Steve chatted with Prodigy members earlier this summer.
Here's the transcript!


7/18/97, 6:23 PM ET

Steve Oedekerk, 07/09

Moderator (Speaker)

Our guest tonight has talents that have enabled him to successfully wear the hats of writer, director, producer, actor, and stand-up comedian. In addition to writing for the hit Fox show IN LIVING COLOR, he wrote the sequel ACE VENTURA: WHEN NATURE CALLS, which starred Jim Carrey. He also wrote THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, starring Eddie Murphy. Most recently he completed writing and directing the comedy NOTHING TO LOSE, starring Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence (due out this summer), and he's got an NBC Special coming September 3rd. And now, please welcome STEVE OEDEKERK!!

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Hi everybody. Welcome to the chat.

Moderator (Speaker)

Thanks for joining us tonight, Steve! We've got a ton of great questions for you, so let's get right to them...

attheemmys (Prodigy Member)

How did you switch from writing on In Living Color to becoming a director?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

When I did stand-up, I planned on making independent films and star/write and direct. I did In Living Color because I thought the credit would help me raise cash to make films. The script I wrote--Nothing to Lose--is what I was writing to make independently. I sent it out, and I thought it would be turned down. But there was a bidding war and every studio wanted it. It's been four years since I sold the script. In the interim of that was both Ace movies and The Nutty Professor. And I'm writing the sequel to The Nutty Professor right now.

Moderator (Speaker)

Steve also wrote and starred in the low-budget indie film HIGH STRUNG.

swimguy (Prodigy Member)

Did you have much input from Jerry Lewis on your remake of The Nutty Professor?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I had a brief conversation with him at the beginning of the writing process. He was mostly concerned with whether the goal was to be pure comedy. That was the spirit of the first film. And that was our goal too.

Luzme (Prodigy Member)

Hey, Steve, are you kind of a weird guy? All the really funny people I know are kind of weird... and you're really funny.

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Yeah. I've just got a great front end that doesn't look like I am, so it allows me to get through the business meetings. But others would say I'm out of my mind.

WwwBoy (Prodigy Member)

As a former ILC guy, what do you think the chances are for Keenen Ivory Wayans' new talk show?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I wait to see... there's so many talk shows on now... but Keenen's a really smart and funny guy. I hope he offers something different, because then there's a good chance it could be a success. Too many end up copying. The talk show arena is ripe for a new look or format. Hopefully he'll play around with it, because he's a real creative guy.

Michaelsgirl (Prodigy Member)

What was it like directing Jim Carrey? (P.S. I'm a huge fan of the movie)

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

For me, it's the best. We do a lot of joking around and trying to top each other. We would sit next to each other and think--Oh my gosh, we're in charge... how did this happen?

swimguy (Prodigy Member)

What's your next project?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

"Patch," the life story of a doctor who grated up against the system when he was in medical school. Robin Williams will star and Tom Shadayac will direct. It's shooting in early '98, and I'm writing the sequel to The Nutty Professor, and that will begin shooting in 1998. It's a continuation of the first story. That's all I will say.

Sherman is still having side effects from the Buddy Love formula and he has to counteract it with another drug, which has more side effects. New effects, new characters. But the family will be back, I will say that.

WwwBoy (Prodigy Member)

Tell us about your new movie Nothing to Lose.

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

It's very cool. I've seen it with a crowd 15 times now. My favorite thing about comedy is seeing a group of people laugh hard, and the film is getting big laughs, so that's good.

The film stems from an idea I had in the car one day--almost every image in The Nutty Professor was me driving around and imagining weird stuff--so, with Nothing to Lose, it was what if some weird guy jumped in my car? And what if I was so miserable that some guy jumped in, and I said, "You picked the wrong guy," and took him captive.

Martin Lawrence and Tim Robbins star in the film. I like Martin's presence on screen, and thought he hadn't done his best work yet, so I thought he was perfect for the film. Tim read the script, and somebody called me and said Tim wanted to be in the film. I was surprised, because he's done so much serious work. But he liked it, and it was like a gift, because these two guys don't belong together, and that's what you had on the set. These guys have nothing in common, and it created a really interesting chemistry that I dug. I wrote and directed.

The film took four years from the time I wrote the script to the movie opening. But during those four years, I also did The Nutty Professor, the two Ace movies, and the TV special.

