Transcript: Martin Knelman | Jan 09, 2000

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest talking in a theatre backstage: “Martin Knelman. Author.”

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a gray suit, black shirt, and dark gray tie.

He says WELCOME TO DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
WHEN YOU WANT TO FIND OUT
THE TRUTH ABOUT SOMETHING IN
CANADIAN SHOW BUSINESS,
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
WELL, MY NEXT GUEST.
WHETHER IT'S THE STRATFORD
FESTIVAL, THE CANADIAN OPERA
COMPANY, JOHN CANDY, OR IN HIS
MOST RECENT BOOK, JIM CARREY...

He displays a book titled “The Joker Wild,” which features a picture of Jim Carrey.

He continues THIS IS THE MAN WHO
KNOWS JUST ABOUT ALL
THAT'S WORTH KNOWING.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH MARTIN KNELMAN.

Martin is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with receding gray hair. He’s wearing a white coat, gray trousers, and a bright orange shirt.

Richard continues SO MARTIN, I'M CURIOUS,
LET'S START WITH YOUR BOOK,
THE JOKER IS WILD, WHICH IS
CALLED
THE TRIALS AND TRIUMPHS
OF JIM CARREY.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE, AFTER
HAVING JUST DONE JOHN CANDY,
TO GO ON TO JIM CARREY?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Martin Knelman. Author.”

Martin says WELL, THE JOHN CANDY BOOK
WAS SUCH A GOOD EXPERIENCE,
AND IT DID VERY WELL.
I HAD LOTS OF IDEAS FOR
BOOKS I MIGHT DO AFTER THAT.
MOST OF THEM WERE BOOKS
THAT PEOPLE THOUGHT WOULD
SELL SIX COPIES.
SO WHEN I MENTIONED
JIM CARREY, THERE WAS
TREMENDOUS ENTHUSIASM.
AND THE MORE I LOOKED INTO
THE STORY, THE MORE I BEGAN
TO REALIZE WHAT AN
INCREDIBLE STORY IT WAS.
BECAUSE QUITE APART FROM THE
FACT HE'S WONDERFULLY TALENTED
AND ALL OF THAT, THE PERSONAL
STORY, THE FAMILY SAGA, IS
JUST SO FULL OF
DICKENSIAN DRAMA.
I'M DRAWN TO STORIES THAT HAVE
REAL SORT OF NARRATIVE DRIVE.
AND BOY, THIS REALLY DID.
THERE AREN'T ANY BORING
PARTS IN JIM CARREY'S LIFE.

Richard says NO.
WHAT'S AMAZING, WE WERE JUST
TALKING ABOUT THE BOOK BEFORE
THE CAMERA STARTED ROLLING,
AND I SAID, THE ASTONISHING
THING IS TWO-THIRDS OF YOUR
BOOK ARE BEFORE HE EVER
MAKES IT BIG.
AND THAT'S WHAT'S FASCINATING.
THE WHOLE THING THAT
WENT INTO JIM CARREY
AND WENT INTO HIS LIFE.
BECAUSE WE'VE HEARD STORIES
THERE WAS A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF
POVERTY, AND THERE WAS TROUBLE
WITH THE FAMILY, BUT WERE YOU
AWARE OF THE DEPTH OF NEGATIVE
EXPERIENCE HE HAD TO GO
THROUGH WHEN YOU STARTED
TO DO RESEARCH ON THIS?

Martin says NO.
I JUST HAD AN INKLING OF IT.
BUT I DIDN'T REALIZE THE
RICHNESS OF THE DETAIL OF IT.
AND, OF COURSE, I WAS MUCH
MORE INTERESTED IN THE UNKNOWN
STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED TO
HIM BEFORE HE BECAME FAMOUS,
THAN IN THE PART SINCE
HE'S BEEN A MOVIE STAR,
WHICH PEOPLE TEND
TO KNOW MORE ABOUT.

Richard says AND THAT'S THE PART
THAT'S MORE DOCUMENTED.

Martin says THAT'S RIGHT.
BUT THE TEXTURE OF THIS SORT
OF -- PEOPLE WHO LIVE KIND OF
ON THE FRINGES OF SOCIETY,
NOT EXACTLY IN TORONTO, BUT
ALWAYS ON THE EDGE OF
TORONTO, AND PARTICULARLY
THAT MILIEU OF THAT ROUGH
AREA OF BURLINGTON CALLED
ALDERSHOT, I JUST
FOUND THAT FASCINATING.
AND THE OTHER PART THAT I
THOUGHT WAS JUST TREMENDOUSLY
RICH WAS THE EARLY YEARS OF
YUK YUK'S, WHICH IS A STORY
IN ITSELF.
WHICH HASN'T
REALLY BEEN DONE.

Richard says THE AMAZING THING, WHEN YOU
READ THIS BOOK IS YOU SAY THE
ASTONISHING FACT IS NOT JUST
THAT JIM CARREY SURVIVED AND
WENT ON TO BE A STAR, BUT
THAT JIM CARREY SURVIVED.
THE POVERTY LEVEL.
I'M THINKING OF ALL THE STUFF
THAT WENT INTO HIS EARLY YOUTH.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING
THAT KIND OF REACHED OUT AND
GRABBED YOU WHEN YOU STARTED
LOOKING AT IT, AND YOU WENT,
OH, MY GOD, I DIDN'T THINK
IT WAS GOING TO BE THIS BAD,
OR THIS COMPLICATED?

