Episode 054 – Jamie Alcroft
Welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I am your host Richard Matthews, (@AKATheAlchemist) and you are listening to episode #54 with Jamie Alcroft – The Splendours of Voice Acting & Comedy and Living Life for Two.
Jamie Alcroft entertained audiences as one-half of the comedy duo Mack & Jamie for over 35 years. His appearances with Mack on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno lead to 125 original episodes of the syndicated half-hour COMEDY BREAK WITH MACK & JAMIE. Jay Leno said, “…Mack and Jamie are at the top. They are the funniest duo, working today!”
Jamie is also in the elite corps of LA Voice Actors. Providing voices for many National Commercials, plus The Simpsons, Rugrats, Power Beach, Justice League, Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights and scores of Video Games, most recently Gears of War I & II & III & IV, Transformers Halo, and numerous film looping for celebrities such as Sean Connery, Harrison Ford and even John Lennon.
Jamie was named “Westlake Village Citizen of the Year” for his successful fundraising for area schools. He has been named one of the “Top 25 Most Influential People in Ventura County.” He can be seen on YOUTUBE, with Phil Proctor of Firesign Theatre, by going to BOOMERS ON A BENCH.
Jamie recently published THE TIN MAN DIARIES which recounts his adventures at Cedars Sinai as he received a new heart and liver. He has since become an Ambassador for One Legacy/Donate Life and he speaks to groups about Organ Donorship.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
- What is the business aspect of voice acting?
- Discovering the luxuries of running a voice over business.
- As a voice actor, your agent is your source of work.
- Make use of the protection that the agency you work for can provide.
- The journey from silversmithing, to radio voice acting, to comedy, and back again to voice acting and podcasting.
- The superhero who saved Jamie from congestive heart failure.
- A superhero will do the right thing at the right time.
- If you need to share something on stage, you have a secret to share and that gives you a superpower.
- Laughter – may not be the best – but it is a good medicine.
- If you can extrapolate, exaggerate, and surprise, then you’ve got comedy!
- Your life partner knows more about you than anyone else.
- Follow the right path and pay attention to the signals from the cosmos.
The HERO Challenge
Today on the show, Jamie Alcroft challenged his sister to be a guest on The HERO Show.
How To Stay Connected With Jamie Alcroft
Want to stay connected with Jamie? Please check out his social profiles below.
Also, Jamie mentioned his book, “The Tin Man Diaries” on the show. You can find that on Amazon.
- Podcast: Things I Found Online
- Facebook & Twitter: Jamie Alcroft
Call To Adventure
Don’t forget you can stay connected to me and the show by subscribing now. Just text ALCHEMY to 444999. Or you put your email address in the box at the bottom of this page. You’ll get all sorts of cool gifts, be updated about our contests and polls, and get notified when we publish new episodes. With that… let’s get to listen to the episode…
The Webinar Alchemy Workshop: https://richardmatthews.me/fs/waw-slf/
Welcome back to The HERO Show.
My name is Richard Matthews and I am here on the line
with James Alcroft. James, are you there?
I am here, Richard.
Awesome. Glad to have you here.
And for those of you who are regular watchers of the show,
I’m back in my car again. We’re up in Washington
and I’m at a Starbucks today for our travels.
Let me do a quick introduction for Jamie. It should be a lot of fun.
He’s got some interesting stuff that he’s done in his past.
So Jamie, you said you entertained audiences as one-half of the comedy duo
“Mack and Jamie” for over 35 years. You have appearances
with Mack on “The Tonight Show” with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.
Lead 225 original episodes of the syndicated half-hour
Comedy Break with Mack and Jamie.
Jay Leno said Mack and Jamie are the top
–they are the funniest duo working today.
You’re also in the elite core of LA Voice Actors
providing voices for national commercials, Simpsons, Rugrats,
Power Beach, Justice League, Adam Sandler’s 8 Crazy Nights.
A bunch of video games, including Gears of War, Transformers,
Halo, and a bunch of other stuff.
So, really interesting, interesting career you’ve had.
I could never… I could never hold a job.
Yeah, so what’s interesting to me is… I thought–in my head
–before I’ve talked to you on the phone here that voice acting
would have been more like a job and less like a business. So I’m curious.
What is it that you’re known for? What’s your business like now?
Explain to the audience what the business aspect of voice acting is?
Well, I never wanted to have to go into the office.
So I auditioned many, many years ago. My agent called me.
I was with William Morris at the time because Mack and Jamie had just
gotten off their TV series, Comedy Break,
and He said, “James, I need you to do a parrot.”
And I said, “Oh, I can do a parrot.”
I thought that’s what he wanted.
He said, “No, that’s not what they want. They want a very unique voice.
And you can go in tomorrow and audition.”
And I auditioned for a little parrot that walked out for Whiskas cat food,
and the parrot basically said, “Okay, kitty cats. Read my beak.
