Tim Kazurinsky is an actor, screenwriter, Saturday Night Live alumnus, and performer from the Police Academy series as Officer Sweetchuck.
In the early 80s, Mr. Kazurinsky played iconic characters on SNL, like Jack Badofsky on Weekend Update, Mr. Landlord, Gandhi, Hitler, and even a chimp's husband in "I Married a Monkey". As a two times Jefferson Awards and Bafta Awards nominee, Tim's experience on live stages started with the Second City in Chicago and goes on to these days as the Wizard of Oz in Wicked's itinerating company—and with the Broadway play "An Act of God". He is the screenwriter of the movie About Last Night, and shared screen and stage with John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, and more.
"Life trumps work. Careers, waxing and waning, and you see everybody struggle to deal with that green-eyed monster, 'success'. How much of your soul do you give up? You get to the point where you kind of stop wanting to meet with your heroes: they have feet of clay. The things that give me the most happiness are my wife and my kids. That's what life is all about. The other stuff is just for... shits and giggles."
— Tim Kazurinsky
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T. Kazurinsky: Life Trump's work all those years of sound like new host New Music Group every week careers, waxing and waning. And you see everybody struggled to deal with that green eyed monster success. How much have you sold your give up? You get to the point where you kind of stop wanting to meet your heroes. They have feet of clay thinking gives me most happiness. My wife and my kids. That's what life's all about. The other stuff is just the shits and giggles.
S. Salis: I am Simone Salis Next up on the humanist today's guest Tim Kazurinsky.
This is the humanist and I'm your host Simone a Salus today's guest Tim Kazurinsky, actor, screenwriter Saturday Night Live alumnus and performer from the police academy series as officers we Chuck in the early 80s. Mr. Kazurinsky played iconic characters on SNL like Jeff but off ski on Weekend Update Mr. Landlord Gandhi Hitler and even a chimps husband in I married a monkey as a two times Jefferson awards no money Tim's experience in life stages sorry with the second city of Chicago and goes on for these days as the Wizard of Oz and weekends it rating company and with a Broadway play an act of God he's the screenwriter of the original movie about last night and shared screen and stage with jumbled who she Eddie Murphy. Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Sharon Stone and more. You're an American actor. But you were telling me earlier that you're actually grew up in Australia. That's where you Uh huh. Yes. Until you were 16. Yes. How did that go for their
T. Kazurinsky: Well, it was World War Two. And when the war broke out, my mother was engaged to an Australian medical student. And she thought it would be a good career move to get pregnant by a coal miner from Pennsylvania wearing an American army uniform. My father was in the South Pacific in World War Two. And he was an hour an hour and 1943 went to Sydney and got my mother pregnant. She had one baby there after the war. She went back to his hometown, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, okay. mining town, south southeast of Pittsburgh, but 50 miles that's where they shot slap shot all the right moves. You will need a depressed mining town you you'd go film it because they shut down us to Bethlehem Steel the coal mine so but she had four more babies there in five years. I was the last and when She was having me in the hospital. There was another woman also having a baby to my father. That was her second. And so my mother got a grant from the Australian Government grabbed her five babies and went back to Australia. So I was two months old. I just recently found out that she was unfolding 43 in 1950, on a boat called the Georgia to from New York, to Southampton and then a boat called the Ranchi because I saw the bill of leading to take her five babies back to Australia. And she said that she collapsed halfway through and around the Suez Canal and spent a week in the brig the hospital rather and somebody took care of her five babies. So you guys got got she said, she had no idea what helped but it was it takes a village so they took somebody took care of the babies and we all made it to Australia. And so I was there until I was 16 and I had to get out because by that time my father had come back a few years later. He was a bookmaker and a as well as a coal miner. And he got in trouble with the local mob and he fled John's but he showed up with a little bit of money in his pocket. So my mother took him back
Unknown: I expected an answer like yeah, it was raised there and but here there is a whole book
T. Kazurinsky: I got I got a lot of gangsters Genie
Unknown: Ico a coal miner, also bookmaker, the good. The good in trouble with the Australian mom
T. Kazurinsky: Oh no. When I came back to America at 60, I quit I had an also when I was 14, and luckily Australia has national health and then that the doctor family doctor said, Look, both your parents are drunks your dad's crazy you've got to get out of that house because they thought was also is what caused by stress and they're not the aggravated stress it they found out years later This caused by the Helicobacter pylori but the pipe pylori or so I that was what was bothering me, but because it was thought stress, I gotta get out. I quit school at 15. I got a job. And I'm a weekend you can legally leave home at 16. And all my brothers and sisters did. So it's 16. I took off for Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and I left beautiful Sydney out of this mining town in Pennsylvania. And I landed there in 1966, March 1996. And or what have I done? Oh, my God, I've never seen snow and I was I would die from the cold. It was really, really
S. Salis: see you for the first time users know was when you were 16. And that's the first time I saw snow when it's when I was 21. And I don't think I can still can get enough know, because it's so marvelous. If you have never seen it before.
