SHERIDAN: Wow, you're making it sound scary! Embark. Like I'm going on some Alaskan journey that I never come back from as they're waving from the shores of the State of Washington, "he's going, maybe we'll never see him again! Untie the dogs!" I don't know, I'm trying to be very optimistic about. Hope everything works out great. It's weird because I have the same publicist that Margaret Cho has. That was selected on purpose, because everyone knew what Margaret Cho was about before that show came. They knew she was standup. They knew she had this hot show and as far as the publicist could do, they couldn't do any more. It's also weird that the critics seemed to like the show. So with that in mind, I should be going out and buying a million dollar home. No! It seems even more kind of pressure because if the show falls apart then you go, "well the critics liked it...everybody".....I'm just sort of...part of what it is, I've been doing this for so long that when I started off at the IMPROV in New York, saw a lot of comics who got a shot, and who I knew then, as little as I had been doing standup, that they weren't ready. I've learned that when you get your shot you gotta be ready for it. Though some people might get one or two shots, you might only get one. I've seen a lot of people go down in flames. Rightly so. Some not rightly so.
CJAD: Well how do you know when you're ready?
SHERIDAN: I know when I'm ready standup-wise. I don't know when I'm ready for this and I think that's the problem most comics have. Well, it's a problem because it's not a venue we're used to. It like if tomorrow the Yankees said, "here, we want you to play for us." I've played baseball before but I don't think I'm ready for this. So it's not a way to gauge. I think your first year is really your learning year and you better learn as much as you can to hopefully make it to that second year. But I'm just hoping I don't screw up.
CJAD: This is a show that you've basically created the idea for, is that correct?
SHERIDAN: I pitched the idea for them. I got a development deal with Witt-Thomas and I was on the road and I was going to be back in about a month and they said, "when you come back, we've got some ideas for shows." And I said, "well I've have an idea." And they said, "okay, bring your idea." So along with a friend of mine we did a treatment for the show. A presentation. And we did like a forty minute pitch and when I finished I said, "okay, show me what you have." And they said, "we don't have anything as good or better then what you have." They thought the idea was great, so I still haven't to this point realized how lucky that I've been. First development deal. First time I've pitched a show. Pitched it to a production company. Pitched it to NBC. They did the pilot, they put the money up to do the show. Everything. And the show gets picked up.
CJAD: Tell us about the show.
SHERIDAN: It's called MINOR ADJUSTMENTS. I play a child psychologist and it's sort of like THE BOB NEWHART SHOW if Bob Newhart had kids. Great kind of wacky office. There are other doctors in the office. At home a wife and two kids. Basically the character that I play is a guy who's never really grown up and found the perfect job not to have grown up, which is being a child psychologist. Great rapport with kids but he thinks that because he's a child psychologist that he can take care of his own kids. And you realize that it's easier to tell somebody else's kid what to do then your own kids. Because your heart gets in the way. You fall for all those little teary eyed, "oh Daddy", or whatever. So that's really the show. It's the dichotomy of he's a child psychologist but he has no clue.
CJAD: You said you've worked a long hard time for this chance to do a sitcom. How long have you worked and was this the pot of gold at the end? Were you doing standup with the intent of working your way to either television or film?
SHERIDAN: No, I've been doing standup for thirteen years. I got started in it because it was fun. It definitely wasn't for the money. It wasn't for the fame or anything. It was just something to do. I found an outlet that I could tap that I could work. Even a year ago, two years ago, I wasn't looking for this to get a show and was really never thinking that it was going to be my show. I mean I always sort of looked at it like Pam Stone on COACH. You know, I would be the third or fourth lead on the show and that would be it. To think that I would get the part where they go, "okay, you're the man, and we'll the other people to write your..." you know. While we were shooting the show, I was walking around going, "this is my...." I have problems saying "this is my show." I really do. I'm very happy. You know what it is? I'm waiting for one day to come (knock-knock) "You know, we were really kidding. We've brought in Sherman Hemsley! Sherman, here you go. Just talk to Rondell, he'll tell you where to stand and everything." (laughter) And that will be it. They'll just get somebody else.
CJAD: Before doing the pilot and before working on the show, had you done any acting?