No more birds for dinner. Instead, try new Recipe Whiskas.”
So the bird was standing right next to a cat.
And the idea was that the cat preferred cat food over eating the bird.
And I was always threatened and always in danger.
But it was fun because when I went into the audition,
I ad libbed the last line, the tagline and I read the material they gave me
and then the end of it I said, “Remember, love thy neighbors don’t eat them.”
And they said, “Oh my gosh, that’s the greatest tagline we’ve heard. Oh, that’s great.”
So I did that commercial for four years. And when you do a national commercial,
you can make about $140,000 a year. And at the time, I also had a couple of
on-camera commercials running. So it can be quite lucrative, and I liked it.
I liked the idea that I didn’t have to shave and I didn’t have to look a certain way.
And I can go in wearing my shorts and my t-shirt and do the job.
So I became a voice actor. And it’s been really, really great
because now I can do it over the phone,
I can actually talk my audition into my voice memo.
And then I can send it to my agent and rather than having to drive in.
For years and years, when I got an audition,
I knew it was a three-hour investment my time.
It took me an hour to drive into Hollywood,
and took me an hour to do the audition
and sit around waiting for the booth to be ready.
And then another hour to come back. So that was a three hour investment.
Now, I just go into my closet, which is my studio, because the suits
and the sports coats baffle everything. And I do my auditions,
and I get the jobs. And when you get the jobs you go into the recording studios,
of course, and voiceover recording studios are fantastic.
You walk in in the morning and there’s someone there making breakfast.
You ordered what kind of omelet you want or scrambled eggs.
It’s a very luxurious game. And I said,
“Gee, I like this.”
So rather than getting on an airplane and flying somewhere
and making a large group of people laugh with Mack,
I started to move into the area of just doing voices.
And it is really fun. As a matter of fact,
last night I was at a comedy club here in LA
and I ran into Tom Kenny. Do you know who Tom Kenny is?
He is Sponge Bob Square Pants.
Oh, there you go.
Yeah, he’s made his living as Sponge Bob and he’s a millionaire because of it.
That’s crazy. So I’m curious how does the business work as a voice actor?
Do you have to go out and find jobs that you potentially are a fit for?
How do you get work?
Your agent. What you have to do–the first thing you do is get an agent.
I was lucky when I did my first voiceover as the parrot.
I was with William Morris. I did that and during the course of the four years
I moved to an agency called Sutton Barth and Vennari
and I became good friends with one of the booth directors there.
She then went and formed her own agency. Her name is Sandie Schnarr.
She formed Sandie Schnarr Talent and took a lot of the clients
from Sutton Barth with her. Then she was joined by Peter Verano from Cunningham.
Cunningham’s a big voiceover agency in town here.
So, Sandie and Peter runs AVO talent now
and I’m one of the very lucky people who are one of the clients of AVO talent.
So when something comes across their desk,
they want somebody from Liverpool or something to do
the Beatles or something like that. Or perhaps they’re looking for the
Sean Connery sound-like. Or maybe a Ronald Reagan sound like
which I did a couple of weeks ago. They say “Well, Jamie can do that.”
They give me a call, I audition. And if the client likes me, I get the gig.
And that’s how you do it. It’s a great, great way of making a living.
I can travel as you do. I can travel all over the world.
Now, I can just send in my auditions, and if I get the job,
they will arrange for me to go to a studio in whatever town I’m in and record it.
Whether I’m in Italy, or Pittsburgh, or Montana, it doesn’t matter.
They’ll arrange for a studio because just about every town has a studio.
A couple of times, I’ve gone to radio stations, and I recorded my job there.
That’s really interesting. So when the client hires you,
are they hiring your agency and your hired through the agency or they hire you directly?
They hire me. Well, of course through the agency,
the agency does all the contracting and everything.
And it’s also through SAG AFTRA–Screen Actors Guild,
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists which is my union.
And so I’m protected, I’m protected.
And if somebody wants me to do a particular job
and it’s going to take four hours they know that I’m going to get $875 per hour
because that’s the scale. That’s the rate–the going rate.
I happened to do a job several weeks ago that was $16,000 per four–hour session.
So I did two four-hour sessions and that was 32. Okay, which is very nice.
So when you get something that syndicated like
the national commercial or a video game, do you make royalties on that as a voice actor?
Well now, video games have changed.
For years and years, we never made royalties. Now we have. ..
Just as of about a year and a half ago, we passed a law at the agency.
It was a tough fight with the video companies.
But now the video companies pay us a sliding scale of percentage of
–something like Gears of War. They sold 300 million copies in the first week
that it was released. And the voiceover actors never got a penny of that.
But now we do get a share of that, which is great.
