In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
Although he’s been in films like Zoolander and Soul Plane and has a list of small-screen acting credits that finds him veering between drama (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), comedy (Louie), voice work (Black Dynamite), and commercials (7Up), Godfrey is probably best known as a stand-up comedian. Currently, however, he can be found hosting Fox’s new reality competition series, Bullseye. Godfrey answers The A.V. Club’s 11 Questions and discusses stealing a paycheck, going gaga over Thelma from Good Times, and looking like the dude from Psych.
Godfrey: I worked for the Illinois Department Of Transportation, working on road material in a lab. [Laughs.] We had to actually test out the cement materials that they put on the road because, you know, you do it in a lab first. So you’d use a sifter and sift through rocks and all kinds of stuff, and make briquettes, and then use mathematical equations to measure each briquette. It was the worst. I hated it. I mean, seriously, it was the worst. And the people I worked with were horrible. My boss—I almost ended up having a fight with him. So, yeah, it was terrible. It was just a pathetic place to work. Pathetic and depressing. But it was just for the summer, you know?
The A.V. Club: And yet it sounds vaguely like a real-life MythBusters.
G: Almost like that, but not as fun. Or cool. Because this wasn’t in a Hollywood studio—this was in Chicago.
AVC: How long did you last at the job?
G: Just the summer. Well, not even the whole summer—just for two months. It was supposed to be for three months, but I got sick of it, because the boss was an ass. He was such an ass. Like I said, I almost ended up getting in a fight with him. I said, “Yeah, I just want my check, I want to get out of here,” and he said, “Yeah, I’ll have your check,” but then when he got my check, he didn’t want to give it to me. So I kind of broke into his office and took it. [Laughs.] I got it, and I left. He was an old dude, too. Old, but an asshole. I wanted to choke him out. And that’s just one of the reasons I hated the place. But I had gotten the job when I was playing ball at Illinois, and they give jobs to athletes for the summer. They just hook you up with stuff. I thought it’d be a cool job, but… no. That was the worst job I’ve ever had.
G: I guess it’d be the first time I got paid for doing comedy. Like, the first time at a club, when I got, like, 75 or a hundred bucks, whatever it was. That’s when I felt it. I was, like, “Holy shit, I got money for doing what I love to do! I am on my way!”
AVC: When and where was that?
G: That was in Chicago, probably, like, ’94. Yeah, I felt successful then. “I can get money for this? Oh, shit, dude, and I don’t have to work a job?” That’s what I thought. That’s when I thought I was on my way. Then when I felt really successful was… I mean, there’s different levels, you know what I mean? Because when I opened up for Jim Carrey, it was, like, “Boom! Oh, boy!” And then I did this and that, I moved to New York, and I got a gig as the audience coordinator for Cosby, and I was, like, “Uh-oh! Look out!” [Laughs.] So there have been different levels.
G: Uh… get rid of white people?
AVC: Well, this conversation has suddenly taken a very odd turn.
G: [Laughs.] I’m just kidding! So what would my master plan be? Oh, man, let’s see. If I was an evil villain, everyone would have to speak Chinese. Yes! That would be my master plan. No, wait, I know: I’d get rid of all vegans and vegetarians.
G: Yeah. I can’t stand them. They annoy me. [Laughs.]
AVC: Presumably you’re referring in particular to the ones who try to force their views on you.
G: Yeah! They always have to. They always feel like they need to judge you while you’re eating. So that’s my master plan: Everyone eats meat. Everyone’s an omnivore.
G: Funny. Funny and smart and athletic. All my friends, all of us, we were funny. Always talking, always joking.
AVC: So if you were always funny and always joking, did you always want to be a comedian?
G: No, I did not. That’s what’s funny. At first I wanted to be a baseball player. I said, “Yeah, I’ll play shortstop.” But I grew up around Wrigley Field, so that probably had something to do with it. And after I wanted to be a baseball player, then I wanted to be an astronaut. It was in college when I wanted to start doing comedy. But I didn’t want to be a comedian at all when I was growing up. I was just funny. [Laughs.]
G: [Hesitates.] As far as females?
AVC: That would be up to you, I suppose.
G: Are we talking high school? Grade school? Because there are different levels and different crushes. Lynda Carter from Wonder Woman was definitely one. She was the best. And Molly Ringwald on The Facts Of Life. And the girl who played Jo—Nancy McKeon. And Tootie, too! [Laughs.] And Janet Jackson. There’s a few, man. You don’t just have one, you have a bunch!
AVC: Are we talking Janet Jackson, the Diff’rent Strokes era?
G: Yes. Diff’rent Strokes and Fame. And Thelma from Good Times. [Laughs.] So, yeah, man, it was a multicultural thing going on. Oh, and any Asian girl fighter in a kung fu movie.
AVC: Truly, this is a United Nations of crushes.
G: Of course! Hey, go ahead and throw Charo in there, too. [Laughs.] No, I’m kidding!
AVC: Hey, she plays a mean Spanish guitar.
G: Dude, seriously, she’s amazing. They don’t ever let her show that, but she really is a trained Spanish guitarist.
G: There’s a couple of joints, man. Damn! Can I get a couple in?
AVC: Sure, why not?
G: I’d have “Sex Machine” by James Brown. I’d have “Whole Lotta Love,” Led Zeppelin. I would have “Street Fighting Man,” Rolling Stones. [Laughs.] What’s that, three? Maybe one more: “What’s My Name,” by DMX. No, wait, and one more: “Sunshine Of Your Love,” Cream. There you go. Yeah, I’d have all of those. They’d be, like, “Man, he’s amazing!”
