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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tim Allen interview

Tim Allen – June 10, 2010

"I may go back and spice it up with a little bit of the tool stuff and grunting and all that that I know so well. But it feels like I'm rehashing old material. And some of my audiences like that. So I'm there to entertain. I'm not there to make a political statement or anything like that. I'm there to entertain." – Tim Allen

Guy MacPherson: Hi Tim. Thanks for calling.
Tim Allen: My pleasure.

GM: You're right on time, too.
TA: You know, I got great people. If I don't do it this way, literally you'll never catch me. Judy says, my assistant, "Stay home, do it from your house..." Okay, I get it. This is some serious shit.

GM: Yeah, I'm pretty serious. I'm glad you're doing stand-up again because I missed you the first time around. Did you ever stop doing it completely or did you just slow down?
TA: Well, what happened is I got noticed, obviously. Right towards the end I did Juste Pour Rire in Montréal, the Just For Laughs festival, and everything started hitting for me. I was touring probably for seven years and started doing big concerts and did a Showtime special and another one and then Disney saw it and we wrote that TV show based on the act. So I used a lot of the act and that took up, what?, seven, eight years. And then movies started. And what's happened is in the middle of this I had to realign my compass. What's funny to me? I was starting to do some dramatic roles and "Is this what I want to do, dramatic TV?" And this last movie I directed, which is Crazy on the Outside, available at Target right now on DVD with Sigourney Weaver and I produced it, financed it, and really wanted to direct a film so I could edit the comedy, and I did that. And then while I was doing that, I was stretching my wings at charity events and getting back in it. It's just a long process. So I put a year aside and started rehearsing in a studio and also going out and writing, as comics do, and putting it back together, and taking a new tack. And for Canadians audiences, because Canada's been much... like, between Canada, Australia and England, oddly enough, Home Improvement's still very, very popular. As it is here in the States but it's not quite the same. So I can do a little bit of that material, about building stuff. It's a little bit still with me, but more about getting on in life. I was just thinking right now, a lot in the beginning of it – I'm doing another rehearsal set tonight – I've got to change it a bit for Canada because none of this stuff about my government's really of any interest to you.

GM: We know about it, of course.
TA: Yeah, but who gives a shit, really. I barely care about it because it's such bullshit. So I gotta change a little bit of that, but it's mostly about growing up and my grandma being around and my grandma's point of view and luckily my grandma's a half-breed. Her family's all from Ontario.

GM: Yeah, I heard you were part Canadian.
TA: Yeah, it's funny, I say 'part'. I guess it is. It's my mom's family and my mom's mom. They lived in London, actually. My great grandma lived up there. We loved going to Canada.

GM: London, Ontario.
TA: London, Ontario. We summered in Bayfield, my huge family. We all had to share this little tiny shitty cottage, which, when you're there it was ideal. Canada was so different but so wonderful for us. I mean, vinegar on fries, what's that about?! That was the biggest deal to us. We'd go to this place on the river and just stare at the guy because he'd go, "You want catsup, huh?" Just like down-state. "Tomato catsup." He'd give us all this shit. "We don't do that here. We put vinegar on our fries. Try it." We'd eat it and go, "Yup, tastes like it sounds. Terrible."

GM: No, you're wrong!
TA: Well, no, you gotta get used to it. I grew up with cousins and everybody so I can do a little bit about that Canadian-American bickering. We were like cousins or second cousins: You're kinda English, but you're not really English. You're more closer aligned with us than you are with the English. I think. Except you got the queen on the dollar.

GM: So you're one of us.
TA: Yeah, I've always felt, and I don't like to say this because I sound like an ex-patriot, I always feel quite a bit more comfortable sometimes in Canada. For a variety of reasons. I just think it's a politer place. Kind of. You don't have quite the population to deal with but you don't immediately get into skirmishes with everybody. If you had any passport, any terrorist would let the Canadians off the plane.

GM: That's what I'm counting on... Was it hard to get back into stand-up or was it like riding a bike?
TA: It's not been real comfortable for me.

