Fresh Air

Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.

Subscribe to Fresh Air Plus! You'll be supporting the unique show you can't get enough of - and you can listen sponsor-free. Learn more at

Michelle Yeoh / Adam Sandler

Michelle Yeoh / Adam Sandler

Fri, 17 Mar 2023 13:27

Michelle Yeoh made history last week, becoming the first Asian woman to win an Oscar for best actress. We'll hear our interview with Yeoh about Everything Everywhere All At Once. Yeoh has also starred in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, and Crazy Rich Asians.

We'll also hear our interview with Adam Sandler. He's this year's recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Sandler talks about playing a jewelry store owner in the film Uncut Gems, and his music comedy.

David Bianculli reviews Lucky Hank starring Bob Odenkirk.

Listen to Episode

Copyright © Copyright 2015-2021 WHYY - For Personal Use Only

Read Episode Transcript

This is Fresh Air. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. It was no surprise, but still a spectacular showing when the film everything everywhere all at once swept the Academy Awards. It won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Actress for Michelle Yo, our guest today. She was the first Asian performer to win that award. But Michelle Yo has been a movie star for decades. During in Hong Kong action film since the 1980s, she was widely praised for her work in the 2000 film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Her other movies include the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and Crazy Rich Asians. Michelle Yo spoke last year to Fresh Air guest interviewer Tanya Mosley. Here's Tanya. When Michelle Yo read the script for everything everywhere all at once, she gave a big sigh of relief and said finally, a project that would allow her to be the lead and show every one what she was capable of, playing a multi-dimensional character who could be sad, real, and funny. Everything everywhere all at once follows Evelyn Wong, a Chinese American immigrant mother who made a decision decades ago to leave her parents behind and follow her boyfriend to America. Years later, Evelyn is living out the underwhelming consequences of that decision until she is presented with alternate versions of her life, from the glamorous life of an actress to a martial arts expert and an even wackier alternate path where people have hot dogs for fingers. Michelle Yo embodies Evelyn through this multiverse while telling the story of a woman contending with her own life choices. Michelle Yo, welcome back to Fresh Air. Hello Tanya, thank you for having me today. You know Michelle, people love this film but it's also kind of difficult to describe what it's about. How do you do it? You are right, it is very difficult. It's like five genres of film, you know, in one movie, it's science fiction, it's comedy, it's drama, it's action, it's a little horror. But I think the core of the story is about a mother and daughter through all the multi-universes they are searching for each other because what we can't do is give up on each other and give up on family. You know, I was struck by the introduction of your character. She was so beaten down, juggling so many things, there are piles of paperwork everywhere in the back office of the laundry match she runs with her husband, there's a leak in the ceiling and this far off look in her eyes of someone who has just too much to handle all at once. Now tell you for me, it reminded me of the way that we all carry the laundry list, the weight specifically that women carry. You have a great insight into the film, that's exactly what it was. I think the Daniels did a wonderful job of writing about this very ordinary housewife Asian immigrant woman came here to look for the American dream to hope, to find and be successful and have a good life not just for herself and her husband but for her family and in this case her daughter. But I think one of the most important thing for me as an actor was this ordinary housewife needed her own voice. You know, she's the woman that you pass by when you go to China town or in the supermarket could be any immigrant woman who has just got the laundry list as you've put it and you know bent on the weight of everything the responsibility all on her shoulder. That's why she walks. She walks bent over a little punched back because she is carrying a lot of weight and you know she because of her the nature of her job. Her spine is a little bit bent because you know of dragging heavy laundry constantly. So I felt that it was so important for someone like that to be given a voice and then to be shown that she is actually a super heroine. You know it's been reported that originally Jackie Chan was supposed to play the lead in this film. It's hard to imagine but you were going to be this why. I think it's a common thing to do you know when they think superhero someone who does that it's always the guys they seem to be like always first in line for it. So