Now, if you do a national commercial, whether it’s on radio or television,
you do get a residual from that. The residuals are hefty at first,
and then they taper off. So like all these TV shows,
you see. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and Mash go back as far as you want.
They’re making residuals. So every time it runs,
I often will get a residual check for maybe $4 and 75 cents
from the Simpsons that ran over in Indonesia.
You know, you never know.
So you spend that all in one place. Right?
You take it to Starbucks and get a coffee with the $4.
Yeah, yeah. The lady at the bank is used to me coming in,
because I have cashed residual checks for 38 cents, or $1, or $12, whatever.
And I actually have a residual check for one penny, which I never cashed in. I framed that.
So, let’s talk a little bit about your origin story. Right?
Every hero has an origin story. Sort of where you discovered your talent.
Where you started to discover that you could add value to people’s lives
with your entertainment–with your voice. How’d that come about for you?
Well, I was…
I apprenticed to a silversmith on a horse ranch in Colorado in 1972.
And I learned the art of silversmithing and I started making jewelry.
My jewelry became quite popular. So I had an outlet in Aspen
and I had a store and Silverton, Colorado. Which is a charming little place.
You’re traveling around. Don’t miss the San Juan’s in southern Colorado,
they’re just beautiful. And then someone admired my jewelry
and offered me a storefront in Key West Florida, on Wall Street.
So I went down there and opened a storefront Key West Florida.
I had a custom shop on one side and the other side of my store was just jewelry
that we bought from vendors. So that’s the way I built up
my resources and my income was a you know…
I would do custom work, which was very expensive.
And then we would have a less expensive jewelry on the other side
so people would want a piece of my jewelry but they maybe couldn’t afford it.
So what they did was they acquiesced and got a piece of jewelry from my store.
They still could say “We bought this from Jamie Alcroft at Hi Ho Silver in Key West.”
And they could still say that. One of the great stories was when there was
an actor who was on our show called Hollywood Squares.
His name is Paul Lynde. It’s a generational thing.
You may not remember Paul, but he was the voice of the rat in Charlotte’s Web.
And he talks like this. Right. He had this kind of voice. It was very kind of snarky.
And he came in my store one day, and he admired a belt buckle.
And he said, “Oh, I love that buckle.” So in his voice, I said back to him.
“I call it my quick release.” And he said, “What do you mean?”
So press the turquoise on the top of the buckle and the buckle pops open.
Well, Paul was a gay man. And he bought the buckle
and gave it to his recent boyfriend and from that point on
and over the last three years, he probably bought 10 buckles from me.
He would just pop his head in the store he said, “Jamie.
I need another buckle.” And I say, “Go quick release?”
He said, “Oh, you betcha!” So
that was our running joke.
And I would stay up late at night.
Making jewelry in the shop–filling the orders that come in whether it was
for a belt buckle, or a bracelet, or a ring, or pendant.
And I listened to a radio station that was in town.
And they played great, great music. But their commercials
were really bad–really corny. Really, really amateur.
And so I just walked into the radio station one day.
I was coming back from from lunch–going back to my shop.
And the radio station was on the fourth story of the La Concha Hotel in Key West.
And I went up and I said, “Listen, can I talk to your program manager?”
And she said, “Oh, yeah, he’s right here.” And he said,
“How can I help you?” And I said, “Well, I do voices
and I can help you make your commercials a little more interesting
and perhaps more compelling, and maybe make your advertisers happier
because right now your music i s great. Your commercials.”
He said, “I know. I know what you mean. I agree. I agree. Can you start tomorrow?”
“What do you want me to do?”
He said, “Come in at six. Say 5:30 AM and pick out your records
and you’ll go on the air at six, you’ll be our new morning, man.”
So all of a sudden, I was on the air from 6AM to 10AM,
playing rock and roll in Key West Florida, in the middle of the 1970s.
The halcyon days to be in Key West, let me tell you that. I was entertaining people.
And I would meet people on the street. And they would say,
“Gee, you know, that was funny what you did this morning,
and I liked what you said this morning.
And that really touched me or the music you played,
really meant a lot to me today. Can you play this?”
And I realized how music was affecting their lives,
and what I was saying and doing was affecting their lives.
And I thought this is really powerful. You can get on an ego trip about it.
You can also say, “Hey, I could make a living doing this
and I wouldn’t have to be burning silver and melting this and doing that.”
because being a silversmith is quite a bit of work.
Just to make a simple bracelet like this is probably 11 hours to do something like that.
I thought, well, this is fun. I left the silver smithing behind.
I got into radio and one day I got a note when I got off the air.
It said, “You must be one of the funniest men in Key West.
I’m the other one.” signed Mack Dryden. Well, I went over to Mack’s house.