GM: Oh really? Why is that?
TA: Because it isn't the same. When I started off, I was hungry; I had to do it. Now it's elective. Going back to college. I had to go through college the first time to get any shot at getting a job but now I don't have to be at these clubs waiting in the back and talking to the comics. I'm kind of a shy person, actually, and I don't like being out talking to people all the time. Sometimes I don't feel like it. Sometimes I don't think I have the material. And I have a skill set. I'm a funny guy. I'm doing some stuff that was funny to my brothers so it's definitely PG-13. But in the big casinos that I work in Vegas and concerts... Concerts are different because you get families in there. I gotta watch my language a little bit. But I'm talking about gas and genitals and sex. Not predominantly but I go there because I talk about what gets my brothers laughing. And it's usually my grandma, stories about us, about goofing around as a kid. This is all new stuff. And it depends on how I feel. I may go back and spice it up with a little bit of the tool stuff and grunting and all that that I know so well. But it feels like I'm rehashing old material. And some of my audiences like that. So I'm there to entertain. I'm not there to make a political statement or anything like that. I'm there to entertain. But I also have some frustrations with how things work here and you're our neighbour so at least you can look over the fence and see how we're doing things. But it really doesn't concern Canadians.

GM: Yeah, we're like your neighbour in Home Improvement.
TA: Yeah, you just kinda look over the fence and all you see is the top of your head.

GM: You say you do go to the clubs to work on some new things?
TA: That's what I do. I work out at two clubs quietly here in Los Angeles and then I do a lot of charity events. Just to get my feet wet. I did this for about the first three months then started in earnest seriously writing. So now I got an hour and 15 and what I need, I got a good opener and a kinda slick little show. Vancouver'll probably be the fifth on the date. They're getting there. They're not where I want it to be. I'll end up in Toronto and then I'll go back and do New York City and then come back to Vegas. But this is a switch for me. Just doing Canada is a switch because it isn't as comfortable as the States. Just because I'm scared, that's all. I want everybody to like it. The majority of it is stateless. There is no state to it. But I just started considering that I consider Canada like home but, you know, it isn't home. I have a home in Mexico and the danger's sometimes, in Mexico, you get feeling so damned comfortable in this little neighbourhood I live in in Mexico, but I'm not Mexican. But Canada's not that way. I really do appreciate Canadian sensibility, I love hockey, I love the country. So I can get by. And as I say, I did Juste Pour Rire. One of my biggest breakout shows I had was in Montréal, which, of course, for most of you isn't in Canada. (laughs) They only speak French when you're around. As soon as you leave the restaurant, they're, "Ahh, sons of bitches..."

GM: There's less chance of you getting kidnapped here than there is in Mexico.
TA: If you're kidnapped there, they probably buy you a nice sweater.

GM: Bob Newhart says that if you have the ability to do stand-up, you therefore have the obligation to do it because so few people can do it. And that's why he's continued. And I see now Eddie Murphy's coming back, you're coming back to it...
TA: Well, Eddie said the same thing. We talked about this a while back. It just takes a long time to mount it. You don't just come right out and do it. You gotta get back, practice, get the material, weed the material, write the bits, get the little nuances. I'll never be prepared like I feel like I was because when I left I was at the top of my freakin' show. I watched the videotape of one of my first shows and I said, "This guy's funny." And it doesn't feel like me. Literally, it looks like my younger brother when I did this and it was so organic. And now it's planned. So what I've been doing lately is doing exercises where I flip the routine on its end. I start from the end and be frightened. I did a big show in Detroit at the 2500-seater and the power went out. I did 20 minutes ad-libbing on a megaphone and it was literally working without a net. My wife said, "It's the funniest you've ever been," and I said, "Yeah, well it didn't feel so fucking funny." Because I couldn't hear anything. All the P.A. systems went out.

GM: You have to be in the moment.
TA: Be in the moment. And I agree with Newhart. I just gave him an award. I agree. And I told this to Martin Lawrence. We were working on Wild Hogs 2 and I said, "But in the meantime, there aren't a lot of funny people out there. Especially veterans like us." You see young kids but for anybody over 25 or 30, some of the shit doesn't make any sense. So that's where we come in. Bob Newhart, and Rickles still goes out. I just finished Toy Story 3 with him. He couldn't do half the press tour because he's doing gigs.

GM: I just saw him up here a few weeks ago.
TA: Exactly. How was he?

GM: Oh, he's great. It's the fourth time I've seen him. He comes up every year now.
TA: Jesus, and he just does that shit where he fucks with everybody, right?

GM: He does a set show. He does a lot of songs. Probably only about 25 or 30 percent of the show is where he interacts with the crowd.
TA: He sings?!

GM: He sings. He has a big band backing him up. It's an old-timey, Vegas-y kinda show.
TA: Well, this is what I'm doing. I'm doing Mirage in Vegas on the 13th of August. That's where I end this phase of it and the deal is, I want to do a Vegas show. I wanna get one where music... I'm adding elements to cheese it up in the most fun way. So Guy, when I hear that Ray Romano and Kevin James do just straight stand-up, and I see other guys like me, I wanna do a show... I really like entertaining. Not like Marty Short, who's my idol. The fucking guy can do anything. I think he juggles, for Christ sake.