ZZZooo (Prodigy Member)

Were you friends with Jim Carrey before In Living Color?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Yeah. We met at the Comedy Store in 1985, and we had the weirdest acts in the place, so we migrated towards each other. We met doing stand-up.

TYI Q (Prodigy Member)

hello! how was it working with Martin Lawrence? He was talking about you on the Rosie show today... so is he real funny in person as he is on T.V.?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I was working with him during all his problems. The Ventura Blvd. thing happened during the shoot. But I've never worked with an actor as good a guy as him. He remembers all the crew members names. I was so surprised by the Ventura Blvd. thing. But he was back shooting two days later, and he was sharp and ready two days later, giving a great performance.

Moderator (Speaker)

Here's a news flash from member HOLYFIELD97:

HOLYFIELD97 (Prodigy Member)

i am goodlooking and can be in a movie

Moderator (Speaker)

Start looking for an agent, HOLYFIELD97!

Courier Cab (Prodigy Member)

Steve, what do you suggest for an unknown comic to get noticed?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

The best thing for an unknown anybody, whether you want to write or perform--just figure out exactly what you think is hilarious and do exactly that. It's the most unfollowed advice in the comedy arena. They do what they think they're supposed to do--they do a "have you ever noticed?" act. You have to have the balls to decide what you want to do, what makes you laugh, and you don't worry about what people say. Those are the only ones I ever see make it in this biz.

My advice for a director... produce stuff. Whether it's a Hi-8 camcorder to shoot something, even if it's just three minutes long. If you make a hilarious three-minute short, it will make the rounds. All it has to be is hilarious, because there's so few hilarious things around. Most people spend most of their time finding agents and spreading screenplays. Few actually *make* things, and it's a great tool to get noticed. And it's undeniable, because somebody's watching a finished product.

Moderator (Speaker)

Are the future directors and producers in the audience writing this down? If not, you'll find a complete transcript of this and many other chats in a few days. Jump: CHAT TRANSCRIPTS and you'll see it!

TYI Q (Prodigy Member)

If there is one person you would love to work with, who would it be?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

There's a list. I'm a huge fan of Steve Martin. I think he's great. During my college years, he was the most different guy out there. He showed me that things could be great only when you're risking failure. Sometimes you have to do that. Jim had been around for 19 years before his overnight success happened.

Moderator (Speaker)

Here's a comment from KatLeigh...

KatLeigh (Prodigy Member)

I am sure the movie "Patch" is a comedy, right? I really like Robin Williams but don't you think he is better in his movies when he is more, shall we say, in control? I'm sure you'll make another few million on this movie because Tim Robbins is great when he does comedy!!!! KatLeigh

fire is good (Prodigy Member)

LOVED ACE VENTURA STEVE!

SPICKOLI (Prodigy Member)

How come In Living Color was taken off the air, I think it was a lot better than Saturday Night Live, and I watch all of the re-runs and it's still funny.

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I think they were insane to take ILC off the air. It was a very funny show. A lot of times when a show has been on for many years, it will get stale, but you switch the cast around. I was shocked about it, because it was a franchise that Fox could have made money on for years. It was one of the more irreverent shows on TV, and there's a lack of that now.

The fun thing about doing the NBC special is it's irreverent, is what it is. It's a computer generated image of me battling space babies, and me being able to do what I wanted, no matter how twisted. There's a need for stuff like that so people can escape from the monotony of the shows that are on.

THB15 (Prodigy Member)

In Ace Ventura When Nature Calls did Jim Carrey improv on many of his lines or were they written like that?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Jim always does a lot of improv. But he tends to prepare a lot, brainstorming a lot of stuff the night before. Then he would do the work the following day. Most of our messing around and ad-libbing would happen before we did the shoot.

attheemmys (Prodigy Member)

How did a film director get a gig to do his own TV special?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

The follow-up question is why would he? It's not a normal move for a guy who does features. It stems back to my roots, which was performing. Three years ago, when I sold my first screenplay, Nothing to Lose, everything became crazy, and I was now a writer/director. But I started as a writer-performer. So I was writing all these zany images in Nutty Professor and Ace Ventura, and I'm watching TV and thinking, you never see cool visual comedy on TV anymore. TV is so rule-oriented. Nobody does a brash, new thing. So this was a passion move.

I walked into NBC, not thinking they would bite. This show is weird even by cable standards. But they flipped over it and got excited. The special will air 9/3.

