Then we said, well can we do a show. And they'd say yes. And then we would entertain the four drunks at the bar.
So we decided to move to Los Angeles and what?
Seventy six, March 8th, 1976. Well, March 5th, it was my birthday.
I left over.
How's your family feel about it? Like, how do you come from a big family over there?
Not a big family, but I was twenty two and too stupid to be scared. Right.
And it was 1976. You have to remember at that time people were still hitchhiking across the country. Right. And then they had driveways. You could rip somebody's car and drive it for them to Los Angeles or wherever else they wanted to do. Yeah, but they were all kinds of little caravans of kids headed out to Los Angeles, especially to heading out to California, like to San Francisco as they everything. But yeah, I hate. And yeah.
So I had told my mother that I was going to California to hook or by crook. I didn't care if I had to retype Petteri or whatever I was put. Yeah. And so she finally got at and gave me a trip to Los Angeles for my birthday.
She probably thought you were going to come back right to and a little high know. Oh yeah.
And right next door to the Comedy Store. Yes. That's why I tell you it's right next door to Comedy Store.
So you you've done some research. Oh, you would you know about the Comedy Store before you got out there.
That was where all the comedians went to work out at ABC.
Yeah. Make their fame and fortune. It would it would be place that it had become the place for grand. Jimmy Walker.
They were on TV at that time. Right. And so like that was in Richard was there. Seventy three. Seventy four. Seventy five.
So he was around occasionally. But the regulars were Jimmy Walker. Jay Leno. Letterman was that was the emcee.
So you OK, so what happens. You go out for the two weeks and you audition.
I went out for two weeks. I went to the Comedy Store that night, the night I got there, and I told him I was a comedian. They let me in and the guy at the door was John Witherspoon.
Yes. And then I told him I was from Chicago. He said, OK, baby, sit back here and I introduce you to him. And he did everybody. He came in, he introduced me and she to cry, blah, blah, blah.
And then Paul Mooney came in about midnight.
And Paul, I want you to meet somebody and introduced me to Paul. And there's Paul Mooney. And Paul said Mr. Paul Mooney.
OK, then he laughed and I said, I know you. I know you. I know you laughed never to out. You're your guy who laugh because I could hear that song really crap's. That sounds right.
And so I said, you're the guy you you wrote on that then he said yes.
And so then we were friends from that point on it and I got them all other comedians that were down there. And so I told the spoon I wanted to come by and just hang out, you know, since I was only going to be there for a couple of weeks. He said, fine, come back, come anytime, just come on in. And I think that was a.
Friday and Saturday, Saturday, something like that, so you got to watch everybody. Yeah, Monday night I signed up and went. Yeah. And another guy who had just gotten the title and its first night was Argus Hamilton. He and I were comedy virgins together. And you couldn't find two more different people, that's for sure. Just the opposite.
Oklahoma. Oklahoma. Preacher's kid.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I just saw a post from him saying, you know, my grandpa fought for that flag. And so. Yeah, yeah. We both shared the same Comedy Store birthday. That's amazing. Yeah. We both became regulars. You still he saw you. I don't know.
I never really paid a lot of attention to Mitzy. I mean, that day I just signed up, you know, I just signed up. And if I get back, I get fired. If I didn't get it, you know, I didn't know there was a, you know, a genuflecting ritual that one was supposed to do.
You didn't. How did you not know?
I didn't care if it wasn't the only place I worked with.
I mean, that we would go to places like the 20 grand and and place it in Inglewood and Compton and work out there, too.
What was the vibe at the store and sense of like it? Did it seem like it was pretty balanced, like, you know, all kinds of people, women, black people, white people. Did you find that or am I just making that up now?
And if we didn't find that, we we we had the. The late night spot. Oh, really? OK, so it was like that, and if Mooney showed up, yeah, you did get those and if Richard showed up, Looney didn't get it. There was a hierarchy and and we got the last fox of the night.
And no, really, there were very few women.
There were a couple of other black women besides Shirley.
There was a woman named Brenda Baret and Roberta Sparrow, and they were both we were all jockeying for the same one spot, you know, and this one before they started the franchise and the three act comedy norm.
Right. Right. The clubs. Yeah.
And that started I started working at the last stop in Newport Beach and I got to be a regular there. And that was the first clip I got the headline.
So when you went you when you went out there for two weeks, you auditioned and you went back to Chicago and you just got your stuff and came back, never went back, never went back, got a job as a switchboard operator for an answering service.