GM: He's been up here, too. You're right. He does some improv, he does his characters, he does some songs.
TA: And Jay comes up there, too, right?

GM: Who?
TA: Leno?

GM: That's right. He was up a few months ago.
TA: Yeah, you got great acts in there. I'm coming in under a lot of stress. (laughs)

GM: It's a nice theatre. And they bring in a lot of big names.
TA: I know. I'm really excited about doing it but I'm getting a little scared right now (laughs). Jesus, Marty Short, Don Rickles, Leno and then me.

GM: But that's great because we haven't seen you.
TA: Yeah, it'll be fun. I want to make it fun. I want to make it cheery. Leno does a lot of topical stuff. How the hell does that shit work? He's on TV every night, too, so if you wanna watch that shit...

GM: He's a bit on auto-pilot.
TA: Yeah. That's what he does.

"I have always thought of myself as a big shot. When you're starting out, you're doing this club a favour by coming in. If you didn't show up, what would they do?" – Tim Allen

GM: Who did you come up with when you started in '79?
TA: Seinfeld was adjacent to me, Garry Shandling, Bob Saget, Dave Coulier...

GM: And Coulier's from Michigan, too, isn't he?
TA: Yeah... Eric Tunney, a Canadian. I think he just passed away.

GM: He did.
TA: God, it was too bad. And I just saw him, too. Leo Dufour, another Canadian. A bunch of guys, the Windsor-Toronto group. There's a whole group of guys that came down from Canada to work at the clubs in Detroit because they paid a little bit better. Half the house was Canadian.

GM: When you were starting out, did you have big goals or were you happy just doing stand-up?
TA: I used to watch Carson and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to do Carson. I just focussed on it, had a piece of paper up on my desk, and I eventually did.

GM: You did stand-up on Carson?
TA: Well, they wanted me to do just [panel]. The show had taken off. It was the number one sitcom in the States, and that's enough to get on that show. And I said, "You know what? I don't want to do that. I want to get out there on a microphone." They said, "Well, you don't have to." I said, "It's not a word 'have'; I want to." And I went out and sucked. Because I panicked because I didn't know where to stand. They said, "Can you see that star?" I didn't want to tell them I needed glasses so I didn't see what he was talking about. And I walked out and stepped on the wrong spot and the cameras had to move while I was out there and it fucked me up. And Johnny said, "You gotta be funnier than that if you've got this show." And I said, "Yeah. I was spooked by the cameras." He goes, "Well, come back next week." So I did it two weeks in a row. And the next one I drilled it. He let me drill it and he was a kind, great guy. I did everything I wanted to do. And the trouble with reaching your goals is reaching your goals.

GM: "Now what?"
TA: That's exactly right. I mean, look at Michael Jordan. You get five championships, what do you do after that?

GM: Walk away. Try baseball.
TA: At one point, in '87 or '89, my brother called me up and said, "Did you see the New York Times today?" And I said no. And he said, "Your book's number one." I said, "Well, that's cool." "Well, didn't The Santa Clause come out this weekend?" And I said, "Yeah." "That's number one." He says, "Well, don't your TV ratings come out on Monday?" I go, "Oh, shit." On this day, in this history, one individual had the number one book, the number one movie, and the number one TV show. And I said, "In a way, I'm sorry you mentioned that. Because," I said, "what the fuck am I going to do...?" How do you ever do that? I remember Barry Sonnenfeld, the director called me up, and he didn't know me but he eventually put me in a movie, he said, "How does that feel?" I said, "It's funny. If it hadn't been for my older brother kinda putting it together..." And then it eventually got in the newspaper. But that's just kinda the alignment of the stars; you don't plan shit like that.

GM: Heady times.
TA: Yeah, heady times.

