JERRY ZUCKER
Interview by Wayne Chinsang
Illustration by Vinnie Baggadonuts

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF PRINT ISSUE #6, WHICH FEATURES THIS INTERVIEW WITH JERRY ZUCKER IN ITS ENTIRETY!

THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY OF CINEMA THERE HAVE BEEN ONLY A HANDFUL OF TRULY COMEDIC GEMS. AND WRITER/DIRECTOR JERRY ZUCKER-- ALONG WITH HIS BROTHER DAVID AND GOOD FRIEND JIM ABRAHAMS-- ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR A GOOD PERCENTAGE OF THEM. SURELY YOUíVE HEARD OF AIRPLANE! AND THE NAKED GUN. (EVERYONE HAS. AND SORRY ABOUT CALLING YOU "SHIRLEY".)

Jerry Zucker: Hi, Wayne.

Wayne Chinsang: Hey, howís it going, Jerry?

JZ: Iím good. Howíre you?

WC: Pretty good.

JZ: Good.

WC: Just so you know, our interviews are direct transcriptions of the conversations, so we wonít be adding anything to this.

JZ: Do you edit it for "ums" and "well, no... see, the thing is..." and that kind of stuff?

WC: Yeah.

JZ: Oh, okay. Good, because I do a lot of that.

WC: But I only edit it out of my parts.

JZ: (laughs) Yeah, right!

Both: (laugh)

JZ: Hang me out to dry!

WC: So, congratulations on the 25th anniversary of Airplane!

JZ: Thank you.

WC: Thatís really great. I was wondering--

JZ: How Iím still alive?

Both: (laugh)

WC: Actually... no, Iíll get to that in a minute.

JZ: (laughs) Yeah.

WC: So, I know youíre having an anniversary party for Airplane! here in Milwaukee, and I was wondering how that came about? I know you and your brother are from here, but were you approached for this, or...?

JZ: Well, the Milwaukee Jewish Family Services, which is a wonderful charitable organization in Milwaukee, is an organization that Jim Abrahams [Airplane! producer] and his mother Louise have been involved with for many years. So they talked to Jim about doing a benefit for the charity in Milwaukee, and he thought it was a great idea. So itís really honoring Jim, and they thought they would build it around Airplane! So they asked David [Zucker, Jerryís brother] and I to come in, too.

WC: How often do you make it back to Milwaukee?

JZ: About three times a year. My parents are still there, and we have aunts and uncles there, so we go to visit.

WC: So, it seems like this area, maybe even this city, is a breeding ground for people that are really good at their craft, at least as far as comedy goes. You guys were from here, but also The Onion started near here, ComedySportz was founded in Milwaukee, and Gene Wilder is from here. Do you think these surroundings influenced your output and your work?

JZ: (laughs) Yes, I always thought there was something in the water.

Both: (laugh)

JZ: Or maybe the electric cable lines were too low or something.

Both: (laugh)

JZ: It was something like that. I know there were no nuclear power plants in Milwaukee.

Both: (laugh)

JZ: You know, I think there is probably a Midwest sense of humor, and even more specifically, a Milwaukee sense of humor. I think itís more of a self-deprecating sense of humor. (laughs) And certainly for us, we were always making fun of the big guys. I think thatís part of the Milwaukee sense of humor, too. When you hear so much about everything that goes on in New York and L.A. and the big cities, you can grow up with a bit of an inferiority complex.

Both: (laugh)

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