TOM: Him screaming at me. Let's just make that clear. No, but we yell, it's a fight. You know you're seeing long-time friends because ten minutes later it's right back to normal again and there are no problems.
Ray, what do you like about stand-up?
RAY: I feel like stand-up is an extension of who I am. I mean, I know I've been acting awhile now, but I think naturally who I am is a stand-up comic. There's something organic to it for me, something very natural. When I get on stage I feel the most comfortable, I feel it's what I can do best. I'm not saying I'm the best at it, I'm not even saying I'm good at it, I just know that of any talent I have, that's what I've honed and perfected, and I feel the need to do it. It's part of me, it's part of my identity. And to not do it? I don't want to ever stop doing it. Even though I love to act and explore other areas, it's a great outlet for me, it's very creative. You know, it gives me great creative energy to write and perform material, and to be on stage and feel that rhythm and respond to the audience. So I like it, I get a kick out of it.
TOM: I think a lot of people just know, "Oh, hey. There's TV's Ray Romano." But for me and a lot of comics from New York, I knew Ray for seven years or so before the show came about, when he was doing six nights a week of stand-up comedy, sometimes even six or seven shows in one night. So the acting almost feels like a little detour from the stand-up comedy career.
RAY: Yeah, well I started doing stand-up because that was what I wanted to do. It wasn't like, "Hey, this is a way to make money." I wanted to get up on stage and do stand-up. Then of course it became a way to make money, and I was very lucky that I was making money doing what I loved to do. And I didn't think, "Oh, this will also be a great way to get a TV show," that's just the way the business was. Comics were getting these TV shows. So that came along and I said, "Okay, that's great. Let's try it." But all along I thought I was a stand-up comic. So that's still in me. And I'm a dancer.
TOM: There's no difference between Ray being on the tour in this movie and any stand-up comedian out there being on tour, other than there's a little bit more hype, but as far as driving from gig to gig, checking into the hotel, carrying your own luggage, figuring out where to go, getting lost with your map. Every stand-up will look at this and go, "That's life on the road."
RAY: It's the same for me being on the road back before the TV show, except the theaters and the checks are bigger now. But the problems are still the same and the worries are still the same. And my neuroses are still the same.
TOM: The first time we did a tour in Florida, I didn't have enough money for a hotel so I slept in my rental car at a beach rest area. That night I was questioning my career choice. I had left a pretty good-paying finance job and now I was one rental car away from sleeping on a bench. Then Ray flew down the next day and--
RAY: Gave you some dry clothes?
TOM: Yeah, dry clothes and a can of tuna.
RAY: And when we did the tour in the film, your lifestyle was still the same.
TOM: Pretty much. Just more tuna. I remember in Manhattan, Ray would emcee at the Comedy Cellar and he would have to work from 8 PM to 2 AM. So I would come down at midnight.
RAY: And take over.
TOM: Yeah, I'd take over at midnight emceeing at the Comedy Cellar, and as payment he would give me his free meal. So I would get to eat, and he would be able go home to his family.
RAY: You also got stage time.
TOM: Yeah, it was great because I got stage time and a hot meal. The only people who got hurt there were the audience and...
RAY: ...the cook.
Why do you guys drive from gig to gig?
RAY: At that point I was not a good flier. I'm better now because of medications that have come on the market.
TOM: Are you on them now?
RAY: But at that point one of my neuroses was flying. Now, that's one thing people come away with from this movie. I am pretty much a lot more screwed up than they think. They probably see me as being--
TOM: Having it all together?
RAY: Yeah. "He's funny, he's got money. What could possibly be his problems?"
TOM: When they watch the movie, they'll know. But, people end up feeling better about themselves for some reason. I have to defend you here for a second. I've had people say to me after seeing the film, "Why does Ray care whether you order room service?" I have to say, you're a very generous person. Always paying for meals, etc. It's just--
RAY: Well, there are certain things that irk you that you have to pay for. Certain little things that are programmed into you that you don't wanna have to spend extra money for.
TOM: And you spent most of your life not having money.
RAY: Yes, saving money. Trying to save money.
TOM: Like everybody. Saving money. You've got a family. And then all of a sudden you're in a hotel room and it's $60 for a jar of nuts, you know? That type of thing.
RAY: Yeah, it's the principle.
What kind of complications did you have to tackle while piecing the film together?
TOM: Well, the audience doesn't know who I am. We knew that would be a problem we'd have to overcome. Here's Ray, this beloved character in America, and here's this unknown guy who's so buddy-buddy with him. People instantly make assumptions that this guy just wants to be associated with a star.
RAY: We had to let them know that we've been friends forever, otherwise you can't get away with that.
TOM: Yeah, they have to know that we were roommates, that we played softball together, went through a lot of stuff together long before the show. Otherwise the audience is like, "Hey, he's yelling at our Ray. GET HIM!" [They laugh.]
Ray, you mentioned your neuroses. Can you talk a little more about them?
TOM: How about fear of eating. Half of the battle of the movie is me wanting to eat and Ray not wanting to stop for food. I lost ten pounds during that tour.
RAY: I like to time things out. My thing is golfing. My thing is making sure I have time for golf during the day. Also, I make a couple of mind bets.
TOM: There's a scene in this movie that people still can't believe happened. And people ask afterwards, "Did he really do that?"
RAY: Send my clubs home and all that?
TOM: Yeah. Even though we're showing you actually doing it. People don't understand you make these crazy bets in your head.
RAY: They don't realize why I have to stick to them, why I just can't say, "Alright, well, I'm not going to honor that bet." But that's not an option.
TOM: You're an honorable man in your craziness. One year he almost didn't go to the Emmys. He made a bet that he had to make ten free throws in a row or he wouldn't go.
RAY: It was the night before the Emmys and I said, "I have to make nine out of ten free throws between now and when the Emmys come around the next day or I can't go." And I ended up making them.
TOM: Otherwise you wouldn't have gone to the Emmys?
RAY: Yeah, I was already planning, like, "Oh, I'll just say something about how my stomach went wrong or something." I forget why I had to make nine out of ten. There was a reason. I didn't choose that number.
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