GM: Do you feel for young comics today in this age of reality TV? You got your show based on your act, Seinfeld got a show, Roseanne, Brett Butler. And later Romano and Kevin James. But the young comics coming up are up against reality TV. I guess Sarah Silverman just had one.
TA: It didn't do too well. She's angry. No, I feel even more close to home. I feel it's hard on my nephews and nieces and my daughters. I don't know what they're all gonna do. It's not the same world now. I told my daughter, she wants to get in the business, "You better start writing shit. Write your story, not our story. Don't rehash shit." And these young comics, every time I go to clubs they're all thinking maybe I'll take them with me as an opener. And I'm going to take one of my old buddies that I've been working with for twenty years, Lowell Sanders. He's arguably, probably, smoother and more professional than me because he's been doing this. I've been doing other things for twenty years; he's been doing this for twenty years. He's just smooth as silk. He's wonderful and he'll open up and give his ten minutes up front, but I look at these young comics in these clubs and there are certain things I would do. I told them, I would always dress the lights... (baby noises in the background) My one-year-old just walked into my office. Adorable. (to the baby) Are you waving at me? (to me) I lost track of my thoughts; I just saw this beautiful little girl come in. Oh, I see these guys working in a small club and I said, "Number one, you control the lighting cues." I always change lighting cues for me. They say, "I never thought we could do it." They don't give a shit what you change. So have a different lighting scheme. Work on your backdrop. And definitely dress up. This isn't your fucking basement. And this one young guy, he doesn't have any clothes. He goes, "I bought a sport coat because of you." And I said, "Well, you know, have a little respect for your audience. They all paid eight, nine bucks to see somebody that... They don't know you. And leave them with something, you know? Have some respect." Little things like that. I told them I spent an inordinate amount of money starting out on my pictures. All that shit. All that stuff's very important. Just some of the cosmetics and the foundation of being a performer I think people forget. But I feel like an old fucker, you know? "She a little respect for your elders!" It sounds just like the priest at my church.

GM: If a comic of your age now told you that when you were starting out, what would you say?
TA: I would tell him he was a fucking moron. (laughs) The best thing is, some of the guys when I say ask me, like, "Why is the lighting different?" And I say, "Because I came and asked me for a change in lighting." And I didn't say anything about the clothes. I say this privately but I generally just dress better and I always have. I don't dress very well. Now I'm like half-naked. But when I get on stage I buy good suits and good ties because I just want you to know that I thought about it.

GM: Do you think they would think it's because you're Tim Allen, you're a big shot, that you can go in and change the lights and that they don't have that power or pull?
TA: I have always thought of myself as a big shot. When you're starting out, you're doing this club a favour by coming in. If you didn't show up, what would they do? As long as you got something to deliver, as long as you got some jokes to deliver, I think I'm... I'm listening to what you said about Bob Newhart. There's very few people that stand up there and take your attention and you walk out happier than when you walked in. It sure wasn't Iron Man.

"I'm a glib thinker and talker, but I read a lot. I know a little about a lot of things. My mom never thought that was a good thing. But as I get older I'm starting to know a medium about a lot of things. You know, physics, science and industry and engineering. I'm fascinated by most things and I can carry on a conversation, and literally an interesting conversation, about a lot of stuff." – Tim Allen

GM: You studied philosophy, as I did a little bit in university. Do you ever draw on that in your career or your life?
TA: I've been lately taking a shot at in on stage. A little shot. I explain what paradoxes are. Philosophical paradoxes. Quickly, because I don't want to make people feel less than if they don't understand it. And it really has guided me into a spiritual life that I love. I'm not fearless in death, but I've had a lot of death in my life and I've now come to grips with maybe you don't want to know what's behind the curtain because it's a surprise. Philosophically, I'm wrestling with the same questions philosophers have dealth with, most of which have been terribly unhappy men. I used to say, "Were any of these guys the kind of guy you'd want to hang out with?" And you'd get this, "Nope." Was there any bright, energetic philosophers? And they'd all go, "Nope." And they're all kind of sick, sad fucks. Even the women. I've added a sense of humour to philosophy. I sold a Corvette to a guy yesterday that makes nuclear power plants. Of course, not many here in the States. But he happened to know physics. And I love physics because physics is like applied philosophy because it's so fucking peculiar. How do you explain shit like quantum physics? Philosophers didn't know any of that shit. You try to explain that shit, you become very philosophical and you're going, "Well, it looks like it was designed." I don't know how you sit on the spiritual fence but if you're a philosopher, you're going, what didn't exist one day did exist the next day. And the next day it had a law and order to it. So wherever this organizational engineer that built this place, has a strong sense of law and order. Things work in succession and they tend to work under rules and laws and all of that's to be discovered. And the overview of all that is that there's an order to this and a design to it and elegance to it. One guy said it's probably the most elegant puzzle, this physicist looking at life, just the math behind images. A very strange guy named Stan Tenen, under, I think, He measures just amazing scientific... He derives information for measurements of old Aramaic letters and he said these letters have mathematical equations in them. To make a long story short, I called him and I helped him out with some funding to get him going, because he needed bigger computers and whatever, but I eventually ran out of gas with him because he's a really hard scientist to deal with. But I said, this is like a proof... And he cut me off. He said, "I know what you're getting at. I'm not out to prove God exists. It has nothing to do with that."