T. Kazurinsky: It is insane, isn't it? Yeah.
Unknown: All your brothers and sisters also like before you did, because you were the youngest. Yeah, but they stayed in Australia.
T. Kazurinsky: Okay. Under a wartime agreement, you could choose your citizenship. And and they all chose Australian. And because I so I could get out of the country. When I applied for visa. They said, when you were born in the United States, you if you just choose American citizenship, you can go now. So I became the
Unknown: Yes, Tim because it means the American American
T. Kazurinsky: and then I get, I get to I get to Johnstown and the Vietnam war is going on. And I realized, Oh, I could die and I'm eligible. I will be eligible for the draft at 18. So I ended up going to college because I didn't want to go to Vietnam. I didn't. I worked in a grocery store called Franklin's about three train stops from my house. And I just saved up and saved up for a year until I got the money. And then when I came back to the States, I went I had to polish ants that, you know, I slept in one house and bend them. I had dinner every night with the other end.
Unknown: And it takes a village.
T. Kazurinsky: Yeah, it takes a village village and Anna and my Aunt Mary. Yeah. What did you study? Because when I went back to school high school, I edited the high school paper in Johnstown. And that entitled me to a job as a copy boy at the local newspaper. It was great to have a paying job, I paid my rent. Then, one night, literally, a week after I finished high school, there was a some kind of a Wildcat strike, or what a lot of the reporters didn't come in, and they were short of reporters. And there were, you know, the editor was going crazy what it was, who can type whatever and I said I can, you know, I, you know, so, I I typed out about, you know, 1820 stories local stuff, you know, you know, women's auxiliary soldiers transferring army bases because the war was going on at that time. And an over 50 and wedding anniversary that's so A at the end of the night he he came back in the, you know, at midnight the presses roll ding ding ding ding Okay, with this green visor on little guy drunk an Irishman with a red nose and he said, do you want to be reporter and I thought you meant when you grow up? And I said yes and he said well this is your desk and he pulled the drawers it through the stuff that he said Listen, you know and I was 17 and I went oh my god only in America does this happen
Unknown: I'm a reporter that's it on the spot
T. Kazurinsky: so so but I also went to the University of Pittsburgh of is a branch campus there so I did that for a year as well so why would work you know from 5pm to and get home about one in the morning and then I had an eight o'clock class up at the college so it was like it was a it was a rough year so yeah this went on for a while and then will you became a reporter and then you went to school for journalism I guess my sister and brother in law working their way around the world he was also a bookie in Australia he was Irish sort of a Scally wonderful man.
Unknown: Sort of a skill
T. Kazurinsky: set of a scale away so he was also an illegal bookmaker. But somehow they were in trouble. I can't remember what but they had to leave Australia for a year until things cool down, whatever. So he was in Chicago. And so they said, Come to Chicago, stay with us. And and I was like, I'm a reporter in Pennsylvania. And he said one of the family I said $65 a week and he said, I'll give you 100 bucks to clean tables so I jumped up and came to Chicago to be with them that's how I got here and then I switched from journalism to advertising and I was ended up being an ad man for eight years with Leo Burnett Well, I started at a department store in St. Louis and ended up at Leo Burnett here in Chicago.
Unknown: Well, so Okay, your careers Mad Men
S. Salis: a little bit like that. But at some point you must have you must have had an intersection with improvisation or or theatre
T. Kazurinsky: to better present my commercials, I was very nervous, I would get flustered and panic. So somebody said, Take a Dale Carnegie course or a class at second city. So I took an acting class at second city, an improv class with Dell close was the teacher. It was incredible. I, I lived for this. I loved doing it. And it was more creative than anything. I was doing it the ad agency and it really helped my work. But I just enjoyed it twice a week. I couldn't wait for those classes. They offered me a job
Unknown: at the second city at the second city right away.
T. Kazurinsky: Yeah, no, this was 1977. Hmm. And it was for an 80% pay cut. How could I pass up an opportunity like that took a massive pay cut to go to work for a second city. And I never regretted it was there were pivotal things in your life where, you know, doing that with Dell close and working at Second City at that time. It was an amazing, it puts you you walked out of there feeling like you were walking on clouds you when it went well. And you created a wonderful thing out of nothing. And just a few words and a suggestion. And it just made you feel so excited and elated and it was like a drug. Amen. And then George went and his wife Bernadette Bearcat, they use the, let's say that, that improv was the bastard child of acting and writing. And so I thought, Oh, this is what my writer head is good for. I I can come up with these things. And also back then very heavy on costume. Not anymore. backstage at second city, you and everything. You usually wound up on the floor. You would just stepping over costumes, tripping over them all the time. There was like hooks on the wall. But everything that you could think of so many hats, so many cloaks and coats and and now it's considered kind of, you know, yeah, let's say now we're not gonna you know, I'm not going to put on that old hat. Or that's got an and so they really don't use it anymore. But I loved hiding behind the costumes. Man, you put on a pirate hat or you know, you know, if you're gonna go out as a pirate, you might as well have a pirate hat. What the hell they just don't really have many more for me starting out easy to hide behind something. If I put on a Yeah, judges robe or a man or a Viking hat. I'm into it in a second. I could hide behind these characters. And the first one of my first year at Second City when I was on stage and higher. I did I refuse to wear my glasses. Because that way if I had my glasses on, I could see the eyes of the people in the audience stiffening up that would freak me out. So it took about it year for me to be comfortable enough to wear my glasses on stage.
