July 20th, 2005
Bob Newhart
Interview with Bob Newhart

Comedian Bob Newhart has enthralled audiences with his trademark stammer, one-sided telephone conversations and hysterical, historical “what if” routines for more than 40 years. What makes him tick? Below, Newhart provides some additional answers:

Q: You’re almost as hot now as you were in your sitcom heyday. How do you explain your longevity?

A: Really, it’s for somebody else to explain. I just keep showing up … I’ve finally come to the realization that I may just have a future in this!

Q: You’ve influenced so many of today’s comics. Who are your comedy heroes?

A: Well, of course Jack Benny, George Burns, any really good comedian who I’ve ever watched, because I would kind of examine how they worked, what made that so funny. And, of course, Richard Pryor. When you take away the language, the ideas underneath the language are so rich. I think he’s the seminal comedian of the last 50 years. I think he’s influenced us all.

Q: Of today’s comics, name a few of your favorites.

A: Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Wright, Jake Johannsen — but not too many people know about him. Garry Shandling, and many others. The other night on Letterman, I watched a comedian that was very funny and very original, but I don’t remember his name — I’m very open to the up-and-comers.

Q: Would you share one or two of your most memorable career moments?

A: I would say one has to be getting three Grammy Awards in (I believe) 1961, including Album of the Year.

Q: You do up to 40 stand-up dates a year. Where do you get the inspiration for your material?

A: The same place: the newspapers, television, just watching people. Comedians are never really on vacation because you’re always at attention … that antenna is always out there. You could be on vacation in Hawaii and all of a sudden you’ll see someone do something funny and you’ll say “Oh, I gotta remember that” or the waiter will have a funny accent. I suppose your source of material is the world. You never know when you’ll come upon something and it’s going to be fodder for new material.

Q: What was your reaction when you heard the recording of your earliest comedy routines unearthed by AMERICAN MASTERS?

A: One of my friends had a copy and AMERICAN MASTERS was nice enough to make me a copy. I didn’t even know it had existed. I listened to some of the bits and to hear Ed Gallagher’s voice, back to that place in time, which was probably 1957, and then to be considered for AMERICAN MASTERS from those humble beginnings, it just really is “you’ve come a long way baby.” Let’s just say that.

Q: Of all your accomplishments, of what are you most proud?

A: I’m most proud of the longevity of my marriage, my kids, and my grandchildren. If you don’t have that, you really don’t have very much.

Q: What’s the secret to a successful marriage and do you think your career choice made a difference?

A: Well, my career choice made a difference because I never would have met my wife, Jenny. I met her through comedian Buddy Hackett. He set us up on a blind date and then we got married. I think one reason for a successful marriage is laughter. I think laughter gets you through the rough moments in a marriage. If you look at Jack Benny, George Burns, or Don Rickles, they’ve all had long, successful marriages. So, I think there’s something about laughter and the durability of a marriage.

Q: Is there anything you haven’t done that you’d like to do in the coming years?

A: I think I’ve done more than I thought I was ever going to do. No, I’ve had a very long and very satisfying career.

  • Jacob Brentjes

    Mr. Newhart and I have a mutual friend, Father Maurice Chase, aka Father Dollar Bill.
    I would like to contact Mr. Newhart regarding his experiences with Father Chase. Is there a way that your organization can forward this message and ask him to go to the following web site? It is a tribute to Father Chase.
    http://www.brentjes.com/Chase.html

    I would love to have his comments included on this site.
    I have the mailing address for Mr. Newhart, but was hoping to reach him via email.
    Primary Address:

    Bob Newhart
    420 Amapola Ln
    Los Angeles, CA 90077-3411
    USA

  • Reader

    My uncle loved Bob Newhart — I wish he had lived longer so he could have enjoyed Newhart’s sitcoms. I like Bob Newhart too, and always looked forward to watching “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Newhart.” I was also always amused by the fact that Bob Newhart and his wife, and Don Rickles and his wife, were such good friends. Talk about what appears to be, to those who don’t know the two men personally, the most oddest of odd couples! I own a Bob Newhart cassette (for the young ones here, I’ll explain that a cassette is what came before a CD, but after vinyl records) called “Best of the Button-Down Mind,” I highly recommend it.

  • Bill Bruns

    Wow, Bob Newhart, my hero. I have almost all of your records but I thinnk my favorite skit was the telephone conversation with Sir Walter Raleigh. What a hoot, and I laugh myself into histeria every time i hear it. We watched you on NCIS tonight and all I hav to say is you certainly haven’t lost it, even the little humor you put into the show brought out the “True Bob Newhart”, congratulations. My two favorite comedians are Bob Newhart and of course Red Skelton, two of the greatest comedians I ever saw. Keep up the humor, we can all use that nowadays.

  • James Provost

    I am doing this paper on who do you think would be a good spokesperson for the libary at the IADT collage in Tampa Fl. I nomitated Bob Newhart they are going to make any job offers,but would’nt it fun if he won the contest

  • karen rose johnson

    bob newhart is a genius.

  • Judy Rankin

    Recently saw Bob Newhart at a concert. He is still the funniest guy! The pause … the look … the short response … all a Bob Newhart trademark! Too bad so called ‘comedians’ don’t follow his example. Many THANKS to Bob for sharing his talent … may you have many more years to share your comedy and maybe a new TV show! Look forward to your return!

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