Martin says WELL, THE REALLY SORT OF
HEART-TUGGING ELEMENT,
I THINK, IN THE STORY, IS JIM'S
RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS FATHER,
PERCY CARREY.
PERCY CARREY WAS A
FRUSTRATED PERFORMER.
HE WAS A JOKE-CRACKING GUY.
HE WAS A GUY WHO WAS A
JAZZ MUSICIAN, WHO --

Richard says SAXOPHONIST, WAS IT?

Martin says HE PLAYED THE SAX, AND
ANOTHER INSTRUMENT AS WELL.
AND HE WAS, FOR A
TIME, A BAND LEADER.
HE HAD HIS OWN BAND.
OR HE WAS THE FRONT
MAN IN THE BAND.
AND HIS GIRLFRIEND, LATER
HIS WIFE, SOMETIMES SANG
WITH THE BAND.
AND THAT WAS HIS DREAM.
BUT HE GAVE IT ALL UP
TO SUPPORT HIS FAMILY.
AND HE BECAME A BOOKKEEPER
AND AN ACCOUNTANT.
AND HE ACTUALLY SOLD HIS SAX
TO PAY EXPENSES WHEN THEIR
FIRST CHILD WAS BORN.
AND THEN AFTER GIVING
EVERYTHING UP SO HE COULD HAVE
A NICE STABLE JOB, HE LOST HIS
JOB, AND THE ENTIRE FAMILY
WAS PLUNGED INTO
DESPERATE POVERTY.
THEY WERE LOSING THEIR HOUSE.
THEIR STABLE MIDDLE-CLASS
FAMILY LIFE IN BURLINGTON.
AND THEY ALL WOUND UP SLAVING
IN THIS TERRIBLE FACTORY,
THIS WHEELS FACTORY, OUTSIDE
OF SCARBOROUGH, WHERE THE
KIDS HAD TO REPORT TO WORK
AFTER SCHOOL AND CLEAN
TOILETS ALL NIGHT.
AND SO FORTH.
AND THEN JIM DROPPED
OUT OF SCHOOL.

Richard says THERE'S A GREAT SAGA ABOUT
IT, AND THERE'S ALSO PICTURES
OF IT IN THE BOOK, THAT THEY
LIVED IN THIS OLD KIND OF
HISTORICAL, BUT DILAPIDATED
STONE BUILDING.

Martin says IT WASN'T
DILAPIDATED SO MUCH.
IT'S STILL THERE, ACTUALLY.
IT'S CALLED WEIR HOUSE, AND IT
WAS A HISTORIC BUILDING THAT
WAS MOVED, ACTUALLY, FROM
ANOTHER LOCATION TO THAT SPOT
NEXT TO THE FACTORY.
IT'S NOT THAT BIG A PLACE.
BUT JIM'S RELATIONSHIP WITH
HIS FATHER IS A THREAD THAT
GOES ALL THE WAY THROUGH HIS
LIFE STORY, EVEN THOUGH PERCY
DIED IN 1994, AND YET, YOU
FEEL HE'S STILL VERY MUCH
THERE FOR JIM.
AND I THINK EVEN NOW, IN
MOVIES THAT HAVEN'T COME OUT
YET, THE CHARACTER HE'S
THE NEXT FARRELLY BROTHERS
MOVIE, A LOT OF IT'S BASED
ON PERCY.
AND IT WAS JIM'S KIND OF ROLE
TO -- HE TOOK ON THIS MISSION
TO SORT OF MAKE EVERYTHING
OKAY FOR PERCY.
THAT BY LIVING OUT -- ALLOWING
PERCY TO LIVE VICARIOUSLY
THROUGH HIS SUCCESS, THAT HE
WOULD SORT OF CANCEL THE PAIN.

Richard says AND THEN, OF COURSE, WHAT
HAPPENED, WHAT MAKES THE STORY
EVEN MORE FASCINATING IS HE
STARTS TO BE A COMIC, AND HE
STARTS TO WORK, AND HE GETS
OUT TO CALIFORNIA AND TAKES
THE FAMILY WITH HIM.
AND IT LOOKS LIKE THIS IS IT.

Martin says THAT WAS A
DISASTROUS DECISION.
IT WAS AN INCREDIBLY MIXED
MESSAGE THAT HE WAS SENDING
HIS PARENTS.
BECAUSE HE ADORED HIS PARENTS,
BUT HE WAS ALSO, AT THE TIME,
HE WAS 21 YEARS OLD.
HE WAS VERY MUCH ENJOYING HIS
FREEDOM, BEING AWAY FROM THEM
AND SO FORTH.
AND HE WAS STARRING IN HIS
OWN SITCOM,
THE DUCK FACTORY
ON NBC, IN 1983.
AND HE THOUGHT, I'VE
FINALLY GOT SOME MONEY.
THEY'RE UP IN CANADA.
THEY'RE VERY EXCITED
ABOUT WHAT I'M DOING.
IT'S ALWAYS BEEN THEIR
DREAM TO BE IN CALIFORNIA.
WHY NOT LET THEM COME DOWN
HERE AND LIVE WITH ME?
AND, OF COURSE, HE TOLD BARBARA
WALTERS SOME YEARS LATER, YOU
KNOW, THAT HE WAS BEING ELVIS.
IT WAS LIKE, I BOUGHT YOU
GRACELAND, MOM, YOU KNOW?
HE WANTED TO BE THE GOOD SON.
AND, OF COURSE, HE WANTED
TO ENJOY THEIR PRAISE.
HE WANTED THEM TO HAVE
A CLOSE-UP VIEW OF HOW
SUCCESSFUL HE WAS AND, YOU
KNOW, TO ENJOY THE PLEASURE
THEY WOULD TAKE IN THAT.
BUT IT DIDN'T
WORK OUT THAT WAY.
THEY CAME DOWN.
THEY STAYED WITH HIM.
THEY HAD NOWHERE TO GO.
THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO.
THEY SAT IN HIS HOUSE CHAIN
SMOKING AND WATCHING TV ALL DAY.
THEY DROVE HIM CRAZY.

