"My wife and I have been vegan for the last nine years. It makes a difference in every way," says comedian/writer/director David Steinberg, who wears two different hats — interviewer and producer — on Showtime's "Inside Comedy," premiering Jan. 26. Steinberg originally planned to make a documentary film to "capture the community of comedy," while probing the fertile minds of comedy legends like Larry David, Tim Conway, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. The first episode features Jerry Seinfeld and Don Rickles, followed by Chris Rock in the second, Steve Carell and Jane Lynch in the third, and in the fourth, Martin Short, Brad Garrett and Billy Crystal talk about opening for Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., respectively.
"I didn't do any research. I know everybody. I'm just listening and making it a conversation," says Steinberg, who interviewed the subjects separately for the episodes where two or three comedians are combined. "It took me almost a year to edit," he notes. He "didn't get a lot of turndowns, and there are many stars that we didn't use in the first ten shows that will be in the next ten," he promises, naming Ricky Gervais and Betty White to his future wish list.
"David is a marvelous interviewer because he knows when to shut up. He sees openings, he jumps in, he asks the question and then shuts up and lets somebody else talk," says Conway, whose episode also includes Ellen DeGeneres. While his subjects are diverse, Steinberg sees a common thread in them: an interest in comedy fostered by someone in their lives. "My dad and my uncle were always funny at dinners. Jerry Seinfeld's father told jokes at the table. They always trace it back to someone they saw or listened to that made a difference."