Back then, we didn't have the voice mails and stuff like right when you want to do a big tap and someone else answering the phone, I was the one who answered celebrity phones.
Oh, yeah. Was that exciting? Did you get any memorable incidents?
Well, it was exciting for me. I mean, you know, and Bill Bixby phone rang, you know, to be the one.
Yeah. And there was some people who are not at all.
And you got to, you know, experience that firsthand.
Sure. So how did you. Because I know you did the you did the Richard Pryor show. Did you were you finding that? I mean, you were like did you feel like you were at least part of the gang? I mean, there were seemed like there was either one gang or two gangs or like it seems like I'd like to picture that everybody was sort of tied at a certain point. Was that the case or no?
Well, the the politics of the room. Yeah. And the politics of the comedian. I mean, the comedians, we were all in the in the parking lot smoking weed, you know, hanging out. Yeah, right. As far as jockeying for spots, that's a whole different.
Sure. Of course. Yeah. We got to know each other and you got to hear different perspectives like us in our business from a whole different world than me. Yeah. And and being able to talk and you know, face to face one on one and have really serious conversations was nice. And also there was no way would go on stage and say, I you know, I went to Custer Memorial Junior High.
It puts things into perspective and you never heard before. And so there was that going on. But there was also, you know, why is a guy going on before me and good material is that.
Yeah, yeah. Fuck that guy. Yeah. Hey, so, yeah, Charlie Hill like is still to this day.
I mean, I feel I don't I have to there's a whole little world of new Native American comedians that I haven't I haven't really talked to. And I and I didn't get to talk to him because he had passed away. But he was really like the the only one for many years that represented, you know, that that ethnic group. And he was really good. He was great. Nice guy to you.
But the sweetheart and and the blue attack from Hawaii.
And I said just different people from different backgrounds that you never really run across any other way, and that was the beauty of watching sitting in the Comedy Store and watching for sure. I got to see all those different perspectives.
And when was everybody gunning for The Tonight Show? When was your first TV spot?
And, you know, there always been. People with different formulas about how to make it. Yeah, and I realized early on there is no one way to make Notar performance made it the exact same way everybody follows their own path. And so The Tonight Show and the mechanics of that, people would, you know, you need to.
Giggles, elab chuckle and a ha ha. Yeah. In the first 30 seconds. And then I'm just like, I can't believe and it just doesn't feel natural to me. And so I never really pursued The Tonight Show.
I did the Jim Nabors show. I did the Mac Davis show. I did Merv Griffin Show.
Wait a minute. The Jim Nabors Variety Show. Yeah, this is like, you know, you have these experiences.
Is this. Yeah. That was sort of still when, you know, old show business was in charge.
Right. Alan King show. How long did these shows even last? I mean, I kind of remember them from when I was a kid, but like Mac Davis had a variety show right now and Jim Nabors was a variety show in the Alan King show. They would just try variety shows with everybody, like was the Alan King show on that long?
Not really. But and he was one of the last of the suit and tie. Cigarette. Yeah. You know, drink in hand. Yeah.
Red Fox were the I can't think of others that were still working, but then the Dean Martin roast was still on to.
Did you do that?
I have, yeah, and did the Tommy Chong roast now in Vegas with on the Playboy Channel.
Oh and I started work in the Playboy Channel. You have to remember Showtime and HBO were startups, right? Most people didn't have Showtime, HBO or the Playboy Channel, but those were they were pretty much told the same thing. So I'm like the Playboy Channel for the freedom and, you know, smut. What about the Richard Pryor show?
Because that thing is kind of like that. I've watched that, you know, once or twice.
And and that just felt like, you know, he just went down to the Comedy Store and got everybody to come down on a bus or something.
Well, Monique was was instrumental in that. She was a writer and and was very involved with the with the production. Yeah. So when Richard wanted a an ensemble.
The just after at first it went perfect, maybe two people to do certain sketches or scat and whatever for the opening and so.
We went down for that and then the next week. Richard, what they would like? Well, you know, you guys work this stick with this group and so pretty much it ended up being a core group, but we weren't hired for the run of the series.
Who was it? It was you. And was this was Sandra Bernhardt there yet? Andrea Barakaat.
Yeah, Emori and to twins moeny spoon.