S. Salis: Hello, I am Simone Salis, and these is the humanist support for this show comes from you. If you would like to keep enjoying new episodes regularly, please become a supporter now visit human that is Dean slash support.
I'm Simone Salis and this is the Hoomanist, today with guests Tim Kazurinsky, actor, screenwriter and SNL alumnus. So, Tim, how was your first cast on the second? See? I think Jim Belushi was a Jim Belushi came later who, oh boy. My cast officially ended up being married gross, Bruce Jericho. Nancy Kelly. Then Jim Belushi came in Rob Riley for a time, and Audrey Noonan who has played a judge on Law and Order about 30 times. The redhead
T. Kazurinsky: Maybe our affinity for alcohol was special. I don't know. But we have we went out every night weirdly, Steppenwolf was just growing at that time and a bunch of the Steppenwolf actors would come and sit on the bench and watch us because you know sometimes they could give Bernie to that gave us free beer after the show it was one of the perks of the job that was those Steppenwolf guys to take advantage of those free drinks Malcolm pitch and Terry Kenny and Jeff Perry wonderful Laurie Metcalf an amazing amazing people
Unknown: are Jonah will flake and then like, like, you're just
T. Kazurinsky: like, cost 10 bucks to go see their shows and was the best, you know, the best work being done in the world.
Unknown: Yeah, not anywhere else in the world for that amount of money.
T. Kazurinsky: JOHN Mahoney. I mean, you're forgetting Terry Kenny amazing people.
Unknown: You got a 90% cut, you pay cut. But you got an 80% increase in happiness.
T. Kazurinsky: Exactly. And then after about a year, I started going out and doing auditioning and and doing voiceover work. And so instead of writing, you know, commercials, radio and TV commercials, now I was going out and auditioning for them which was sort of odd and and i boosted my income by doing radio and TV commercials. So you know, a couple years later I was making more money than I used at Leo Burnett rather
S. Salis: well, how was it studying with Dell because you say that there was a something for you of getting on stage or that kind of like fear or concern at first, and then you win over that and you'll get a kick out of it out of the performance. Yeah, Twitter blessing and I think that's something fairly famous that they'll close us to say, you know, the follow your fear
T. Kazurinsky: very much Dell, you know, he got me to understand that, that fear that nervousness is energy, you take that energy and you you channel it, and you funnel it into what you're doing. And quite honestly, I I never ever got over that that fear that tension before, not just before every opening every night. It was a couple of years on Main Stage at second city. And there was not a night that I went on that I didn't have butterflies. And same with Saturday Night Live. Of course, you know, I was there at 1234. It was before every show. It scared the shit out of me. I was, you know, you're doing a 90 minute show. new show. Every week. We put up a couple of shows a year at second city, but here you are. They're coming this there's a new train every week. And you've got you know, five days they put a 90 minute show together. And that was that was terrifying. So right reschedule really scared and questionable material that you're going out in front of 20 million people. And you could die out there.
Unknown: Yeah, there's just so much time right to write it, pitch it, try it, like rehearse it, and then go live. And
S. Salis: how did you get to SNL?
T. Kazurinsky: Well, I oddly didn't audition really ever have to audition for a second city. And then with Saturday Night Live, I didn't know edition for that either, because I probably would have failed miserably. But I found out later that john Belushi had seen me on stage and had recommended to this new producer at SNL dick ever saw God said, you shouldn't take a look at this guy, huh? And so ever. So unbeknownst to me, he had flown in, saw the show left to didn't even speak to me. You know, a few months later, I'd been up doing a show in Canada with john candy, wonderful man john candy as Shoko big city comedy, which I'd written the pilot for so when I got back, he showed up in town ever sell and started talking to me about stuff and he's buying me drinks at the pump room. And I'm like, okay, free drinks. And I'm giving him advice, like, you know, who to look for, and not realizing. And then then he offered me he asked, he said that he wanted me to come and work on the show. And I was like, Oh, my God, she would have to drunk at this time. And I'm going, I think I just got a writing job at Saturday Night Live. And then of course, I said, Yes. And then
Unknown: was there an 80% cut?
