For some directors, trying to make a movie in 12 days with absolutely no script would induce an all-out panic attack. But when Chicago-born comic/actor/director Jeff Garlin decided he wanted to make his latest flick, “Dealin’ with Idiots,” a script-free endeavor, he didn’t hesitate for a moment. Instead, he called up his friends — a who’s who of famous comedic actors like Gina Gershon and Natasha Leggero — and told them that he wanted to improvise a whole movie. They said okay.
When explaining the film’s premise, Garlin says, “My son was playing youth baseball and I observed the behavior of the parents. I thought, ‘There are so many movies about kids and Little League, how about one just about the parents?’ ” So “Dealin’ with Idiots” was born. The film follows Garlin’s character, a famous comedian named Max Morris, as he hangs out with the inane and borderline psychotic parents of his son’s baseball team, all in search of inspiration for his next movie project. The whole thing is improvised by the cast. “The actors didn’t read anything before the scenes,” he explains. “I would tell them where they were before and after. That’s it.”
After starting his career in improv at Second City almost 30 years ago, and steadily building a name as a supporting actor, Garlin — who if you don’t recognize by name or face, you’d know by his loud, guttural and hilarious voice — is riding a career high. He’s starring in his own sitcom “The Goldbergs” on ABC this fall, filming the movie “Laggies” alongside Kiera Knightley and bringing “Idiots” home to Chicago, premiering it at the Music Box Theatre July 12 (he’ll be introducing the movie to fans at the Theatre’s Friday and Saturday showings).
Garlin still has strong loyalties to the local comedy scene. “Everything I do has a lot of Chicago people and Second City alums,” he says. “I probably cast more Second City actors than anyone else.” (There are six in his current movie alone: Ian Gomez, Nia Vardalos, Richard Kind, Fred Willard, Bob Odenkirk and himself.)
In his downtime, he records his own podcast called “By the Way, in Conversation with Jeff Garlin,” a series of off-the-cuff conversations between Garlin and his uber-funny friends like Larry David, Will Ferrell, Aziz Ansari and Judd Apatow. “They’re just fun, cool people,” Garlin says. “I’ve been friends with most of them before they are what they are.”
Here, one of the city’s funniest guys maps out his perfect Sunday back where it all began.
For tickets and more information about the “Dealin’ With Idiots” premiere, visit musicboxtheatre.com
9:30 a.m. Garlin wakes up and treats himself to his favorite breakfast at Eleven City Diner (above, 1112 S. Wabash): lox, eggs and onions.
11 a.m. The actor/director heads to the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport) to take in a classic movie matinée. Coming up? The western “The Big Gundown.”
1 p.m. Garlin walks over to the lake and then up to Montrose Dog Beach. He doesn’t bring a dog; he just likes to watch people play with their dogs, he says.
6 p.m. He grabs an early dinner at local staples Gibson’s (1028 N. Rush) or Tavern on Rush (1031 N. Rush).
8 p.m. A stand-up comic at heart, Garlin takes the stage at Zanies (1548 N. Wells) for a guest set.
10 p.m. He ends the night at his old stomping grounds, doing an improv set with the Second City crew (1616 N. Wells).
Story by Zak Stemer
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