Moderator (Speaker)

Watch for Steve's NBC Special this September (9/3)... it's called "steve.oedekerk.com" (no kidding!)

swimguy (Prodigy Member)

You've worked with Murphy, Williams and Carrey, three of the all-time comedy greats. How do each compare?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

They're all really different. Jim's the most like himself. He's just really a perfectionist and he doesn't let things go. He'll try to come up with something funnier to the last second, so when we get together, we just laugh. Eddie likes to have finished material and play around with it in front of the camera. I've yet to work with Robin--production starts next year.

ZZZooo (Prodigy Member)

How did you get started in show business?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I was in junior college and I was in a talent show and I quit school and became a professional stand-up at age 20. And my friends freaked out.

The comedy boom hadn't really happened. Back then you were working band breaks at rock clubs, strip joints, talent shows at restaurants, so we'd survive that way back then. There was no real way to make money unless you made it really big, so the ones who made it had to make it.

When the boom came in, there were thousands of guys, and it changed the parameters and homogenized things. Back then, guys were really different. Today, so many are similar.

KatLeigh (Prodigy Member)

What is the first screenplay you wrote, Steve? It had to be difficult to break into this business.

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Nothing to Lose was the first screenplay I sold to Hollywood. "High Strung" was the first one I sold, as an independent filmmaker. It's available in video stores. When I shot it, Jim was just starting In Living Color. I wrote a small part in it, and they exploited him later, because Ace had come in. It's about a guy in his apartment with an amazingly bad temper.

Belle Star (Prodigy Member)

What will the sequel to Nutty Professor be called?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I don't have one yet--if you have a good title, E-mail me at CGIsteve@oedekerk.com ...I hope it's not "The Nutty Professor II." My web page is at http://www.steveoedekerk.com

CuteCat16 (Prodigy Member)

What is your technique for directing? Do you pretty much tell the people what to do, or do you let them interpret the part?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

What you want to do when you're directing is have a great idea of what you think will work and walk onto the set with that, and at least you know it will never get worse than that. The way you become a strong director is to utilize the talent around you to make it better than your plan. And then encourage the actors to play and interpret as much as humanly possible, because that's where you get brilliance.

Whitetiger11 (Prodigy Member)

How many movies have you helped with, Steve?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

High Strung, Ace, Ace II, Nutty, Nothing to Lose--five so far, and Patch goes before the cameras next year and Prof II next year too. My next directorial film is called "Cowboys and Aliens," about aliens who crash in the old west and the cowboys get ahead of the technology. The film is based on a comic book.

swimguy (Prodigy Member)

Does the new TV special spotlight more of a return to performing for you?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Very much so. In Nothing to Lose, I also have a cameo, which was cool, and the NBC special is the closest thing to me getting back to my roots. The closest I can get back to egomaniacal control. I'll be in a lot more of the movies I'm doing, if I can.

ZZZooo (Prodigy Member)

Are you much of a computer guy?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Completely absolutely lost in it. When the first "toaster" came out, I was really into it... I've really been charting and tracking the low end of video computer technology for years now. Hollywood only knows how to do things in a high-end way. But for my special, I knew people who worked with low-end stuff that produced high-end results, and that gave me an edge.

I love surfing the net, I just don't have the time... I'm excited about the new Virtual world... I look forward to the day when my TV special could be participated on in the Internet... that's probably the most exciting thing happening in entertainment right now.

THB15 (Prodigy Member)

Did you study any particular subjects in college that helped you become a better director and writer?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I don't think so. I went to Catholic high school. I was so tired of being educated after four years... I was mostly playing tennis and going to comedy clubs. I think I was destined to dive out of normal schooling and pursue comedy.

Belle Star (Prodigy Member)

Who would be your choice to star in the Nutty Prof. sequel?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Eddie Murphy.

StickHorse (Prodigy Member)

Did martin Lawrence jump on any cars and threaten any of the crew during the filming of NOTHING TO LOSE?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I wish I had a great story like that. Everybody wants to hear something like that, but he didn't.

Moderator (Speaker)

StickHorse, by any chance do you work for the National Enquirer? [g]

CIHRI (Prodigy Member)

Did Susan Sarandon show up on the set and throw tantrums?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

She came by a few times. She's cool.

Moderator (Speaker)

Another tabloid employee, eh CIHRI?

