Friday, Aug. 30, 2002 | 4:25 a.m.
WEEKEND EDITION: Sept. 1, 2002
George Wallace has a good gig. And the 49-year-old comedian knows it.
After all, how many comedians can claim Jerry Seinfeld as their best friend?
But Wallace doesn't need the famous comedian's help -- he does well enough on his own.
The physically imposing, but cheerily good-natured, comedian earns a very nice living playing in sold-out comedy clubs all over the country. He also plays the occasional corporate function, where he entertains suit-and-tie-types with wicked observations.
Wallace appears at Monte Carlo's Lance Burton Theatre Thursday through Saturday.
A native Atlantan, Wallace is a diehard Braves fan. He is also the brother of former NFL offensive tackle Steve Wallace, who won three Super Bowls while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
In a recent interview from his home in Los Angles, the 6-foot-5 inch Wallace discussed his views on Major League Baseball, why he never suited up in a football uniform past 10th grade, and what's in store for Seinfeld.
Las Vegas Sun: As a baseball fan, what are your feelings on the state of the game?
GW: I'm always sensitive to the players because the money is coming in from somewhere and they just want their share. Most people don't understand that when they go on strike in their jobs, it's OK; but when these guys go on strike it's messing with the public totally. (The players are) making millions of dollars and everyone's concerned about that. But so are the owners.
Sun: Still, with all the competition for the sports dollar, isn't baseball jeopardizing its future with its continual labor-management struggles?
GW: They've got more fans now than ever. You've got these brand new stadiums and they're all full. It's great.
Sun: If you had Bud Selig's job, the commissioner of baseball, what would you do differently?
GW: First of all, every day you would play a different position like we did when we were kids. You're not the first baseman because tomorrow you might be on second base. It'd be like that every day. It'd be like volleyball, rotate.
Also, the designated hitter? Who's this guy? Why don't we just get somebody out of the stands and make it interesting. All of sudden, here's a guy -- he's not on the field -- where'd he come from?
I think baseball players are stupid. When the pitcher hits the guy upside the head with the ball, the first thing the batter does is drop the bat. I say keep that bat, you go out to the mound ... better yet, just turn around and knock the hell out of the catcher. "That's for calling that pitch!"
I would probably eliminate or change the baseball anthem, because that's kind of stupid. "Take me out to the ball game?" Where do you think you are? You are already at the ball game. "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks?" Why buy both? Peanuts come in the Cracker Jack box.
Sun: Your brother was Steve Wallace, the longtime 49er, and your nephew is Amani Toomer, a wide receiver for the New York Giants. Did you ever play football?
GW: I played one game in high school. I always knew I wanted to be a comedian. I ran the ball because I was very aggressive ... I'd run at you, that's how tough I was. But then there's somebody just as tough as you are. Somebody clotheslined me. That was the first time I'd heard of clotheslining as a kid -- it like took my neck off. And I go, "Well, that's enough for me. Why should I get hurt? I know I want to be a comedian."
I made that decision in the 10th grade in high school. I never will forget that.
Sun: Was your decision, then, an epiphany?
GW: I wanted to be a comedian since I was 6 years old, actually. I always tell people, I knew before I was born and that I didn't come out of my mother's womb until the doctor said (knocks three times) "Five minutes, Mr. Wallace." But this is what I always wanted to do. When I see happy people, that's my sex. There's nothing better than seeing happy people. That turns me on.
Sun: You've been a guest on many TV shows and made cameo appearances in movies. But would you rather be doing stand-up comedy?
GW: I like doing it all. I was here in Los Angeles doing "Hollywood Squares" yesterday and eventually I'll get to this sitcom thing. I've been wanting to just be a comedian for years. For the last month and a half, I've been working on a movie called "Santa Jr.," which will be out this December. It's about Santa Claus' son taking over, and naturally kids don't want to do what their parents do. It's a beautiful little Christmas story.
Sun: Are you content with your career at the moment?
GW: I think life is backwards. I'm in a very good position right now. I've done enough television, I've done enough stand-up, I do radio, which is syndicated into 99 markets across the country ... I'm fairly known. Enough people know me and wave their hands at me to satisfy my little ego when I walk by. Whereas my best friend, who is Mr. Seinfeld as you know, every time he walks out of the house there's a camera on him. And I'm thinking, "Hey, I might be in a pretty good position right now." Financially I'm OK ...
Sun: So what is Seinfeld up to at the moment?
GW: He's working, doing concerts every weekend all over America. And he has a book coming out (this month) and he has a movie coming out.
Sun: Do you think he'll ever go back to doing television again?
GW: No. He's doing too well. He loves stand-up -- that's his No. 1 love.
Sun: Despite the obtrusive cameras everywhere you go, for a minute, would you like to have the kind of fame Seinfeld has?
GW: I'm working toward that. Like I said, at a certain age, let's do that. And I'm pretty much sold out on weekends where ever I am on weekends. I'm hoping to get somebody to come to Las Vegas. I haven't been there in a while.
Sun: You and Seinfeld share a similar slice-of-life, observational approach to comedy. But how is yours different than his?
GW: Totally different. I'm a little more animated. I get excited ... I say it's totally different, but it's not. I'm observations, just like he is. It's just delivering it a little bit different. I'm a little louder. I just get excited and have fun.
And it's not my show, it's the people's show. People talk to me during my act. I can be in the middle of my show and somebody will yell, "How's your momma?"
Sun: I was going to ask you about that ...
GW: Oh, they talk about my momma like crazy. It started back when "Arsenio" was on. Arsenio (Hall), Will Smith, myself brought that back to the forefront. When I was a kid, we used to do that all the time. We called it "snapping" and "the dozens" ... talking about your mother and how ugly she is: "She's so ugly, she goes into the woods and the trees pee on her." Things like that. You just go back and forth, having fun.
Sun: Do most of the "Yo' mama jokes" you tell come from your childhood?
GW: Oh yeah, that's totally ... I'm known as the King of the Mama Jokes. Even though I try to stop, people in the audience still come and do that.
Sun: Ever been hit with a new one?
GW: Every now and then you'll hear one that you haven't heard. I'll just look at them and the audience goes crazy. I'll slip a piece of paper out of my pocket and take a pen out ... and the audience loves it. I don't care who gets the laugh, 'cause I'm the one taking the check home.
It's really good if we one-up each other. You do one and I do one, you do one and I do one. It's just a whole lot of fun.
Sun: You've always kept your comedy clean.
GW: But I can curse real good, let me tell you something. I started that way -- Seinfeld, Leno, Wallace, and Paul Reiser and Larry Miller and David Letterman -- we just never cursed. It's something we just do clean. Let me make it clear: funny is funny. Right now my favorite comedian is Bernie Mac ... and Eddie Murphy was funny and Richard Pryor -- God, nobody did it better than he. And George Carlin is funny. And they are all blue. So it doesn't matter -- funny is funny.
Sun: So that's why you chose to be clean?
GW: (Expletive) yeah! Wallace.