Second City buddies star as ‘Odd Couple’
George Wendt (left) and Tim Kazurinsky are starring in the "Odd Couple" at Northlight Theater in Skokie. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
‘The Odd Couple’
Through Dec. 9
Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
(847) 673-6300; northlight.org
Updated: November 1, 2012 1:50PM
EDITOR’S NOTE: Shortly after this interview, George Wendt had to leave the show due to health reasons. Mark Grapey (who made his Broadway debut opposite Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in “The Odd Couple”) will assume the role of Oscar.
They’re a couple of old pals, playing, well, a couple of old pals.
Second City alums George Wendt and Tim Kazurinsky have “come home” to star in Neil Simon’s classic comedy, “The Odd Couple,” which begins previews Nov. 2 at Northlight Theatre. The duo recently chatted about comedy, friendship and politics.
Question: What attracted you to this project?
Tim Kazurinsky: It’s a great show and a great opportunity to work with George.
George Wendt: Same for me. It’s a hilarious piece by Neil Simon. And the chance to work with Tim, and [Director] BJ [Jones] and all the folks was too good to pass up.
Q. Since you two first worked together at Second City in the late 1970s, how much has the other changed?
GW: He hasn’t changed much. He’s funny, and just as crazy and still super nice. His comedy is effortless and he’s particularly well-cast in this role.
TK: It’s always the same. Back in 1978 at Second City, the thing I loved about George was his minimalism. He could deadpan like nobody’s business. And coming back [to the stage] after 34 years, my Lord! George at least has been really active in theater, doing “Hairspray,” “12 Angry Men.” I’ve been a screenwriter for 25 years. I’m the rusty bucket and George couldn’t be nicer with helping me get back on the boards.
Q. How is each of you like or not like your characters of Oscar and Felix?
GW: Well, unlike Oscar, I’m not divorced. [Laughs] Yet. I’m always one good screw-up from being thrown out on my ear. I’m a sports fan, so I would have coveted Oscar’s career [as a sportswriter]. I’m not really super sloppy, but sometimes, as I’m getting older and spending a lot of time on the road, I’ll look around my apartment and see grocery bags, take-out containers, and notice the odors from the garbage and realize I’ve turned into [the late Second City patriarch] Del Close! [Laughs]
TK: I have to come clean — I’m shamefully very much like Felix. I am an organizational freak, literally. If I were blinded by wolverines, the very next day I could go in my kitchen and make a sardine sandwich with mayonnaise because I’d know exactly where everything is. And I’m always the “be prepared” kind of guy. I was in ROTC back in Australia where I grew up. I couldn’t afford a scout uniform. The army had free uniforms and free machines guns so I went with ROTC.
GW: It’s true! He’s Mr. Contingency. In his car he has snow chains, antacids, Kleenex, dental floss, water, a backpack full of survival gear.
Q. Do you guys bond with your guy pals like the card-playing bunch of “The Odd Couple”?
GW: I don’t play cards much with my friends. We get together more around football games on TV. Not so much baring of souls goes on.
TK: Men have not moved all that far from these guys. It’s still difficult for men to bare their emotions. The nice thing in Second City is that we were this dysfunctional family. We still are all close. You know they’re there for you.