Robin Robin. Yeah. The first thing he did. Yeah, I think that's true. Just about everybody pretty much got a chance to do it who wanted to go goods available. And was did you get to know Richard at all or.
No. Well see I had been at the Comedy Store, you know, and I would sit in the back and just watch comics. And so if somebody didn't show up. I was available to take that spot right then it became a thing where when the heavy hitters would show up and, you know. Take somebody's spot because, of course, who's going to deny Richard Pryor or whoever is spot so they would take the spot and then everybody would say they didn't want to follow him.
So they would ask him if they could go on in front of right and most of the time Richard said sure, well, he asked me if I wanted to go on in front of him. I said no. I said, you know, I learned in Chicago the hard way. It doesn't matter who went on in front of you. You do your said whatever it is.
I think if people you know, if they're through with comic comedy after they saw that guy, they'll leave with him. The people who stayed want to see more comedy. So don't treat yourself for them. You said so. He asked me and I said no. And that went on for a while. And then one night he goes on and I go in the back to get a drink.
And the next thing I know, they got Richard introducing you. What do you mean? Richard introduced you? He's calling you a state, right? Yeah. Oh, I run back, you know, up the steps and I'm standing there. And he said, you know, I want you to listen to this, ladies. It's really funny. I like her a lot. And he introduced me and I went up and did my stand in front of him.
And I found out later that he was he appreciated that. I never asked to go on first. You thought that was kind of weak? Yeah. The people who did and so thoroughly respected you. Yeah.
I guess the you know, he definitely had a sweet side to him.
I was very shy and soft spoken most of the time. Like Robin. Uh huh. It's not until the light come on, you know, and they take the stage and then something happens and they become who they are.
It's amazing, though, that you learn those skills because that's really true, that that whole idea of, you know, that you go up and do you no matter what the situation is and and that's all you can do.
And in the sense that because there's those people that want to go before big act or else they try to jump on the energy of the person before them or whatever, but none of that's going to matter in the long run if you don't know who you are now.
And so it helped me a lot when the next year or so I entered the San Francisco comedy competition.
Oh yeah. Yeah. Who was in year seventy nine. Yeah, I did it in ninety. Two in 93, who is who is in your year, Dana Carvey. Yeah. And I don't remember. And, you know, some because they had a national tour and I don't remember if if who did which one, Robert? Well, yeah.
Mike Powell, a lot of people didn't make it to the finals, just about everybody, when it was a crazy.
Was it crazy back then was just kind of you never knew what was going on or how they were judging and they.
Yeah. So, I mean, I would never think it was a month long thing. You had to do a month of shows.
Oh, I got it. I found it in the finals. It was you. Mike Davis. Dana Carvey. Michael Winslow. Yeah. And a Whitney Brown a with me. Yeah. Yeah. So OK, so you go up.
So you just heard about it or you'd been working up in San Francisco.
I had been working the punch line for a while to that was another clip. I got the headline. Yeah. And you won. And I missed a show. Huh. You remember that. Well, at that time you did like six year olds for the finals and they dropped the lowest score. Well, I got lost trying to find the venue. I got totally lost and turned around. By the time I got there, the show was over and so I couldn't go on and everybody was like, OK, well, she's out.
The competition missed the whole show. And I said, what difference does it make if we throw away eight point five or zero, you throw it away. That fits in.
Oh yeah. And I know. And then, you know, the other five it counted and I managed to win, but I managed to win because I learn that it doesn't matter who you follow. The jockeying for spots in the competition was funny. It was a mad, mad, mad, mad world kind of. Well, I don't want to go first. You go first. You got to go last week. Are you in the middle?
Nobody remembers and nobody will give you who goes when, where, whatever spot you guys don't want.
Give them a sort of wild to hear how it was still like so crazy because it starts out with like forty comics, right.
Yeah. It goes on for like a month and people start to lose their minds.
It gets really crazy.
You never lived up there. No. You just worked up in San Francisco.
I managed to score a car. Yeah.
And so once I got my car, I drove all over California just for the heck of it. I never drove in Chicago. I didn't know how to drive when I bought a car. Yeah, I didn't have any credit. That driver's license.
I had no business buying a car but that I saw and they had said they were worse. Al Roker.
Yeah, I'm seventy nine Chevy Nova.
Yeah. Drove all over California.
Did you go back to Chicago to work over the time that you were in L.A.?
Yes, I did. In fact, I just had to go.
But there is one fortieth anniversary of Zaneis Zaneis.
