Joe Mantegna might be best-known as an actor, most recently starring as FBI special agent David Rossi on the CBS crime drama “Criminal Minds.”
But he’s no stranger to the stage, having won a Tony Award in 1984 for David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
Now, he’s taking on the role of director with the new play “I Am Not a Comedian . . . I’m Lenny Bruce,” which opened recently at Theatre 68 in North Hollywood and runs through July 29.
The play, with Ronnie Marmo in the title role, chronicles the life and times of the legendarily incendiary performer.
Mantegna, a native Chicagoan, spoke recently about his work.
Q: What made you want to take on the life of Lenny Bruce? And why now?
A: Lenny Bruce is one of the rare performers who pushed the envelope for not just show business but for society. We should never hesitate to continue to push that envelope.
Q: Do you think the world could use more uncensored, in-your-face comedy?
A: I think the world could use comedy in almost any form that it takes.
Q: What do you feel audience members will learn about Bruce through your show that they don’t already know?
A: I hope we leave the audience with a fulfilling snapshot of Lenny’s life and the curiosity to explore beyond it.
Q: What do you like about directing as opposed to acting?
A: It’s the difference between being a soldier on the front line and being the general who leads the soldiers.
Q: Any other exciting projects in the pipeline for you?
A: I look forward to starting Season 13 of “Criminal Minds.” Beyond that, I look forward to whatever else might come my way.
Q: Last year was a historic year for baseball’s Chicago Cubs. Is it possible for this season to match that?
A: God willing, it not will be another 108-year wait.