that's why when I received the script I it was such an overwhelming sense of relief. It was like yes finally why is it we older women cannot be the superhero you know it just didn't make sense. And I think the Daniels being the Daniels they looked at it I think they pursued it for a bit and then they realized we're telling the same old story. If it was really Jackie Chan and myself as playing the husband and wife and he is the one who goes on the multiverse thing. But I think the good news was they turn around and they say let's start again. Let's do this and because the Daniels are surrounded by very very strong women. So I think they took great pleasure and I think it's an homage to all the strong women who are around them and they made themselves as the villains as antagonists in this story which I thought was really really delightful. And in the film your daughter who was played by Stephanie he was looking as we said for mother that she can connect with in every universe. And your character Evelyn doesn't really want to repeat the alienation she felt from her parents growing up. But even still she's doing that. There's this scene where your daughter is leaving the laundromat and you want to give her one piece of parting advice. Can you describe to us what you were saying to her and ultimately how she interpreted it? You know this was the I think a lot of immigrant parents, the first generation, when they come here they have to make a conscious choice for the next generation. It's like do we hold on very firmly to all our cultural, our language and everything and we stick to a you know like a group of immigrants as well or do we make them or help them blend in so that they will be able to fit in better. So I think it's a very very hard choice and I think it's not just the first generation immigrants. I think parents even today from different cultures face the same thing. It's like you know if we want them to fit in better maybe they can just speak English. But then it's a shame if they don't speak their own language which is what you find with joy in everything everywhere all at once is like she has morphed into a true American ABC, American born Chinese in that sense. So she doesn't really speak the language and the worst thing is like we find that a lot of Asian parents, especially the older generation, they don't really give, they are more critical in the sense that the feeling is if I tell you you are great in everything then you will walk away thinking you don't need to learn anymore because I'm already so great. So they always say like in this scene that you are describing she wants to talk to her daughter. She wants her to understand that you know she accepts the fact that she is gay, she has a white girlfriend but it's impossible to communicate that to her father from a previous generation because in his eyes Evelyn would have been a total failure as she is a failure as a daughter, now she is a failure as a mother because she can't even teach her daughter to be proper. So there is so much confusion and so much emotional contradiction that Evelyn is facing, the first words that come out from her mouth is like you are getting fat. It's another criticism you know but it's a very common thing that we say to our children instead of oh you're looking so beautiful today they'll say oh I think you need a haircut or you know maybe you need to go to the gym you need to drop some pounds. So but the first thing they always give them is food because that is the way they show how much they love them, how much they care for them, the best food is always reserved for them. So what it shows here very clearly is how the misunderstandings occur and the worst they don't know how to communicate that chasm gets bigger and bigger until to the point where everything that comes out from the mouth seems to be hurtful. It's like a dig, it's almost like joy feels, I'm hurting so much. When I say things to you I want you to feel that hurt so I'm going to reply with a very hurtful answer and that for her is one of the easiest solution which is not a solution at all. I'm thinking about your physicality and I actually read somewhere that your early films didn't even have scripts. So no dialogue at all. Yes this was the old days in Hong Kong in the 80s. I mean they made movies so quickly they had a very simple formula if it was an action movie, a comedy and they turned them out in like weeks. I mean we would be filming on Monday the movie would be out by Friday midnight and that was how they worked. They worked fast and the other good thing was nobody really could knew my voice at the beginning of my career because they had someone dub it. Because we didn't record, we didn't have sing sound at that time. So to make it to be able to be so quick it's like sometimes we would go on the scene and go on to 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and look in different directions. This is terrible. I shouldn't be telling all these stories. That was the craziness of the glory days