T. Kazurinsky: It was about an 800%. And then I think about five minutes later, he asked if I had if I had an Astra card, American Federation of Television and Radio, as I said, I said, A Why would I need an after card? And he said, Well, everybody on the cast has to be AFTRA. And they said, Did you say cast? And he said, Yeah, I said, I should put in the cast. He said, What is it? Why do you think I hired you? I said, as a writer. And then he said, Oh, do you write like, Oh, my God, my whole image of what was going on was that I was a writer, and all my time at second city. I was writing on my feet. So but I never really thought of myself as an actor. I just assumed he died. Me. As for the writing staff, and it was was for acting. So it was like, okay, that's pretty weird. So you found
Unknown: out about this. How many days before going, like, starting to work as a cast member? Oh, was it three weeks?
T. Kazurinsky: Three weeks? Okay. And I remember when I went into New York, there was somebody waiting at the airport to pick me up a an NBC page came, and I was like, Oh, my God, and then have a limousine liberal. My God. I remember. Kaczynski, I'm farting through silk now and the page we went to get the luggage and I had a suitcase that had rope type that was coming into Ellis Island Mike suitcases old broken up and I didn't have time to buy a new one. And so I remember the page when he picked up my my suitcase and was and he looked at it and it was so pathetic and he has this look, why does he have rope tied around is
Unknown: that so we get now in the cast. Let's see.
T. Kazurinsky: We get know they're scraping the barrel here.
S. Salis: But, um, but you ended up seeing few years and actually having many different roles in working with people like, Well, you know, with Eddie Murphy, he was doing I didn't grow up here. But I know about Mr. Rogers. And, and, you know, the parody was pretty great. And he was so young.
T. Kazurinsky: He was so young and so gifted, and he really was an idiot savant of comedy. Hmm. We die. We should digress here to talk about Eddie because after I did my first show at SNL if there was a writer strike and all of a sudden at but that one show and I found out later was pretty much decided they were going to decide whether to keep it alive or not. Because gene domain Ian had done a few shows that had gone badly. It was really on on the razor's edge if they're going to keep doing the show or not. But that one show that we did was a knockout show. It really was, was terrific. And Eddie was was brilliant. And my monkey seen for the first time, but the live show there
Unknown: was also your first time the first time
T. Kazurinsky: Yeah, so and, and there was a there was a admit there was a baby chimp that ended refused to come out on the on the stage and improvising with a large chimpanzee. And the baby's not coming out. I'm thinking, this is it. My, my career is over.
S. Salis: I think that's also why it was hilarious, because that is in the archives, and people can go see it on the SNL web. So yeah, yeah. And,
T. Kazurinsky: and the circus trainer, it was not a trained chimp, or whatever, was this crazy Romanian with a cowboy. And he thought he wasn't going to get paid. So when the baby chimp wouldn't come out, Keith through the role that like the chimp like a little baby chimp like a bowling ball. Yeah.
Unknown: And he was screaming like, the vision was a I was looking at that clip. And I thought he could not happen today. They wouldn't be like probably picketing or protest.
S. Salis: But you had a remarkable patients because the chimp would not come out for two minutes and you kept like, doing kindness,
T. Kazurinsky: please come out and save my career. I need you to do the rest of the scene. So the reason I wanted to do that, because people would say, you know, when when do you guys tape the show? I'm going no, it's live. You know, Saturday Night Live. Don't get it. I think it's like live on tape. No, it's actually live. And so I thought if I worked with a chimpanzee something will happen and people know that it's live and worked a little too well
Unknown: Eddie Murphy came to the second CD at the time like when you guys he visited the seconds yes with you. And this is you item
T. Kazurinsky: Yeah, I brought him because when it went on strike, DiCaprio SAW said take Eddie and Joe back and Joe. He didn't like it. He had difficulty with it. Eddie was the literally the only person on the planet that I know that without any training, any del close any input of improv training, you could walk onto the second city stage and be totally comfortable with whatever was going on. He was was remarkable. But that's why that's when I started realizing that he was an idiot savant of comedy. Honest to God, I worked with him for years at Saturday Night Live. And then one night after a show, the producer said, we're going to Studio 54 for a party. And I said, What's the occasion? And he said, it's Eddie's 21st birthday. And he like four years or read it was a baby. I mean, but he was so good.
S. Salis: So you're seeing that that also was part of like, he's been so spontaneous in improv, like having that fresh approach.