Richard says AND HE WASN'T THAT
SUCCESSFUL AT THAT TIME.

Martin says WELL, HE WAS SUCCESSFUL AT
THAT PARTICULAR TIME IN TERMS
OF
THE DUCK FACTORY.
BUT VERY QUICKLY,
THE DUCK
FACTORY, AFTER A FEW WEEKS OF
BEING ON THE AIR, IT BECAME
APPARENT
THE DUCK FACTORY
WAS GOING TO BOMB.
IT WAS NOT GOING
TO BE RENEWED.
AND THINGS WERE
COMING APART FOR HIM.
AND AT THE SAME TIME, HE HAD
BEEN INVOLVED AT THE TIME
WITH LINDA RONSTADT,
WHO WAS 16 YEARS OLDER.
AND IT'S VERY FUNNY.
I WAS VERY AMUSED TO FIND IN
MY RESEARCH THAT JUST BEFORE
THEY LEFT FOR CALIFORNIA, RITA
ZEKAS HAD WRITTEN SOMETHING
ABOUT THE RUMOURS ABOUT JIM
AND LINDA RONSTADT, AND THE
PHONE RANG AT HER DESK AT
THE STAR
ONE DAY, AND IT WAS
PERCY SAYING, GEE, THANKS
VERY MUCH FOR SETTING
THE RECORD STRAIGHT.
THIS IS JIM'S DAD, AND NO
IT'S NOT TRUE, THEY'RE JUST
GOOD FRIENDS.
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT, THE
KID IS ONLY 21 YEARS OLD.
WE'RE GOING TO GO DOWN THERE
AND KEEP AN EYE ON HIM.

Richard says THAT'S WHAT THEY THOUGHT
THEY WERE GOING TO DO.

Martin says WELL, ALSO, KAY
WAS QUITE ILL.
KAY WAS ILL ALL OF HER
LIFE, JIM'S MOTHER.
AND IT BECAME AN ISSUE SHE
DIDN'T HAVE HEALTH COVERAGE IN
THE U.S., AND THEY WERE AFRAID
SHE WAS GOING TO HAVE AN
ATTACK OF PLEURISY.
PLUS, IN REALITY, AFTER
THE
DUCK FACTORY, JIM WAS HAVING
SOMETHING LIKE A
NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.
AND IT WAS KIND OF
A DELAYED REACTION.
HE'D NEVER REALLY ALLOWED
HIMSELF TO EXPRESS THE TORMENT
HE FELT WHEN THE FAMILY WAS AT
THAT FACTORY AT TITAN WHEELS.
HE WAS NEVER A COMIC WHO WAS
ANGRY OR EXPRESSING HOSTILITY
ON STAGE.
HE WAS ALWAYS THE NICE
BOY DOING IMPRESSIONS.
TERRIBLY POLITE, YOU KNOW,
WELL-DRESSED, NOT AT ALL LIKE,
YOU KNOW, LET'S SAY, THE ANGRY
COMICS LIKE MIKE MACDONALD WHO
WERE AT YUK YUK'S.
AND THIS WAS A NUMBER OF YEARS
LATER, MAYBE SEVEN YEARS
LATER OR SOMETHING.
IT WAS KIND OF AS IF BECAUSE
THINGS WERE COMING APART FOR
HIM AGAIN, AFTER HAVING
REACHED THE SUCCESS OF BEING A
BIG STAR AT YUK YUK'S AND AT
THE COMEDY STORE IN LOS ANGELES,
BEING DISCOVERED, HAVING
HIS SHOW ON NBC, AND THEN
WHEN THINGS STARTED TO
UNRAVEL, I GUESS IT KIND OF
BROUGHT BACK THINGS
UNRAVELLING BEFORE WHEN
HE WAS A TEENAGER.
AND HE HAD THAT SORT OF
DELAYED REACTION TO THEM.
AND ONE OF THEM WAS ALL OF HIS
REALLY MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT
HIS PARENTS STARTED
TO COME OUT.
AND HE WAS DOING THESE REALLY
DISTURBING PAINTINGS ABOUT
HIS FATHER, AND HAVING DREAMS
IN WHICH HE WAS STRANGLING
HIS MOTHER, AND SO FORTH.
PLUS, HE WAS GOING BROKE.
THE MONEY WAS ALL GONE.
SO HE MADE A VERY PAINFUL
DECISION TO SEND THEM HOME.
AND IT WAS SOMETHING, I THINK,
HE HAD A LOT OF GUILT ABOUT
FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.
BECAUSE IT WAS SORT
OF HEART BREAKING.

