Q: Does it give you any satisfaction that Real Life predated reality TV by twenty years?
A: Listen, there's no window at the bank that says ahead of your time.
Q: How far do you think reality TV can go?
A: I just read that a network is doing something where people are going to jail. Torture -I think people would watch that. I think it culminates with somebody being killed on TV. I wouldn't be surprised if some state allowed us to watch an execution. All it would take is huge ratings. Budweiser sponsors it. Then sixteen other states are doing it. I said to somebody the other day, "I have some very exciting news. I just sold a reality show to CBS called Well Hung, but it's not what you think-it's a show about people being executed beautifully."
Q: You've never been in a big shitty blockbuster. Why not take the money and run?
A: My career meant something to me. But if somebody offered me a stupid amount of money to be in the new Superman, I'd do it. I'm always amazed that with an actor, people will say, "I really liked him, but I didn't think he was directed well." It's actor's privilege. But when you make your own movie, unless everybody liked 100 percent of it, you'll read bad things about yourself. I've tried my whole life to take responsibility for everything and all I can tell you is I have a discount card for Pepto-Bismol.
Q: When you did stand-up, in the seventies, you often opened for rock acts. Any memorable gigs?
A: I opened for Sly and the Family Stone in '73. At that time, Sly was known to snort large cities. He would show up or not show up. We were in Tacoma, Washington, and it was 7 p.m. and the show was supposed to start at 7:30. His manager came to my dressing room and said, "How long do you do?" I said, "With this crowd, maybe fifteen minutes." He said, "What's the longest you can do?" I said, "Why?" He said, "Sly is in Ohio."
Q: I take it your cerebral style didn't play to the kids.
A: Oh, forget it. The crowd was angry and throwing things-every one of them had taken uppers. I went out there and I was off in eight minutes. I swear to God, somebody threw the top of a beer can and it cut me. I was so upset, right before I left the stage I actually said to the crowd, "I'm going on Johnny Carson and telling everybody how bad you are." As if all these people would immediately stop and go, Uh-oh.
Q: Characters in your films often fail miserably and publicly. Is there a lesson in that?
A: Fail in private. When you announce "This is what's going to happen," it's like God says, "Hold on a second. I don't want that guy to work out." It's like the Billy Bob Thornton-Angelina Jolie marriage. This guy was making his moves public and telling everybody. One thing I've learned is don't do that.