I started there when they first opened up and would work there regularly for years and years.
So you liked it. So you were really there at the beginning of that comedy club boom thing.
So when they started building those places, were you like on the road constantly headlining?
Because I remember seeing your picture everywhere. It must have been you must have spent a lot of time out there at those clubs when they first started opening.
Yeah, I got to fortunately, I got to work a lot of the franchise clubs. Yeah. I started, like I said, at the last stop and the improv and all the together giggles teehee.
But you can work every week, right.
For probably pretty good living.
Well I worked you know, if I could work a couple of times a month. Yeah.
I would, I could make rent. That was good. I'm sure I was fine. And then spending the rest of the time in L.A. trying to get other gigs. Get on TV. Yeah.
So how did that, how did that happen for you. How did the kids like night court was a big deal man.
Well before night court I was feeling like I said I wasn't really pursuing acting. Yeah. I decided who the agent I got after the comedy competition in San Francisco named Fred Amsel. He was always sending me out on the road. And I'm like, I'm a standup.
He's like, get you to think about what the hell he here I.
I was after the previous show I got. Show that thing on ABC, and that's how I got my first agent and I said I had the gig, you know, they offered me the gig and I didn't have an agent, so I'll never forget them and said I got a gig. I need an eight year old to have a job.
I said, yes, I have a job on TV. You have a job on TV. You don't have it. Yes. I said hang on. They gave me a name and I got the gist.
They would stay with that person.
He passed away one of the first AIDS victims. And so I was there until then. And then we started doing.
Stand, I did jokes like the Pat Sajak Dexter Gordon elegant show, huh?
And you know what that is? Yeah, they were a lot of talk shows were popular, that kind of thing.
Yeah. They tried to get him to be like a Carson almost.
Yeah, I did those and I started doing game shows. I love game shows. I wanted to be the next Betty White. Yeah. And so I started doing those kinds of things and doing standup and then night court.
Brandon Tartikoff was from Chicago and he had a president, NBC at the. And so Rimi, who is a producer and night court, was also from Chicago. I had no idea either of them knew who I was. Yeah, but after Flo Halep passed away, I had done a pilot with Flo. She had told me all these wonderful stories about her and her brother starting in show business in the 30s and 40s. And he was one of the dead end if Billy Halep and then and she was working.
And I just love talking to her. Yeah. So she was on night court doing standup.
Yeah, she passed away and three weeks before they were supposed to go back from hiatus.
Oh my gosh. The second bailiff to have died over the hiatus so much time and had passed away the year before.
So they were in a tizzy. What do we do with the female bailiff part? Do we want to do it or do we want to? Can we just be. But do we have revolving ballots? Yeah. Yeah, they didn't have any idea. So, Fred, my agent sent me over to meet with them, see what happens. Yeah. And I'm dressed pretty much like a man. I got a sweat. I got the time. I smoked a pack of cigarettes in my hand.
I went in and wryness there and night court.
You have to understand what's a really big hit at this point.
So I've already been on two seasons. It had been a three season that started the fourth season. So I go and any time I get done, that's from Chicago again. I'm from Chicago. And give me one of those cigarettes if gave a cigarette and we said smoke and just talk.
Well, we'll let you know what we're going to do, you know.
That's good. Mignonette, thanks. Good meeting you. And I'll let you know I'm a standup. Yeah. So and I was going to Seattle so I went to Seattle to the underground thing. Yeah. Got off the plane. They met me at the airport and said, come here. What happened? They call your agent called me and said, you got it. I said, I got work again.
Caught that was that. That's a big life change, though, right?
I had no clue what it was going to mean, what changes everything.
And you were you were you're in Seattle where you were you about to do the underground for Foxfire. Yeah. That's so funny, man.
Just I guess I can picture that you're like you're going to go work the weekend in Seattle and then you get that job and the whole life changes.
There you go. I think I did the weekend and showed up, you know, Monday morning.
Sure. You went ahead and did the weekend. Of course, that's what you do. But like when you get back.
So you'd only done standup on television, really? Oh, in the Richard Pryor thing. But I mean, I can't. But now you're now getting on ABC.
But I had never done ensemble work, so and I never, you know. Done anything like that, so I am petrified and nervous as all get out.
Yeah. Almost as nervous as when I did that sketch with Richard Pryor one recent evening, I had no I didn't know it. There was no script to do that scene. There was no one scene. Which scene was that?