T. Kazurinsky: Yeah, I think it brings have the child in you. It's the ability to play, improvising is playing and as we get older, we get more cautious. We don't want to embarrass ourselves. We want to make a fool of us. Well, improv is you have to be prepared to make a fool of yourself if you'd like making a fool of yourself here we go Come and join me an Eddie could he was still 17 that was probably 17 at the time I don't know ridiculous and he could just absolutely do that I took him to my dentist will doctor will America India because at that point it didn't have enough money to get this tooth filled and I said oh come on we'll we'll fill it with an idea that Eddie didn't have you know 50 bucks to get his his tooth fell and and so my net will always says to me you know any never paid me for that said if you ever paid that 50 bucks you'd be out of a good story well so
T. Kazurinsky: that's true now he was wonderful
Unknown: what makes you laugh would kind of common award what is a single thing two things that make you have a good laugh for you company wise
T. Kazurinsky: I think the the shock factor the unexpected factor than not the not knowing what's coming I like dark humor you know going back I like Chaplin and Keaton they told stories without without words it was that's their stuff was not it was also very very heavy I like Lenny Bruce George Carlin Richard Pryor
Unknown: the true car the truth teller truth tellers
T. Kazurinsky: the P that guys they were like ministers they were like priests they they changed society with their comedy and they just held up this mirror to society and said that this is what's wrong and and it's they they did more to change you know life in America I think then any anybody in a you know a pulpit you know that's my started on religion please God save us from them
S. Salis: looking at some of your sketches in the second CD archives there is an also your work with physical comedy in in in police academy you do have this duality of having a strong physical component in all of your characters and and know from what you're telling me also an appreciation for the truth tellers intellectually speaking,
T. Kazurinsky: yeah, the shock value I think of the unexpected, it's when it somebody says something that you you don't expect or, or says a truth or something that the audience may be thinking of that nobody would say. And then you say it the, that outrageous thing and, and everybody just spontaneously their lungs spasm, with laughter. This that uncontrolled that the comedy that takes you by surprise that you don't expect is always so much fun.
S. Salis: It's inevitable for me to ask you about police academy it's not inevitable I'll ask you it's like
Unknown: a ball but there's your physical comedy
Unknown: yeah then was one of those like assemble a movies will be cast of characters and a lot of trouble is actually
T. Kazurinsky: a name for them gang comedies Gen Con gang comedy and and there should I think Revenge of the Nerds was like a game comedy and sort of Animal House was again comedy and they've sort of died away and I missed
S. Salis: your first appearance. The second movie and how did you end up working there in Poland police academy.
T. Kazurinsky: I was on my honeymoon. I had just gotten married and left SNL was fired and Joe Pesci po and I and Robin do Brad Hall. So I was on my honeymoon and I got a call to the writers that I'd written with at Saturday Night Live, Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield had written Police Academy to and they said would you when you get back for your honeymoon? Would you come do a day under the titles of this movie just played this lamp store owner who gets you know, harassed by a gang leader, which is Bobcat Goldthwait, so I said, Sure, yeah. And my wife was sort of saying, gosh, what, what would you just take a day's work on, you know, after coming off a Saturday Night Live. And I said, well, then their friends and what goes around comes around. So get out there. We shoot the stuff the end, they fired the director that day. And the rooster your see as far as the director, and we just my wife and I was staying for a couple of days to visit friends. And they called and said, Don't leave town because the new director came in. And that was Jerry Paris. And he didn't like what was being shot and then read the to the producer and said, so the Jerry periscope I like the gang leader, and the old guy in the lamp store. So I said, Well, it was just a day players won't keep them around. Six weeks later, I was still in town working on the movie, Bobcat and I would go into work in the morning. And literally, Jerry Paris would say to us, okay, we're shooting in a supermarket today. What do you guys want to do? We This is like, ridiculous that we sort of had carte blanche and just and just we throw up idea. And so how about what if we hide Tim in the the lettuce band and the head of lettuce? And he's under there. And we he just kind of let us wake it up as we went along. And so
Unknown: a big part of it was improvised. Oh, yeah. Him and police academy. Yeah,
T. Kazurinsky: not the rest of the just pop in. I
Unknown: just your part. Yeah. Well, they were insane enough. I was
T. Kazurinsky: yeah, and literally the none of this existed. I was just really there for the day. And here we are, like four weeks later, we're out the Blue Oyster Bar outside the leather gay bar and saying what what do you guys want to do? And I I just had this image of me with a broken arm, turning it hitting someone in this weirdly then so then I remember to Iranian doctors actually put a splint on my arm and and cut it off with them. And then they cut the skin and when they removed the whole my side. Yeah, please don't tell the producer. We don't want to get in trouble. But it was it was really great fun. And weirdly, they do those reports with signing cards at the end of Testing. Testing. And I guess all the kids liked me and Bob the care they brought us back for at least category three. An elderly lamb stir owner and a gang leader. Join the police force.
Unknown: Yeah, you wearing a vest power, something when you Irish writing.
