Brian Scott McFadden Interview
Interview by Jono Simrin
Brian Scott McFadden’s new album, What Women Want, is like some kind of hilarious melting pot, showcasing Brian’s various comedic talents and proving why he is a fixture of the New York comedy scene. Whether he’s impersonating his war-troubled Russian trainer or providing all-too-insightful insights into relationships, Brian keeps the laughs coming. I got the chance to chat with Brian right before he flew to Jordan to participate in the Amman Stand-Up Comedy Festival.
Rooftop: I really appreciate you taking some time to chat with me right before you set off for Jordan.
BSM: Interviewing comedians is always a weird issue. I’ve noticed my favorite comedian who gets interviewed is Gilbert Gottfried, who never, ever answers a question straight. There’s always that paradox of when they ask a comedian a question. They really want to know the answer or they just want to cue him to say something funny. They asked Gilbert whether that was his real voice. He said, “No. Actually, I have an Irish brogue.” That was my favorite response to a comedy question I’ve ever seen.
Rooftop: Tell me how you got involved with the Amman Stand-Up Comedy Festival.
BSM: I was approached by Dean Obeidallah. He saw me on Letterman and he’s a regular at the Comic Strip and he thought I would be somebody that they would like over there. So they requested me to participate in this festival. They bring in international comedians and it’s supposed to be a great and wonderful time.
Rooftop: With all this traveling, you’ll probably encounter the new airport security measures. Are you more of a screening or pat-down kind of guy?
BSM: I go naked through the entire airport. I strip down to flip-flops and I just wander through aimlessly. You might have seen me on CNN or TMZ.
Rooftop: New York and its vastly diverse population play a central role in your material. How do you think your comedy will translate to audiences outside of NYC?
BSM: When I was in Scotland, I would do New York accents and they would just laugh hysterically. I’m not sure why that is, but [In thick New York accent.] it’s me. You talk like these friggin’ New York guys. I think American culture is so popular overseas that all these films and everything else have made an impression on the zeitgeist of other countries and I don’t even know what zeitgeist means, but whatever it is, it’s left an impression.
Rooftop: How do you go about developing the various characters in your material?
BSM: They ask actors, “Tell us about your process.” I’m not sure who that’s for, except for people who watch Inside the Actors Studio, but I love to do characters who are basically in the wrong place, saying the wrong thing, or hearing them say things with a voice that you totally don’t expect. A tough New York guy, pouring his heart out to his girlfriend in a thick New York accent is something that I just find very endearing. “Hey, how ya doin’ people?” So you think this guy’s a jerk and then he ends up reading a poem to his girlfriend. That CNN bit—there’s really no joke in that. There seems to be training for the British reporters on CNN: “A young child, a child’s bicycle, an abandoned bookcase, and a piece of lint. Things you might see in any conflict, but here, pictures of a conflict that seems to have no end.” They do this iconic, kind of staccato rhythm thing that sort of just—you go, “What does that mean? Why is he talking like that?”
Rooftop: As a voice actor, you’ve provided the voice of the donkey from Shrek for a commercial filmed in Ireland. What was it like to bring the voice of Eddie Murphy to the people of Ireland?
BSM: In the voiceover world, they often ask you to do voices of people, because the guy who does them wants too much money. I don’t know why anyone would ask me to do the voice of the donkey from Shrek for a mayonnaise commercial. I think that may have caused the collapse of the Irish economy.
Rooftop: Are you noticing any changes in the voiceover world?
BSM: When they used to do Disney movies, they had voice guys who would just do the voices for the Disney characters and you didn’t know who they were. Now, because Mel Gibson or whoever needs more money, they do Antz and they get Sylvester Stallone to do one of the ants. And if you took Eddie Murphy and Mike Meyers out of Shrek, you really don’t have a movie there. It’s all celebrity voices and then they bring in guys like me to do the fill-in character voices in the background which is a lot of fun, because I was in Ice Age and I was in Robots with Robin Williams. So I can always tell people I was in a movie with Halle Berry. Yes, Halle was a joy to work with and even though I was in a studio 9,000 miles away and never met her, but I can say working with Halle Berry was a fascinating experience. She’s a total professional and she’s more beautiful in person, even though I didn’t meet her in person.