Bob Newhart hasn’t changed.
He acts the same, sounds the same, makes audiences laugh the
same, and - lucky guy - even looks the same. It must be his ability
to find humor in any situation. Be it himself, Dr. Robert (Bob)
Hartley, Dick Loudon, Papa Elf or Morty Flickman - just some
of the characters he’s played in his more than 40-year career
as funnyman extraordinaire - he’s still the same talented guy
he was at the start.
And from the looks of his list of credits, his career is far
from over. In fact, he’ll perform in this borough - for the first
time ever - as part of Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts’s
series at Brooklyn College in Midwood on Saturday, March 25.
Last summer, Newhart, 76, spent some time in South Africa shooting
the sequel to the 2004 TV movie "The Librarian: Quest for
the Spear" with Noah Wyle (from "ER"). At the
end of the month, he’ll embark on a three-city stand-up tour
to Philadelphia, Englewood, NJ, and Brooklyn. The back and forth,
however, is nothing out of the ordinary for Newhart who has been
city-hopping to make people laugh since 1960.
His routines are infamous. A few of his ’60s recordings topped
the charts; "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart" hit
No. 1. He recorded seven more after it and won three Grammys.
During his upcoming tour, he’ll perform two of the tried and
true - most likely "The Driving Instructor" and "Sir
Walter Raleigh," he told GO Brooklyn in a recent interview.
He’ll throw in a new routine as well, something sure to make
audiences laugh - nothing about politics.
"I’ve never thought of myself as an educator," said
Newhart. "I see myself as an entertainer. With politics
you automatically alienate half of your audience."
His new routine will involve observations on the "crazy"
planet we inhabit, traveling today, everyday experiences and
religion. (Newhart was raised Catholic, which allows him to poke
a little fun, based on personal experience.)
On average he makes 30 to 35 stand-up performances per year.
All of that, on top of movie roles and TV appearances. His three-episode
guest appearance on "ER" garnered him an Emmy nomination
in 2004, and most recently, he’s been checking in on ABC’s hit
series "Desperate Housewives."
"I was highly complimented when [’Desperate Housewives’
creator] Mark Cherry called my agent," Newhart said. "They
could’ve gotten anyone in the world. They probably could’ve gotten
[Dick] Cheney. He’s probably tired of all the flack for the recent
[shooting] incident. He probably would have said, ’to hell with
On "DH," Newhart plays Morty Flickman, husband to Sophie
Bremmer (played by Leslie Ann Warren), mother of Susan (played
by Teri Hatcher).
"Morty is a departure from Bob Hartley and Dick Louden,"
Newhart said. "He’s very short-tempered. [Sophie] drives
him crazy. But I fell in love with Cherry’s writing. He wrote
for the ’Golden Girls,’ and it doesn’t get much funnier than
Yes. Those - and then some - were the days. The days when the
Saturday night lineup consisted of "All in the Family,"
"MASH," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The
Bob Newhart Show" and "The Carol Burnett Show";
they triggered pain-in-your-side, tears-streaming-down-your-face
It isn’t quite the same today, acknowledged Newhart.
"I hate reality shows," Newhart said. "They’re
so manipulative and scripted. Why does the pretty person always
Hence the reason there’s no "must-see TV" on his evening
schedule. When he isn’t traveling from his Los Angeles home,
Newhart is all about his family, grandchildren and friends.
"I’m not a road warrior," Newhart said. "It’s
about what I’m comfortable with, so I am able to have time off."
With the scraps of free time that he has left, Newhart writes.
He polishes his stand-up and recently finished his memoir, which
will be published by Hyperion in the fall.
"It’s about my career and before," Newhart said. "I’d
been putting it off for a long time. I knew I had to commit to
it or else I’d never do it."
Newhart’s certainly had a career worth recording for posterity.
Besides those Grammys, he has also received many other prestigious
"It’s like, ’You’ve come a long way baby,’ " Newhart
chuckled. "I mean look at the people I joined [in the Academy
of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame] - Lucy, Jackie
Gleason, Johnny Carson. It was mind-boggling."
There’s no doubt that Newhart has talent - acting, performing
and writing - although he’s quick to credit his wife, Virginia
Quinn, with the idea for the final scene of "Newhart,"
in which Dick Louden wakes up as Bob Newhart beside Emily, his
wife played by Suzanne Pleshette, on the set of "The Bob
Newhart Show," rendering the whole eight-year "Newhart"
series at the inn in Vermont just a nightmare. Although he has
all areas covered, his passion lies in stand-up.
"I enjoy the immediate gratification," Newhart said.
"There’s no delay on stage as there is with TV and film."
He feels comfortable on stage and will bring his straight-faced
delivery out East to add a little more "immediate gratification"
to his resume. He’ll stammer a bit as he always does and keep
his jokes and one-sided telephone conversations flowing.
"It’s about making people laugh," Newhart said, "and
I enjoy the sound of laughter."
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
presents "An Evening with Bob Newhart" at the Walt
Whitman Theatre (on the campus of Brooklyn College, 2900 Campus
Rd. at Flatbush Avenue in Midwood) on Saturday, March 25, at
8 pm. Tickets are $20-$40. For more information, visit the Web
or call (718) 951-4500.
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010