We wrote an act together as a duo. We drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale
and worked in clubs. Well, there was one club up in Fort Lauderdale
called The Comic Strip, which was a branch of the comic strip
which was in New York City. And they would bring, for their New York comics,
down to Fort Lauderdale every week. So Mack and I were in the enviable position
of working with Paul Reiser, Rick Overton, Jerry Seinfeld, Bobcat Goldthwait,
Dennis Wolfberg, Carol Leifer, all these great, great comics
who were coming up at the time. They encouraged us to go to New York and we did.
We were in New York for four months and they signed us as clients.
I was offered Saturday Night Live, but I passed because I wanted to stick with the team.
I thought it would be better to stick with the team
and I’m really glad I didn’t take it because that happened to be the cast of
Saturday Night Live that is notorious for being the worst cast ever.
Just it was when
Dick Ebersol took it over from Lorne Michaels.
Lorne was in some sort of dispute with NBC.
And if you read the book about it, it’s pretty interesting Dick Ebersol took over
and that’s why they picked me but I said no. I stuck with “Mack and Jamie”.
We came out to LA to do the “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”.
And we stayed. We were the sketch comedy players on a show called Solid Gold.
And then we got our own show, Comedy Break with Mack and Jamie,
which was a sketch comedy. So we picked out these two actors
that we wanted to work with doing the sketches
and one of them was named Jan Hooks, who later went on to do Saturday Night Live.
And the other guy that we picked out to work with this was guy named Kevin Pollak
who is now on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
He has done a lot of wonderful work over the years.
Yeah, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the Amazon show, right?
Yeah. Yes. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I believe it’s an Amazon or Netflix.
It might be one of those two. I think it’s Amazon.
But either way that’s really cool. So you went from silver smithing to radio
and voice acting to comedy and then back into voice acting.
Back into voice acting.
Yeah, and now you know, I’m doing podcast. So what can I tell you? And then? Oh
In 2005 I was on an airplane flying back from Seattle.
And I had a massive coronary. Big old heart attack called the widow maker.
And I was very lucky I had symptoms and they got me to a hospital in Portland
and took care of me. I lived for the next 12 years with a pacemaker and a stent.
I but I spent the extra money on a pacemaker.
I got XM Sirius Radio and Climate Control and On Star
because I didn’t know where the hell I was half the time
and I kept locking myself out of my bathrobe.
So I got On Star which was really convenient.
And that thing kept me alive for 12 years. And then two years ago,
in July 2017, I started to feel really bad.
I’ll share this with you, Richard, because you may have listeners
out there that have the same symptoms.
When I would lay down I would run out of breath.
I looked it up online, and it said it was
one of the primary symptoms of congestive heart failure.
So I had lived with 20% of my heart for 12 years.
You’re working on about 60 to 70% right now, but the pacemaker kept me going.
I was on 20% and I was doing fine. I was still going on cruise ships–excuse me,
working with Mack on cruise ships.
And then I called my doctor and I said,
“You know, I’m laying down and I’m running out of breath.
I had to sleep sitting up in a chair last night.” and he said,
“Well, you take a drive to my office right now.” I did. He tested me.
They threw me in Cedars-Sinai into the heart transplant unit.
And I was there for the next three months, awaiting a new heart.
Because my heart had given out on me. Now, it was congenital.
My grandfather had the same condition and my uncle had the same condition.
So we’re keeping a close eye on my children to make sure they don’t have that condition.
But these days, they’re much more advanced ways of dealing with it.
And they may not have to have a transplant like I did.
Coincidentally, yesterday was the two year celebration, my transplant.
So, two years ago at this time, I was laying in bed–out. Out!
And listen, whoever said laughter is the best medicine has never had a morphine drip.
I guarantee you that. I was out on the morphine and hallucinating and dreaming.
I was in an induced coma for about three days.
And then they brought me out and they give you the scar that they call the Mercedes.
But I’d like to think of it as a peace sign because I’m an old hippie.
So but it’s straight down and then off to the side and they just opened up for 12 hours.
It’s a 12-hour operation. It was pretty wild because I was laying on the gurney,
about to be operated on. And the nurse turned to me she said,
“Mr. Alcroft, do you feel warm? Are you comfortable enough?”
And I said, “Yeah, I’m fine. Everything’s great. If I feel terrific. Thank you.”
You know, I was very excited about the possibility of maybe living.
She said, “Okay, that’s fine, Mr. Alcroft, thank you.”
and she turned around then she came back and she said,
“Mr. Alcroft, are you warm enough? Are you comfortable?”
And I said, “Yeah, I just told you that.” She said, “Oh, that was 12 hours ago.”
Yeah. And that’s what it was. It was wild.
So I woke up with a 46 year-old heart.
And they also replaced my liver because my heart had beat up on my liver.
I had what they call heart induced cirrhosis.
Of course my reaction to that was you mean I could have drank more?
You’re kidding me. It’s heart induced cirrhosis? Woah.
I got the heart and the liver from the same donor.
