You probably know Kevin Smith as Silent Bob, as the director of hilarious and irreverant movies like Clerks and Dogma, or as the guy who, against all good sense and taste, persists in the wearing of 'jorts.' You may know Ralph Garman from his long running stint on KROQ's Kevin & Bean show, his gripping portrayal of the host on Spike TV's Joe Schmo Show, or from his role in Seth MacFarlane's celebrated comedy, Ted. Together, Kevin and Ralph have been hosting a weekly live podcast, Hollywood Babble-On, which will be recorded live this Saturday night at the Long Beach Laugh Factory. Ralph is surprised by how well it works.
Ralph: Smith and I have been friends for years, but even I didn't expect that our chemistry would work so well on stage, and on the podcast. It's the highlight of my week.
Sander: Do you have pre-planned topics to discuss, or do you just show up and wing it?
Ralph: I spend the better part of the day organizing the show's material. News stories, recurring segments, fan emails, etc. Then we just go on stage and improv. Kevin's hearing a lot of it for the first time, which keeps it fresh.
Sander: Let's talk about the fans a bit. How much of a role do they play in the show?
Ralph: A big part. We love to feature artwork, pictures, songs, and jokes that the listeners submit. And the live audience often interacts with us. We even have a "shoutout" section at the top of each show, where we talk to folks who are celebrating special events, or have come long distances. We can get a lot of laughs just finding out about them.
Sander: So, primarily, the shows are presented in front of a live audience.
Ralph: Yes. It's a live comedy/talk show that we record and then post as a podcast. Unlike other podcasts, it's always been a show that's been designed with the live audience in mind. We've always performed it in front of a crowd, like stand-up comedy. Except, we sit down.
Sander: If you don't mind, I'm curious to know how you came up in the world of entertainment. Can you share a bit of that early part of your career?
Ralph: Sure. I started as an actor. Got my SAG card back home in Philly, then moved to L.A.. Eventually, I started to do sketch and improv comedy at the Acme Comedy Theatre here in town. There, I became friends with Adam Carolla, who eventually started to work with, and befriend, Jimmy Kimmel on the Kevin & Bean Show on KROQ-FM. When they left to start THE MAN SHOW on Comedy Central, they both suggested me as a replacement. It was supposed to be a temp gig, and has become a career of imprssions, voices and comedy, although I still do other work on stage, and in TV and film. Like Family Guy, TED, and the Joe Schmo Show.
Sander: I'd love to know about your childhood in Philly. Did you do school plays?
Ralph: Oh yeah. I started doing plays in junior high school, and continued through high school and college. I got my first TV role in Philly after college, then moved west. It was an "ABC Afterschool Special" called "A Class Act". I played a high school football player/bully.
Sander: That's awesome!
Ralph: Hardly. But, it got me in the union!
Sander: Did you have interest in stand up, back then?
Ralph: No. I just wanted to be a "dramatic" actor. I didn't get into comedy until after I got to L.A. Even then, it was sketch and improv scene stuff. I tried "stand-up," but never liked working alone, really.
Sander: I don't mean to put you on the spot, but I feel that there's one question I must ask you.
Sander: When you're on stage with Kevin, how in the world do you ever get to talk?
Ralph: [laughs] Kevin and I have a great give and take on stage. I know he's a guy known for "going on" a bit, but he really enjoys sitting back and picking his spots to crush with a great joke, too. Our show is unlike his "Evening With ..." stuff, or even his other podcasts. It's very much a partnership. We're a "comedy team" in the classic sense.
Sander: Because you've been so successful in comedic roles, do you ever wish that you had more opportunities to do dramatic stuff?
Ralph: Nah. Acting is acting for me. I did a dramatic turn as a murderous mute in Kevin's Red State film, did a House M.D., and was on shows like NYPD BLUE, too. But being able to get a laugh gives me an edge over some other performers, so I end up in things like Ted, and Joe Schmo. I've got a specailized skill, and that's makes me a little more marketable. Plus, I love making people laugh!
Sander: You've worked on lots of animated projects, doing all kinds of characters. Most of those are created, fictional characters. What was it like portraying the legendary Adam West?
Ralph: [laughs] It was a boyhood dream come true! Adam's BATMAN has always been my hero, and I've been doing his voice as one of my impressions forever, so it was so fun to do him for a project. Adam has become a friend, too, so it really is a "fantasy becomes reality" thing.
Sander: That's fantastic!
Ralph: Yeah. I helped get him his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year, and he asked me to speak at the ceremony. It was surreal. Me, Adam and Seth MacFarlane, all giving speeches.
Sander: I can't believe he didn't have one before that. That's nuts!
Ralph: I couldn't believe it, either! That's why I made it my mission. It took years, but we did it.
Sander: Thank you.
Ralph: You're welcome. [laughs]
Sander: Why are you bringing Hollywood Babble-On to Long Beach?
Ralph: Well, our current L.A. home is on CityWalk at Universal Studios, and you'd think people would be willing to make the drive for us! [laughs] But, they don't. So, we've been down in the OC, and now Long Beach, to give fans of the show a chance to see it live. We've been touring all over the country, lately, and selling out. Even in Canada. It's awesome.
Sander: Well, I'll tell you that Kevin sold out two screenings of Red State at the Art Theater in LB, so I'm sure there are local fans.
Ralph: Yes, we know we've got fans in Long Beach, and I know there are a ton of KROQ listeners down there, so I can't wait to meet the folks who come out.
Sander: Some of my friends have asked me to ask you a few things, if you don't mind.
Ralph: Okay. Shoot.
Sander: One person wants to know why you're so mean to Bean.
Ralph: I love Bean, but we're like a family on our show. If you've ever had a sibling, you understand the kind of hard time you can give each other. Sometime he makes me nuts, and I don't hide it. I think people like that about our show. We're not polished.
Sander: Is there ever that moment, though, when you look over and see tears on his face and think, "Have I gone too far?"
Ralph: TEARS?! Please. That would mean he has a heart. [laughs] He loves the attention. We all have our roles to play, and he's the eccentric.
Sander: Another friend asked me to ask you about Liam Neesan, although I have no idea why.
Ralph: [laughs] One of our reccuring segments on Hollywood Babble On is our closing bit where we discuss the enormous size of Liam's manhood. Listeners send in facts about how big he is. You can find an on-going list of them online. [he gave me a website but, if you're interested, just google it. - srw]
Sander: [laughs] So, is this a topic that deserves continued exploration?
Ralph: The listeners have yet to run out of jokes, so I think the subject just keeps going and going, much like Liam's penis itself.
To purchase tickets for this Saturday's show, visit the Laugh Factory Website. The Laugh Factory is located at
To hear archived episodes of Hollywood Babble-On, or to find out about upcoming appearances, visit SeeSmod.com.
You can follow Kevin Smith's blog at SilentBobSpeaks.com.
You can follow Ralph on Twitter.
Check out my interview with Kevin Smith.