Larry Miller doesn't feel the need to be funny all the time. Like when you ask why he's doing a benefit for the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Staller Center Wednesday night.
"It's blessing enough to perform," says the Valley Stream native who starred in the film and TV series "10 Things I Hate About You," among many other smaller but no less memorable roles. Not to mention stand-up, books, blogs, podcasts . . . "All the creative forms are a joy to me. Autism seems to be getting both better and worse at the same time. You can despair. You can bring drugs and terror into the world.
"Or you can do comedy."
OK. Let's talk comedy. We chatted by phone, 6 a.m. West Coast time, from his Southern California home.
Is there any connection between your "Not Guilty" blog and your new one-man show "Cocktails With Larry Miller"?
My dad was the only guy I knew who could tell the difference between Schaefer and Schlitz. Little things like that make me chuckle at the great wonder of being alive. Who needs guilt?
In front of the camera, you've had a number of small roles that played big, starting with "Pretty Woman." How did that come about?
From me doing my job and a casting associate doing hers. I was working comedy and doing a play at the same time. Dori Zuckerman was always trying to spot a new face. She saw me in both. At a casting meeting, [director] Garry Marshall asked if anyone came to mind for this part. She said, "As a matter of fact . . . . "
Did the doorman role on "Seinfeld" come from any personal experience living in Manhattan?
No. Jerry and I were friends since we were baby Long Island comics. He called out of the blue, offered a part and asked if I wanted to hear about it. I said, "Not really." I knew the writing was brilliant. I just showed up and read the lines - like Spencer Tracy used to say: "Read the words and don't bump into any furniture."
What's next for you?
What isn't? That's why I get up early. I love the new media. My podcast ["This Week With Larry Miller"] is No. 23. No revenue stream yet, but would I rather be in on the next big thing or wait for vaudeville to come back?
WHAT Cody Center Comedy Festival, starring Larry Miller
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Wednesday at Staller Center, Stony Brook University, preceded at 6 by "Funny Bone" reception at the Wang Center next door
INFO $30, $150 for reception and show; stonybrookmedicalcenter.org/codycenter, 631-632-4466