And this is The Hero Show, you know. You’re talking about entrepreneurs
wanting to make a difference in their lives.
And I know most of the entrepreneurs I’ve met, want to make a difference
in the world. It goes beyond just bettering their own circumstance.
I find that the entrepreneurs, the good entrepreneurs,
the true ones really want to make the world better.
And my donor was the biggest hero you would ever find.
My donor was a hero, because the definition of a hero is doing the right thing
at the right time. And he did the right thing at the right time.
He filled out his donor card when he got his driver’s license, and that saved my life.
God bless him. He was on a motorcycle going somewhere,
maybe just out for a loaf of bread; maybe just out for a drive on his bike to clear his head.
But he never made it back. However, he did make it back through me.
So I’m living for two now. That guy, you know, you want to talk about heroism?
You if you’re an organ donor, you’re a hero. Because your legacy will live on.
You know, I talked about the entrepreneurs that want to make the world better.
Well, donors want to make the world better too and want to leave that legacy
because I don’t know what this guy’s name is but I talked to him every day.
Every day I talk to my donor and I pay tribute to his heroism and people say,
“Oh, you were such a hero living through what you live through.”
And that’s really not true. I think I was a victim.
And my heroes were the people that were all around me.
My heroes were my family. My wife. My two daughters. My son.
The heroes were my doctors. My Heart team and my liver team who kept me going
and kept me knowing that everything was going to be okay that
they were going to make it work. And the biggest hero out of them all was my donor.
I call him Bryan. I spell it with a Y. Just to be kind of you know…
But I do every day. I say I was driving my convertible the other day.
I bought an old Alfa Romeo 66 Duettto and I was driving home
from having a swim at the YMCA. And I just felt so good and I just looked up
and I said “Thanks Bryan. Thanks, Bryan. This is great.”
So he is my hero. And anybody who becomes an organ donor can become
a hero as well and will live on for years and years past their death
through the legacy of the person that they gave eight organs to.
You can give lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, corneas.
You can give eyesight to the blind. A lot of people say,
“Oh, I’m too old. Nobody wants my stuff anymore.”
And that’s not true because they love old skin.
Because old skin is a little more stretchable and malleable
when it comes to helping out those burn victims and saving their lives with your skin.
I met a fellow who had a tendon that had been donated by an organ donor.
He got it up in his leg and was able to walk for the first time
since he was injured in Afghanistan.
Yeah. My brother had a meniscus in his knee.
Yeah, that was because of he had a motorcycle accident that destroyed part of his leg.
He had to have a transplant for I guess it’s called a meniscus.
I don’t actually know what that is. But I think it’s the padding
between the top of your leg and the bottom of your leg.
Yeah. That’s fantastic. And he’s doing …
… he’ll be able to walk for the rest of his life.
Yeah, he’s doing great now, a number of years.
So, I want to talk a little bit about your superpowers.
So we’ve talked a little bit about your superpower.
Your voice acting, that kind of stuff. If you could nail it down what your superpower is…
How did you develop it? Like, what would you say that is for you?
…with all the hubris I can muster, I think it’s my ability to entertain people.
To walk into a room full of strangers and make friends.
I really, really love my species. If I have a superpower,
it’s my love of my species I just get such a kick out of bringing joy
and enlightenment to people’s lives. And
you know it’s not always the easiest thing to do.
I think that’s why I was so comfortable doing stand up all those years,
because you’re standing in front of a crowd of strangers
and you leave them with something that they never came in the room with.
People have said to me, “Oh, I’m really nervous about getting up
and talking in front of people.” And, “You know, I’ve got some ideas about
what I want to say, but I’m really nervous about getting up and talking to them.”
And I always say “Look, you have a secret, you know what you’re going to say.
And that gives you a superpower. That gives you a superpower to go out there
and not be intimidated by them because they’re civilians.
And you’re the superhero. And they’re just a bunch of civilians out there.
And you are going to enlighten them. You’re going to make them laugh.
You may change their lives. You never know.” I’ve had cancer victims come up to me
after the show and say, “You know, that’s the first time I’ve laughed in two years…
and thank you.” because laughter is–it may not be the best–but it’s really good medicine.
So I’m the other side of a superpower is your fatal flaw, right?
The fatal flaw is something that holds you back from either
growing your business or growing your influence.
Maybe you’ve struggled with over the years to do what you do.
What would you say that is? And more importantly,
how have you combat that for other people who might have suffered
from something similar? How they can work on that in their own lives?
You’re talking about my kryptonite?
Yeah. Your kryptonite. Superman has his kryptonite. What’s yours?
Well, boy, that is a tough one even though I knew you were going to ask me that.
I’m just replaying it in my mind and trying to think of what it is and
it probably is…
Sometimes I don’t have as much of a filter as I should.