and the old style of Hong Kong filmmaking. But there were the exceptions. I mean there were amazing scripts that were still being shot. Then we had some of ours where we had no scripts. It was just the writer or director writing it as we were filming. Wow, it sounds like things were moving so fast. But it was the same for the action sequences. We don't have rehearsal time. So we would get all dressed up, we would go to the set and our sun coordinators and sun guys would be choreographing it because they arrived that day and they choreographed what they are given with the look at the set and they will decide what will happen on the spot. And then we will learn it and shoot it. So that was never any rehearsals. And I remember the first time when I was doing a tomorrow never dies in 1997, I loved her to death Bob Broccoli and Michael Wilson, my producers, said, well, we would love to see how the Hong Kong style of martial arts in the bomb movie. So she hired a team of them who had I had worked with and brought them over from Hong Kong. But prior to that, they actually sent a mock up of the whole stage. And I will never forget the wonder of those boys when they looked at it and they go like, this is a mock up of a, because they never have that privilege or luxury. They normally get to a real set and then find out what other things that they have to do. So when they finally arrived in London and we were shooting, you know, I restarted at six. We're on for hair and makeup and all that. And someone came to me and said, what happened to your son team? They're all sitting in the green room. And my, so I went over and say, hey guys, you're giving us a bad name. All of you are supposed to be in on the set. Then they turn around the head, sun coordinator turned to me and he said, we already have five different versions and we have already recorded it. So we're waiting to show the director what, which is the one that he is more favorite to. So they work at such a speed because in a sense, they are forced to. They have been trained to do that. Michelle, yo, what was the event that turned you into an action star? In my first movie, I played a social worker and we were bullied by, you know, the juvenile delinquents who took great pleasure in teasing us and giving us a hard time. And then the guys who were the martial arts expert were the ones who would rescue us constantly. So when I watched them, I went to my producers and I said, you know what? I could love to be able to try to do martial arts. They looked at me and thought I was insane. Then they thought, well, you know, she's a foreign girl. She must be insane. But then they thought, well, what do we have to lose? So but they did a very good, they packaged me with, you know, the top comedians so that at least if I failed badly, the movie would still have a chance to be successful because the comedians were very well known in Hong Kong. So I think the only thing I said was like, if I fight, I have to fight. Like you cannot differentiate. It's a girl fighting or a boy fighting. She's fighting for the reason of, and so they made me a cop, a detective. So when she would be faced with dangerous situations, there was a good reason for her to be showing these kind of skills. So I went into training like with these, the stun boys and all that and I think they were very curious to see this young girl who wanted to play in their sandbox and I was very fortunate, they were very agreeable to it. And I had some of the best instructors who taught me how to protect myself. And but then you did learn that they took the blows. I mean, they didn't, you know, people like Jackie and Jack and Sammo and you knew all the top action stars, they did not get it handed it to them on a silver platter. And so I remembered thinking, if I want to join this boys club, you better be able to take the blows as well. So yeah. And but it took a little bit of, you know, I had to persuade them. I had to demonstrate to them that I was, I deserve to be there. I think that's the most important thing. It's like, you know, we fight for gender equality, we fight for all these kind of things. And when we are given the opportunity to be able to do it, we must be able to prove our worth. And I think that's the simple message. Is that your motivation because you've done a lot of action films and you've done some really difficult stunts. You're talking about Jackie Chan being physical and taking those blows. But you, I mean, riding motorcycles on to trains, falling off a train, landing on a car. You really put your body in danger. What is so appealing about that kind of work, the challenge pushing yourself, getting your body to do it? All of the above and plus a bit of insanity going on, you know. I think at that time, it was like the most incredible adrenaline rush. And because it's the physical challenge and the mental challenge that you, you overcome after, after thank God, the stunt is successful. And I remember the very first stunt that I did in my first action film. And