Richard says BUT HE HAD TO DO
THAT, DIDN'T HE?
OTHERWISE HE COULDN'T
BREAK OUT AGAIN.
THERE'S TWO REALLY JIM
CARREYS THAT WE SEE EVEN TODAY.
AND I THINK YOU'VE
JUST HIT ON THEM.
THERE'S THE MANIC, ALMOST
INSANE GUY WHO DOES ALL
THE WEIRD COMEDY.
AND THERE IS A LOT OF RAGE
KIND OF DRIVING THAT.
AND THEN THERE'S THE GUY WHO
IS LIKE TRUMAN AND WANTS
EVERYTHING TO BE ALL RIGHT.
DO YOU THINK HE NOW IS
LEARNING HOW TO MANIPULATE HIS
DEMONS, RATHER THAN LETTING
THEM MANIPULATE HIM?

Martin says WELL, I THINK THAT HE
WENT THROUGH THIS PROCESS
OF REINVENTING HIMSELF.
WHEN HE RETURNED TO THE COMEDY
STORE, AFTER BOMBING OUT
IN
THE DUCK FACTORY.
AND AFTER BOMBING OUT IN HIS
FIRST STARRING MOVIE ROLE,
WHICH WAS CALLED
ONCE BITTEN.
IT WAS A RATHER
UNFORTUNATE VAMPIRE COMEDY
WITH LAUREN HUTTON.
THAT'S RIGHT.
AND HE'D BEEN HUGELY
SUCCESSFUL WITH HIS
IMPRESSIONIST ACT
FOR SEVERAL YEARS.
AND PEOPLE WANTED HIM
TO GO BACK TO THAT.
CERTAINLY MITZI SHORE, WHO WAS
THE OWNER OF THE COMEDY STORE
IN L.A. WANTED JIM TO
GO BACK TO DOING THAT.
HE DECIDED HE DIDN'T WANT
TO BE AN IMPRESSIONIST.
HE HAD SOME SORT OF EPIPHANY.
HE'D DONE A TV SHOW WITH
RICH LITTLE, CBC SPECIAL,
THE NEW ORLEANS SHOW, YEAH,
WHICH WAS ACTUALLY WONDERFUL.
BUT THEN HE'D BEEN WITH
RICH LITTLE IN LAS VEGAS.
AND THERE WAS ONE NIGHT WHEN
RICH LITTLE WAS PERFORMING,
AND CARY GRANT WAS
IN THE AUDIENCE.
AND RICH LITTLE WENT BY CARY
GRANT'S TABLE AND DID A LITTLE
THING WITH HIM.
AND JIM SUDDENLY REALIZED, YOU
KNOW, I DON'T WANT TO BE AN
IMPRESSIONIST, I DON'T
WANT TO BE RICH LITTLE,
I WANT TO BE CARY GRANT.
AND THAT WAS SORT OF A
TURNING POINT FOR HIM.
AND WHEN HE WENT BACK TO THE
COMEDY STORE, HE WANTED TO
BE A VERBAL COMIC.
AND HE WANTED TO DEVELOP HIS
OWN MATERIAL ABOUT HIS LIFE.
AND HE HAD NO
BACKGROUND DOING THAT.
AND SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT HE
WASN'T CAPABLE OF DOING IT
BECAUSE HE WAS A GRADE NINE
DROPOUT, HE WASN'T IN ANY WAY
AN INTELLECTUAL.
AND HE SPENT YEARS, YOU KNOW,
WHEN HE WOULD BOMB AT THE
COMEDY STORE.
WHEN HE WOULD JUST IMPROVISE.
HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT HE WAS
GOING TO SAY UNTIL HE WAS
BEING IN THE MOMENT.
AND WHEN THE AUDIENCE DIDN'T
GO FOR IT, AND PEOPLE STARTED
TO WALK OUT, HE WOULD DO
THINGS LIKE CRAWL AROUND ON
THE FLOOR LIKE A COCKROACH,
OR ONE NIGHT, HE CLIMBED INTO
THE PIANO, WHICH A MUSICIAN
NAMED KELLY MORAN WAS PLAYING
THE PIANO.
AND JIM STAYED IN THE PIANO
FOR HALF AN HOUR, MAKING IT
VERY DIFFICULT
FOR KELLY TO PLAY.
JUST CRAWLED UP INTO A FETAL
POSITION INTO THE GRAND PIANO.
AND JUST STAYED THERE
FOR HALF AN HOUR.
BUT HE WAS
REINVENTING HIMSELF.
AND EVENTUALLY, HE
BECAME VERY SUCCESSFUL.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS HE WAS
DOING WAS LEARNING TO EXPRESS
HIS OWN FEELINGS ABOUT WHAT
HAD HAPPENED TO HIM IN HIS LIFE.
AND HE STARTED TO TALK ABOUT
THAT EXPERIENCE FOR THE FIRST
TIME, THE TITAN WHEELS THING.
AND HE WAS TERRIBLY
INFLUENCED BY SAM KINISON.
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU REMEMBER
SAM KINISON, BUT SAM KINISON
WAS A GUY WHO WAS JUST
SCARY AND FULL OF RAGE.
AND HE WAS A VERY
GOOD FRIEND OF JIM'S.
AND JIM ADORED HIM AND
WAS SORT OF IN AWE OF HIM.
AND PEOPLE LIKE THAT USED TO
MAKE FUN OF JIM FOR BEING TOO
POLITE AND SAFE AND VEGAS-Y
IN HIS IMPRESSIONIST ACT.