Richard and I eating, seducing each other across a restaurant. OK.
And I had no dialogue. No nothing at all, it said was. Richard comes in, sees a beautiful woman, and they seduce each other with food.
Uh huh, it goes viral three times a year and a YouTube classic, it's it's been shared so many times.
I had no clue how to do it. I just did it on instinct. So I go to do night court and I figure I got to take acting classes. I talk to my agent. And who do I mean, right now, with two weeks, we go into that, get to know and you go and you take this class and I put it thing to the class and we did one little thing and then they said, you got to buy a book, you know, part of the thing.
But you buy a book. They read the book and come back next week. So I bought the book. I opened it up to page one. It said the key to everything is to keep it simple. So I closed the book and never looked at it again. The next time when I went to court today and I told Harry, I said, I'm so nervous I don't know what I'm doing because I don't know what I'm doing. I'm a stand up guy who find that.
I guess that must have been pretty exciting.
I mean, in terms of. You know, I can't imagine like I've worked with not like that ensemble.
There were so many, you know, great comedic actors on there, but just to be sort of getting in the flow of that, like seeing how everyone else is funny and then kind of feeling how you're funny among these people must have been exciting.
It was very exciting. It was it was a learning process. You know, I learned a lot and I got, you know, stretched a lot. Yeah. You know, way out of my comfort zone.
Oh, yeah. How so? Because I'm a standup. Yeah, I know, but.
Yeah, but but as a standup I, I you keep saying that and I say that too. But there's so many stand ups that end up in television one way or the other, and I guess it takes a minute for us to learn how to act. But you know, once you get the hang of it, you're usually you got pretty comfortable, didn't you?
Well, to a degree, but I was more much more excited when I got comfortable on stage standing, I think some people start in the business as stand ups, but they're not stand ups. They know for sure. For sure. They just use it as a stepping stone. I never looked at it that way. I mean, either I wanted to be a standup comedian. Yeah.
And so the acting was nice, but it was a sideline in my mind. I was still going out on weekends and doing gigs. And of course, it finished, you know, with Mikoto Friday night on a plane at 6:00 the next morning. Should be wherever to do some weekend somewhere.
No. Yeah, I get it. I was doing standup.
So and also it's like with the stand off, it's our thing, you know, we have complete control. We are the only one doing it. It's what we do.
It's how we share our thoughts and our in our heart. And yeah. And no one can fuck with it.
You're the philosopher, you know. Yeah. And it's a necessary function. You know, those those critiques of society.
I think that keep people honest, you know, bullshit caller that I call bullshit on that.
Yeah, I, I always thought that, I always thought that was a very important job. Yeah.
So that's where I wanted to be. That's what I wanted to do.
And the only other woman at the time who was doing that kind of grabbed the mike and you know, think your opinion. Yeah.
Well I was like, yeah, Elayne Boosler, I keep trying to get her on the show. I think she's mad at me. I'm not sure why.
Now, if you got a puppy. I know I got go. Yeah. I need help with my dog. She likes the dogs. I don't know I don't know what I did to offend her, but like, were you guys close?
You and I, we hung out. You know, we were part of the come the strike coming to strike.
And so you were there for the strike. What year was that? Seventy seven, seventy eight, really, that was the oh, my God, so you were there when Lubetkin killed himself?
Yes, I was very much involved, yeah.
Because I read the I read the book and I can't, like, figure out. I can't quite remember. Can I talked to Dreazen about it. That was pretty heavy, man, you know, because, you know, Dreazen never went back there, you know, after Steve committed suicide now. Well, we had. Pretty. Hard feeling if we're from Chicago and from a union background, my mother was a union rep. And I've heard tri state, local union, the union label and so and being from Chicago and of union protections.
I mean, I've been in a union since I was 15. Yeah. And it was just so unfair that comedians weren't getting paid. Yeah. And while at the same time the Comedy Store franchise was exploding, she didn't own, you know, the building. When we first got there, she didn't know that was the annex was a little room. They just let her have that, you know, and next thing you know, she owned Serros take.
Well, it was a zero, but yeah. Yeah. That tradition, that room that that let. Yeah.
The La Hoya, she's got property in La Hoya. They were two condos in Lahore. You got to those on that ranch in the back, you got clubs and Westwood and whatnot and nobody's getting paid.
Yeah. It just was the. I couldn't wrap my head around fear dug into the organizing with Tom.