SPICKOLI (Prodigy Member)

I've heard that Jim Carrey has had problems with people making the movies he's appeared in. Did he have this problem when he was on In Living Color?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

The director got fired on the second film, but it was no star ego thing--they just weren't clicking comedically. I was there to polish the film, and the next thing I knew, I was tapped to direct the film. The director of photography said to me, this is the hardest thing you'll ever do. I found that fun, so I figure I'm probably in OK shape. I had never officially directed before Ace II, just some small independent films.

xIrish Ladyx (Prodigy Member)

Do you think there might be a movie about "the family"? They were great.

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

It's possible... they're really fun to write. They could easily sustain a whole movie themselves.

THB15 (Prodigy Member)

In The Nutty Professor, who came up with the idea of what the family did and said at the table?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

That was the first thing I wrote. Tom Shadayac came over and said wouldn't it be great if Eddie played his whole family. I liked the idea so much, I told him to go downstairs and then wrote the scene in five minutes. So what you see in the film is the scene I wrote, plus a lot of great ad-libbing from Eddie.

TYI Q (Prodigy Member)

Is there anything that you have not done that you would like to do in the future?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I have such a huge list of projects I'd like to do. I get so many different ideas and I don't have time to write. There's a Christmas special for ABC this year--Santa vs. the Snow Man. I got this idea because it seems like we've been watching the same Christmas specials since we were kids. So it will be the story of Santa and the snow man and it escalates to a huge war over who gets to deliver the gifts. This special I'm writing and producing.

I'm working on the special with D&A Productions from Texas. They've been in a lot of the Sick and Twisted animation festivals.

The Sulton (Prodigy Member)

What movie are you working on now?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Today I'm working on the sequel to The Nutty Professor.

CIHRI (Prodigy Member)

Which Hollywood starlet is the best in bed? Either by experience or from what you heard?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

You're asking the wrong guy--I'm married.

SPICKOLI (Prodigy Member)

Who do you think will be the next "Jim Carry"?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Hopefully there won't be the next Jim Carrey but somebody who's funny in his own way. Hollywood has a tendency to like to introduce similar versions of the same person, but it's never as exciting as meeting someone new.

swimguy (Prodigy Member)

What are the chances for an Ace Ventura 3?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I don't think too good. Never say never, but I'm so busy and Jim's so busy, it's tricky to link up together just to say hi. As of right now, it doesn't look good.

CIHRI (Prodigy Member)

Did Eddie Murphy pick up any transvestites while working on The Nutty Professor?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Not to my knowledge, but who knows?

Belle Star (Prodigy Member)

How far back does your funny side go. Were you comedy prone even as a youth?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Yeah. My mother was very gullible. She was the perfect straight person. I used to torture my mom with practical jokes.

BalPlayer (Prodigy Member)

What is your all-time favorite movie, both one you have had a role in and one you have not. Thanks

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Of my films, It's between Nothing to Lose and Nutty Professor.

Belle Star (Prodigy Member)

What do you consider the funniest comedy show on TV these days?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

The Simpsons, followed by Seinfeld. And of course "steve.oedekerk.com" on September 3rd, NBC.

The Sulton (Prodigy Member)

I READ IN THE ENQUIRER THAT YOU WERE DATING EX-PRINCESS DIANA, IS THAT TRUE?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

Isn't everyone?

XEyeDiedX (Prodigy Member)

High Strung was an awesome movie, what inspired the plot?

Steve Oedekerk (Speaker)

I got such a good time when I thought of that character. I made him a compilation of every miserable person I've ever known. He was a guy who was angry at everything.

Thanks a lot for coming out tonight, and please e-mail me your responses after my special airs on 9/03 on NBC. I think it's one of the coolest, weirdest things I've ever done, and I'm anxious to see what people think of it.

Moderator (Speaker)

Steve's email address again is CGIsteve@oedekerk.com, and check out his web page at www.steveoedekerk.com

Thanks for chatting with us tonight, Steve! We're looking forward to NOTHING TO LOSE in the theaters, and your special, "steve.oedekerk.com," on NBC this September (9/10). And thanks to you members for some great questions. If you missed any part of tonight's chat, you can Jump: CHAT TRANSCRIPTS in a few days for a complete transcript.

Good night, everyone. See you next time in the Prodigy Spotlight!

Copyright (c) 1997 Prodigy Services Corp. All Rights Reserved.

18:14ET

Email Me with any Oedekerk Chat Info!! I TRIPLE-DOG(muled)-DARE YA! furrows@i-mockery.com

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