Richard says I THINK YOU HAVE ONE SECTION
WHERE SAM IS TELLING HIM YOU
CAN JOKE ABOUT INCEST, YOU CAN
JOKE ABOUT NECROPHILIA, AND
IT'S SO FUNNY BECAUSE YOU
NEVER THINK OF CARREY HAVING
BEEN THAT REPRESSED BECAUSE
THE NEXT STEP IS WHEN HE GOES
TO
IN LIVING COLOUR,
AND
AGAIN YOU CAPTURE THAT
BEAUTIFULLY WHEN YOU TALK
ABOUT EVEN WATCHING IT TODAY,
THAT KIND OF BOLT THAT JUST
BURSTS OFF THE TV SCREEN.
AND I THINK BACK TO
WATCHING IN IN '89-'90.

Martin says IT'S AMAZING WHAT HE DID IN
THAT SHOW WEEK AFTER WEEK.

Richard says TALK ABOUT WITHOUT A NET.
HE WAS JUST GOING
CRAZY OUT THERE.
WHAT DO YOU THINK
FINALLY LET HIM DO THAT?

Martin says PARTLY, I THINK, THE
COMBINATION WITH JIM OF TALENT,
HE'S TREMENDOUSLY TALENTED,
BUT ALSO, THERE'S A LEVEL
OF DESPERATION.
VERY, VERY HARD WORK,
OBSESSIVE HARD WORK, JUST
ENDLESS HOURS TRYING TO
GET A CERTAIN MATERIAL.
AND PARTLY, IT'S A
DETERMINATION BASED ON
HIS DESPERATION.
KELLY MORAN, THE GUY WHO I
MENTIONED WHO WAS PLAYING THE
PIANO AT THE COMEDY STORE WHO
LATER BECAME A COMEDIAN, AND
WHO KNEW JIM VERY WELL IN
THOSE DAYS, SAID SOMETHING
VERY INTERESTING.
HE SAID, JIM, ESSENTIALLY, WAS
ALWAYS A FRIGHTENED CHILD.
AND THAT'S WHAT
WAS COMING OUT.
HE REINVENTED HIMSELF IN THOSE
DAYS AT THE COMEDY STORE,
CREATING THIS NEW ACT.
AND IF HE'D NEVER DONE THAT,
HE NEVER WOULD HAVE LANDED
ON
IN LIVING COLOUR.
BECAUSE THEY WOULDN'T HAVE
GONE AFTER SOMEONE WHO WAS
AN IMPRESSIONIST.

Richard says RIGHT.

Martin says AND IT WAS BY GETTING INTO
IN LIVING COLOUR
THAT MADE
POSSIBLE THE LATER
BREAKTHROUGH INTO THE MOVIES.
I MEAN,
IN LIVING COLOUR
DEFINITELY POSITIONED HIM
FOR EVERYTHING THAT'S
HAPPENED SINCE THEN.

Richard says HOW MUCH CONSCIOUS
MANIPULATION WAS IN THAT
PERIOD BETWEEN --
IN LIVING
COLOUR
LASTED A FEW YEARS
AND THEN WENT OFF -- AND THEN
THE CARREY THING BEGAN TO BUILD.
AND THEN FINALLY EXPLODED.

Martin says IT HAPPENED VERY QUICKLY.
IT HAPPENED WHILE
IN LIVING
COLOUR
WAS STILL ON THE AIR.
FIRST COUPLE OF HIT MOVIES
CAME OUT, ALTHOUGH THEY HAD
THE FINAL SEASON OF
IN LIVING
COLOUR,
THEY DIDN'T KNOW IT.
THEY WERE STILL NEGOTIATING
ABOUT WHETHER THERE WOULD BE
A NEXT SEASON.
SO, IN FACT, WHEN HE DID THE
FIRST BIG MOVIE -- HE'D BEEN
IN A NUMBER OF MOVIES IN THE
'80s, BUT NOTHING THAT MADE
HIM A MOVIE STAR.
SO THE BREAKTHROUGH MOVIE,
WHICH CAME OUT IN 1994, WAS
THE FIRST
ACE VENTURA.
AND HE HAD A RECORD IN 1994,
WHICH I THINK IS UNSURPASSED
OF THREE MOVIES THAT GROSSED
OVER 100 MILLION dollars IN ONE YEAR.
ACE VENTURA, FOLLOWED BY
THE MASK,
WHICH I THINK IS
STILL HIS BEST MOVIE,
AND
DUMB AND DUMBER.

Richard says IN FACT, YOU TELL THE STORY
HE WAS PETRIFIED THE WEEKEND
THAT
ACE VENTURA
OPENED, AND
THEY WERE WAITING TO SEE
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN.
AND WHEN THE NUMBERS CAME IN,
AND THE MOVIE WAS SUCCESSFUL
THAT WEEKEND, THE NEXT WEEK
HE SIGNED A CONTRACT FOR
7 MILLION dollars TO DO
DUMB AND DUMBER.
IT HAPPENS THAT QUICKLY.

Martin says IT HAPPENS THAT
QUICKLY, YEAH.
AND REALLY, UP TO THE POINT THAT
THE WEEKEND THAT
ACE VENTURA
WAS OPENING, PEOPLE THOUGHT
IT WAS GOING TO BE A BOMB.

Richard says AND IT GOT AWFUL REVIEWS, TOO.