GM: I was going to ask if it's random?
TA: He said it's not random. He said it's the most elegant thing he's ever seen. And he's a Hassidic Jew. And I don't really know what Hassidic Jews are but it's very fundamentalist. And he says, "This is for other people. This has nothing to do with my religion." And I said, "But essentially it's pointing in that direction." And he goes, "That's for other people to decide. I just found the math amazing." He said the builder may have implied, put every answer in these letters, which were the first letters given to man from God. The first 42 names of God in Aramaic.

GM: Sure, but people didn't come along until millions of years after Earth came around. Right?
TA: Yeah, that's one... I also am a science fiction guy and Larry Niven and I both said we think there's a science fiction story, and also it could be based on fantasy or fact that there may be in the next twenty years we'll discover that there were people here that were a lot smarter than we thought a million years ago that disappeared, called The Ancient Ones or The Legendaries. There's not even any proof of it. There's nothing. But there's a gap in there that's kind of interesting.

GM: Oh, it's endlessly fascinating.
TA: You could have had rise to civilization, and Niven thinks that they were dinosaurs. That the dinosaurs eventually evolved into bird-like tall and slender people with big eyes like you see in alien pictures and they had universities and they were scientists and they spoke and were our ancestors really. And they fucked with something they shouldn't have fucked with and either looking for raw materials or attracted a meteor the size larger than they could control its orbit and it smashed into the Earth or bumped us and flipped everything. We won't find them until something like that oil spill, as they're drilling they'll find something metal and it'll be the remnants of their cities. They're buried two, three miles under the ocean's bottom so that we won't find them for centuries or we might never find them. And he and I both love that idea.

GM: Yeah, I love that idea. I'll wait for the evidence, though, but I love the idea.
TA: I love the idea but in sci-fi you can just throw it out there and you don't need any evidence. You need a fabric of reality; you can't just throw shit out there that can't happen. But what a weird idea that there might have been people here before us.

GM: What was your take on, if you saw it, What the Bleep Do We Know!? Did you see that?
TA: Yeah, I did.

GM: That's crap, right?
TA: You know, it's kind of that waterfall in the doctor's office stuff.

GM: What's that?
TA: It's kind of Tarot card stuff. It's psychic mumbo-jumbo and I'm more of a science guy. Science doesn't explain dick. I mean, this nuclear physicist will admit, just when you think you know something, somebody comes up with another theory that works better. So science isn't the wherewithal, but I'm a motorcycle and car guy and motorcycles move based on natural law. The law actually manifests itself in a machine and that's why I love machines. But you gotta remind me, that was a book before it was a movie, wasn't it?

GM: I don't think so. But I know it was put out by the Ramtha people. You know Ramtha? That JZ Knight woman who claims...
TA: Yeah, she's a reincarnated deity of some sort.

GM: Science at least knows they know nothing. They only know what is knowable now. And they're open to change. But the spirituality and new agey kinda people don't know that they know nothing. They think they have the answers.
TA: I used to love studying Rosicrucians and the mystery schools and hermetics. I studied these and unfortunately you find in your studying that they might have been these Egyptian mystery schools and the Masons and the Scottish Rite were onto something that's elusive, like holding sand in your hand. The secret became more important than the actual method. The fact that they were a secret society became more interesting to people than what they were actually doing, which was just trying to find an honorable balance, level and true. And it was really a way to behave: level and true. That was kind of what it was about and a pursuit of intellectual spirituality. Learn about God, learn about Jesus, or whatever your path is. Go figure it out. It's not for someone to tell you; it's for you to figure out and then you have a spiritual treasure. And that's what that kind of was about but became so secretive and then kings thought they were conspiring and they had to kill some of them and then it gets to be bigger than that, like they're hiding a golden rule or some shit like this. And the truth is far less interesting than the fantasies. Truth is, it was just a group of men that wanted to behave better. And they were intellectuals. Like this one Christian teacher that I like is an intellectual Christian. He likes to have stuff explained to him. I mean, there are some people like my wife who's just an emotional Catholic. She just likes the Catholic church. And I'm an Anglican, so I go to her services and she's fine with that. I'm the kind of guy that goes, "Who is Ezekiel? What was his deal?" I'm always raising my hand: "What did you mean by that?" And sometimes priests like it. And sometimes they don't because they don't got the answers so they really don't know what to tell you. "Where do you go when you die?" "I don't know. Don't worry about it."