AVC: That, or they’ll go, “Do you think he’s ever coming in? He’s been playing these songs for over 20 minutes!”
G: [Laughs.] Yeah, I’d better have a little medley, and then an explosion, and then boom. You’ve got to have pyrotechnics, you know?
G: Today? Clean my apartment in New York City with my girlfriend. That’s what I’ve been doing. Cleaning up the mess that I left yesterday and arranging the apartment. And I’m about to go to the gym. Right after this interview, I’m going to put on my workout pants and my sneakers and hit the gym. I’m trying to be productive today, and I’m starting off on a good note.
G: Yes. Deion Sanders, and Dulé Hill from Psych. And Dulé’s my buddy, too. [Laughs.]
AVC: Have you ever heard if Dulé has had people thinking he’s you?
G: Yeah, it goes back and forth. “Hey, you’re awesome on Psych!” “Hey, you’re a great stand-up!” We just take each other’s credit. “All right, thanks, I appreciate that. Keep watching the show.” [Laughs.] And with Deion Sanders, that’s fine, too, with people saying, “You’re great! You’re awesome!”
AVC: You could do a lot worse with mistaken identity.
G: Yeah, you could.
G: Wow. Oh, I’d put on “bilingual,” because I speak Spanish and French. Uh, good at sports. Very good hacky sacker. Better put that just in case.
AVC: Now I’m just trying to think of what employer would suddenly say, “Well, you know, what sold us was your hacky sack skills.”
G: I don’t know, but I always carry a hacky sack in my bag just in case I get around two or three more white dudes, so I can go, “This is how we bond!” [Laughs.] And you’d be surprised: I’ve pulled out a hacky sack and they’ll be, like, “Yo, you got a sack?” That is so true, too. I did it in Austin, Texas. I was talking about it onstage, and I said, “I got a hacky sack.” And they said, “No, you don’t!” But I did. And we ended up playing for, like, an hour and a half after the show! So, yeah, I’m definitely putting down “speaks Spanish and French and carries a hacky sack.”
G: I was collecting comic books for a while, but that stuff gets to be too much. It multiplies too quickly. So I don’t collect comics anymore. Now I kind of collect action figures, if they’re really important. I have Bruce Lee, I have Spider-Man, I have Bane. I’ll collect them here and there, and if I feel like they might be worth something, I’ll be, like, “Oh, this is gonna be a hard one to get, so maybe I can go on Comic Book Men and sell it.” [Laughs.] So, yeah, I collect action figures, and I also collect watches.
AVC: Do you have a favorite watch?
G: Yeah, a Breitling. I’ve got a Breitling 100-year anniversary watch that’s awesome.
G: It would be a Korean dish. I don’t know if you know Korean food, but it’d be dolsot bibimbap with bulgogi.
AVC: You know, I thought maybe I knew a little bit about Korean food, but clearly not.
G: [Laughs.] I love Korean food. It’s my favorite. If not that, then it’d something from Southeast Asia or Indonesia. There’s a rice bowl with vegetables and the best Korean barbecue, they heat it up, and they’ve got this sauce on it, and… oh, man, it’d be that. Anything that has to do with Korean food would be my last meal. Strange but true.
Bonus 12th question from Jack Antonoff of Bleachers: “What’s your personal theory on the JFK assassination?”
G: Man! [Takes a deep breath.] Good one, man. I think that it was an assassination that Kennedy brought on himself, that his father caused. His father being a bootlegger, nobody really liked Joe Kennedy in the first place, but I think that a lot of it started when… I mean, this is what I believe, but you know when he campaigned in Chicago, and [Frank] Sinatra hooked up that whole fundraiser he had, when he had all the celebrities come and helped him win, and then he kind of shit on Frank after that? I think that that was what led to everybody going, “We’ve got to get rid of this dude.”
That’s just my opinion. I think that he just pissed a lot of dudes off. And then he was fucking with Marilyn Monroe, and… there were just a lot of things leading up to him being killed. So I think everybody was involved in it, and they used [Lee Harvey] Oswald as a scapegoat. I mean, you had Jack Ruby, the club owner, who killed him, but I just think there were a whole lot of people involved in it, and they said, “Let’s use this guy as a scapegoat.” But I think the whole thing really started when he pissed Frank Sinatra off. Because Frank really worked hard for him, and he said, “I got you,” and then he was, like, “Ah, we don’t need the guy anymore.” But Frank was hooked up. He was a made man. You don’t fuck with Frank Sinatra! Plus, after what he’s done for you, he helps you win, and then you shit on him? But I do think a lot of it has to lead back to Joe Kennedy. I think Joe kind of caused all of the shit.
AVC: That was a pretty serious 12th question to have thrown at you, but that was a remarkably well-considered answer, too.
G: Hey, man, you don’t fuck with the Mafia. You fuck with the Mafia, they find you, and they get you.
AVC: And you don’t fuck with Sinatra unless you’re Don Rickles.
G: That’s right! Don Rickles, man! Do you know that story, about how Don asked Frank to come by and see him at his table, so he’d look like a big shot, and then when Frank came by, Don said, “Hey, you wanna come back later? I’m eating here!” [Laughs.] That’s it, man!
AVC: And now you get the opportunity to come up with a 12th question for the next person.
G: Okay: Do you think that racism will ever go away?
AVC: Way to keep it heavy.
G: Keepin’ it heavy, man. Why not? Transfer it over! [Laughs.] It’s not as heavy as the Kennedy one, though. It’s just a basic one. But it’s one people think about, and I just want to hear their opinion, whatever it is.