Martin says AND ON THE DAY IT WAS
OPENING, HE HAD LUNCH WITH A
JOURNALIST IN WHICH HE
ADMITTED, WELL, MAYBE IT WAS A
LITTLE EXCESSIVELY STUPID, AND
MAYBE IT WASN'T REALLY GOING
TO BE SUCCESSFUL.
AND MAYBE HE'D HAVE TO BEG
PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, WHEN HE WAS
DOING HIS GIG IN CHICAGO THAT
WEEKEND ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS,
THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO BEG THE
KIDS TO GO AND SEE HIS MOVIE.
WELL, NOBODY HAD TO BE BEGGED
TO GO AND SEE
ACE VENTURA.
IT TURNED OUT IT WAS JUST AT
THE TIME, I THINK IT WAS IN
THE MIDDLE OF THE -- NO,
WE'D HAD THE GULF WAR.

Richard says THIS WAS AN AWFUL WINTER.
THERE WERE EARTHQUAKES.
AND A LOT OF
DREARY MOVIES, TOO.

Martin says A LOT OF SERIOUS,
HEAVY MOVIES.
PHILADELPHIA,
SCHINDLER'S
LIST, AND PEOPLE JUST WANTED
SOMETHING SILLY.
AND ALSO, OF COURSE,
SIX-YEAR-OLDS MADE THAT MOVIE
A HIT BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO
SEE IT NOT ONCE, BUT FIVE TIMES.

Richard says I WENT WITH ONE OF THEM.
FOUR TIMES, I THINK.
[laughing]
HOW DO YOU THINK CARREY FEELS
ABOUT THOSE -- HE DOES TWO
KIND OF FILMS, REALLY.
HE DOES THE ONES WHERE HE ACTS
MORE, AND THEN HE DOES THE
CACA DOO DOO, I MAKE
FART NOISES MOVIES.
HOW DOES HE RECONCILE THEM,
DO YOU THINK, IN HIS MIND?

Martin says WELL, I THINK HE PROBABLY
WANTS TO MOVE ON WITH THINGS
LIKE
THE TRUMAN SHOW, AND
THE ANDY KAUFMAN MOVIE.
I THINK THERE'S A LITTLE BIT
OF THAT WOODY ALLEN SYNDROME
OF, AS LONG AS YOU'RE DOING
COMEDY, YOU'RE SITTING AT THE
CHILDREN'S TABLE.

Richard says RIGHT.

Martin says BUT I DON'T KNOW, HIS
PHYSICAL COMEDY IS GREAT
BECAUSE IT GOES BACK TO -- I
MEAN, NOBODY HAS THAT KIND OF,
CAN DO WITH THEIR BODY WHAT
HE DOES WITH HIS BODY.
IT GOES BACK TO BUSTER
KEATON WITH A LINK THROUGH
DICK VAN DYKE, I GUESS,
AND MAYBE JERRY LEWIS.
BUT HE ALSO HAS THIS
TREMENDOUS TALENT FOR SATIRIC
SKETCH COMEDY THAT I THINK,
SOME OF THE STUFF HE DID IN
IN LIVING COLOUR,
IS UNSURPASSED.
AND
HE'S GOT THIS
MUSICAL THING.
AND YOU AND I BOTH FEEL YOU'RE
NOT REALLY COMPLETE AS A
PERFORMER UNLESS YOU CAN
BREAK INTO SONG AND DANCE.

Richard says ABSOLUTELY.

Martin says THAT'S THE WONDERFUL
THING ABOUT
THE MASK.
HE'S A LIVING CARTOON.
AND THEN WHEN THEY DO THAT
COCO BONGA NUMBER AT THE CLUB,
IT'S JUST HEAVEN, YOU KNOW?
AND HE, HIMSELF, DESCRIBED
IT AS FRED ASTAIRE ON ACID,
AND THAT'S THE PERFECT
DESCRIPTION OF IT.

Richard says YOU SAID YOU LIKED
THE
MASK
WAS YOUR FAVOURITE OF
HIS MOVIES, AND I THINK I'D
HAVE TO AGREE WITH YOU.
BUT YOU ALSO SUGGEST STANLEY,
THE CHARACTER, IS REALLY PERCY,
HIS DAD.
DO YOU THINK HE DID
THAT CONSCIOUSLY?
DREW OFF HIS MEMORIES OF
HIS FATHER TO PLAY THE SHY
BANK CLERK WHO WAS ABUSED?

Martin says I THINK HE DID, YES.
I THINK HE WAS QUITE CONSCIOUS
OF PERCY'S INFLUENCE ON HIM.
AND HE WOULD CALL, SOMETIMES
HE WOULD CALL HIS SISTER RITA,
IN BURLINGTON, AND SAY, YOU
KNOW, YOU ARE GOING TO SEE
THIS MOVIE NEXT WEEK, AND
I JUST WANT YOU TO WATCH
FOR SOMETHING.
YOU'RE GOING TO SEE SOMETHING
ABOUT DAD IN THERE.
CALL ME WHEN YOU SEE IT,
AND TELL ME WHAT IT WAS.

Richard says THERE'S ALSO, I THINK YOU
MENTION IN
LIAR LIAR,
HE DOES THE CLAW.
AND THE CLAW WAS PERCY.

Martin says YEAH.

Richard says ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS
STORIES ABOUT JIM CARREY
AND PERCY IS THE ONE
YOU END THE BOOK ON.
AND IT'S THE ONE
ABOUT THE CHEQUE.
DO YOU WANT TO
MENTION THAT AGAIN?

