Rob Nash: Bedford Falls, by way of Television City
Austin solo performer Rob Nash is moving to Los Angeles, and as a parting Christmas gift, he's created a holiday special that never was:It's a Wonderful Life, 70s Christmas Special, Starring the Fonz
One of Austin's favorite, if somewhat prodigal, sons is about to leave town again. Rob Nash, he of the one-man, multicharacter dysfunctional trilogies and coming-of-age quadrilogies, is moving to Los Angeles at the beginning of the year. Before he goes, however, he has a parting Christmas gift for us: another of his coup de comedies, this one a sugar-plum vision of the boob-tube holiday special that never was, It's a Wonderful Life, 70s Christmas Special, Starring the Fonz.
Austin Chronicle: When are you leaving?
Rob Nash: I go in February. I'll be 40 in March. I moved back to Austin from New York in 2002 to work for a few weeks and then decided not to go back. I came here to kind of pull it back together and rehabilitate. I still haven't given up on TV and film, and the place to go for that is L.A.
AC: But it's a snake pit, Rob!
RN: No shit!
AC: Do you have work out there now?
RN: No, but I have contacts, and I have pulled the strings back together again. I ain't ready to quit yet.
AC: What's your plan once you get out there?
RN: Couch it for a while. Take some meetings. I still have a little steam left from Holy Cross Sucks! off-Broadway a year ago. It's pilot season, so hopefully I'll go out for a few auditions there. Things are ready to move forward in that direction. I've been taking acting classes from Van Brooks here in town. I hope I get better and better as I get older and older.
AC: You've written something new. It's another long title.
RN: I sell most of my tickets off the titles.
AC: How did you come up with this title?
RN: I knew I wanted to do another Christmas classic, but how do you let people know it's going to be Seventies sitcom stars? You say: Seventies Christmas special! And then I thought, well, hell, if it's starring the Fonz, he's probably the biggest sitcom star from the Seventies. It's the Capra classic, but it's a lot campier; it's sillier. When you have characters take over, you gotta get in their classic lines, like "Kiss my grits" and "Up your nose with a rubber hose."
AC: How many different characters are you doing in this one?
AC: Forty-one! That's not the record, though, is it?
RN: Ah, it might be, because when we did Holy Cross Sucks! we might have gotten it to 42 for Holy Cross Sucks!, and then we started cutting like crazy, and it was down to 26 again.
AC: Who are we going to see in this one?
RN: Well, 10, 12 of those are one-liners. Geraldo has a line. Dwayne, Roger, and Mama from What's Happening!! have a line. We only refer to Rerun, Dee, and Shirley; we don't hear from 'em. Bert and Ernie play Bert and Ernie. They're a cab driver and a cop.
AC: Who's playing the leads?
RN: Fonzie is George Bailey of course, they go by their sitcom name. Charo is Mary Bailey, which I think was a brilliant casting move. You never can get too much Charo. Mork is Clarence the Angel. And the other two angels are Mr. Rourke and Tattoo. Archie Bunker is Mr. Potter.
AC: Of course! Of course! That's perfect.
RN: Yeah, yeah.
AC: That couldn't be more perfect.
It's a Wonderful Life, 70s Christmas Special, Starring the Fonz runs through Dec. 31, Thursday-Sunday, 8pm (no show Dec. 24), at the Vortex, 2307 Manor Rd. For more information, call 478-LAVA, or visit www.vortexrep.org.