Yeah, there must have been a very weird and crazy time to deal with the comics across the line.
Yes. And the tensions that happened there, those you know, and I will not name them, but there are still hard have never forgiven them, really never.
And ultimately, though, the the strike you got, we did get paid, right? But Friedman. Right away, yeah, whatever misgivings you have, get whatever.
Yeah, and so that's when people started going to the Improv because in the beginning you couldn't work both.
She wouldn't let you or they both wouldn't want you. You could let.
And it was a location thing. Yeah. For some reason people felt like stopping off the script was better than Melrose. Nothing was happening at Melrose was paint the words and. Right. You know, empty lot. There was nothing going on there. And so people would on their way to the valley. Stop at the Comedy Store. Yeah, well, once the strike started happening, the boycott and then everybody and but I'll pay everybody moved to emperor.
So that be a mandate by. But you did. Yeah. How long were you managed by but.
Oh until about. Until right before getting caught. No kidding, yeah, did you get along with him all right. Sure, I and this family, I would say, you know, hung out, I did I'm not at the improv dance night and stuff.
Oh yeah, I did all that. So were you then like were you on Mitzi's bad side after that?
I never went back to the Comedy Store. Well, I did go back. And then one night she bumped me for Glenn Super. Glenn Super.
Yeah. The guy with the megaphone, yeah. Oh, my God. So that was the end of that. That was that something else.
And so you're gonna there. No, I won't.
Were there several comics that didn't go back after the strike? Well, some of us went back for a minute or whatever, but it just wasn't it was no longer a good fit and it was no longer the only game in town. Yeah, Jamie Massouda, who at that time was hanging out at the Comedy Store and during the strike. Jamie was about 15, 16, really the clip I'm going to open a club, I'm going to give you that.
I'll pay you guys, I swear I'm going to open a club and I'm going to pay you guys out. Just left there. And he was always around the straight people. Always somewhere else. Yeah. And so everybody was like, yeah, yeah.
And sure enough, he opened the club.
I remember that place. Yeah. Well, the original place was like almost like a hallway. It was like next to that Chinese restaurant.
But I remember you walk in and you're in the room and you look all the way down to go to the bathroom, which was like, you know, right next to the stage. Right.
I vaguely remember that place. Now that you mention it, I know it was over there when they over there by Greenglass.
Yeah, it was it was next to the old Formosa before they closed it down on Amalric.
No, not formost. And know that the Chinese restaurant that Greenblatt's like, remember, there was a Chinese restaurant next to the original Laugh Factory that that I think became green, but I don't remember.
But it's yeah, it's in there. But I remember, you know. Yeah. Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a hundred years ago man. Yeah I know.
I know. I know. But yeah. And he opened it. He did it. He opened up. He did it. And it's a it's a Hollywood institution now. It is. Yeah. And I remember him as a kid so.
So it's a once you start doing the night court that, that get your your ticket sales up and that everything changed in that way.
Oh that it was amazing. The night, the day after it aired. Okay. My stock went up with the community and the comedians right away. Yeah. Right. But what the the night after the first show aired. I had no idea what celebrity was, you know, even though I was headlining clubs, working around and doing fine. I was happy. Just the. Nick, Nick, Nick, thank you. I was not prepared for it and the thing that really shook me most.
What I had lost my observer status as a comedian, you know, we're the we're the observers. Yeah.
And I had no. Point the place to observe everywhere I went, I was being observed in some interesting, very strange thing for me to get used to, I don't know, an average day.
Well, that's that's interesting because even when I started doing this show. You know, like I've been doing comedy all my life, you know, and then once this got popular, people go, I really like the podcast and I think like, well, what about the standup I've been doing? I've been doing standup my whole life. And and a lot of people don't know about it.
But like, when you're a comic in your heart, that's the priority and it becomes this weird world you live in where you want to make sure at least know that people are appreciating you for what you love to do.
Right? Yeah, but, you know, it's part of the game and part of the thing, you know, but you were selling tickets at least.
And, you know, I imagine you were writing new material either way, right?
Oh, what I had gotten to the point before I retired for a a few years. I had gotten to the point where standup was easy.
Yeah. And I don't know that that's a good thing. Why, because everyone because you were popular. No, because I was so comfortable in what I was doing, I knew that if I wrote a joke, I could do it that night. And it was going to I knew how to do standup, right? Well, I knew how to do standup. And it kind of lost the talent for a minute.
