"Call Me Adam" chats with actor and writer Richard Tanner about his one-man show small PARTS, which is enjoying an extended run in the Hollywood Fringe Festival Encore Series from October 15-November 19 at The Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, CA (6201 Santa Monica Blvd, between Vine St and N. El Centro Ave).
small PARTS is part cautionary tale, part irreverent skewering of show business, using multimedia to chronicle the ins, outs, highs, lows, and mind boggling absurdities of Richard's 20+ year career as a working actor in over 75 feature films and primetime shows including NBC's smash hit The Golden Girls as "Young Stan," The West Wing, CBS' The Agency, and ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!
For more on Richard be sure to visit http://richardtanner.net!
1. After a successful run in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, your one-man show, small PARTS, is making a return for 6 performances only in their Encore Series. What excites you about having this extended run? THAT IT’S ONLY ONCE A WEEK, AND DOESN’T IMPINGE ON MY ALL-IMPORTANT WEEKEND-LEISURE TIME. LOL
THE SERIOUS ANSWER, OF COURSE, IS THAT IT ALLOW ME TO SHARE MY STORY WITH MORE PEOPLE, RE-SHARE IT WITH THOSE WHO’VE INDICATED THEY WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN, AND CONTINUE TO PERFORM WHAT IS, FOR ME, AN EVER-EVOLVING PERFORMANCE.
2. What made you originally want to write a show about your 20-year career in Hollywood? NO ONE ELSE OFFERED TO. LOL IN TRUTH, I’D NEVER SEEN A ONE-MAN SHOW THAT ADDRESSED THE SAME THEME. I’D SEEN LOT OF PIECES ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT PURSUING, OR LETTING GO OF ONE’S DREAM. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT LETTING GO OF ONE’S DREAM – AGAINST ALL URGES/ADVICE TO THE CONTRARY? (AND YES, IT’S A COMEDY. :)
3. How does your show differ from other one-person shows about Hollywood careers? UNLIKE MANY THAT I’VE SEEN, IT’S NOT A COMPENDIUM OF "AND THEN I DID..." RATHER, IT’S MORE OF A CAUTIONARY TALE ABOUT THE STUFF NO ONE TELLS YOU WHEN YOU’RE STARTING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD. (I DID MENTION IT’S A COMEDY, RIGHT?) ALSO – AND VERY IMPORTANT TO ME – IT’S NOT JUST A "TALKING HEAD" SHOW – IT RELIES HEAVILY ON MULTI-MEDIA; PROJECTIONS, SOUND, ANIMATION. THERE ARE EVEN SUBTITLES WHICH ACT AS A SECOND "CHARACTER." AND DID I MENTION AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION?
4. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helped nurture this show in a way that another festival might not? AS A FRINGE FESTIVAL VIRGIN (IT’S NICE TO STILL BE A VIRGIN AT SOMETHING), I CAN’T SPEAK TO OTHER FESTIVALS. I CAN SAY THAT FROM THE START, THE HOLLYWOOD FRINGE EMPHASIZED COMMUNITY – ENCOURAGING ALL PARTICIPANTS TO SEE THEIR COLLEAGUES SHOWS, INVITE THEM TO THEIRS, CROSS-PROMOTE SHOWS, SHARE TIPS, SOCIALIZE. AND DRINK. A LOT. LOL
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing small PARTS? TO NEVER, EVER MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES I DID. (SEE A PATTERN, HERE? MAKE A JOKE, THEN GIVE A SERIOUS ANSWER.) FIRST AND FOREMOST, I HOPE THEY’RE ENTERTAINED. AND NEVER, EVER BORED. I ALSO HOPE THAT THEY’RE A BIT CAUGHT OFF GUARD BY WHY I HOPE ARE UNEXPECTED ELEMENTS – IN BOTH FORM AND CONTENT. THE MOST GRATIFYING RESPONSES I’VE HAD HAVE BEEN, "I DIDN’T WANT IT TO END,” AND, “I’M NOT AN ACTOR, BUT I COMPLETELY IDENTIFIED WITH YOU."
6. Out of all the TV shows you were featured on, one of my favorites was as "Young Stan" on The Golden Girls. Looking back, what did you enjoy about being on that show? What did you learn from The Girls? IT WAS THE FIRST PRIME-TIME, HIT SHOW ON WHICH I’D BEEN CAST, WHICH WAS A THRILL. IT WAS ALSO MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH A THREE-CAMERA, LIVE AUDIENCE SHOW, WHICH, FOR SOMEONE WITH A THEATER BACKROUND LIKE MYSELF, WASEXTREMELY SATISFYING.
AS FOR THE "GIRLS," BETTY WHITE WAS EXACTLY WHO SHE APPEARS TO BE (NOT ALWAYS THE CASE IN HOLLYWOOD), AND ESTELLE GETTY WENT ON TO DO A READING OF A PLAY I WROTE, MYSTERIES OF THE RAINFOREST.
