By Danny Gallagher
Reprinted with permission of the McKinney Courier-Gazette
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Larry Miller is one busy man.
He’s a prolific actor with over 100 movie and television shows on his resume including “Seinfeld,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Pretty Woman” with Richard Gere, “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show” directed by Christopher Guest and the movie and TV version of “10 Things I Hate About You.”
He’s a popular stand-up comic who performs at theaters and clubs across North America and late night TV for “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Real Time with Bill Maher”.
And even though writing material for his stage shows and TV appearances keeps him busy enough, he’s also added screenwriter, author, book critic, blogger (he writes on his website http://www.larrymillerhumor.com) and podcast host to his growing “To-Do” list.
However, the kind of busy that Miller is up against on this particular Friday afternoon doesn’t involve racing from one studio to the next or rushing to catch a red-eye flight to New Jersey at 5 a.m. in the morning (technically, his flight is the following Saturday). His schedule sounds like your typical suburban dad and loving husband, juggling work and family with the frantic proficiency of an Ed Sullivan variety act.
“I’m going to pick up one of the kids, and then I have a meeting over the hill at 4 p.m. my time with some guys who might be my new agents until roughly 5 p.m.,””Miller said. “Then I come back over here because one kid is at a cross-country meet, and I’m picking him up at 6 p.m. and I have to get him back here and get him showered and the other one dressed and then we’re going to meet my wife who’s a comedy writer downtown and meet her at 7 p.m. for dinner because today (Friday, Oct. 15 during the interview) is my birthday.”
It’s just one of the many themes Miller explores in his new one-man show called “Cocktails with Larry Miller.” Miller will serve up his show with two performances at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday at the McKinney Performing Arts Center on the downtown square.
He describes his latest performance as an eclectic mix of all of his artistic endeavors and talents including music, his first artistic passion that led him to comedy.
“I was a music major in school and I did studio work for singers before I got into comedy,” Miller said. “Then when I got into the Comic Strip in New York City as the drummer, I passed the audition as a comic and that was a way I could make a living.”
“Cocktails,” Miller said, is the first theatric show to combine his love for all of his artistic ambitions.
“I’ll never leave stand-up,” he said, “but this is different from stand-up just as a trumpet is different from a flute. On the surface, you can say they are both instruments and you can play a tune on both, but they are completely different.”
Miller’s stage show explores different themes through comedy, characters and music revolving around his experiences and universal themes of love, marriage and family. Of course, the performances change from show to show, Miller said.
“Every performer should be specific in their theme and actually,” he says with a laugh, “this has several subtitles. One is ‘Little League, Adultery and Other Bad Ideas’ and I love that one because I think it’s funny, and then there are other ones that are just themes I use like ‘The Truth About Marriage.’ ”
Miller said the comedy comes from relating his experiences to his audience and finding those universal truths that exist in every home whether the breadwinners who keep the home running are teachers and office managers or sitcom writers and character actors.
“I love talking about what I’ve learned over the years and what I love is learning that if it happens to me, it also happens to everyone and if I smell something, they can smell it too,” Miller said. “That’s why I love any audience: McKinney, Seattle, Chicago. It doesn’t matter. Audiences across Canada and America can understand me the way I understand me, the way you understand you.”
The themes for his show also evolved out of his humorous writings and essays, such as those from his best-selling humor book “Spoiled Rotten America: Outrages of Everyday Life.”
“I have an idea and a theme that sharecroppers in the 1840s had more leisure time than we do,” Miller said. “It’s a very hard life but at the end of their days, they would sit on their porch with a cup of moonshine and look out over the field and sit there for three hours. The concept of sitting somewhere for three hours sounds like two weeks in Tahiti for me.”
And even though this may sound like the sardonic ranting of a stage comic exploiting the frustrating foibles of his hectic life, Miller said a deeper truth always lies just beneath the surface.
“The truth is it’s wonderful. I wouldn’t change a thing,” Miller said. “I may be the luckiest guy in history.”