Billy Crystal returns to stand-up, reflects on love, growing older and if Harry and Sally will meet again
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, March 19, 2017
When it comes to laughs and roles you will never forget, iconic comedian, actor and author Billy Crystal stands far taller than his 5 foot 7. From his first days as a stand-up comic, to his TV role on the groundbreaking TV series “Soap” and his “mahvalous” stint on “Saturday Night Live,” to starring film roles in “When Harry Met Sally” and “Ci
Q: You are looking at 69 years old this month. How is getting older what you expected and how is it a surprise? What do you want for your birthday, and what kind of cake will it be?
A: There are no real surprises. It’s what I thought it would be. Listen, I love what I am doing now. I feel great. I have a good time. Good health for me and my family is all I want and good audiences, and I have had those on this tour for sure. My grandson will be 4 on the same day (March 14) and we’ll be celebrating together, along with 35 other 4-year-olds coming to his party. That should be fun. And as far as the birthday cake, since I was 6, it has always been what’s called a Victory Layer Cake. It’s all chocolate and cream. My wife, Janice, makes it for me every year.
Q: You and your wife are setting records when it comes to celebrity couples who have enjoyed a long, happy marriage. What’s the secret?
A: We feel like we are still dating. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of our first date, a Mets game. I was in Australia and she was home in LA, but we celebrated the occasion when I got back. I remember when I was first playing clubs she and our oldest, who was a baby then, would pile into the Volkswagen to get from gig to gig. We would put her to sleep on the bed and eat dinner in the bathroom. Sometimes we still do eat dinner in the bathroom.
Q: Speaking of long-term couples, what are Harry and Sally doing in the sequel, if there were one?
A: Who knows, they are probably going through empty-nest syndrome now. Hopefully, they are still together. There was talk about a sequel for awhile, but (playwright) Nora Ephron said, “Let’s just leave them alone and believe in living happily ever after.”
Q: You are the master when it comes to hosting the Oscars. Did you see this year’s winner’s card faux pas? What were your thoughts, and would you ever host the Oscars again?
A: I was in Austin, Texas, and had the night off, so yeah, I saw it. I was dumbstruck and surprised something like that could happen. But it has happened before. Sammy Davis Jr. was given the wrong card at the 1954 Oscars. There’s a video of it. I felt bad for Warren (Beatty); you could tell there was confusion when he handed it to Faye Dunaway. It’s easy to say I would have handled it differently as a host, but you are in front of a billion people and something like that happens, who knows what you would do? But I thought it was handled gracefully by “La La Land’s” producer, Jordan (Horowitz). It was a great honor to be the host of the Oscars nine times and I feel honored to be mentioned with the great Bob Hope as someone who hosted so many times. As far as doing it again, I don’t know. I am having so much fun doing what I am doing now.
Q: Where did the idea for the tour come from, and how did Bonnie Hunt become part of the show?
A: The idea came many years ago in 2001 right after 9/11. I was asked to do a fundraiser in Seattle for kids who had lost their parents in the towers. I said yes, but didn’t have an act, so I talked with David Steinberg and suggested we do an interview-type program. That’s where the concept started. I did a similar version of that program with Andrew Denton during a recent trip to Australia. He’s kind of the Dick Cavett of Australia. It went tremendously well. It’s a good way to introduce a lot of stand-up and sit-down material. The show now includes an interview done with Bonnie Hunt, which is a lot of fun and insightful, and there are film clips no one has seen before. It becomes a little bit of a documentary, as well as a comedy routine and an interview. Bonnie and I were on a panel together during a dedication of a theater to my best friend, Robin Williams. We hit it off, so I asked her if she would be interested to be part of the tour and it’s been great. We have great chemistry and each show is always a little bit different, which makes it fun for us and the audience.
Q: What do you know about Connecticut?
A: I used to play in this little place in Connecticut. It was a little inn, and the owner’s name was Bill Hahn. It was on the Sound and Streisand played there, too. He was an amazing guy who loved performers and I think I made $150 a week or something. But that was one of the first places I performed when my career was beginning, and I’ll never forget him.
Q: Politics in America these days, are you doing more laughing or crying?
A: (chuckling) A little bit of both.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
A: I failed algebra twice in high school. I passed it the third time because I had memorized the book.
Toyota Oakdale Theatre, 95 S. Turnpike Road, Wallingford. Saturday, March 25, 8 p.m. oakdale.com, 203-265-1501.