Kevin Pollak, in town for Playboy Comedy Tour, digs into celebrity backgrounds with Internet chat show

Kevin Pollak co-starred in “The Usual Suspects” and 89 other movies and TV shows, plus he is known as the comedian who performs the world’s best impression of Christopher Walken.

But he also shares something in common with me. For the past few years, he and I have both (independently) interviewed Jim Gaffigan, Bobby Slayton, Jon Hamm, Matthew Perry, Seth MacFarlane, Eddie Izzard and Craig Ferguson.

Pollak, 52, hosts an Internet TV show where he sits down in a Charlie Rose-esque studio of shadows, and he interviews fellow performers for 90 minutes to two hours each.

These are super, duper long interviews at KevinPollaksChat Show.com.

Like any interviewer worth his salt, he has two big goals: 1) to share an honest conversation with stars while discussing lives, artistic methodology and biographies and 2) to unearth revelations about them.

I ask Pollak — who performs tonight and Saturday at the Palms’ Playboy Comedy Lounge — to debrief his interview techniques.

For one thing, he uses his skills as a comic and poker player to adjust — tailoring his questioning style to each interviewee as the interview progresses.

“As you know, every interview is kind of dictated by the personality of the guest — which takes me back to my stand-up, because every performance is dictated by the energy of the audience.”

(This means he has the chameleon’s trait, as many of us interviewers do. “I’ve always had that,” he says, “and now it’s actually serving me.”)

Unlike me, Pollak has an assistant who gives him as many as 25 pages of research on each guest.

Then he attempts to get something newsworthy out of the interview.

“That’s the goal of the 90 minutes to two-hour chat. If I can’t uncover something in that time frame — the longest interview this person has ever given — then I have completely and utterly failed.”

Pollak has no live audience, since he knows firsthand that crowds change entertainers’ behavior.

“The whole reason I’ve never done it in front of an audience is because the first thing I want to do is remove the performer’s ego, because it’s always there. If there’s anyone in the room to perform to, they will. We all will — those of us who crave the attention of hey-look-at-me disease.”

He takes as long as 10 minutes to try to relax an interviewee. The only person he couldn’t get to relax was Adam Carolla — which is funny, because Carolla himself hosts the No. 1 podcast/interview show online.

Carolla and Pollak are friends. But he admits of Carolla:

“I felt like I was being yelled at for an hour. I mean, that’s his demeanor. That’s his vocal decibel, anyways. But I couldn’t get a grasp on whether he was comfortable enough to converse or not.”

(I’ve had the same problem interviewing Carolla. He seemed uncomfortable being interviewed in a news manner, which may explain why his publicist turned down interview requests a few months ago.)

Bottom line, Pollak says his “big picture” goal is simply to chat with stars to feed his hunger for biographies.

“People’s journeys fascinate the hell out of me.”

Pollak got sucked into this Internet chat show more than a year ago, after he merely larked to a friend who owns Mahalo.com that he’d like to host a Charlie Rose-esque show but with a sense of humor.

Pollak’s friend said, “How soon can you start?”

Pollak fretted, “Oh no. What have I just done?” But then he thought: Why not? He had been a guest on the major talk shows, dating back to Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson.

“There was no greater thrill than making Carson laugh. But the only conversations happened on Rose, Tom Snyder and Bob Costas.

“It was that conversation that I missed,” he says. “And before I knew it, it had taken over my life. … But we won a Streamy Award, so it’s all worth it,” he jokes.

The chat show is free to see. That may change soon.

“I think we’re very close to the podcast not being free,” Pollak says. “The bandwidth alone dictates somebody’s gotta pay for this.”

He also needs validation beyond 500,000 downloads a month.

“At some point, if you don’t get paid, you lose self-worth, it doesn’t feel important, it doesn’t feel valid.”

It’s hard to monetize anything online, astonishingly, partly because big companies don’t sponsor shows with “swearing” — despite the fact that the most popular podcasts are full of swearing.

And online viewers expect to get everything for free after they’ve paid to have the Internet pumped into their homes.

“This generation had a choice between a cable bill and an Internet bill. They’d rather pay $29.95 (for Internet). That generation of 18- to 25-year-olds is expanding every day. It’s amazing to see that evolution and be a part of it.”

Pollak is considering letting iTunes (which uploads his show for free) post just 30 minutes or so for free. Then viewers would make a few clicks to pay 99 cents to get the rest of an interview, or $5 for a full month.

Pollak sounds cautious about this plan.

“For 90 minutes to two hours, 99 cents doesn’t seem that bad?” he asks tentatively. “Does it?

“If it’s $5 a month, I think that’s the cheapest entertainment anyone’s gonna get out there.”

Maybe. But for a few dollars more, there’s gobs and gobs of porn and eBay trash.

Competition on the Internet is an orgy of distractions. Can Pollak’s intellectual funhouse break through that money pit?

Doug Elfman’s column appears Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail him at delfman@ reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"The Lion King" roars into Las Vegas
New music club 172 brings loud luxury to Las Vegas
New music venue at the Rio brings rock ’n’ roll and food together at intimate club. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fans fear for Zak Bagans’ safety in Las Vegas Halloween TV special
Fly Linq zip line time lapse
Fly Linq zip line timelapse
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu (Al Mancini Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like