T. Kazurinsky: And Bobcat is on a Harley? Okay well I actually had a motorcycle and could ride a motorcycle Bob couldn't ride a bicycle so he's his Harley is strapped to a flatbed truck and he's sitting on that and I'll have to drive along keep pace on the vest with the truck so that we're both in camera at the same time look like I can't drive a motorcycle Uh huh. And and so Bob's the you know the big tough Marlon Brando guy but he's actually strapped to a flatbed truck
Unknown: so that is another thing that just happened exactly SNL showing up and going you exactly
T. Kazurinsky: I often say I'm the luckiest man in showbiz.
Unknown: Hello Simone Salis here this is the humanist honest conversations for technologically aware contemporary humanists get new episodes as soon as they are released on Apple and Google podcasts Spotify Alexa Oren human don't ISP
S. Salis: I am your host Simone Salis and these is the humanist with today's guest Tim Kazurinsky. Tim is an actor and screenwriter from SNL and police academy and Tim When did you start writing start with the second always
T. Kazurinsky: have writer as a kid writing competitions in school and a always kept a journal of the short story writer writing was always my stock and trade that's that's why I ended up I became advertise a screenwriter the advertising journalism reporter than an admin for the Mad Mad Men days luckily I had written again here Mr lucky I about less than about last night del close said take us you need to take an acting class you know that's what you need a scene study class so I took one at it was Patricia Cox, William H. Macy, David Mamet and then took an acting class, a scene study class, from David Mamet,
Unknown: which was the author of sexual perpetually in Chicago, okay, yes,
T. Kazurinsky: after the first class, he pulled me aside, nice and neat, he said, You lie and Son of a bitch, you haven't had a you supposed to have had a some acting classes before scene study class. And he said, You haven't taken one of these. I said, Okay. He said, I had an improv classes. That doesn't count. So
S. Salis: it started with the fear, like the reason was this year of going up on stage, and then you start to, to get a kick out of it. Oh,
T. Kazurinsky: yeah. Yeah, because it's an adrenaline rush to go out there. And you're, you're an arm that's like the Christians and the lions, it's, you know, there's an element of danger at high wire act. And, and that's really what improv is. So much like it, making that leap. And just assuming that somebody else on stage is going to grab you as you fly through the air. And when you've got the right cast of people that you're trusting is implicit. And, and they catch you and they and they help you land safely. There's only one other guy in the, you know, and I need some men for women to do scenes. So I'm gonna let you stay around, huh? And he grudgingly let me stay in the class. And then he kind of like my work. And he asked me to do this scene called lit CO, which was named after the Bernie lid code character. And you remember, john Belushi was a onstage at second city, David Mamet was a dishwasher at Second City when john Belushi was on stage, so that's
Unknown: Yeah, it was a busboy
T. Kazurinsky: from we're from whence the Bernie with CO character came from about last night, so but he was going to have me do this scene with him. And then he had to go off because he had a show opening in New York. And then he went became David Mamet. And then weirdly a couple of years later, I ended up writing the screenplay version
Unknown: without being in touch with him
T. Kazurinsky: without being attacked. What you had written one for Paramount and they had rejected it.
Unknown: So they were looking for a writer.
T. Kazurinsky: So they were looking for other writers to the adaptation, so it ended up with may and Denise to clue It was a big hit
Unknown: yet, the movie became a classic, who isn't it? Demi Moore? Demi Moore. Rob
T. Kazurinsky: Lowe. Rob Lowe. Jim Belushi? Belushi Yeah, yeah, Elizabeth
Unknown: Perkins. And there was a remake
T. Kazurinsky: recently? Yes, they did a remake. Yeah, they were. I have
Unknown: not seen it have, you know, okay.
Unknown: Jesse? New York's Yeah. Didn't you weren't involved in that?
T. Kazurinsky: No, no, but they had to put our name Sunday, the SD Rick credits that it was adapted from our version, and not just David Mamet because it very much followed a plot structure for but the screenwriting allowed me and the plus I was married and had two kids. And when did you meet your wife in New York? 1988? Not far syrup 1984. She was doing a Broadway show she did five Broadway shows.
Unknown: So also an actress actress,
T. Kazurinsky: singer, dancer actress, she had done chorus line for four years she didn't course landed on Broadway and Broadway Yeah, so we met for a drink and I was smitten and was like oh my god, she's amazing. And the I asked her out and four weeks later I proposed wow and she said yes and three months after that we got married I've probably everybody at our wedding that came to a wedding had told us we were crazy and we shouldn't do it you don't even know each other except Uncle Bill her Uncle Bill was an old the red William k red fire because then he was the only one that said great I never liked that guy she was with
S. Salis: he was rooting for you yeah the first time I've ever saw you was briefly with Mr. Dave squeezy and emo Philips show which wasn't emo Philips show was a weird all show with emo opening but um. But I'm pretty sure the us enjoy emos comedy
T. Kazurinsky: I worry most comedy and in fact at one point was going to try and do some promos for him to help his career but he's he is ended up he's done fine but I love love his stand up it's really bizarre and dark as as you know
Unknown: just my kind of thing is darkness any ideas upon so yes, like you?