And I think that what I have to say is more important than
what’s going on in the current situation. I get what my wife calls greedy.
I get greedy. And it’s not about attention people say
“Where are you always on? Why are you always doing voices?
Why are you always trying to make people laugh?
Or make people yawn in your case?”
I have a baby at home that woke me up a whole bunch last night. So it’s not you.
How old is the baby?
Oh, geez. I have a granddaughter who is four months.
I know the feeling my daughter’s going.
My daughter and son are going through the same thing.
Yeah, yeah. And I got a toddler who’s getting up
in the middle of the night to go potty too.
So I think I was up like eight times last night. So it’s definitely not you.
Okay, all right. If you need to put your Binky in your mouth, I’ll be okay.
Yeah, people say
“Why are you doing this?” And, I guess my kryptonite is that I’m bored. I’m bored.
That makes sense.
Oh, I’m basically entertaining myself. My mind works quickly.
And I jump ahead and I co-host a podcast called Things I Found Online.
And I always jump in with the funny things. My producer said to me yesterday,
“What was that thing you said? It was really hilarious.”
I don’t know. I don’t know, I was just… Why did you remember that?
I was just entertaining myself at the time. We’re talking about…
Oh, I know what it was. We’re talking about online dating.
And I said, “Well, I didn’t meet my wife online. I met my wife in person.
But we decided to date online for two years just to see
how it was going to work out.” You know, she thought that was pretty funny.
And for me, I was just extrapolating–
doing what I’m sure you do in your podcast very often.
You kind of bounce off of what somebody else has said to you
and you extrapolate what your reality is and what’s going on in your head.
And if you can extrapolate and exaggerate and surprise, then you’ve got comedy.
Absolutely. So how have you been working on that in your own life?
Working on improving your filter and paying more attention
to the people that are around you?
I have been working on that. How I do that is by reminding myself
not being forgetful.
When, like my wife said to me the other day you’re being greedy.
Well, I listened to her. She’s my life partner and she’s my soul mate.
So I know that she knows probably more about me than I do.
Because I feel I know more about her than she does.
And so that resonated with me. And it’s just one of those
things you file away in that Rolodex in your head
are those those files in your head, and you just keep it present.
And when you go into a situation like in the comedy club last night
–you’re several groups of people and they’re all these comedians
talking to each other. Of course, comedians talking to each other,
everybody’s trying to get in and get the last word or any word
in edgewise for that matter. And I wasn’t greedy, I backed off.
I actually didn’t talk to a couple people that I wanted to talk to
because I wanted to talk to them, and they didn’t necessarily want to talk to me.
You know, they may have wanted to. But I decided to take the tack of
assuming that they were happy talking to the person they were currently talking to,
and I didn’t need to enter the conversation. So I’m, you know what I mean?
It’s a, it’s a hard lesson for those of us who like to talk to people.
Sometimes we think we’re the center of attention.
The world, unfortunately, does not revolve around me.
Copernicus came up with that one. I think,
My wife teases me regularly. I tell her–just one of our running jokes is
–I don’t particularly like onions. And I’m sure she’ll put onions and then
I was like, “Oh, you put onions. You did it again.”
She’s like, “Remember, dear, the world doesn’t revolve around you.”
and I’m like, “But it should…”
Really, well when it comes to onions I
practice a little restraint there. Just let you put your own onions in…
Just make them separate.
…make onions on the side and you put the onions in yours and none in mine cuz
Yeah. That’s a good idea. That’s a good idea.
But that’s what a marriage is about. It is making those concessions.
Somebody told me the other day that the key to a good marriage is a bad memory.
That’s 100% accurate.
Yeah that is not a percent accurate too. Yeah. So except when I said
“I don’t remember saying that.” Where did we get this? And it’s great.
My wife can remember where we got everything in the house.
I’ll, hold up something. I’ll hold up this little shell.
I’ll say where did we get this shell? And she knows exactly where we got it.
When we Got it. I do too actually. We got it in San Luis Obispo.
That’s funny. So I’ll talk a little bit about your driving force.
Spider Man fights to save New York. Batman fights to save Gotham
or Google fights to index all the world’s information.
What is it that you fight for in the work that you do?
What do you mean? How does comedy and voice acting…
With the work I do, I try to…
I am on Facebook with a group of comedians.
And we comment on daily activities of our alleged lawmakers and alleged leaders.
And you know, we often take a very funny, funny tack because we are comedians.
We try to say something funny about what’s going on at a particular time.
And then I’ll have people who
and say, “No, this is not true.”
And I’ll say, “Well, no, it is true. They’re just denying it.
And because they’re denying it doesn’t make it not true.”
When you go and do stand up, you stand on stage.
You really have to work on truth from your belief system.
There are people out there that aren’t going to believe what you say,
but okay, okay, It’s like this. I gotta bring religion into it to give you this example.