And then when I started back again a few years ago, all that was gone. I had no I was a I was a rookie.
I would start I had to start from scratch. And so I started in going back to bars, going back to, you know. The bare minimum. Whatever started from the ground up? How long were you out for? Almost 20 years. And so you move to Vegas now when you move to Vegas. Did you have a residency there or something?
No, I did not work after that after 2001. I did not work until 2016.
And why did you get depressed or something or you just done.
Oh, it was a combination of a lot of things, but. It was a more family. More than anything else. Oh, yeah. I needed to be here with family and then till I could that I wasn't as needed. Right. And start back again. Huh?
And and how are you finding it? It's very interesting as far as you know, I started. There's a 60 year old rookie, yeah, and. It's humbling in one way, but in a in another way, it's so exhilarating, it's like to be at this age and still have things to look forward to and still have goals to meet. And, you know, along the way, steps to take is a blessing. I see a lot of people my age who don't they've crossed everything right now.
Now, on their bucket list are things that just fun stuff, you know, and just I want to go to Hawaii. Yeah, well, now on my bucket list, I want to work here. I want to go there. I want to do this. I want to get my own show. I want it. I want to do a one woman show. I can think it it it gives me things to look forward to, which is, like I said, a blessing at my age.
Well, I mean, also you've got your observer status back and. Well, that's a good thing. It's a double edged sword.
Why do you care if you watch and it seems like there that you've had a life and a lot of changes in your life that you could address probably in a way that you couldn't address back when you were doing standup before?
Yeah, well, that comes with living in the levels that we there's it's a different standup at this age than it was at twenty two. What do you talk about?
Because I know that you went through stuff with your family and I, you know, I did some reading and I know that you came out recently. Now do you, do you, do you talk about that stuff.
Sure. Yeah. Do you find that there's a new audience for it?
For me, although every audience is new. Right.
But I've always wanted to do stand up for. A cross section of I never wanted to do so much. All women, OK, all blacks. Yeah, sure, sure, sure. I wanted young people, old people to. And I'm finding that I'm getting better, that the audiences are diverse and.
You know, some not receptive, because I don't shy away from the topics that are really moving the country right now to racism, sexism, know ageism, all of that.
Yeah, and sometimes it's hard for people to take. Yeah, but I. I say you can't fix what you won't face.
And so let's put it on the table and let's talk about it.
I'm going to come from a point of view you might not have heard.
But like for you in terms of facing stuff, I mean, it did it seems like it did take you a long time to at least publicly deal with being open about your sexuality.
But that but that but that wasn't because you were hiding it. It was just because.
Well, so much has happened, you know, and the benefit for me, I look back, my act is pretty much a retrospective. Yeah. That brings us to today. Yeah. You know, I talk about how I was born the same year.
Oprah Winfrey a couple of months apart. Yeah. In a year of Brown vs. the Board of Education.
So we grew up with the civil rights movement. And I take it from there, you know, and that is a perspective that. But I don't know that you always get you know that. How we got here, what it was like to be gay. In the 50s and 60s and not have any concept of homosexuality whatsoever, none. It was not talked about. It was not. There were no. It was just not spoken up. Right.
And, you know, to not be able to find what makes you different. Everybody will tell you you're different.
Nobody says how. And so you just know that nothing makes sense.
And there was no community. If it was, it wasn't. I was not allowed to know it, right? I mean, it was like that just was not on the radar.
People did active things to keep you from that. Sure. They saw what they saw and they tried to stop you. Like it's like when kids would be left handed. Yeah. You are your baby going for their left hand. They will smack their hand. And some people went so far as to tie them behind their back so they would have to be.
Right. Right. Right, right. And they did the same thing with children they thought were gay is like, oh, he wants to play with that. No, no, you can't play with that. Now you have to play with G.I. Joe and go kill your hero. Right. Right. To have those kinds of negative reinforcement, but not have any idea what you're being protected from.
Was a different thing that I don't know kids have to face now. At least they know why people think they know why they don't fit in, right?
Yeah. There's at least well now there's definitely a strong community that they can they they know what their feelings are and they know that they're OK, at least to some people.
Right. Right. They know they exist. That's right. And you got what was there like a lot of family pressure like.
To to not. Be hard to put into into so people understand it was, don't you want to look banks? Don't you want to look pretty? Why do you want to be 21? Why don't you want to get your hair done? Why don't you be a lady? Yeah.