T. Kazurinsky: Yeah, yeah, I really just email it just gets better with every day just his last show. So I thought was that's just genius. It's nobody doing that stuff is wonderful, really weird. Weird out. I know, because he had come to see wicked and LA and I gave a backstage tour to his wife and beautiful daughter. And then he sends me Christmas cards
Unknown: from we are dolls,
T. Kazurinsky: emails, Christmas cards, but we're now it's wonderful, very lovely fellow.
Unknown: Speaking of wicked you, you also where the voice for the wizard in traveling.
T. Kazurinsky: Yes, I like the Wizard of Oz. Now. My wife had done five Broadway shows. And she'd always done musical now she would love to do like Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. And she got me to do a musical here called hairspray out at Drury Lane and and I got the job as the dad and hairspray and I had such a great time was a wonderful cast. Then Lillian Castillo and Michael Aaron Lindner and Rob Thomas, we had a ball and I went, Oh my god, these are so much fun. Well, I did, I just discovered the age of 65, how much fun music
Unknown: the human energy
T. Kazurinsky: and so then I, I ended up Don't ask me how my agent sent me to audition for wicked and I landed the role is the Wizard of Oz and had a sing two songs and doing a little dance and I don't sing and I don't dance, but apparently you don't have to be good at that shit.
Unknown: So that's what I wanted
T. Kazurinsky: it. So I I and I toured for 14 months for the first national tour of wicked and 17 cities and ended with a 14 week sit at the pantages theatre in Hollywood. And so wonderful
S. Salis: earlier you mentioned how some comedians were able to shine a light on some hypocrisy on from their point of view on religion and society in this kind of things degree did you grow up religious with your family religious
Unknown: when you growing up?
T. Kazurinsky: He never my mother took us to church not every week, but you know, they're weird. Everyone gets cleaned up and put on some nice clothes and go to church and I was I think religious when I was young. She I remember she wants sent me off to a camp that was a Mormon camp
Unknown: where you Mormon
T. Kazurinsky: and I had I was memorizing passages from the Bible and getting prizes and then they wanted me to join the Mormon church. And I was like, yeah, it's not gonna happen. Yeah, I'm not gonna get that car. No, no. And I was also you know, getting sort of disaffected by the Catholic Church and, you know, just starting to go Why do bad things happen to good people? And where was God done this day when and I just started to question the whole notion of
Unknown: religious belief Yeah,
T. Kazurinsky: and just it just in just like so much bullshit and this is literally when I'm like about 12 years old I just this is this is a Horsham i'm not buying this anymore it's just it none of it made sense and in particular the Catholic Church that you know that they will not allow women to be priests
Unknown: yeah they switched
Unknown: you crazy Roman Catholics
T. Kazurinsky: yeah I mean the Jews have female rabbis know angry can ministers can be women what's
Unknown: what's the matter
S. Salis: what is the most satisfactory thing you know in your career you did so many different things you literally were they were musicals in Broadway in police academy which is a huge franchise leg it's a it's a famous famous major franchise screenwriter onstage the second see and not what he's probably many but if you had to pick one or two pieces of work that you're really affectionate about the you're happy that you were able to work on and you think it's you're proud of it
T. Kazurinsky: probably for work wise I'm a rota script for a producer named Jeff Pope, a wonderful man. And a couple years ago, he wrote, co wrote Philomena and was nominated for an Oscar and now he's got this new film about Laurel and Hardy coming up. But he had hired me to write this film called my beautiful son. And it was a from the factual drama department at ITV, and it started Julie Walters, paul reiser in America, it was released as movie called strange relations. It was my favorite film I've done about last night was a bigger success. This one in my heart strange relations, Julie Walters won the BAFTA, her performance, the British Academy Award, and I got nominated for screenwriting, but didn't win, but I'm so I was happy to be happy to be invited to. But that's the probably the thing I'm most proud of. And
Unknown: why, what is the
T. Kazurinsky: love? It's a weird it was an actual story about a man who was diagnosed with leukemia, and he goes on to tell his mother that he's going to die before she does, and she confesses, and this was a true story, he confessed that he was adopted in England, and he was a doctor in New York, and she told him that they've never told him it was adopted. And if he went back to England, if he found his birth mother, siblings make the best bone marrow donors and that was what we in in reality, he had gone back there and found his mother and she had no other children. But the premise was what if there were other siblings How would this story have gone and that was what I had to work with. And the film that I wrote from that which was shot in Liverpool now strange relations is Paul riser played the doctor and the Olympia Dukakis which is American mother and Julian ultra services Liverpool mother, he finds her and I created her as a cleaning lady in the worst slum of Liverpool. So he's this wealthy and New York Jewish doctor and and, and she has two sons, and he has to try and calm them out of bone marrow. And weirdly when I showed up on set and to be filming this in Liverpool I'd gone for a couple of weeks research and then came back for the shoot the when Julie Walters walked on the set in our house stress. I kind of broke down in tears and realized, Oh, yeah, I pattern that her on my mother and sort of subconsciously. And it was like, Oh, of course, of course, she has that spirit, that language and it was I'm getting choked up again. It when I was young, my mother was a wonderful, wonderful mother. She meant she go down to alcohol, and she was an alcoholic. One time she passed. But raising those five kids and you know, for the dad that didn't bring home a really a paycheck. She was, you know, pretty remarkable woman. And but it wasn't literally wasn't until Julie walked on set, and that she might have that house dress that I realized, Oh, God, of course, I pad. And during my mom was my dad, I had to my dear departed mom,
S. Salis: whatever you wrote, showed up, even like whatever showed up in your writing showed up also in front of you. And that's what Yes, yeah. Oh, boy. You You could see your writing embodied.