Martin says AND THIS JUST SHOWS YOU HOW
ONGOING THIS EMOTIONAL SAGA
WITH JIM SORT OF, SEEING HIS
WHOLE CAREER AS A MAKE-UP FOR
THE TERRIBLE PAIN THAT HE
WATCHED HIS FATHER ENDURE.
BUT IN THE '80s, WHEN JIM WAS
GOING THROUGH THIS VERY DARK
PERIOD WHILE HE WAS TRYING
TO REINVENT HIMSELF AT THE
COMEDY STORE, AND HE WAS
BROKE AND SORT OF HAVING
A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN AND
EVERYTHING, AND HE WAS
STARTING TO PERFORM AGAIN.
HE WAS A BIG READER, BY THE
WAY OF NORMAN VINCENT PEALE,
AND DALE CARNEGIE,
AND ALL THOSE BOOKS.

Richard says POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING.

Martin says YEAH, YEAH.
AND HE BELIEVED
IN GOAL-SETTING.
YOU SET GOALS, YOU'RE GOING TO
HAVE SUCH AND SUCH A SUCCESS,
OR MAKE SO MUCH MONEY
BY SUCH AND SUCH A TIME.
SO HE WOULD DRIVE UP ALONE UP
TO THE HILLS ON MULHOLLAND
DRIVE, AND HE WOULD FANTASIZE
ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING TO
HAPPEN WHEN HE WAS A HUGE
STAR, AND WHO HE WOULD BE
WORKING WITH, AND HE WOULD
LOOK DOWN ON ALL OF LOS ANGELES
FROM MULHOLLAND DRIVE.
AND WHILE HE WAS DOING THAT,
HE WROTE HIMSELF A CHEQUE.
AND THIS WAS IN THE MID TO
LATE '80s, AND HE WROTE
HIMSELF A CHEQUE, I THINK IT
WAS DATED THANKSGIVING, 1995.
AND IT WAS TO JIM CARREY FOR
ACTING SERVICES RENDERED
FOR 10 MILLION dollars.
AND HE PUT IT IN HIS WALLET,
AND IT GOT CRUMPLED,
AND HE CARRIED IT AROUND.
AND, OF COURSE, BY THE
TIME THE CHEQUE CAME DUE,
HE WAS WELL ABLE TO CASH IT.
HE WAS MAKING 10
MILLION dollars A PICTURE.
BUT WHEN PERCY DIED IN 1994,
AND JIM HAD TO GO HOME FOR THE
FUNERAL, AND PERCY WAS ALL
LAID OUT IN HIS BEST SUIT AND
SO FORTH, JIM TOOK THAT CHEQUE
OUT OF HIS WALLET, AND PUT IT
IN PERCY'S VEST POCKET.
AND IT WAS BURIED WITH HIM.

Richard says DO YOU THINK THAT FINALLY
PROVIDED HIM WITH SOME CLOSURE?
OR IS IT STILL AN
ONGOING STORY?

Martin says I DON'T KNOW.
FOR ME, IT'S SUCH A CHARLES
DICKENS,
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
KIND OF MOMENT.

Richard says HE IS A DICKENSIAN CHARACTER.
THIS IS AN UNAUTHORIZED
BIOGRAPHY.

Martin says TOTALLY UNAUTHORIZED.
THAT MEANS YOU CAN
TELL THE TRUTH.

Richard says WHY DID YOU MAKE THAT CHOICE?
ARE YOU IMPLYING ALL
AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHIES ARE LIES?

Martin says I JUST THINK YOU HAVE
MUCH MORE FREEDOM WITH AN
UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY.
BUT IT'S NOT NECESSARILY -- I
MEAN, I WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY
HAPPY IF JIM CARREY WANTED TO
TALK TO ME, AND I CERTAINLY
WAS VERY ABOVE BOARD ABOUT
LETTING ALL OF HIS PEOPLE KNOW
WHAT I WAS DOING.
AT THE SAME TIME, HAD THEY SAID
YES, WE'D LOVE TO BE INVOLVED,
IT WOULD HAVE RAISED A WHOLE
OTHER SET OF PROBLEMS.
BECAUSE SOMETIMES IF YOU ARE
WORKING IN THAT SITUATION,
IT CAN VERY QUICKLY CEASE TO
BE YOUR BOOK, AND BECOME
THEIR BOOK, WHERE EVERY
COMMA HAS TO BE VETTED.
AND -- ANYWAY, THEY WEREN'T
INTERESTED IN BEING INVOLVED.

Richard says THEY DIDN'T TRY TO STOP YOU?

Martin says I HAD NO -- MY
CAR WAS NOT BOMBED.
I HAVE GREAT
SOURCES, YOU KNOW?
AND THE THING IS, IT'S
ODD TO SAY THIS, BUT I DIDN'T
PARTICULARLY NEED TO SIT
DOWN WITH JIM CARREY.
IF YOU WANT TO SEE WHAT
HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE SITS DOWN
WITH JIM CARREY, READ
THE
VANITY FAIR
PIECE THIS MONTH.
THERE'S NOTHING IN IT.
HE'S BEEN ON THE RECORD SO
MANY TIMES, WITH SO MANY
PEOPLE, THERE'S NOTHING I
CAN ASK HIM THAT HE HASN'T
BEEN ASKED BEFORE.
I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN
THE PEOPLE WHO KNEW HIM
WAY BACK WHEN.
ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT
THIS MATERIAL IS FINDING THE
EX-MANAGERS AND
GETTING THEIR STORIES.

