Arts & Culture
The Big Jewcy: Gil Ozeri – Comedian And Writer
Gil realizes the true meaning of being a Big Jewcy. Read More
When I asked Gil what was the moment he realized he wanted to be a comedian, he responded, “I love to annoy people. When I was a child, I would interview my parents on home video as Robin Leech, except instead of it being about the rich and famous, I’d always say, ‘This is Robin Leech of the Poor and Unknown.’ My father would get terrifically upset, and I’d usually end up being choked or beaten. That’s how I knew.”
He is still very much that kid but luckily his father is no longer his target. Whether it is undertaking the quixotic task of watching the entirety of the Two and Half Men series in a row, having a phone sex operator speak in only 90’s slang, or writing for Happing Endings it’s clear that Gil Ozeri definitely wants to make you laugh but probably wants to make himself laugh a little bit more.
I got a chance to talk to Gil about all these projects and what he listens to when cuddling with his mother.
Congrats on being named to the Big Jewcy. How does it feel?
I am honored to be a large, moist Jew. That’s what this means, right?
What first made you think of doing your phone sex prank calls?
I used to do a stand-up bit about how calling phone sex lines was so ridiculous and weird. I talked about how it would be funny if someone called up a phone sex operator and told them they were into the show Seinfeld because the operator would have to stay on the line to make more money. Then, like all geniuses, I thought, “Just do it yourself, moron.”
Has your mother heard the Jewish Mother Stereotypes one?
She has, at shows of mine. We also cuddle to it, every night, without fail.
With your Two and a Half Men in Two and a Half Days project I was reminded of a book called “Let’s Talk about Love” in which music critic, Carl Wilson, only listens to that Celine Dion album as a way of looking at good and bad taste. He hated her at the beginning but slowly started finding things he liked about it. He then posed a few questions, including: What is the difference between listening to “challenging” music and listening to something that is on the surface very shitty, in so much that there is a difficulty in enjoying both at first listen. Do you see any parallels to your experiment?
I’d say it all depends on what you’re trying to get out of something. Are you looking to challenge yourself? Entertain yourself? Sitting through something just to see if you can tolerate it? I think it depends on your point of view at the time. I mean, there’s a ton of “challenging” stuff on my DVR that I “should” watch, but I’ll just end up watching something that’s on the surface-y – Real Housewives – instead. At other times, watching reality shows is difficult, the people just make me want to vomit. The difference between good and bad taste, in my opinion, is just about experience. What you’ve seen, what you’ve learned, what you know, etc. The more you know, the more you can appreciate.
I see a couple of parallels between what Wilson said and the way I felt about Two and a Half Men. I ended up enjoying parts of the show, maybe not for reasons the producers intended, but for others. The familiarity of it, all the weird routines, etc., they ended up being something I looked forward to.
I think blanket-hating anything is dangerous. There will always be parts of the whole that you can enjoy. I find this happens a lot with old friends from college. Everyone has that one friend that all your other friends think is a loud, obnoxious douchebag, but you constantly defend them, “You gotta get to know him.” Your other friends are right, but you’ve learned to love them for their faults and imperfections, you learn to laugh at them and not just hate. Wow, I can’t believe I actually answered that question, albeit, poorly.
Do you think you are going to watch Two & A Half Men next season? Does Ashton Kutcher make you more or less likely?
I will definitely watch the first few episodes to see how different it is with Ashton. I hope they go very different. Like, I hope they make it a police procedural.
Did watching it affect your own sitcom writing?
Yes. I now include bowling shirts in every one of my character descriptions.
How has working on Happy Endings been?
This is a cliche response, but the people were so nice, it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. They taught me how to read. And I’ll never forget that.
It seems like over the last month or so the show has really gained traction and received critical praise. And recently it was announced that it got picked up for another year (congrats by the way). What do you credit this success to?
Thank you! I think the show has gotten better as the season went on. A show usually takes a season or two to find its voice, so hopefully it will continue to do that in the second season.
It is a show that works with the six young, good-looking friends model; however, as you said its has developed a unique voice. Was there a desire in the writing room to really push things?
I could sense there was a desire to do new stuff and not tread on the same old territory as other couple-y shows. As good as Friends was, Happy Endings has a new dynamic to play with – an interracial couple, a gay Jew, that was fun to explore. That said, Happy Endings is also introducing four ugly, fat people onto the show next season, which should really push the envelope. Look out for it.
You were in a sketch group with Adam Pally; do you think that has given you an advantage in writing for him?
I think it always helps if you know the person for whom you’re writing. Mostly, it gives me an advantage in embarrassing him. I try to sneak in jokes that make him look stupid or feeble.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects? What’s next?
I’m currently working on my Comedy Central Album that’s due out later this year. It’s going to be mostly phone sex pranks with some other stuff as well. I also just wrote an episode of NTSF:SD:SUV, Paul Scheer’s new show on Adult Swim, with my writing partner Adam Pally. We’re also shooting a web series for Funny or Die called Genius Bar about some bitchy Apple employees. Oh, and my hand-crafted dildo shop opens this month too. It’s more of a web page on Etsy, but everything’s 75% hand-made, guaranteed