Larry Miller bringing vast talent to the Hu Ke Lau
By G. Michael Dobbs
Comedian, actor and writer Larry Miller had a job the day he spoke with Reminder Publications: he was to provide the voice for a French-Canadian goose in the upcoming animated film "Alpha & Omega."
The assignment was an example of Miller's far-reaching career in show business. He has been a top stand-up comedian for years, but he has been a busy character actor as well. His on-camera roles have been in such movies as "Pretty Woman" as the salesman who "sucks up" to Richard Gere and Julia Roberts; the two "Nutty Professor" movies in which he played the exasperated college dean; and the two "Princess Diaries" films.
He has worked in animated productions such as "Bee Movie," and in one of this writer's favorite animated series, "Dilbert," in which he was the evil pointy-haired boss.
Miller will be appearing for the first time at the Comedy Connection at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee on May 17.
Ask Miller what he likes to do best, though, and he says "all of it."
He considers himself like baseball great Lou Gehrig, "the luckiest man in the world," although after a beat Miller added, "Well, that didn't work out, come to think of it."
Miller attended Amherst College and after graduation in 1975, he said he decided he wanted to do "something as an entertainer." His subsequent career has been "frankly astonishing" to him. He started performing stand-up comedy in the mid-1970s in New York City where his friends included Jerry Seinfeld and Jay leno.
"I should be horsewhipped if I wanted to change something," he said. "What a joy it is."
Despite over 20 years in show business, Miller is still thrilled by it.
"I had an acting job last week. I was thrilled to be on the set. I waved at the tour buses in Universal [when they passed the set]. I wanted to say to them 'I know why you're on that bus. I'd be on it, too.' It's cool."
Miller became well known for his routine called "the Five Stages on Drunkenness," and he said that he might include it as part of his Hu Ke Lau performance, which mostly will be new material. He admitted that while excessive drinking and its effects are "horrifying," he does find humor in it.
He said he tries to "write all the time." Miller has written a book titled "Spoiled Rotten America," as well as opinion pieces for the "Huffington Post" on the Internet and the "Weekly Standard."
Writing for a stand-up routine is different than longer forms, he said, likening comedy writing to a still: "One drop comes out every 10 seconds." He said a friend of his said a good comic should put in an hour a day. And if you put in two hours, "you're really going to be a good comic, a monster."
He views himself as a professional who can follow a director's requests on a set or in a recording booth but also bring his own skills as a writer to a production.
The difference between theater, the movies and television is that theater is the actor's medium, while film is the medium for directors and television is controlled by the writer/producer, Miller said
"Each captain is different and I follow what the captain wants," he explained.
He did say that being in a recording studio for five hours portraying a goose could be a little taxing.
"It's not tarring roofs, but I can get a little dizzy," he said.