JAMESTOWN – Legendary comedian Bob Newhart says he’s thrilled to be coming to Jamestown on Saturday to perform a stand-up routine in honor of Lucille Ball.
“I played at Chautauqua [Institution]a number of years ago and I remember that it was just beautiful,” he said. “It was sort of like taking a step back in time. I was waiting for William Jennings Bryan to walk up and shake my hand,” he added.
Newhart said in a telephone interview Monday that he was good friends with Lucy and was really pleased to be asked to come to her hometown to perform at the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.
“I knew Lucy well,” he said. He said he often played golf with Lucy’s husband Gary Morton.
“My wife, Ginnie, played backgammon with her, but Lucy beat her,” said Newhart. “Lucy was very competitive,” he added. “She loved board games,” he said.
Newhart said Lucy’s comedy style was unique and enduring. He said he still keeps in touch with others who were involved in the landmark television show “I Love Lucy.”
He said the show “Newhart,” where he played a Vermont innkeeper, was an idea born after he and his wife visited a small hotel in Seattle. He said he contributed ideas to the writers, including keeping the characters of Larry, and brothers Darryl and Darryl on after the first episode.
“They were so fun in the first episode I asked for them to be written into the series,” said Newhart. He also said that he always wanted a live audience on the set because he thought that people helped the actors with their response.
Newhart said one of his other requests was that he and his television wife, actress Mary Frann, not have any children. “They gave me a script to read that had Mary Frann, as pregnant,” he said.
“I took it home for the weekend to read. One of the writers called and asked if I thought it was funny,” he continued.
“I said ‘Yes, it is very funny, and who are you going to get to play Bob?’ ”
He has appeared in many television episodes as a guest as well as other sitcoms, and this year won an Emmy award for his guest appearance on “The Big Bang Theory.”
“I always go back to stand up, it keeps me alive and keeps me young,” he added. “Live audiences keep me going.”
Newhart said he will be sure to add one of his old routines from his early comedy albums to his Jamestown performance. “I haven’t decided which one yet, but I know some people come to hear me do some of the old stuff on stage.”
He said he does not have a script for his Jamestown show and will take cues from the audience on what to talk about. “I think the longest I was ever away from a live audience was this year during the Emmy presentation time,” he said. He performed in June and then did not have another show until September.
“I was anxious and apprehensive, but the audience was just great and I am glad to be back and looking forward to Jamestown.” He had some specific questions about the culture and region in and around Jamestown and said he is doing some research about topics that may interest the local audience.
“It keeps you young if you can laugh,” he said. “I am not going for George Burns’ record but I don’t see any reason to retire.”.
Newhart said that if he could write a prescription for everyone, like the psychologist he played on “The Bob Newhart Show,” it would be to laugh every day. “It has been proven and it’s a life-long necessity that we enjoy some laughter each and every day.”
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 11
Where: Reg Lenna Center For The Arts, 116 East Third St., Jamestown
Info: 484-7070, www.lucyrace.com