When I was in the hospital and got my heart.
About a week after I got my heart, I got an email from an old friend who said,
“I know that you doubt
the tenants of Christianity.
But does this now make you believe in the miracles of Jesus Christ our Lord?”
And because of all the thoughts and prayers that were coming my way.
“All these people prayed for you.” The brownies are done.
I’ve got to go get them in a minute. But he said
“All these people prayed for you.
Doesn’t that make you believe in the power of prayer?” And I said, “Well,
yes, it does. It makes me believe in the power of prayer.
But it also makes me believe in the power of
People sent me good thoughts, good vibes, good energy.
And they prayed for me. And it wasn’t all those things that made me get a heart.
It may have been the fact that all those people believed in what they believed in.
So it was the combination of all these good vibes, good thoughts
and good prayers coming together because the people who sent them truly believed
that what they were sending was going to make a difference.
And that is, to me, the truth of it is the power of belief…
and the power of energy, prayer, and thought.
It is that power that helped me get through knowing there were people rooting for me.
It really wouldn’t have changed anything.
If nobody had prayed for me, nobody sent me good vibes,
and nobody sent me good energy, it really wouldn’t have changed anything.
I would have still gone down there. I would have gotten a new heart and a new liver,
because it was science. And that’s the truth of it.
To me, it was science that did it. It was if there is a greater being in the world that you know…
Napoleon first said that religious wars are people killing each other,
over who’s got the most important imaginary friends.
And that has been paraphrase many times by comedians, saying
“Religious wors are people killing each other over
who’s got the coolest imaginary friend or whatever.”
Rich Jeni is famous for having said that. The rest in peace,
but actually it was Napoleon of all people who first came up with that.
And to me that is a truth. It may not… it is a truth. It’s just what happens.
And the truth of my situation was that medical science has progressed
to the point where they can take a heart from another body and put it into my body.
My doctor told me that as soon as he put two stitches in, it started beating.
They didn’t have to put the paddles on it. Sometimes they put the paddles on it,
but my heart was so happy to be there so happy to have a new home.
And I kind of… I kind of take it all. I take it all as a blessing. I take it all in.
I’m really glad that the people that were sending me the good vibes
and the prayers, and the thoughts believed in what they were sending that
that is very touching to me. But I know for a fact that it really
wouldn’t have changed anything. I would have gotten on the list,
I would have moved up to priority. I would have moved down to priority.
The heart would have fit, wouldn’t have fit. Liver would have fit,
it wouldn’t have fit. I was very lucky. It was very lucky though.
The scientists and the medical miracles that they have perfected,
were able to save my life. And so, I wrote a book about it.
Got a new heart.
Yeah The Tin Man Diaries.
I have two more questions and I’ll let you get your brownies.
Oh, just two more questions?
Two more questions. You’re your own personal heroes, right?
Frodo had Gandalf, Luke had Obi Wan. Robert Kiyosaki – rich dad.
Who were some of your heroes?
Were they real life mentors or speakers or authors or the peers
who were just a few years ahead of you?
And how important were they to what you’ve accomplished so far
and your career as a voice actor and a comedian?
My heroes are my children.
They are 32, 27, and 25.
And they’re my heroes. Because they’re always there for me
no matter what I’m going through. “It’s okay Daddy. Don’t worry, daddy.
It’s going to be okay daddy.” They’re my heroes, because they’re reassuring me
at every turn that whatever I’m trying to do in my life
and whatever I’ve done has been okay. And my hero is my wife who stood by my side.
I mean, I could say I had heroes like Mahatma Gandhi.
I could say I had heroes like Joseph Campbell.
I could say I had heroes like Kurt Vonnegut, who’s a great writer.
Dean Koontz, who’s a great writer. But my real heroes are my family.
They really are. They really are, because they assure me every day
that everything’s going to be okay. And they come to my rescue.
Do you have daughters or sons are both?
two daughters and a son. My eldest daughter is 32.
She just had a little baby named May and she’s four months old.
And I have another daughter who’s 27 and her name is Hayley Kiyoko,
and she’s a pop star. She was on the cover of Billboard magazine last month
and she won a VMA Last year, not this year.
Billy Eilish won this year, but my daughter, Hayley won for a rising star award from MTV.
She is a director and will be directing her first feature film for
Imagine Entertainment in the next year. And she’s just a dynamo,
she’s a force of nature. And then my son, Thatcher is a wonderful,
wonderful man. Very compassionate person. He is learning to code
so that he can design video games, because that has been his passion, all his life.
And so he’s followed his passion and I’m happy to say that
all my children have followed their passions. Whether they worked out or not,
you know, you have follow your dream.
You have to trust that you are on the right path
and you have to listen to the signals that you’re sent by the cosmos
by your friends–by just little things around you.
