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November 11, 1988 - Image 70

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ENTERTAINMENT

Comic Relieved

Continued from preceding page

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R estaurant

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70

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1988

331-8088

Reservations Suggested

So when I first told my
parents I wanted to play
baseball, and then that I
wanted to be a comedian, my
whole family thought I was
completely nuts.
"First of all," he continues,
"they thought that baseball
was something you do when
you're a little kid. Period. But
then when I said I was going
to do stand-up, they thought
I had flipped out altogether.
lb them I was never funny.
My father just couldn't
believe that anybody would
laugh at me!'
But Kaplan proved them all
wrong. Forsaking his family's
desires that he pursue a more
substantial professional
career, he began working on
material of his own for a
stand-up act. Appearing at
small clubs in Manhattan
and Brooklyn, he finally put
it all together at the Comedy
Workshop where he was spot-
ted by a "'night Show"
talent coordinator and book-
ed for the show. His success
seemed assured.
After playing in nightclubs
and colleges, and numerous
appearances on the TV-talk
show circuit, Kaplan co-
created and starred in his hit
network show which is now in
syndication worldwide.
"I wrote the show, co-
created it and then went
around to sell it. It was a
tough thing to do," he says,
"but I had the desire and the
drive, so I did it. Unless you're
a big star and things just hap-
pen to come your way, most
things that happen to you
happen only because you
make them happen.
"I think 'Welcome Back,
Kotter' was one of those TV
shows that stayed with peo-
ple," he continues. "I think
the characters all reminded
people of someone they once
knew, a carefree time in their
life. Kotter was also the
teacher that everybody
wanted to have. It was a com-
bination of all those things
that made the show a hit!'
"Kotter" filled the air with
its own special brand of
merriment from 1976 to 1979.
Since then, Kaplan has made
a.st Break" for Columbia
Pictures and starred as
Groucho Marx in the HBO
special "Groucho."
"I had met Groucho and he
had come to see `Kotter' taped
a few times and we talked,"
Kaplan recalls. "In fact, when
the special on Groucho was
being planned, they talked
about only concentrating on
two stages of his life: the ear-
ly stages and the stage when
he was a talk show host. They
had nothing in the script
about him as an old man. I
was the one who suggested
we put that in because that's

6

Besides comedy, Gabe Kaplan is a master in the poker competitions.

the person I knew. They
agreed and that's what real-
ly made it for me. There are
those who could probably do
a better young Groucho than
I could, but I really felt an af-
finity when I was doing the
old man?'
religious
Their
backgrounds may have
created another bond. Says
Kaplan, "The Jewish way of
thinking, the pathos, the
means of expressing life, is
the reason, I feel, for the ex-
istence of so many Jewish
comedians and many Jewish
actors, too. There is some sort
of identification with comedy
and tragedy, which are close-
ly related!'
Kaplan has not forgotten
his roots as a nightclub com-
ic and continues to appear in
concerts, clubs and hotels
across the United States and
Canada, although on a self-
imposed and limited basis.
"Maybe in three or four
years I'll feel I have to be back
on television. I have to do
something," Kaplan offers.
"Then I'll start creating
things and going around try-
ing to sell them. But right
now I'm really happy living
the way I do."
At this point in his life, he
adds, there's almost nothing
that gives him greater
pleasure than just taking it
easy.
"For now, I only work when
something comes up that I
really want to do. I haven't
done much TV recently and I
don't do talk shows because I
have nothing to say, nothing
to -promote. I don't need the
exposure I guess. And if I'm
not working you won't find
me at the local comedy store
either, getting up to perform.
I guess I've grown up and I'm
more secure now. I no longer

have a constant need to pro-
ve myself.
"I can't be sure I'll ever
want it any other way," he
continues, "because I'm hap-
py. People still recognize me;
maybe not as much as they
used to, but it's the way I like
it. I'm a very private person.
I don't enjoy over-
acknowledgement to the
point where it interferes with
your life. I enjoy being able to
live a normal life now and be-
ing able to work when I want
to. For a lot of people, that
would make them miserable
if they weren't working 30
weeks a year — at least. But,
for me, it's just great!" ❑

Anne Roiphe
Gives Lecture

Hill Street Forum/Great
Writers Series of the Univer-
sity of Michigan B'nai B'rith
Hillel Foundation announces
the appearance of Anne
Roiphe on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
at Green Auditorium, 1429
Hill St., Ann Arbor. Tickets
are available at the Hillel
Foundation in Ann Arbor.
Roiphe's latest novel is Lov-
ingkindness. Roiphe also is
the author of Generation
Without Memory and Up The
Sandbox.

Feiffer Work
In Ann Arbor

The B'nai B'rith Hillel
Foundation's Hill Street
Players will present Jules
Feiffer's Hold Me, directed by
Carolyn E. Caldwell on
Saturday at 8 p.m. and mid-
night, and Sunday at 2 p.m.
at the Performance Network,
408 W. Washington, Ann Ar-
bor. Tickets are available at
the door.

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