Kevin Pollak is one of those rare impressionist/comedians who also happens to be an actor with a penchant for picking good roles. Pollak has defined his career by sprinkling strong dramatic performances throughout a steady pattern of stand-up touring and his talk-show format, Web-only show, The Kevin Pollak Chat Show. Here, he talks about getting along with William Shatner, Rod Stiger’s attitude and convincing Alan Arkin he was talking to himself…
French Davis: You’ve had the opportunity to play some great roles in your career—two that stand out weren’t even comedic. I’m talking about your roles in The Usual Suspects and A Few Good Men. What drew you to these roles?
Kevin Pollak: First and foremost, they were two of the best scripts I have ever read.
FD: Your impression of William Shatner is legendary. Has he ever seen it? Ever confronted you about it?
KP: He loves it, and we’ve become friends because of it, which is one of my greatest joys in life.
FD: What about some of your other impressions? Rumor has it your Alan Arkin was so good it fooled the man himself. True story? How did that go down?
KP: Yes, I left a voicemail on his answering machine, as him. He called me back saying, “That’s not funny because there were about nine minutes when I did not remember leaving that message.”
FD: Love your turn on Dinner for Five with Jon Favreau and Sarah Silverman and Rod Stiger and that one guy from Sex and the City. Was the actual experience as enjoyable as it looked in the final cut? Or are those situations weird and awkward and it’s simply being a professional that makes it successful?
KP: It was a mostly enjoyable experience except for Rod Stiger being wildly passive aggressive.
FD: The Kevin Pollak Chat Show might be one of the Internet’s best-kept secrets. What’s the story on how that came to pass?
KP: Best-kept secret? Have you checked the homepage of AOL? Kevin Smith, Adam Corolla and I are now featured five nights a week on the homepage, reaching 15 million views a day. (I prefer to think this statement was intended irony; 15 million people who don’t know they don’t need AOL to access the Internet also don’t know how to change their homepage. Pretty sure the click through from there to the chat show is a bit less—FD)
FD: Who have been some of your biggest influences as a comedian, and why?
KP: Bill Cosby was the first, and then George Carlin and Albert Brooks.
FD: What’s your all-time favorite comedic movie, and why?
KP: Hard to nail it down to one, if not impossible. If you are putting a gun to my head, I will say The In-Laws starring Alan Arkin.
FD: Is the industry better or worse than when you started?
KP: It’s changed so much, in fact, that I can’t tell you if it’s harder or easier to get in.
FD: Which do you prefer: film or live touring? Why?
KP: I’m often asked which I prefer, and because I prefer a sweet combination of both, I imagine I also prefer not to be asked.