An Hour with /SCTV/'s Rick Moranis Page 6

Endurance Factor

So, the loaded question: What makes SCTV endure?First, let me say that I have nothing but fond memories of the show. I had a blast. I had to pinch myself in the morning. I could not believe I was working with those people. I couldn't believe I was getting paid to do that stuff. It was one of the great periods of my career for me, if not the best.

We did what we thought was funny without other people interfering in the creative process. We had seven writer/performers and a handful of really great writers working together in a vacuum, making short films - and making each other laugh. We really believed that if we were laughing, other people would find us funny.

That's how Monty Python did it. If a sketch didn't make them laugh, it didn't make it. They were their own arbiters of what was funny or not.Right. That's the main thing. If you just do what's funny without anybody interfering, I think that's the secret. I think that's true of SCTV and, as you say, of Python, and it's probably true of just about any art form. Everybody needs an editor. Everybody has to read their stuff to somebody and get legitimate feedback. But if a group of people think something's good, even if there are a group of people who aren't going to like it, you know there are going to be people out there who will.

We didn't have anybody saying, "Don't do this, move this here, bring back these characters, put this upfront here." We didn't have anybody telling us there was an audience out there that wasn't going to think exactly the way we thought they were going to think.

Look at the way network sitcoms are produced. You have executives come in and give notes on readthroughs, I mean . . .

I can't imagine you'd have wanted to work in that environment.I never did, and that's probably why. I'd love to hear what somebody who knows how to write comedy has to say. I mean, I'm interested in any idea. When I got to filmmaking, the most democratic of environments where anybody could say anything, those were the best environments, but what you don't want to assume is that you know what the audience is thinking. And that's what always bothered me about the network interference. They were either kowtowing to the sponsors because they were afraid they'd alienate them, or they were just second-guessing their audience. I just never bought that notion that they were that accurate, within a couple thousand Nielsen boxes, about what audiences thought was funny. It just doesn't work that way.

Film Flam

I know I'd feel stifled creatively if I had to deal with that kind of input. As you got into lead roles in movies, did that happen to you?That's pretty much why I stopped.

Are you doing any work now?Well, I took a sabbatical. I walked away from shooting movies because I couldn't handle the travel. I'm a single parent. I had young kids, and I found that keeping in touch with them from hotel rooms and airports wasn't working for me. So I stopped. And I discovered after a couple years that I really didn't miss making movies. So I started doing a little more writing, and I said no to pretty much everything except voice work. I'm a couple years away from both kids going to college, and, at that point, I might go back to something, but at this point, I don't miss the on-camera work. I got very burnt out on the process.

On the last couple of movies I made - big-budget Hollywood movies - I really missed being able to create my own material. In the early movies I did, I was brought in to basically rewrite my stuff, whether it was Ghostbusters or Spaceballs. By the time I got to the point where I was "starring" in movies, and I had executives telling me what lines to say, that wasn't for me. I'm really not an actor. I'm a guy who comes out of comedy, and my impetus was always to rewrite the line to make it funnier, not to try to make somebody's precious words work.

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