IFH 466: Billy Crystal – An Exclusive Conversation w/ the Comedy Legend

Alex Ferrari • July 1, 2021

There are performers that impact your life without you even knowing it and today’s guest fits that bill. On the show, we have comedic genius, multi-award-winning actor, writer, producer, director, and television host, Billy Crystal. We’ve seen Billy’s versatile work across all areas in the entertainment world, stand-up, improv, Broadway, behind and in front of the camera, feature films, television, live stages like SNL, and animated movies.

It’s fascinating how much the man has done over the span of his career—and his lengthy IMDB page is only the tip of the iceberg.

Billy’s career took off for his role in the 70’s sitcom SOAP, where he played a gay character, Jodie Dallas. This launched him into box office hits such as When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, Analyze This, and the kids favorite, Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc. just to name a few.

Aside from hosting the Oscars® a record nine times and being only one step away from an EGOT, he’s a philanthropist. Billy, along with Whoopi Goldberg and the late Robin Williams created the annual fundraiser stand-up comedy show, Comic Relief, in 1986 that has over the years, raised over $60 million to support the homeless.

The late 80s and early 90s were a really magical time for Billy’s career. He had the box office hits Running Scared and Throw Momma from the Train. He had scene-stealing parts in the classics This is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride.

There’s the 1989 box office smash hit When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy alongside Meg Ryan and Carrie Fisher. The story follows Harry and Sally who had known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.

You can’t talk about Billy Crystal classics without mentioning City Slickers for which he won a Golden Globes award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical/Comedy. On the verge of turning 40, an unhappy Manhattan yuppie is roped into joining his two friends on a cattle drive in the southwest.

Billy’s interest in entertainment started way before college. But his decision to go to NYU put some goals into place for him. He was a member of an improv/comedy group in college and soon he started to host solo standup shows. By 1978, he landed his first starring feature film role in Rabbit Test in which he starred with Joan Rivers. 

Towards the end of the 90s, Billy joined iconic Robert De Niro and Lisa Kudrow in the box blockbuster hit Analyze This and its sequel to the Analyze That.

Billy’s work transcends generations and Gen Z is his newest fandom; distinctively for his role in Monster Inc. and Monsters University, Mike Wazowski. Monsters University revisits the relationship between Mike Wazowski and James P. “Sully” Sullivan during their days at Monsters University when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

Billy will reprise his role as Mike Wazowski in the Monsters at Work Disney+ series that is set for release later this year.

One defining element of Billy’s work, be it writing, acting, or directing is that the pulls from real-life experiences and balances funny and hard conversations effortlessly. Having started out in the business since he was 20 years old, it is absolutely thrilling to watch how he’s knitted together diverse platforms and filed into an accomplished career. 

This Friday, May 7th, Billy’s newest film, in which he wrote and directed, Here Today, stars himself and the incredibly funny, Tiffany Haddish, will be released only in theaters. These two make a seamless pairing and their chemistry is oh so charming. The intergenerational teaming of Billy and Tiffany tells a love story that is of friendship, support, and empathy. I absolutely LOVED the film. Do yourself a favor and go out and catch this gem of a film.

When veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz meets New York street singer Emma Payge, they form an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of love and trust.

Billy has always been there to make me laugh, in good times and bad. I can not tell you what an honor and thrill it was getting to sit down and speak to a filmmaker, writer, and actor that has meant so much to me in my life.

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Billy Crystal.