Michael Rapaport Talks Sports, Film, Politics Before Stopping at Helium Comedy Club in March
Actor, director, writer, producer, and podcaster Michael Rapaport can now add stand-up comedian to his repertoire. The 49-year-old New Yorker has nearly done it all. Odds are you recognize him from his role as Gary on the hit show Friends, or maybe his role as Dick Ritchie in True Romance. Rapaport has also lent his voice to The Simpsons, NBA 2K19, as well as WWE 365 episodes. Now, Rapaport, fresh off the success of his Netflix show Atypical and his podcast, is hitting the road to perform for fans.
“It’s going to be a lot of disruption and a lot of shit talk,” Rapaport said in a recent interview with ReviewSTL.com. “I start with myself and work my forward. I’m having a great time doing comedy. I call it Disruptive Comedy for a reason.”
Rapaport is a great follow on Twitter, often voicing his opinion on President Trump or talking sports.
“I feel like if you’re going to talk shit, you got to be able to take it as well as you can give it,” he said. “It will be my first time ever in St. Louis, so I’m excited to be there.”
Being that Rapaport is such a huge sports fan, often posting about the NBA, I had to ask him what his prediction for the Super Bowl was. He picked the Chiefs and the San Francisco 49rs. He later texted his score prediction. Rapaport likes Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to take down the Niners, 35-27.
Like what usually happens when two sports fans get together, Rapaport and I went off my script of questions for a few minutes as he asked about being a Chiefs fan in St. Louis. I had informed him I was a longtime season ticket holder and drove nearly 4 hours to Chiefs home games.
“You’re like a real fan then,” he quipped. “That’s fuckin’ awesome!”
Rapaport admitted he’s always been a sports fan.
“Sports have been a part of my life since I can remember,” he said. “When I was a kid, I watched the big 3 sports; basketball, football, and baseball.” Basketball and football are my shit.”
Rapaport was a part of a fantasy football league on the Howard Stern show this past season. He would frequently call in and talk trash to other players creating quite a bit of hilariousness for listeners of the show.
“I just love sports,” he said. “I love the camaraderie of it. I love the silliness of the fans, including myself. I love the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It’s been a part of my life since I can remember.”
Rapaport directed an ESPN 30 for 30 about the New York Knicks in 2009 titled, ‘When the Garden was Eden.’
The film focused on the early 1970s when America was being torn apart by the war in Vietnam and the racial unrest and distrust of the White House. But Madison Square Garden was that happy place where men of different races and cultures came together to show people what could happen when they worked together. The film focuses on the glory years of the Knicks.
“Obviously like anybody who loves sports, those 30 for 30 programs are excellent,” Rapaport said. “They continue to be great. I started talking to ESPN about doing one after I directed the Tribe Called Quest movie.”
Rapaport said he is very proud of the film and the experience.
“Currently, I no longer consider myself a Knicks fan after the last firing,” he said. “I’m disgusted with the Knicks, but I’m very proud of that film. Obviously, I’ve been a longtime Knicks fan and a longtime NBA fan.”
When Rapaport isn’t watching or talking about sports, you can find him on Netflix in the new season of Atypical. Rapaport plays the father of a son with autism.
“I love doing that,” he said. “I’ve gotten a tremendous response from fans. It’s a great character, very different than my online persona. The character is soft-spoken.”
Rapaport said the response to the show has been unique.
“People have said thank you for the show and how much it means to their family,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of something that struck a chord like Atypical has. I’m very proud of it. I really enjoy doing it and appreciate the response.”
While John Singleton passed away less than a year ago, Rappaport had the opportunity to play a role in his 1995 film, Higher Learning. He plays a college student named Remy, who ultimately joins a white supremacist group and orchestrates a shooting on a college campus. The film also stars Ice Cube, Omar Epps and Kristy Swanson. If you haven’t seen it, this writer recommends you check it out.
“As an actor, you gravitate towards things that are different than you are personally,” he said. “I didn’t judge the character and not judging the character is why it resonated with people. I tried to make him as human as possible.”
While the film was made 25 years ago, the same issues dealt with in the film are still a problem in today’s society.
“I’m not surprised to be honest, unfortunately,” Rapaport said. “I’m fortunate to have been a part of the film and the legacy of John Singleton, but unfortunately I’m not surprised this is still going on. It’s very discouraging and sad, but unfortunately, not surprising.”
Another film Rapaport had a role in was True Romance. The film starred Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette as Clarence and Alabama Worley. It was written by Quentin Tarantino to finance his film, Reservoir Dogs. Tony Scott directed the film, which is considered a cult classic today.
“I was excited about being a part of it with all the actors in it,” Rapaport said. “The script and the Quentin Tarantino factor made it a special film. I was sure it was going to be a special film at the time.”
The film also featured a small role for a little known actor at that time, James Gandolfini. Of course, Gandolfini would go on to play Tony Soprano, the mob boss in the HBO show The Sopranos, widely considered one of the finest television shows ever made.
“We were like the new guys on the block and the most inexperienced at the time,” he said. “My memory of Jim was that he was very shy.”
One topic that Rapaport is very outspoken about is our current president, President Trump.
“It’s just going to take people to obviously get up, get out and vote,” he said. “The candidate will have to pitch the perfect game. There’s no room for error with his popularity. He’s willing to play by any means necessary. You have to pitch a perfect game to beat him. There’s no room for any fuck ups.”
As far as the next election, Rapaport said he really doesn’t know what to expect.
“I go back and forth on what I think will happen,” he said. “I really don’t know at this point.”
Rapaport gave his thoughts on why Trump has the popularity and support that he currently does.
“For a lot of people, they are just happy it’s not a black guy, and that’s a fucking damn shame,” he said. “We know he’s lying about a bunch of things and I think a bunch of people just think, he’s not a black guy. I think the disappointments from past presidents have afforded him that. Both republican and democratic candidates have afforded him the luxury of making a mockery of it. He’s turned it in to an entertainment show.”
Speaking of entertaining shows, one of Rapaport’s favorite shows to watch is the Real Housewives shows.
“I love those shows,” he said. “I find them extremely entertaining and funny. To me they are like soap operas.”
While most fans may know Rapaport from his films and TV roles, his love for standup comedy runs deep.
“I love Richard Pryor and George Carlin obviously,” he said. “Eddie Murphy was a big influence as an actor. Amy Schumer, I loved her last special.”
While Rapaport has probably grabbed new fans from his social media posts, he admitted he does second guess himself when posting things.
“I do all the time,” he said. “The written word on Twitter can get you in trouble. When I do my videos when I’m talking shit about sports or politics, I never have any problems or second thoughts. It’s when you write something, tone and sarcasm are not heard. That’s where I’ve gotten into being misread. When I put my face on it, there’s no problem.”
Finally, I asked Rapaport what the best advice was he was given.
“My father was very adamant about confidence and being confident in yourself,” he said. “Thick and thinks through life and career, you can never give up trust on your instincts.”
Rapaport will be appearing at Helium Comedy Club on Sunday, March 1. Tickets are still available for the 7 and 9 p.m. shows. Call (314) 727-1260 for tickets or visit heliumcomedy.com.