"Under duress, I get along. I know how to work the system so I'm not going to get myself raped or hurt. I knew how to play that right. Then I knew immediately, within about a year, I was never going to commit a crime again." – Tim Allen

GM: I could talk about this stuff all day but I've got other things I want to get to. I know every article about you still mentions your stint in prison. I think the reason why it's still interesting is because it seems so incongruous to who you are.
TA: I mention it on stage. It was the happiest I ever was knowing what my day was going to be like every day. I'm a creature of habit. I knew what I was going to wear, I knew what I was going to eat. So two of the big worries. Like, every day I get up and go, "Aw, fuck, what am I going to wear?" Because I would wear the same shit every day if I could get away with it. And that's what prison was.

GM: It's hard to know what your life's path is going to be. At that point, sitting in prison, it's mind-boggling to think where you ended up.
TA: It was so hopeless. But I'm not a guy that's under a lot of duress. My mother's like that, too. She really sparkles. There's people like that. Under that duress, I get along. I know how to work the system so I'm not going to get myself raped or hurt. I knew how to play that right. Then I knew immediately, within about a year, I was never going to commit a crime again. It takes a long time. I was a smart-ass and I don't like authority. Shoulda been in the military. That would have been the same lesson. Eventually you gotta understand that there's powers outside of you no matter how smart and smug you think you are. And that's a spiritual lesson, too. I think one of the maladies is you gotta understand at one point this ain't your show. And prison taught me that in a brutal fashion. And then as I grew older in a spiritual fashion I realized this isn't my show. It's a river and things are coming at you and you flow with it, you fight it all you want, you can swim upstream if you want, you can stop the canoe and get out if you want, but if you go with it... You can't stop it. There's a momentum to this. And I said that's really what I learned from all that. I don't have the real answers. My best thinking got me in all this trouble. So my best thinking is very suspect.

GM: So you realized your shortcomings. But you realized you'd never get yourself in trouble again but you had no idea you'd become this multi-millionaire king of Hollywood.
TA: Hell no. But I was able to then start taking chances. Sitting still is sitting still. If you wanna let life come at you, that's fine, but I'd rather go out swinging.

GM: So prison helped.
TA: Yeah.

GM: What is the biggest misconception about you? People know you from TV, obviously, but what would people be surprised to learn about you?
TA: Well, I guess – and it's really difficult for me to say shit like this... I'm a glib thinker and talker, that's the worst part of it, but I read a lot. And I know, unfortunately my mother warned me of this, I know a little about a lot of things. My mom never thought that was a good thing. But as I get older I'm starting to know a medium about a lot of things. You know, physics, science and industry and engineering. I'm fascinated by most things and I can carry on a conversation, and literally an interesting conversation, about a lot of stuff. Because I read a lot. None of that shit on Home Improvement was unfaithful. I love cars, I love tools, I love building shit, I like being a good family man. But as Hank said at one of these interviews, he said in the nicest way possible, he goes, it's one of the smartest guys he's ever met. And I never was a particularly bright guy in college. I never tried. I never worked hard at it. So just probably a brighter guy than you might think I am. It's hard to say that.

GM: I have to ask you about Toy Story 3. You're playing here the day it opens. It must be nice being this hero to kids.
TA: It's amazing and daunting. You mitigate it a little bit because it really is the toy. The kids don't get that I'm the voice. I've stumbled with kids as they get a little older because I've ended up doing the voice at a party. I can frighten children. It's incongruous to them. I've actually had it happen where I caused a kid a lot of pain because he'd thought I'd eaten Buzz Lightyear.

GM: You've seen the new one, I take it.
TA: Yeah, it's spectacular. Just the visual imagery alone is good. And you'll love the story and the kids will get it. It'll tug at you. They did it again. How they did it, I don't know.

GM: Is there a premiere down there that you're missing to be up here?
TA: No, I'm doing the premiere this Sunday. So they'll let me do that and then I come up there.

GM: Do you do the voices on all the toys?
TA: Some of them. As many as I can do. I'd rather it be me. So as many as I can do. It's fun. Especially because I've got one in front of me, a toy that'll come out later. It's fun because it sounds just like me and I can add little characterizations to it. There is an advantage to having the actor do it rather than somebody just reading the lines.

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