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David Steinberg on Inside Comedy'

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David Steinberg with Jerry Seinfeld. David Steinberg with Jerry Seinfeld. photo courtesy: Showtime

David Steinberg's Showtime series 'Inside Comedy' is back for a third season each Monday at 11 p.m.  

Steinberg knows funny. He rocked the TV establishment of the late '60s on 'The Smothers Comedy Hour,' made Johnny laugh in more than 130 guest appearances on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' (second only to Bob Hope) and stepped behind the camera to direct episodes of 'Friends,' 'Seinfeld' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' 

The premise of 'Inside Comedy' is simple: Invite the funniest people in stand-up, film and television for a one-on-one about their life in comedy. The results are often revelatory and hilarious. In the process, Steinberg reveals himself to be one of the best interviewers on television, as his guests often discuss parts of their lives never before shared publicly. Among his 40 guests to date: Larry David, Betty White, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Bob Newhart, Zach Galifinakis, Mel Brooks and Ben Stiller.

Interviews are recorded separately with guests uniquely juxtaposed by Steinberg during editing.   

Steinberg's scheduled guests on the next episode (Monday, March 3) are Bob Einstein ('Super Dave Osborne' and the character of Marty Funkhouser on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'), and Eric Idle from 'Monty Python's Flying Circus.'  

David Steinberg

Photo courtesy of Showtime

During a recent phone interview, David Steinberg took me inside 'Inside Comedy.' 

Dow: How did 'Inside Comedy' begin?  

Steinberg: Steve Carrel and I executive produce the show together. We're both from Second City in Chicago I'm from the generation before his time there. It's almost like being on a basketball team that's been around forever we all know each other. I got together with Steve and he said, 'We know everybody in comedy. Why don't we do a documentary film?' So we started asking people and everybody said yes.   

Because we had so many people, when Steve and I looked at what we had for this film, we realized that they would each be on for only about two minutes if that. I said, 'Let me go away for four or five months and let me make a series out of this.' The editing was very difficult before I found the formula of going back and forth with the guests. They were all filmed separately, but how they go back and forth is what interested me. We announced that we had this series and, within an hour, Showtime called and said, 'Don't go anywhere, we're interested.'

Dow: On the show, many of your guests talk about things that they wouldn't share on other programs. It's sometimes surprising, it's often funny, and sometimes it's just real. What is your method for getting them to open up?  

Steinberg: We just hang out. The laughter that you hear is from the crew and a few of our friends there is no audience there. What I like about the show is that my guests are not 'switched on' like they are in front of any audience. You get to see their natural comedy DNA - it just comes out. I don't prepare anything and every interview is different. Your description of the show is exactly what I had hoped people would take away from it. 

David Steinberg

Photo courtesy of Showtime

Dow: Do you have a dream guest that you'd like to have on a future season?  

Steinberg: There are a lot of guests that I'd like to have. Bill Cosby is interested. Eddie Murphy is another guest I hope to have. Albert Brooks, too. When we started out, we called everyone and asked them and now they're calling us because they like the format and it's easy for them you just have to be yourself.  

Dow: If you hadn't found a life in comedy, what do you think you would have ended up doing? 

Steinberg: That's a sad story (laughing). This is the only thing I'm suited for. I wouldn't be good with money. I'm not strong enough to be a mover. I'm not a construction guy. I lucked into the only thing that I should be doing.  I have to tell you, I have loved almost every moment of it. When you go through my credits, you see all of these successes, but I'm sure you know that there are so many failures that haven't been mentioned. The trick is to keep on coming back after things haven't worked out.

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor)

Last modified on Friday, 28 February 2014 00:44

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