I will never forget that one because even Quentin Tarantino can frame for frame, tell you how it was done. I was on the second floor sitting on a railing and two guys like swiped my head with their swords. So I hanging on the balcony on the railing. I bend backwards, go through a pain of glass and drag these two guys down onto the first floor. And one take. And at that point, I didn't know how to think of the danger, the repercussion if things did not go right. Because I only knew how to focus on how to get the stunt done properly. I was probably too fearless for my own good. Plus the fact that, you know, physically and mentally, I was so fit. So that egged me on because I did feel that I had a lot of things to prove, to stay in this, what was the boys club, and to constantly demonstrate that I deserve to be there. You keep a diary. What does that look like, a diary of each of your characters? Oh, so I write like what Evelyn would need to do, like a list of her shopping or what she needs, like the painting, the little, so I write it all out so that I have a reference. Because once, for me, the more prepped I am, then when I walk onto the set, the Daniels or any director can throw new, you know, curveballs at me, the actor, and I would be able to respond. You know, there's one element of the film though. There's a separation. Okay. So the name initially was Michelle. When you said no, we have to change it to something else. They changed the character to Evelyn. But there is one of the, in one of the multiverse's, we see, yes, she and the film uses footage of you at premieres in real life. It's really trippy. What purpose do you think this particular storyline actually serves in the movie? No, the, when I said to them, oh, you have to take away the name of Michelle, but they're like, but no, you know, it was so cool. But in one of the multiverse, she jumps into a place where she doesn't go off with Wamen and she becomes like this movie star. But she's changed to this. She doesn't have a husband in this universe. She doesn't have a daughter in this universe. And they already planned using, you know, excerpts from real life red carpets and things like that. And we were very lucky that, you know, we were given the permission to do that. It's just to show Evelyn Wong, yes, if you had that, what you would have is fame. You would have a lot of flash bulbs like flashing in front of you, but you don't have a life. Which is very different from Michelle. Michelle, you know, the movie actress has a very full family life. Michelle, yo, thank you so much. Thank you, Tanya. I really enjoyed speaking to you and listening to you, actually. Michelle, yo, the winner of the Best Actress Academy Award spoke with our guest interviewer, Tanya Mosley. Tanya is also the host of the podcast Truth Be Told, which has a new season coming in April, exploring advances in the use of psychedelics to treat PTSD due to racial trauma. Coming up, Terry's interview with Adam Sandler. He'll be receiving the Mark Twain Award for American humor, joining past recipients, including Richard Prior, Carl Reiner, Lily Tomlin, and John Stewart. David Freshair Television Critic David B and Cooley will review Lucky Hank, the new miniseries starring Bob Odin Kirk, based on Richard Russo's novel Straight Man. I'm Dave Davies, and this is Freshair. Hey, this is Seth Kelly, producer at Freshair. And this is Molly CV Nesbert, digital producer at Freshair. We co-write the weekly Freshair newsletter. It's recaps of the week, staff recommendations, gems from the archive, and a glimpse at who's coming on the show soon, all in one place. It's also a fun peak behind the scenes. Mark goes into the producing and editing of the interviews, and a chance to meet the people who make Freshair. You can subscribe by going to slash Freshair. You'll hear from us soon. Now back to the show. Adam Sandler is famous for his comedy films and his performances on Saturday Night Live in the 90s. For that work, he'll be awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American humor this weekend at the Kennedy Center, joining an impressive list of recipients that includes Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Wilpsey Goldberg, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Tina Faye, John Stewart, and Richard Pryor, who was the first recipient in 1998. But Adam Sandler has also given some terrific performances in dramas. In the 2019 thriller Uncut Gems, he played Howard Ratner, a jeweler in Manhattan's Diamond District who always has a deal or con going and never stops talking. He's also a gambler, deep in debt to a loan shark whose goons are after him. The film was directed by Josh and Benny Safty, whose father worked in the Diamond District when they were kids. Terry interviewed Adam Sandler and the Safty Brothers in 2019 when Uncut Gems was released. We'll hear about Adam Sandler's work in comedy later in this interview, but let's start with a scene from Uncut Gems. With Howard, Sandler's character, placing bets with