Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SNL veteran superstar Chris Kattan at the StarDome April 12-15!

The incredibly hilarious and talented Chris Kattan along with special guests Finesse Mitchell and Jeff Richards are coming to Stardome April 12-15! Please enjoy the following article courtesy of Black and White's Chuck Geiss. 

Chris Kattan is best known for his career on Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2003 where he worked with a memorable cast creating a diverse group of oddball personalities. His recurring characters included Mr. Peepers, Mango, Azrael Abyss, Kyle DeMarco from The DeMarco Brothers, Gay Hitler, and Suel Forrester (known for the term "dagitybo"). He may be best remembered for being one half of the Butabi Brothers with fellow SNL (and Groundlings) cast member Will Ferrell and their trademark head-bobbing.

He honed his skills beginning in high school when he realized he had a knack for the trade, later becoming a member of several improvisational comedy troupes, one of them being The Groundlings in his hometown of Los Angeles. His father was an original member of the troupe. His life has since simmered from the fast-paced life of New York City into a calmer world of appearances on popular television programs and a few stints in advertising commercials. For the past four months, he has been working on a national tour of stand up comedy. 

Black & White: Let’s get to the basics. What made you get involved with the Groundlings? 

Kattan: My Dad was one the founders of the Groundlings, and I would watch him on weekends. He was [performing] with Phil Hartman, John Lovitz, and I got to see Paul Reubens create the Pee Wee Herman character firsthand. There was a lot of character development and amazing improvisation. I probably didn’t understand the brilliance of it all at the time, but I knew they were getting great laughs and it looked they were having the time of their life. It looked like they were so happy. So I responded to that. 

Black & White: Were you the class clown when you were young? 

Kattan: Um, I think I was. 

Black & White: Have you always been funny? 

Kattan: I started with impressions. My first impression was Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone. I would tuck my lip under my teeth, and it was weird, but it was funny. But then I did impressions of Pee Wee Herman for a high school pep assembly. I don’t think anyone knew what I was going to do before I did it, but I got a lot of respect for being brave and that is where my fearlessness began. From there, I never felt like I ever had anything to lose. 

Black & White: Did you gravitate to comedy because of your Dad, or was it the art of improvisational comedy that drew you there? 

Kattan: My Mom never urged me to go in that direction, but my Dad did because he was in the business. She taught me other things, perhaps because she didn’t see that in me. But I thought it was cool. 

Black & White: Your characters are insane, what is that all about? 

Kattan: I’ve always been committed in most everything I do, and for those characters it was 150 percent all the time. I don’t know why I developed characters that we wound up using a lot [on SNL]. Many times Lorne [Michaels] would be put me in the sketch after Weekend Update because that was the part of the show that needed a boost. 

Black & White: Where did Mango come from? 

Kattan: My dog, a Dalmatian. She played this coy game of touch my back or swat my rear and her face would look over like she was sad, or just, ‘hey, check out my ass.’ But it was a mix of things. I invented the voice that went with it. Then, people at the show [SNL] went with it and added to the character. So, it wound up being the aspect of ‘you can’t have me,’ and ‘now you can,’ and back and forth, which is where it kind of goes over the top. 

Black & White: If I met you on the street would you resemble what I see on TV? 

Kattan: No. Women tell me I am much more better looking than on TV (laughs), but much more likable. My characters are so crazy. It was just SNL. And now my work is more centered, and I grew out of the phase of having to be so insane. 

Black & White: What is your show like? 

Kattan: It’s a séance. We speak to the other side. 

Black & White: Really? (I sense I’m being duped) 

Kattan: Who would you like to talk to? 

Black & White: John F. Kennedy. 

Kattan: Why is that? 

Black & White: He had a lot of sex. I’d like all the names. Look, this conversation is now more about me than you. Why is that? 

Kattan: At the beginning of the conversation, I really liked you and now I don’t. This conversation is going South fast. 

Black & White: Well, welcome to the South. Let’s just agree not to be friends. So, I found your SNL humor to be outrageous. 

Kattan: That was not my plan. It ended up that way. 

Black & White: I don’t want to be mean, but you are odd looking. 

Kattan: I’m actually very good looking. But I can do a lot of Jim Carrey oddball stuff and contort my body to do strange things. That makes me appear odd. 

Black & White: What we will see in Birmingham when you get here? Are you on a scheduled tour? 

Kattan: It is a tour. This tour started because some people asked me to do stand up. I thought well, yeah, I would be good, and I wanted to get some energy going in a different way, not just jokes, but other things, too. An agent came up to me with a game plan and within three months we got offers, and we received a lot of great feedback. The reason we are doing this is because we are being encouraged and audiences appear to appreciate it. 

Black & White: Do you write all of your own stuff? 

Kattan: Yes. 

Black & White: Are the shows the same from night to night? 

Kattan: Well, to an extent, but there is improv, too, depending of the composition of the audience, so I would say its about 50/50. Generally, I’m fine with improvising the act. There is a thing I did with The Groundlings, with Kathy Griffin, Janeane Garofalo, Will Ferrell, and they would just talk for about ten minutes as the egg timer would run until the bell rang. It was a great way to write and come up with jokes, and I was very comfortable with that approach. 

Black & White: Do audiences in different parts of the country respond to your act differently? 

Kattan: Yes, they do. It’s not extreme, but I do think there is a difference where you can get away with darker stuff and just saying whatever. 

Black & White: Just curious, do you know Chris Rock? 

Kattan: Yes. He’s a very sweet guy. Rather normal. 

Black & White: I don’t know what to think of you SNL guys. You all seem so intense and out of this world. What is like to be an SNL cast member? 

Kattan: We’re basically just bored. But most of us are surprisingly simple. It can be a very lonely place. Personally I found it to be an up and down land. 

Black & White: What do you want to be when you grow up? 

Kattan: I want to become my own best friend. 

Black & White: Wow, that’s deep. 

Kattan: I’d like to go through a phase where I really like Journey again. Steve Perry, you know, how do you forget that kind of stuff? I thought their songs were good, but I guess they do fit onto the ‘making fun’ list. They had the stupid, dumb, over-painted spaceship album covers, like space beetles. What do you think that was that all about? 

Black & White: Never was sure, I stopped believing a long time ago. So, what do you know about Birmingham?

Kattan: Isn’t it the home of the transistor radio? Give me a hint, is it cheese? I don’t know. Did Birmingham invent the piñata? Is it a nice place? 

Black & White: It is a nice place. I just wondered if you had an impression. 

Kattan: I used to date a girl from Alabama. She was a dancer. She had young pictures of herself with a tiara. Other than that, I sense it’s warm and muggy. Are there mosquitoes there? 

Black & White: There will be this year. But, hopefully, not when you get here.

Chris Kattan appears at The Comedy Club Stardome from April 12-15 along with special guests Finesse Mitchell and Jeff Richards, both cast members from Saturday Night Live. Tickets are available at 205-444-0008, or www.stardome.com.

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