T. Kazurinsky: Yeah. And it was like a bit. She was Julie Walters amazing performer. She just I can't imagine anybody in the world playing it better than she did. She has a great, great actress. Nobody. I know. paul reiser was great. And the two guys that played his brothers, yes, Anthony Maudsley. And in pure Sunday, they just turned in performances that were more than what was on the page. They everybody made me look good.
S. Salis: I'm going to ask you just one more thing, because earlier when asked you to think that you were the most proud or was closest to your art work
T. Kazurinsky: of besides my wife and children?
S. Salis: Exactly. That was the thing because I asked you like, what is the part of your work and it the thing that you immediately say was like, work wise, which led me to thing that all right, then what was the thinking the first very first thing that it wasn't work wise, because when I asked you what he we're proud of, I think he said work wise. What? Yeah, what about life wise? What about Tim Wise
T. Kazurinsky: life Trump's work all those years of Second Life new host New Music Group every week careers, waxing and waning. And you see everybody struggled to deal with that green eyed monster success. It was all a microcosm of literally Little Shop of Horrors, feeding the plant, what do you do for money? What do you do for success? How much of your soul Do you give up you get to the point where you kind of stop wanting to meet your heroes and people you idolize because they they have feet of clay and I think a life well lived is is more important than then a career that is, you know what it what did you give up? How many marriages how many, you know, that you weren't around for your children would know. Then thinking gives me most happiness, my wife and my kids and that's what life's all about. The other stuff is just the shits and giggles. I said,
S. Salis: a good time. Good time.
T. Kazurinsky: Yeah, I've had a good time. I've had a lot of fun and been very, very lucky. And it's got a great life. And
Unknown: and who knows, maybe you'll do you did your Broadway debut. So you don't know. political view.
T. Kazurinsky: And it's perfect. And there's just it and it's all as Dell closes? and viola fallen? Yes. And you agree. Yes. And I will. I will try that. And if you're open to trying new things. When I went and did did wicked when I got that job. I had no idea that I would be flown to Pittsburgh and have two weeks to do this, learn this role and go out it was such an adventure. And I was like, I don't know if I can do this. And I call home to gene Why can't who would play it here in Chicago? And I said, I don't know if I can do this? And he said, Yes, yes, you can. He'd he'd played the wicked the wizard in Chicago. He gave me three tips to do it. He said, it's going to be crazy. You said you're never going to practice it in costume until the night you go on. You never gonna play here with an orchestra to you go on, he said. And weirdly, you're gonna have to climb onto the back of the head of the wizard head and hold on because it doesn't fit any stage on the road. And you can't climb down the stage until it's gone three feet into the stage. He said, and it's going to be a cacophony. It's going to sound like World War Two. There's going to be lights, there's going to be smoke and music, the whole band and you'll already have heard it with the piano and he said, Just hang on for dear life. And once you get through it as old as I was the time going out there doing this. It was so scary and so thrilling at the same time, and it was just like, How the hell did this happen? How did I get here and I'm writing out on a stage in Pittsburgh having just replaced john David, send us the the wizard. I'm going this is crazy. But here I am. 14 months of fun. What can I say? So yes. And still. Yes. And everybody to everybody out there listening?
S. Salis: Yes. And just do it. Mr. Tim Kazurinsky today on the Hoomanist. Thank you so much. Thank you, Sam. Tim Kazurinsky is a versatile writer and performer showing his talents through the decades on stage movies. He's an SNL alumnus who played with luminaries like Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis Dreyfus. You can find out more about him on his official website timkazurinsky.net. Don't forget to subscribe and listen to more intimate conversations on the humanists. on Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, Alexa human is D or on your favorite podcast platform. Support for this show comes from you to keep enjoying new episodes regularly. You can subscribe now and receive the free weekly digest the text only curated list of articles that you wish your friends would have shared with you. And you can also show your support now by visiting human is to slash support.