his bookie on the Boston Celtics and Kevin Garnett. What do you want? I don't need your bet. I know, I know I got to change the bet. I got $21,000. If you add it onto the 19 ads, $40,000 and all. Scrap the whole bet? Scrap the whole bet. I want to make a six-way parlay. Celtic, six-es-gay, what's the line? It's a plus one. Plus one, okay. So I want the Celtics to cover. I want the Celtics half-time. I want Garnett points and rebounds. Garnett blocks shots. Celtics opening tip. Do you take lightning bets? Yeah, but you don't want any portal lightning. Come on. $1,000 is the point, okay? Take this. And this is a different one. I just spoke for just while rating me for all this time, okay? No, no, no. I already have a role. I don't need you to watch. This has probably fell off the fuck anyway. Listen, what do you know? Garnett is gone at that. What do you know? I don't know. I just know. Well, I'll tell you what I know. It's a dumb ass ****. Better ever hurt him. I disagree. Adam Steller and Josh and Benny Safty. Welcome to Fresh Air. Congratulations on the film and the awards and nominations. Thank you. Thank you, Terry. Adam Steller. You found the voice for this character. This character is a fast talker. He's always trying to convince people or sell people on something. He's always taking chances. He always says things he can't really back up. And he doesn't stop talking. Yes. You found the rhythm and you found the music in that character's voice. Right. Can you describe finding the voice and what that voice is? Well, that voice is in my head Howard talks a lot. Not only to, he just wants control. I think he likes hitting and he's very sensitive guy. He's sensitive to what everyone's thinking in the room. So he takes care. He's talking to one person dead on and then he hears something going on in the right. He makes sure and take care of that situation. Includes everybody. It's a guy who likes to run the room. And so that's why he's a just hyper sensitive. It's to me very stand up comedian like when you're on stage and you're performing at a little club and you're telling you jokes and 10 people in front of your laugh. But the guy in the left doesn't laugh. You'll see most comedians will go over to the guy who's not laughing and try to include him in certain way. And I feel how it's sort of like that. Totally. The main character Howard is a big basketball fan. It's like he not only bets on it, but he loves the sport. And there's a scene that's almost like funny. I don't know whether it's intentional or not in which he's, it's a very high pressure situation that he's in. But he's basically watching the game on TV. He's got a lot of money on it. And he's kind of like narrating the game. It's like he's a sportscaster on TV. And he's like doing the game. And Adam Sandler, it's, it's, you're so manic when you're doing it. And I'm wondering if you did any of that as a kid, like if you'd watch a game and get so caught up in it, like you'd be, you'd be the sportscaster. Oh man, that's good. That's good. I mean, I am in real life since I'm a kid. I've been very vocal watching games. I'm a true insane person in my house with sports. And the wife and family are like, oh no. Oh no, the Yankees have a big game today. And like they think about leaving the house. Just I have big mood swings and really scream at the screen sometimes. And yes, it was fun to be Howard, but also I did connect with Howard. It's so funny, and Terry, when you bet on a game, which I do bet sometimes and I, what you watch so close, when you have money on a game and it means something to you, it's not only the money, it's, you made this decision in your head. You told everyone on the planet, this is going to happen. So you're watching the game with such, it's just a different energy. And honest to God, when you make a bet on something, and the game starts at 705, you start, your body is shaking at two in the afternoon going, it's coming. It's coming. And so you are, when you get to that actual game, there is so much excitement. You can't contain it. You're screaming at each thing. The funniest thing these guys said is the beginning of the movie, I'm going to make my first bet and you see my first bet, I'm carrying on like a crazy man and you see the score is two to nothing. It's like nothing has happened yet. I'm still like, oh my God, we're in trouble now. It's manifest test and kind of, do you make like big bets on the games? You know, luckily we have money in the bank. So I don't put the family in jeopardy. Someone's nervous except me for some reason. Yeah. Yeah. So the character of Howard is Jewish and a lot of people in the Diamond District in New York are Jewish. And there's a scene at Howard's family sater and his extended family is there. And I think it's perfect that the part of the sater that you show is the recitation of the plagues, the lice, the pestilence, the hailed blood frogs, boils, laying of the first born. This is God's punishment of the Egyptians who are enslaving the Jews and refusing