Rick Moranis is one of those guys like Sinbad, who, when his name comes up, it’s usually to ask “Hey, what ever happened to Rick Moranis?” He and John Candy have similar levels of fame, and John Candy died in 1994. But it’s probably safe to say that there’s a lot you don’t know about Rick Moranis. For instance, did you know he was nominated for a Grammy in 2006 for his album, The Agoraphobic Cowboy? It was actually his second Grammy nomination, after his 1983 nomination for The Great White North, which spawned the not-talked-about-nearly-enough classic, Strange Brew.
Moranis has a new album out, My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs, “an eclectic blend of klezmer, rumba, folk and jazz covering themes of family, food, religious traditions, more food, love, and dessert,” and he recently sat down with Heeb’s Brian Abrams for one of the more interesting interviews I’ve read in a while. Moranis manages to seem simultaneous charming and almost crippled by his own myriad neuroses, in a Larry David sort of way.
On Strange Brew:
BA: SCTV was clean, and yet, so weird and dark. The layers of references on that show, you guys went down so many rabbit holes.
RM: Yeah. There was nobody there to tell you not to do it. I remember, [Dave Thomas and I] on the first day of shooting Strange Brew in Toronto. They had an executive from MGM on the set, and then we got rid of that person as quickly as possible. There was a line where we’d brought some beer for our father, and we said “We’re in his good books now, ey?” Now, where we grew up, that was a line you’d say. “Geez, I’m in his good books now.” She said, “No one’s gonna understand this. You have to change the line.” I said, “I don’t think we have to come up with something else. This is the line you bought that’s in the script.”
BA: Could you imagine if she had changed “They horked our clothes“?
RM: Exactly. That’s the point. You can’t tell us 20 years from now what the audience might have embraced as being quintessentially the most important lingo of the movie. That’s why she’s an executive and not a writer.
Canadian Jews making comedy? Jeez, imagine that. Superbad was originally set in Canada, by the way, but Rogen and Goldberg had to change the setting to get it made. It’s funny how the entertainment industry treats them: “Sure, you can tell your story, but only if you change your names to something less Jewy and make your stuff sound like it’s about us.”
On the possibility of Spaceballs and Ghostbusters sequels:
BA: Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money was a conversation?
RM: Mel wanted to do a sequel after it became a cult video hit. It wasn’t a box office hit. It was a cult video hit, and MGM wanted to do a sequel. And my idea for it was Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II. And I was unable to make a deal with Mel. I couldn’t make a deal.
BA: In terms of just getting enough money?
RM: I wasn’t privy to what the budget was or anything, but the deal he presented me, what he wanted me to do, was not workable. It was two or three years later. He wanted me to … it’s better if I don’t get into the particulars of it. Because it is so specific, it’s counter-productive to talk about it. But I was unable to make a deal, and it would have been something I would have wanted to do. But that ship has sailed. Then, there’s the perennial talk of another Ghostbusters, but that’s all talk and speculation.
BA: Have you been approached about it?
RM: I got a call three or four years ago from an associate of Aykroyd’s. Some sort of producer. And he said, “Listen, I gotta ask you something, because the Internet says you’re retired”—which is one of my favorites, by the way.
BA: When the Internet says you’re retired?
RM: I just love when the Internet is wrong. It’s the only thing that will save journalism. So he says, “I gotta ask, would you do it?” I said, “I don’t say no to anything until everything is presented to me.” What is it? Is it happening? Is there a script? What’s the part? Who else is in it? Where is it? How long is it gonna take? You know, I need a little bit more information. “But it’s something you would do?” he asks. Do I have to answer that?
Easy there, Sorkin, don’t blame the internet for crappy journalism. Have you seen cable news? Also, am I wrong for being much more intrigued by a Spaceballs sequel than a Ghostbusters sequel?
RM: The other thing I’m finding is that there are worlds I just do not wanna be in. For example, I was listening to WBGO Jazz in Newark, which is on 24 hours a day. After 9/11, I switched to classical. And I’m still on classical. I couldn’t listen to jazz after 9/11. I guess it was just too upbeat. Right after 9/11, bad dat dat dah doop daaah dap bah dah dah doop!? I don’t think so. I needed dirges.
This newfangled jazz music is just too rambunctious for me! The caterwauling, the uncouth negro rhythms – it’s downright barbarous! Man, that kind of luddite-ism is nearly on par with Woody Allen writing his scripts on a typewriter. “You kids will never know how much better music sounded on a phonograph!”
On being single:
RM: I’m single, and traveling alone is no picnic. I think if I had a companion, if I was involved with a woman seriously enough, then I would probably travel with her.
BA: Is that an option for you? Are you open to dating?
RM: I’ve dated through the years—
BA: No dating websites, I’m assuming.
RM: What picture would I use? The guy from Ghostbusters? I don’t think dating sites work for people with famous punims.
It really takes the shine out of fame to imagine someone as famous as Rick Moranis having to online date. Jesus Christ, Moranis, you live in Manhattan! Just go outside!
Now, if I’m not mistaken, “punim” is a type of ornate leather sack where Jews store their gold and spare sidelocks.