And I'll add those things to you then. Everyone, I wonder why do I have to. What is boy stuff and girl stuff. Why is it boys girl what you like.
You know, just do what I want. Yeah. Yeah.
And so it, it wasn't so much you know you can't be blah blah blah. Yeah.
No sure. More this is what you're supposed to be and I don't feel that.
And most of it I think the less the more benign, you know, it seems like a lot of times it's out of concern that that that parents do that it's not good, but they think your life is going to be more difficult trying to protect you.
But we know more now. And a lot of it, you know, I don't feel resentful. I feel, you know, like. They did the best they could. It's wrong. Yeah, why did it take you so long, do you think, to be public about it? Well, you have to remember, nobody was public about it until yeah, Alan, right? I mean, yeah, yeah, yeah. And she paid a price for that.
I guess that's true. It was you know, there were a lot of people, right. Who I have found out myself. Right. There were gay. Yeah. I had no idea. We'd never. And I knew that. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. You talk about it.
It wasn't something that was spoken of, you know, that's sad, it seems.
But now now everything's on the table. You feel better. I'm fine. You know, I just feel like my whole thing is I don't want any more kids growing up that way.
Yeah. Afraid to be who they are. Right. Well, that's good.
I think that's good. Any more celebrities to die? With that secret, right, you know, you have to live their whole lives as sex symbols, some of them.
Right. And, you know, objects of other people's desire, but they couldn't express who they were. I don't I don't want that to happen again if I have any little bit up into little teeny, tiny little bit of influence, that's what I want to use it for.
Do you have I know we're all kind of stuck in this horrendous virus situation and now a very sort of active and explosive protest situation. Do you have do you find that you have do you have hope in general?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I also have. But I am also not become I've always, I think, been a bit of a realist. Uh, you know, there are things that won't be addressed because people don't want to face. Right. We don't want to face the horrors that we have committed. Right.
As a nation, as people, as we have been horrible to each other and that some people have gotten much more of the the brunt of the negative than others. And as a nation, as people, we don't want to face that. And until we do, we'll keep having these spot fires, you know, instead of just addressing the whole thing before the whole thing burned up. Right.
And so I have hope that, you know, these little spot fires are going to be put out. But I don't know that I have as much hope that they're going to prevent the forest fire me realize that. It could all go up and they to ace that and you're going to keep we it's been going on periodically. You go back in history, I mean, these things happen pretty regularly. The oppression and the and the sort of creating the the the systemic racist state has been going on since the beginning of the country.
And then somebody said, hey, stop that law and justice and reconstruction. And then the people say, fuck that we want our slaves back and come back and say that lost cause and start building the road statues and even gone with the wind and just rewriting history and then becomes like you have a Harlem Renaissance onset of people migration and in a home and you get the, you know, Tulsa race riots that now they of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement.
And then we finally overcame and we did this other thing in nymphomania and now here we are.
Yeah. And we refuse to understand that it's going to keep happening until you fix it, realize that it's you know, it's not black, white, male, female as a triple. Well, quadruple Mylord. Yeah.
You know, you get to see everybody nerdy. Yeah. Yeah. And so.
Well, I hope we I hope. I hope, I hope we can we can at least acknowledge it before the big fire. I do.
I hope we can help. You know, you and I can do our part.
Yeah. Well I think we just did a little bit and help people understand. Going to be ok.
OK, I'll take your word for it. It was great talking to you, Marcia. Thank you. It's great talking to you too.
Mike Binder says hi, by the way, and I'll tell them we had a nice talk. OK, tell him I said hello. I remember me with a tiny it's brand new. I know he was like a teenager, right?
Yeah. He and Dave Chappelle and Eddie Griffin are the guys who started when they were young.
They were they called me an old lady back then.
Yeah, I remember Chappelle and he was like, sixteen, seventeen coming up to New York.
But he was a great student and he wanted to know everything. He wanted to know everything he and Chris Rock. And, you know, these were teenagers when I met him. They wanted to know and they wanted to hang out. They wanted to learn. They and they did. They sure did. Each and everybody.
That's for sure. All right. You take care of yourself. You too. Thank you. Thank you.
Bye bye. That was great, talking to Marsha Warfield, still out there working when she can, when we all can. A legend. All right. Now I will play, play, play, play, play, play some guitar.
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