I really tried to stay open to cues, you know. To cues that I get in life
and say, “Oh gee. Oh, that might be a cue. All right, all right. I’m gonna…
I’m going to keep that in mind.” And you can read about all that crazy stuff
in my crazy little book. See that? I even put my face on the tin man.
The Tin Man Diaries, because the Tin Man needed a heart and so did I.
And it was a wild and woolly trip to Oz
and one of my doctors, Richard, was Dr. Toto. One of my surgeons.
I became known as The Tin Man. I started writing this book
because when I was in the hospital, I had nothing to do.
And I didn’t want to watch daytime television. I didn’t want to, you know.
It’s just a movie at night was fine, but oh my gosh.
So what I would do is I would write diary entries every day.
And then I would post them on Facebook.
And my friends on Facebook grew exponentially.
All of a sudden, rather than a few hundred friends.
I had thousands of friends who were all telling me write a book,
write a book, write a book. So I guess my entries were pretty funny
and many people have thanked me for taking them on my journey.
It is a journey that hopefully they’ll never have to experience
but I was able to take them on the journey–all of the testing
and the tubes put it in my neck and the tubes put down my throat
and up my nose and every which way. I’ve lived through it.
And I got to write about it. And I got to share it with a lot of people.
And I was surprised, honestly, they were very grateful. It was very cool.
So that’s how the book came about. I can’t impress enough
that the heroes in this world right now, to my way of thinking,
are people who give of themselves. There’s no greater giving of yourself
than being a donor on your death and letting people live. Letting people see.
Letting people breathe and laugh. Thanks to my donor,
I get to see my daughter get married. I got to meet my granddaughter.
I got to see my other daughter perform with Taylor Swift
to Foxboro Stadium in Boston. To see a lot and I’m going to see a lot more.
And I get to be on your podcast, dude.
This is a dream come true.
Let’s bring it home a little bit for our listeners and talk about
your guiding principles top one or two principles or actions that you
use every day that you think contribute to the success
and influence that you enjoy from your comedy and your voice acting career.
I really have one.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
That is the golden rule. And that is the rule that I try to live by.
It’s not easy, because people can be infuriating, can be very frustrating.
It can be taxing, but if you do unto others as you would have them do unto you,
you can’t ask for much more in life than that.
Yeah, I actually… I make a modification of that golden rule.
Maybe you call it the silver rule, but I always imagined it was
“Do unto others as they would have done unto them.”
Because sometimes I figured that I would have done to me,
they might have liked to have done to them.
That’s great. Well, you’ve just modified my whole vision of life.
Because who knows what it is they want?
You know, maybe they like what you like, right? Maybe they like onions.
Yeah, maybe they like onions. Maybe
they like pulling away from the gas station with the hose still on their car.
Yeah. So enjoy that.
So do unto them as they would have done unto them
as they would have done unto themselves.
That’s a very good policy. I like that.
So, last thing I do on the show–something I call The Hero Challenge.
The Hero Challenge is pretty simple.
It’s basically, do you have someone in your life or in your network
that you think has a cool story? Either story of entrepreneurship
or overcoming hardships, something like that, that you think should
come on to this show and share their story. Who are they?
First names are fine and why do you think they should come share their story with us?
My sister. My sister’s a hero.
When my mother came down with Alzheimer’s in her early 80s
my sister took her into her house, set up a room for her and took care of her
and provided hospice for
and then, when my dad got ill, she did the same thing for him.
But between that she took care of a guy name Givie and another guy named Charles.
She has been a caregiver for people who no longer can care for themselves.
To get to that point where you can’t care for yourself but you’re so cognizant
of the fact that you need to care for yourself.
That’s got to be a very difficult trap to be in.
You’re trapped in your body basically.
And now, she has a friend who has been diagnosed with ALS.
And she’s going to take care of her until she passes.
My sister has truly been a saint and a hero to so many people.
Because she saw them through the last very difficult part of their lives.
Yeah, we’ll connect later and see if we can connect with her.
What I want to do now is just thank you so much for coming on the show
and ask you where people can find you if they want to pick up your book
or if maybe they want to catch up on all 125 episodes of your comedy show.
Where can they find you?
Comedy Break is no longer in syndication otherwise I be getting checks
for five cents or six cents or seven cents. There are clips on YouTube.
You can go to Comedy Break. Google Mack and Jamie.
That’s MACK AND JAMIE. Oh and you can find me at JamieAlcroft
in Facebook and JamieAlroft on Twitter.
And my book is available on Amazon.
And it’s a whopping $9.99.
Cool. So well we’ll put links to all that stuff in the show notes.
Again, thank you so much for coming on the show, James.
It’s been wonderful getting to talk to you.
Richard, great getting to know you.
Congratulations on your family and happy trails!
Thank you very much. You have a wonderful day.
Is there anything you want to say to our audience, sign off?
Thank you very much
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