It seemed as though actor Charles Grodin took a break from show business in the early 90s, but he essentially just changed formats.
“In 1992 or ’93 it seems as though I just dropped out,” he told The Bulletin last week. But “in 1995 I started a CNBC cable show, then I moved to MSNBC in 2000, and I was a commentator for 60 Minutes for two or three years. Now I’ve been a CBS news commentator, five times a week, for 14 years.”
But it is probably comedy that Grodin is best known, and best-loved, for, and he will reflect on nearly a half-century in show business in his Comedic Journey Through Showbiz on Tuesday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ridgefield Playhouse. The evening just happens to be his 80th birthday.
During an interview he taped for HAN Radio’s Arts and Leisure program, he said he’d rather be doing the show than having a party.
“I’m sitting up and taking fluids,” he said, joking about his age, adding, “I don’t seem to have any wrinkles. People say it’s because of what’s in your heart. I think it’s because I rarely leave the house.”
The entire interview with Grodin and HAN Radio hosts Sally Sanders and Steve Coulter can be heard Friday, April 17, at 1 at WiltonBulletin.com or hanradio.com.
Grodin has a lot of material to work with for his show at the Playhouse, as he talks about his work not only as an actor but also as comedian, author, playwright, and former talk show host.
“There are no comedy lines written,” he said of the show. “It’s me quoting things people have said to me, but they are all putdowns.”
The best part of the show, in his view, are the clips from his appearances with Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and John McLaughlin.
In addition to all the laughs, Grodin said there is an underlying message to his show: Perseverance is everything.
“I studied acting for eight years,” he said. There were so many good people. I never saw any of them later. They might get a job, then nothing would happen and then they’d quit.
“You have to be ready to take rejection and press ahead.”
Grodin has been very busy of late. In addition to having two or three books in the works — “I’m always writing, it’s therapy for me,” he said — he has appeared on the cable show Louie with fellow comedian Louis CK and in a film just released, While We’re Young, starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts and Adam Driver.
The movie, he said, “has something very interesting to say. What the movie’s really about is that you should have goals.”
The story focuses on one couple in their 40s that didn’t set goals for themselves, and another, younger couple that did. They have achieved far more than the older couple.
Grodin plays an accomplished documentarian, which is ironic, he said, because in 1969 he produced a documentary with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel called Songs of America. Director Noah Baumbach cast him in the role “without knowing I was a documentarian,” he said.
Some of Grodin’s better known films are Rosemary’s Baby, The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run, and Beethoven.
Tickets for the show are $55 Gold Circle Meet & Greet; $45 orchestra, $40 mezzanine/balcony; seniors: Gold Circle Meet and Greet $55; $35 orchestra, $25 mezzanine/balcony. Students are admitted free. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Grodin’s charitable Lend a Hand Foundation.
Ticket holders may enjoy a special $45 prix-fixe menu at Bernard’s, 20 West Lane, Ridgefield, the day of the event when tickets are presented; reservations suggested. The show is partially underwritten by Nutmeg Livery and is part of Moffly Media Entertaining Conversations Series and Clark Construction Comedy Series with media sponsor WFUV 90.7 FM.
For tickets, call the box office at 203-438-5795 or visit online at ridgefieldplayhouse.org.