to acknowledge God. So that's always the biggest hit at the table. Well, Dain is a big hit. Everything is going wrong for the character. The plague seems to be like the perfect part of the sater. Exactly. Exactly. But I like you, do you all share with us what saters were like in your family when you were growing up? I remember one in one sater post recline, we had this relative named Sha'ul. These names. And he would entertain everybody with these stories. And they were, there's no way they were realistic. One of them was about him wrestling a whale. He was swimming in the ocean and this eye showed up next to him and he beat up the whale. Oh, this did happen. Don't take it away from Sha'ul. But the recline after the meal is also a very important part of the holiday. The holiday. The holiday. This is when everybody passes out from having eaten too much. Yes. Good one, Terry. But and that's when you kind of, you start to see people section off, the people you're close with and you really are taking in the night. And there is that moment after the kind of, it was, yeah, there was one side was more reform than the other so you have different levels of like how deep it goes and how long that sater is. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But that moment after the sater where you spend all this time and it's just, you can just be with your family. That was the best, yeah. Yes, yes. I'll tell you, my father, Terry, wasn't afraid to skip a page or two. It was like, I would see my father eyeing some food. I'd be like, oh, good. He's about to skip three pages. We were listening to an interview with Adam Sandler and Josh and Benny Safdie about their movie Uncut Gems. More after a break. This is Fresh Air. So Adam Sandler, you've done a lot of comedy about being Jewish. What did being Jewish mean in your family when you were growing up? It was definitely a big part of us. And we went to Temple not every Friday. My mother was heavily involved in the temple and helping out and doing charities and Benay Brith and all these organizations. My mother was very, when she was a kid, was kosher from an orthodox family. When she married my dad, I think it was conservative for a bit and then they became reforms. I grew up reformed. And it was just, we weren't a very religious family. We were just very, parents were proud to be Jewish and made sure we were proud and just celebrate fun holidays and know our history. And also just defend our history when people were saying things that weren't that. I remember when that was kind of big in our house. Something negative being said or an anti-Semitic remark or don't let it go unheard. Make sure that you acknowledge it and correct it or stand up for your family. When you were young, you moved to New Hampshire and went to a school where there were very few Jews. I think there were like two Jews in your class or something. So did that make you more conscious of being Jewish and were you seeing as being different as a result of it? I'm sure when I lived in Brooklyn and you know we were next to the Epstein's, it was a lot easier. It was a lot easier than it was always me and one of the Jewish kids in class and when we had to say like we're not coming to school for your own kipper, we look at each other like here it goes. I'll see how this goes over. But if it wasn't for that we wouldn't have it had the Hanukkah song. I guess so. The Hanukkah song. I love the Hanukkah song and we're going to play it now if that's okay with you because it's amazing. Oh my goodness. This is so wonderful. I love the song. We'll play the first version of it that you did on Saturday Night Live and here's how it came out. Put on your Hanukkah, here comes Hanukkah, so much Hanukkah, through Celebrate Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the festival of lights. Instead of one day of presence we had eight amazing nights. But when you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree, here's a list of people who I'd Jewish just like you and me. David Lee Roth, lights, starman Nora, so do Kirk Douglas James Khan and the late Diner Shora, guess who eats together at the Carnegie deli, Bowser from Shana-na and Arthur Farns are really all new men's half Jewish and Goldie Hanukkah have to put them together. What a fine looking Jew. Wow, that was some good Jewish people right there. That was exciting. I knew Arthur Farns are really good at applause break. And I don't know how did you start doing music in your comedy? Did you want to be in a band when you were a girl, not for your ever in a band? Yes, I was in a bunch of bands Terry. I was in a band in sixth grade, me in Lex Lianos. He was the drummer, I was the guitar player. We were in a band called Still Young. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I love that. I got to NYU. So the band broke up in New Hampshire because everyone went to different colleges. And I thought maybe I'd start a band at NYU. And then I saw these guys playing and everybody was literally 20 times better than me. I was like, what the hell is going on at this school? Everybody was at Ivan Haillin. And so I said, yeah, yeah, my, and I did stand up in high school. I did it one time at the end of high school. My brother talked me into it and I said, let me get back into that stand up thing. And I can't compete with this. I think this is when you do stand up, oh my God, it's so hard. You know, it's like, I imagine them looking, you'd be like, oh my God, how the hell do you do that? You know, I was dumb enough to not even know it was hard. I was just like, I can't handle the guitar anymore. But the, but the, but the music, I mean, the, the Farley, the Farley track on the last special is, yes, yes, unbelievable. That solo, I feel Farley in the room. That's cool. That's cool. That is so moving, that song that you did, like part of it's really funny. There's just, when you hosted Saturday Night Live in 2019 and was your first time back since you were fired. Yeah. And what you're also saying about, but no, this, this song is so moving and, and funny. In fact, can we hear a little bit of it? Is that all right? We have it cute, up ready to. Sure. Yeah. Thank you. So, the late Chris Farley, who died of a drug overdose, I guess it was, that 2002 or something? Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. A couple of years after he left the show, which is the same thing that you left the show. Yeah. Anyways, so here's Adam Sandler hosting Saturday Night Live, singing about Chris Farley in a very spring-steen-ish. Yes, yes, for sure. Kind of mode. The first time I saw him, he was a sweeter, then honey. The plaid jacket and belt too tight. And he wasn't even being funny. Then he cartwheeled around the room and slowed me act with a clean and lady. He was the one man party. You know I'm talking about I'm talking about my friend Chris Farley On Saturday night my man would always deliver Whether you was the bumblebee girl or living in a friend I'm out of room Well, that's how to cool man. It was great. How did you start combining music and comedy? Because you wanted to be a musician and then realize though there were people much better than you and you got into comedy and probably realized I thought my god, there are brilliant comics But you carved out like this really unique place for yourself both in the kind of comedy you ended up doing but you know In combining music and comedy together. Yeah, I think it was I Don't know the exact thing my roommate Tim Hurley who right most of my comedies with I think he he might have brought it up You know I wrote a song parody or something and And I knew once I had a guitar in my hand and I was on stage I used to get so scared on stage and so nervous when I didn't have a guitar and I'd forget my lines I'd forget my jokes that kind of thing and then when I started playing guitar and stage and singing Funny tunes I had more confidence than usual. At least I could I knew I could play guitar a little bit I knew the lines are ready from the song. I was like, okay, I memorized that so let me just try that when you're just doing standup And you got to go from joke to joke to joke on you forget the order or you forget what the heck The punchline is or what the subject was a man. Yeah, you're that is a rough one especially. I was so young and I'd stare at People going we paid for this idiot just getting his lines so the guitar help relax me. What was your self image when you were young? Man, I was cocky as I can't believe how cocky when I look at pictures of me. I'm like that idiot was cocky I really thought I was so good at so many things even in college I was cocky I don't know what the hell my problem was and then the smarter I got the less cocky I got I said woo More people I met that's what happened more. I met I said this guy knows everything. I know nothing. Why am I so confident? Right Adam Sandler Josh and Benny Safty. Thank you so much for coming to our show Terry's interview with Adam Sandler and the Safty brothers was recorded in 2019 This weekend Adam Sandler will receive the mark Twain Prize for American humor at the Kennedy Center The event will be broadcast nationally on March 26th Coming up television critic David Bean Koolie reviews Lucky Hank the new many series starring Bob Odin Kirk based on Richard Russo's novel Straight Man This is fresh air This Sunday AMC presents its third series featuring comedian and now dramatic actor Bob Odin Kirk The first of course was the long-running series Breaking Bad in which he played a supporting role as shady lawyer Saul Goodman The second was the equally impressive spin-off show Better Call Saul Now Odin Kirk is back playing a new character a college English professor with writers block daddy issues and Overly pampered students to episodes of the new series Lucky Hank were available for preview our TV critic David Bean Koolie has this review Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are two of my favorite TV dramas ever and I constantly was bold over by the subtle Unflashy but amazing