7. Out of the 75 feature films you've been in and TV shows you've been on, are you able to pick out a few favorites? What made them your favorite? I’M ASKED THIS QUESTION A LOT, AND WITH NO FALSE MODESTY, I CAN’T. (AND NOT BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL MY "CHILDREN," AND I LOVE THEM EQUALLY, AS I’VE HEARD SOME ACTORS SAY. LOL). IN TRUTH, MOST OF MY CAREER "CHOICES" HAVE BEEN WHETHER TO GET A PAYCHECK OR NOT. :) I WILL SAY THAT I’VE WORKED WITH SOME DIRECTORS WHO IMPRESSED ME GREATLY WITH THEIR ABILITY TO STAY CALM UNDER PRESSURE, AND THEIR GENUINE UNDERSTANDING OF – AND KINDNESS TOWARDS – ACTORS. WEST WING WAS SATISFYING IN THAT REGARD, AND BECAUSE OF THE EXTRAORDINARY QUALITY OF THE WRITING. (THE FACT THAT IS WAS HUGELY POPULAR DIDN’T HURT, EITHER.) AND THERE ARE SOME INDEPENDENT FILM PROJECTS WHICH REMAIN DEAR TO ME BECAUSE THEY ALLOWED ME TO STRETCH AS AN ACTOR.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received? WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY, DON’T PICK AT SCABS, AND ALWAYS WEAR CLEAN UNDERWEAR IN CASE YOU’RE HIT BY BUS. IF YOU COME SEE THE SHOW, YOU’LL GET TO HEAR—AND LAUGH AT -- PLENTY OF THE REALLY BAD ADVICE I’VE RECEIVED OVER THE YEARS! AND HERE’S A GREAT INSIGHT I RECEIVED: EVERY AUDITION IS A CHANCE TO DO WHAT WE, AS ACTORS, LOVE TO DO MOST IN THE WORLD – ACT. (PRETTY GOOD, HUH?)
9. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor? THAT IN ORDER TO SURVIVE – NOT JUST AS AN ACTOR, BUT IN THE WORLD – ONE MUST MAINTAIN A BALANCE. BETWEEN WORK AND PLAY. GENEROSITY AND SELF-INTEREST. SERIOUSNESS AND SILLINESS. SOLITITUDE AND COMPANY. SELF- CONFIDENCE AND OPENNESS TO CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. AND ESPECIALLY – AS AN ACTOR – THE ABILITY TO MAINTAIN A THICK SKIN AND AN OPEN HEART (FREQUENTLY SIMULATENOUSLY). YOU TRY IT. :)
10. How do you want to be remembered? FOR GIVING SMART, FUNNY, MEMORABLE ANSWERS TO INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.
11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? TO CONTROL TIME IN ORDER TO HAVE ENOUGH OF IT TO DO EVERYTHING I’D LIKE TO DO. THAT, AND THE POWER TO GET IMMEDIATE SATISFACTION EVERY TIME I CALL THE PHONE COMPANY.
12. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? RED. (THAT’S A FLAVOR, ISN’T IT?)
Richard Tanner has Guest-Starred in dozens of primetime episodics, from THE GOLDEN GIRLS (in which he first came to the public’s attention as "Young Stan") to his recurring role on CBS’ THE AGENCY. Other notable appearances include THE WEST WING , JAG, MONK and STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE. Some less notable appearances include the direct-to-DVD films BUDZ HOUSE, STONERVILLE (opposite the late, great Leslie Nielsen) and C’MON MAN, opposite Chris Rock’s brother, Tony. Forthcoming features include SPANNERS, THE ADVOCATE, and ODD BRODSKY, in which he plays…Quentin Tarantino(!?)
A native New Yorker and Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Cornell, Richard toured the NYC cabaret circuit with his songwriting partner, Stephen Flaherty (RAGTIME, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, SEUSSICAL). Subsequently, he worked extensively with improv and sketch groups on both coasts. Thespianically (?), he appeared in the West Coast premiere of JOINED AT THE HEAD at the Pasadena Playhouse, was an original cast member/co-creator of the long running Off-Broadway hit, GRANDMA SYLVIA’S FUNERAL, and portrayed both Eddie Cantor and Dean Martin in the Los Angeles workshop of the original musical, SAMMY!, directed by Debbie Allen.
He is a member of L.A.’s oldest storytelling collective, The Story Salon, and regularly performs his original stories at such events as "Pinata" at the Bang Comedy Theatre, "Wordplay" at the Fake Theatre, and "Tasty Words" at Every Picture Tells a Story. He’s the founder of The Drama Club, a play-reading salon, and author of the play, MYSTERIES OF THE RAINFOREST, which was workshopped with late Estelle Getty, and subsequently under the sponsorship of Michael Patrick King (SEX IN THE CITY).
In his spare time (besides dropping names) he’s written for such publications as Esquire, The Village Voice, and The N.Y Daily News , and has completed the requisite number of unproduced screenplays, as per California Civil Code, section 38-41.