“The genius of Harry Shearer.”

By Jason Tanamor

Some of you know Harry Shearer from his days with SNL. Others know Shearer from the movie, “This is Spinal Tap.” Most of you know him as playing a barrage of voices on “The Simpsons.” But what you probably didn’t know about him is that, aside from being a multi faceted actor/comedian, Harry Shearer also has a long running radio program in which he voices his opinion about anything and everything.

Zoiks! Online recently had the pleasure of speaking with Shearer about his past, present, and future. Not to mention his acknowledgment to me that Ricky Martin is no longer working.

Q - You, let’s face it, have cult status to myself and millions of others around the world. From “This is Spinal Tap,” SNL, to “The Simpsons,” how does it feel to be a part of these projects?

A - It feels better than to be constantly recognized for having been in some crap show or movie. But, basically, my focus is on the next stuff, and if that status can help the new stuff get made, it's great. If not, well...

Q - Which voice is your favorite to do on “The Simpsons”?

A - C. Montgomery Burns. He reminds me of people I have worked for.

Q - Do you like doing voices rather than physically being on screen?

A - Obviously, it's less arduous, there's less waiting, you're not wearing a lot of prosthetic make-up (which I have in a lot of roles I've done). On the other hand, you have only one medium with which to express yourself, so you have to focus even more than in onscreen acting.

Q - When people see you on the streets, do you find yourself standing for hours doing voices just to satisfy them or is there another route you take to cut things short? Say, “Look over there, it’s Ricky Martin,” then running off?

A - No, Ricky Martin doesn't work anymore. Actually, most people who come up to me are very nice, and not at all demanding. I don't do voices for people ordinarily, and they seem (or pretend) to understand.

Q - What avenue do you enjoy doing most and is there a hidden talent that no one knows you have that you would like to share today?

A - I think Chris Guest and Michael McKean and I all have the same answer to this question: I like doing it all. That was always the plan. There's no hidden talent, although, given the distribution of my first feature as a director, I guess you could say that talent is still semi hidden.

Q - I’ve watched SNL and think that it’s lost its funniness. What is your opinion on SNL now compared to when you were with the show?

A - I've long since said everything I ever wanted to say about SNL. It's a great way for advertisers to sell beer and movies.

Q - Who gave you your first break?

A - Jack Benny.

Q - Who is the best person, or most talented person, you’ve ever worked with?

A - Long list: Chris, Michael, David L. Lander, Martin Mull, Catherine O'Hara, John Michael Higgins, Phil Kaufman, that's just scratching the surface. I've been fortunate to work, most of the time, with wonderful people and wonderful talents.

Q - You take on serious tones on your radio show, “Le Show.” Does the world, being in the state that it’s in, drive you crazy or is it just something to criticize about?

A - It doesn't drive me crazy. The American media's dogged refusal to cover much of it does.

Q - When you give your opinions about current events, do you care what people think?

A - I almost never care about that, as long as they are amused by the comedy I do.

Q - What is your career highlight?

A - As an experience, I think the “Mighty Wind” movie and tour.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.

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