Stand-up comedy stalwart Paul Rodriguez will be taking on the role of God in the revival of Bruce Jay Friedman‘s cult-classic STEAMBATH opening October 20, 2018 at the Odyssey Theatre. I had the chance to illicit a few serious answers from this funny man amongst his very comical responses.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Paul.
Have you ever seen STEAMBATH before, either as a stage production or the 1973 PBS TV special?
Yes. Bill Bixby and Héctor Elizondo in the play on Broadway. Héctor is a real Puerto Rican. I am going to play one. Héctor is an amazing actor! An American treasure! I am looking forward to being one. Taking lessons from Jimmy Smits.
What forces of nature brought you and this production of STEAMBATH together?
My manager, Doug Warner, and the desire to realize my abilities as an actor.
Have you and Bruce Jay Friedman ever crossed paths before?
No, but have always admired his work. Truly ahead of the curve in his approach to theatre.
You’re playing God in STEAMBATH. What kind of research did you do on God to capture your character?
I pray a lot.
Who do you consider a God to you? Maybe, I should re-word this question: Who do you consider your mentor? (first teacher? first agent?)
Anita Cano professor, Tammy Hunt.
When did you first realize you were a funny guy?
First thing I realized, I was a guy. Then it all fell into place. I was the wise guy in class. Got to know all the principals very quickly.
In your youth, what did you originally want to be as a grown-up?
Everything. The one profession is to be an actor.
Do you still like to grab a mike and exercise your stand-up chops?
Yes, every chance I get. I know where my tortilla is buttered.
Laugh Factory opened in 1979. When did you become part-owner in it?
I own the stage every time I do comedy.
Who was a budding, new comic that you’ve seen at the Laugh Factory that’s made it big?
There are many we have tutored in our Comedy Camp for Kids. Right now, Tiffany Haddish! Yes, I was her tutor. Taught her how to be a black woman. The funny part was on her own.
What in your stand-up routine, that you performed 30 or 40 years ago, would you have to take out or drastically change to perform now in our present PC-sensitive climate?
Hard to tell. But, truthfully, a real comedian doesn’t take PC into account. We’re the only ones to tell the king, he has no clothes on. We’re the fifth branch of the government. Bill Maher, Mort Sahl, Bob Hope, all made democracy safe.
There will never be another Richard Pryor or George Carlin or Lenny Bruce, but what they did was leave an example. I believe somewhere out in the ghetto, barrio or Appalachian poor neighborhood, they are going to surface and teach us new lessons.
Can the Odyssey Theatre audience expect some political incorrectness?
That is what theatre is all about.
If you, Paul Rodriguez, could have the power and wisdom of God just for one day (any day but Sunday), what would you do?
Get rid of Monday.
Thank you again for doing this, Paul! I look forward to experiencing your almighty powers to make me laugh.
For ticket availability and how schedule through December 16, 2018; log onto OdysseyTheatre.com