acting by Bob Odin Kirk on those two series So to see him play a brand new character in a brand new TV series one based on the 1997 novel Straight Man by Richard Russo Was something I was really looking forward to Having seen the first two installments of this new AMC series Lucky Hank I can say that so far It's mostly establishing the conflicts and setups, but I'm eager for more Odin Kirk plays William Henry Devero Jr a tenured English professor and department chair at railton college in rural Pennsylvania He wrote an acclaimed first novel, but that was decades ago and he's never produced a second His father a powerful literary critic hasn't even phoned his son in 15 years His faculty colleagues are pretentious and self-obsessed and so are his students One of them played by Jackson Kelly actually has the overinflated self-image to compare himself to the author of the Canterbury tales It's a notion that Odin Kirk as the professor shoots down vehemently in front of the entire class It's a tricky thing comparing yourself to Chaucer. Yeah, but we don't know that I'm not the next Chaucer We do know I'll do respect you would not know I'll do respect. I can't wouldn't know You're only novel isn't even available your own campus bookstore You you're here you're here the main piece of evidence is that you are here the fact that you're here Means you didn't try very hard in high school or for whatever reason you show very little promise that that sound harsh I'll tell you what I'll smile through the rest of this you are here and even if your presence at this Middleing College in this sad forgotten town with some bizarre anomaly and you do have the promise of genius Which I'll bet a kidney that you don't it will never surface I am not a good enough writer or writing teacher to bring it out of you and how do I know that how because I too am here At railton college mediocrity's capital In this early scene Odin Kirk as Hank is a lot like Brian Cranston as Walter White the first time we met him in his high school science classroom and breaking bad There's a feeling that Hank is about to break too, but we don't know in which direction His wife Lily played by Mara Eno's from the killing Obviously has been riding this emotional roller coaster with her husband for some time and the actress plays her role With wonderful grace notes of weariness sympathy and sarcasm Often at the same time which isn't easy my father retires It's a major thing big enough for the biggest newspaper in the country to put it on the cover of the art section good for him Also, I find out about it from the cover of the art section Good for me and this makes you feel nothing And that outburst in class was unrelated Fact fell good. I told the truth. I think I inspired myself to tell the truth more that's not good To work on my novel. Oh, great Well, I love it when you start your second novel. It's usually a wonderful time in our marriage Lucky Hank is adapted for television by Paul Lieberstein who played Toby on NBC's The Office and was a writer and showrunner on that series and Aaron Zellman who was a writer and producer on both the killing and damages The executive producers also include Odin Kirk author Russo and the director of the pilot Peter Farley Lucky Hank begins at least as a story of characters in quiet, but almost constant conflict Odin Kirk plays it straight and plays it great and he's got a very capable supporting cast to play with and to play off Shannon DeVito is one of the faculty members stands out early But it's a group that always manages to heighten the tension and the humor In its setting and tone and in its focus on tiny Feathdoms and giant egos lucky Hank is a lot like Netflix's The Chair with Sandra O or the movie Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas Except the center of this story is played by Bob Odin Kirk and that's more than enough to keep me enrolled for the entire term David Biancouli is a professor of television studies at Rowan University Lucky Hank begins Sunday on AMC On Monday show we speak with actor Billy Crudeup He won an Emmy award playing a confident cynical TV executive in the series The Morning Show Among his movie credits is almost famous where he played a virtuoso rock guitarist Now he stars in the futurist Apple TV series Hello Tomorrow as the salesman marketing time share properties on the moon. I hope you can join us We'll close with music from the late pianist Jessica Williams who passed away a year ago this month Today would have been her 75th birthday. This is her tune monks hat Fresh airs executive producer is Danny Miller our technical director and engineer Rosaudrey Bentham with additional engineering support by Joyce Lieberman Julian Hertzfeld and Al Banks Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salette Phyllis Myers Roberta Shoreock Sam Brigger Lauren Crenzel Heidi Samman Teresa Madden and Marie Baldinato they a challenger Seth Kelly and Susan Yakundi our digital media producer is Molly CV Nester for Terry Gross. I'm Dave Davies