Rick Overton: On Life, Comedy and Jonathan Winters

by Karen A. Brown @Indiestardust

Rick Overton and Kevin Pollack in " Willow"
Rick Overton and Kevin Pollack in “Willow”

A brilliant comic, writer, actor, Rick Overton has been making us laugh from in front of the camera, behind the camera and standing in front of the brick wall for years. He  won an Emmy for  Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Variety or Music Program for:  “Dennis Miller Live” (1994).  He also dressed up as… hmmm..well…. you decide, with Kevin Pollack for Ron Howard’s film, “Willow(1988) and even plays the harmonica.. and fabulously! I caught up with Rick while on tour in Atlanta.  Rick is is known as a legendary comic/Jedi Prophet… Yes to both, I say!

KAB: Firstly, thank you for doing this interview, I know how busy you are! How long have you been on stage making people laugh, Rick?

RO: Are you sitting down?  (Just say “Yes”, I have no way of knowing. ) 40 years. Back when the mic was made of wood and you had to just shout.

KAB: Ha!! And yes I was sitting…  As a comic in the club scene what has changed as far as the way it was 35 years ago vs. now?

RO: Like anything at saturation point, there are always a few Mozart’s and a whole bunch of Salieri’s.  Just like rock music.  But the brilliant ones shine through in every era.

KAB: Your gags can be a bit racy and political at times. How do you use comedy to bring awareness to issues?

RO: Go to a startling place and while their attention is peaked, speak your mind.

KAB: Really great advice for anyone with the floor.. Can you share with us a bit about what you think happened after your HBO Special in 1991? You were waaay ahead of your time, very much like, George Carlin.

RO: Thanks Karen. It did well and played a lot, but the same industry that forced Bill Hicks go to the U.K. to explode his career viewed my special the same way. But because of my acting career at the time, I didn’t move out when Bill did. I wonder how things would look if I had. But here I remain, working it out.

(See Rick’s HBO Special below!) 

KAB: We know you were buddy’s with the brilliant comedic genius Jonathan Winters, truly sorry for your loss, I know it is a rough one for you, for all of us.. Would you share with us a bit about Jonathan as a man?

RO: He clearly demonstrated the value of retaining the best parts of what an adult ought to bring from the innocent days of childhood, while his adult mind could in clarity, suss person or situation like a bar code reader. His genius was in application everywhere from his act to his acting to his books to his artwork to his opinions. All of it feels as if I were hanging with Einstein at Princeton. You can see on the GREEN ROOM with Paul Provenza, the episode with Jonathan, Robert Klein and me, I barely say a word. I just wanted to hear what they’d say next.

(See below for the Green Room Episode!)

KAB: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

RO: Listen to Jonathan’s stories and insights on my Podcast called Overview at RickOverton.net or on iTunes. (Below)  He at 87 was still as clear and sharp as he’s ever been. I miss him already.

KAB: And where are you performing now? Where can people see you do your thing?

RO: This weekend I’m at the Laughing Skull in Atlanta. Brilliant lineup of acts on the show. All of them Conan worthy. M Bar in Hollywood 4/19 8:00 on the Logan Heftel Show. 4/23 I’m doing Set List (All improvised standup) at 8:00 at Meltdown comics on Sunset in Hollywood.

KAB: Thank you Rick you are truly special guy…I’m honored to know you.

RO: The honor is mine Karen. Thank you. xoxo

Rick posted on Facebook after hearing about Jonathan’s passing..

“I can look back and see now that as a child, Jonathan Winters was the father of my imagination, and his legacy to this day is exponential. To have heard or seen him was to have been changed by it, automatically. Everyone has a flipping coin, childlike – childish – childlike – childish – childlike – childish. He steadfastly chose heads as the side with which to define his life, having been dealt the negatives in his youth that he had. He started me on the path I am still on today. My dad played me The Wonderful World Of Jonathan Winters as a kid and I was in the game from that point on. Almost as if my Dad knew it would be this way. I’m so grateful for that series of events. I’m so grateful for Jonathan Winters. Thank you Jonathan, thank you.”

The Green Room with Paul Provenza
with Jonathan Winters, Robert Klein, Rick Overton and more!

Rick Overton’s HBO Special

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