SHERIDAN: Yeah, that's what started me all off. I went to New York to go to acting school. I went to CIRCLE IN THE SQUARE in New York and did a lot of off-off Broadway, and it sort of merged within that year between me doing standup and me doing theatre, which worked out really great, because theatre you usually start around eight o'clock. I was generally done by 10:30 and I could keep going on to do the clubs. So I did that for quite some time. For about three or four years, until I was able to quite my day job and I could stay out later and later at night to working on standup. The standup is really....it's a late night thing, no matter where your environment is. It takes you a long time to wind.....it's like a drug. It takes you a long time to wind down from it. It gave me a lot more freedom to work it.
CJAD: Being someone who is coming from an acting background, does that help you doing standup?
SHERIDAN: I don't know. I think you have to have certain qualities. I think, one, to do standup, if you have stage freight, you can't let it get in your way. Two, you've got to have no fear of failure. Because either one of those will hurt you. There are acts that I see that are great writers, but they get stage freight. Or acts that are afraid to just experiment on stage. Whatever it is that is that is different from them. Because a lot of times there will be that little nugget.....you know sometimes it's called going too far. I mean, if you are a really clean act, going too far might be doing something you might not normally do. For a blue act it's just taking it too far. But sometimes you go that extra mile and there's that little comedy nugget there that you would have never seen. So those are the two keys, I think, that can get in the way.
CJAD: I had a chance to see you at the recent JUST FOR LAUGHS Festival, and I noticed, probably more then any other comic, that you've managed to throw in a lot of local references. Is that something you consciously do everywhere you go?
SHERIDAN: No, I think....you know, I don't plan it. It's just a gift that I have. And I really give credit to other comics. I get lucky that I get to see some little thread that just strikes me different. And I'm always surprised that I'm the one that came up with it, because I always give credit to other comics. I saw Jack Coen did a bit on if they handed out needles to heroin addicts that people were afraid of that because it would start everybody using heroin. And Jack said, "I know that's what's stopping me. If I had the free needles! OOOH, heroin time!" It was very funny. It was one of those obvious jumps to make and just really got to me. I always get surprised when something really obvious comes up and I miss it. I sort of chastise myself. So anyway, with this stuff on Canadians, I just got lucky. I just happened to pull a few things and make it work.
CJAD: Have you had an opportunity to do your in Canada before?
SHERIDAN: A long time ago, I worked in Toronto. Like eight years ago.
CJAD: From country to country, or even from city to city within the United States, do you find comedy audiences change, or are comedy audiences comedy audience anywhere?
SHERIDAN: No, they change. They're really great here. It's been the rumour. People have been referring to Montreal sort of like a wine. They go, "89 was really a good year, 92 was really a good year. It's great. I've generally found that comedy in the smaller cities tend to be appreciated more then in the big cities. It seems that the big cities have slowly burnt out comedy. But it's not the same. I mean, I started in 82 and there was a great vibe in New York City. I don't know if it's overexposure, jadedness or whatever but it's not the same.
CJAD: Every time a new Black comic comes along who gets a television show, they say, "oh it's the next Cosby."
SHERIDAN: I don't know if they said that about MARTIN.
CJAD: No, not MARTIN (laughter)
SHERIDAN: I think I'm going to probably have that handle. Mainly from the standup side.
CJAD: You're both playing doctors.
SHERIDAN: Yeah. If it happens it's great. It's not a negative. I think every comic is looking at it as a negative, but ideally you go, "what's so bad about it?" Well nothing! You really want to try to be yourself, but if, you know, if I'm the next Cosby, then so be it.
CJAD: When does the show go on and what time slot do you have?
SHERIDAN: Well it's going to debut on the 16th of September. It will be on before the MISS AMERICA PAGEANT, which is a Saturday. And then a week later on the 24th it will debut in its regular time on Sunday nights at 7:30. It will be the lead-in for MAD ABOUT YOU.
CJAD: That's a new daring thing for NBC. Going for a comedy block in that time slot.
SHERIDAN: Well it started a war. Somebody brought up that the last time there was comedy on the big three on Sunday goes all the way back to Archie Bunker. And I went, "you know I think you're right." I can't remember a comedy....it's been a long time since they brought it back. NBC came out really strong. They were the first network to announce what the fall schedule was. And then CBS surprised me and they put CYBILL and another new show at eight o'clock. All the feeling I've got from NBC is that they are very optimistic. They know we're going up against 60 MINUTES and they just want to make it a battle.