Q: You came up writing comedy in Hollywood in the seventies. Was the scene decadent?
A: I was 22 when I moved to L.A., and I came from a pretty sheltered environment. I didn’t spend much time partying because I’d feel guilty that I should be home writing. So one of my Jewish parents did a good job and prevented me from having fun.
Q: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you got?
A: I was told to be careful because some waitresses in Hollywood were transvestites.
Q: What compelled you to get your first tattoo in your fifties?
A: Years ago, I was playing basketball and guarding someone who had this intricate sun tattoo on his back, and I thought that looked cool, but I never found anything that felt right for me. Then about three years ago, I went with my boxing trainer and got this Zen Buddhist brushstroke, the empty circle, on the back of my neck. I want another one, but I don’t know what to get.
Q: What’s your favorite joke?
A: “I was in bed with this woman, and she said, ‘Hey, not in the ass.’ And I said, ‘It’s my thumb and my ass, and if you don’t like it, go in the other room.’”
Q: Can someone be taught to be funny?
A: I think someone can be tortured to be funny.
Q: How’s your hair?
A: I used to talk about my hair a lot in my act. But I’ve grown up to realize that what’s important is the kind of hair you have inside. Anything other than that is just shallow.