In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
An actor and comedian for over 40 years, Jon Lovitz has done everything from a stint on Saturday Night Live to voicing a character in The Brave Little Toaster to performing a duet on Robbie Williams’ 2001 album Swing When You’re Winning. He’ll use that singing voice as a contestant on Sing Your Face Off, a celebrity impersonation and variety show premiering this Saturday, May 31, on ABC.
1. What is your go-to karaoke song?
Jon Lovitz: “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf. I remember when it came out. It was one of my favorite songs when I was 12 or 13. I loved it. It’s got a great rhythm, and I love the singer’s voice.
2. What’s the worst thing you’ve read about yourself online?
JL: I don’t know. Sometimes you see stuff that is negative that people have said about you. The funniest thing is when a politician lies, people will say that they sound like my liar character on Saturday Night Live. They still remember that, which is amazing to me. But it’s just amazing to me that I’m on the Internet at all and that people are mentioning me in articles. It still blows me away. Even though it’s been a long time now, I’ve never really gotten over the initial shock. And I never got a fat head about it or anything so just to be a part of pop culture as a contributor in any way, to me, it’s amazing that it happened. I’ve never taken it for granted. And once you do take it for granted, you stop trying, and your career is pretty much over.
3. What did your parents want you to be? Did they want you to be a doctor?
JL: No, but that’s funny because my whole family is made up of doctors. My mom said, “I want you to be happy,” and my dad said, “Just find something that when you wake up in the morning, you can’t wait to do it and it doesn’t feel like work.”
4. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
JL: My friend was an actor, and when I got in the Groundlings he told me that, in these kinds of places, you get out of it what you put into it. I also heard a preacher on the radio say, “Are you willing to do what you have to do to get what you want?” Those two things pretty much cover anything if you want to be successful.
5. What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever given someone?
JL: I’m really good at giving advice. One of my best friends said, “You’re so good at giving advice. If only you’d take your own advice.”
6. Are you happy? Are you generally a happy person?
JL: Yes. When I don’t take my own advice, that’s when I’m unhappy.
7. What’s the worst job you ever had?
JL: You want me to be blunt? I was an orderly at a hospital. People are sick and they throw up in the bed and they take a shit in the bed and I had to clean it up. That was after college. Actually, I didn’t mind the job, but that part of the job was the worst. It was the shittiest part of the job.
8. If you had to be on a reality show, past or present, which would you choose?
JL: Other than the one I’m on now?
AVC: You can say the one you’re on now.
JL: Well then Sing Your Face Off. I love singing and it was a real challenge. It was a great experience, and everybody was first class in their field and everybody was nice and I love the people on the show. Sebastian Bach and China McClain and Landry Fields and Lisa Rinna were all really nice people and funny and terrifically talented. It was a great experience.
9. Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
JL: I guess it would be Michael Jackson. I met him a lot during different points in my life. He grew up in Encino and that’s where I grew up, near Tarzana. So one time I met him when I was 12 and he was 11, and one time I met him at my college. My father was their family doctor, and I was at college and they were doing the ABC Battle Of The Network Stars. He was just standing there and he was about 17 and I said, “Are you Michael Jackson?” and he said, “Yeah.” And I went, “Oh. I think my dad is your doctor.” And he said, “Who is your father?” and I said, “Dr. Lovitz” and he said, “Oh, yeah! Tell him I said hi.” I’ve met a lot of really famous people. I met Frank Sinatra once. I don’t know who the more famous is. Frank Sinatra is probably bigger. I don’t know.
10. If a deli named a sandwich after you, what would be on the sandwich?
JL: Definitely mayonnaise.
11. Who could you take in a fight?
JL: Verne Troyer.
AVC: For the 12th question, we ask you to come up with a question that we’ll ask the next interview subject. We won’t tell you who it is, so just come up with a good question you’d want to ask anyone.
JL: “If you could be any other performer—other than yourself—for just one movie or one show, who would you want to be and why?”