Richard says DID THEY ALL TALK TO YOU?
DID EVERYBODY TALK
TO YOU FROM THE PAST?

Martin says YES, THEY DID.
AND FINDING HIS GRADE SEVEN
TEACHER, LUCY BELVEDERE.

Richard says GREAT PICTURE OF HER
IN THE BOOK WITH HIM.

Martin says WHO MADE THIS DEAL WITH HIM.
LISTEN, IF YOU STOP DISRUPTING
THE CLASS, AND YOU DO YOUR
WORK, THEN I'LL GIVE YOU 15
MINUTES AT THE END OF THE DAY
TO DO YOUR ACT FOR THE CLASS.

Richard says THAT'S A GOOD BARGAIN.

Martin says AND HE'S NEVER
FORGOTTEN THAT.
HE STILL TALKS ABOUT HER.

Richard says DID YOU FIND DIFFERENT PEOPLE
KNEW DIFFERENT JIM CARREYS?
OR WERE ALL THE
MEMORIES CONSISTENT?

Martin says OH, YES.

Richard says OH, REALLY?
WAS HE AWFUL TO SOME PEOPLE?

Martin says WELL, I'M NOT SURE THAT HE
WAS AWFUL, BUT HE WAS, LET'S
SAY, SINGLE-MINDED ABOUT
ADVANCING HIS CAREER.
AND THERE WERE MANAGERS WHO
GOT VERY ABRUPTLY DROPPED
ALONG THE WAY, SOMETIMES
FOR QUESTIONABLE REASONS.

Richard says WHAT ABOUT THE
LADIES IN HIS LIFE?
THEY APPEAR IN THE BOOK A BIT.
BUT HE ALWAYS HAS THIS THING
WHERE HE'S ALWAYS PUTTING THEM
UP ON A PEDESTAL, AND THEN
HE'S SHAKING THE PEDESTAL.

Martin says WELL, LET'S SAY HE CERTAINLY
ESTABLISHED HIMSELF AS
PRODIGIOUSLY HETEROSEXUAL FROM
A VERY, YOU KNOW, YOUNG AGE.
HIS FIRST WIFE -- I DON'T
THINK THAT RAP ABOUT, YOU
KNOW, HE DUMPED HIS FIRST WIFE
AS SOON AS HE BECAME A STAR
AFTER SHE SLAVED AWAY TO MAKE
ENDS MEET, I MEAN, I THINK
THAT'S REALLY...
THAT'S A TRITE WAY
OF LOOKING AT IT.
I DON'T THINK THAT
WAS THE REALITY.
I THINK THAT WAS A TROUBLED
RELATIONSHIP FOR LOTS OF
REASONS, AND I THINK HE WAS
VERY UPSET WHEN IT CAME APART.

Richard says BUT HE'S HAD KIND OF A
TROUBLED HISTORY WITH WOMEN ALL ALONG.

Martin says AFTER THAT, THERE
WAS LAUREN HOLLY.
AND THAT WAS ON AND OFF
AGAIN SO MANY TIMES.
BUT THOSE THINGS ARE VERY
DIFFICULT, WHERE THERE'S A
MARRIAGE WITH TWO PEOPLE
WHO ASPIRE TO BE STARS.

Richard says DO YOU THINK THERE'S ALSO A
PROBLEM BECAUSE OF THOSE YEARS
IN THE FACTORY, AND WHEN HE
WAS WORKING HARD, HE NEVER
REALLY WAS AN ADOLESCENT.
DO YOU THINK HE'S GOING TO BE
AN ADOLESCENT FOREVER NOW?

Martin says I THINK THAT'S VERY
MUCH PART OF IT.
AND ONE OF THE FRIENDSHIPS
THAT IS VERY INTERESTING, HIS
OLDEST FRIEND, REALLY, IS
WAYNE FLEMING, WHO IS STILL ON
THE COMEDY CIRCUIT, AND NEVER
BECAME A STAR THE WAY JIM DID,
OF COURSE.
STILL WORKING IN CLUBS.
14 YEARS OLDER THAN JIM.
SO WHEN THEY MET, AT YUK
YUK'S, AND JIM WAS PERHAPS 19,
YOU KNOW, WAYNE
WAS 33 OR SOMETHING.
AND THOSE TWO HAVE
BEEN VERY TIGHT.
IT'S A VERY INTERESTING
RELATIONSHIP.
JIM'S MANAGER FROM
THOSE DAYS, LETRA SPIVAK,
WHO YOU PROBABLY KNOW, IS A
VERY INTERESTING WOMAN, WHO
SORT OF MADE HIM INTO A HIT
AT YUK YUK'S, CIRCA 1981,
HAD A VERY INTERESTING
INSIGHT INTO JIM AND WAYNE.
SHE SAID THAT WAYNE WAS
FALSTAFF TO JIM'S PRINCE HAL.

Richard says THAT'S WONDERFUL.

Martin says YEAH.

Richard shows the book again and says
MARTIN, IT IS A
WONDERFUL STORY.
THE JOKER IS WILD,
THE LIFE OF JIM CARREY.
THANK YOU FOR
BRINGING IT TO US.
AND A LITTLE VIEW OF
THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Martin says THANK YOU.
IT WAS FUN.

Richard faces the screen and concludes
FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Special thanks to Top O’ the Senator.”

Dialogue. A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1999, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Martin Knelman