Saturday, October 20, 2018

Happiness is not a state you want to be in all the time... An interview with Judy Belushi-Pisano

by Deminizer (writer), all over, November 06, 2006


Once in a while someone will burst into your life like that, kick down the door, say BAM, cut your boredom in half with a Samurai sword and a goatee. Like John Belushi or Dave Chappelle.

I watch tyrell and white crack lips, Rick James Bitch, & there's my 15 year old kid watching it with me and it gets all weird. That's my kid. She's smart so we talk, but damn, THAT'S MY KID. I remember back & then it hits me. It never fails to amaze me anymore just how little people pay attention to the past, even the recent past. It seems like yesterday I was a 7 or 8 year old kid, staying up late at night, sneaking around after my bedtime tempting the wrath of a parent to see SNL when it first began, like it was the second coming of Santa Claus or a portal to hell that nobody else in the world knew about but me. Tiptoeing down the hallway to watch this new taboo show for adults. It was so damned funny.

I think that was my high point, no worries yet, still innocent, but that was so long ago, living in a paneled trailer they called 1976. Everybody knows 1976 was cheesy as hell but which year isn't 30 years after the fact? Though most years don't boast the eight-track or betamax or disco, and those god awful silver spooned handlebar mustachioed cheesy poofed studs they called superpowers, doing that ever present military dance.

Until we ignored the Soviet Union long enough that it went away, all subversive like. I know the Soviet Union's still out there, though, hiding. They can't fool me. There's Commies on point swilling vodka and biding time right now, reading this interview. Well if I know it then so does the CIA you damned Ruskies, so don't get no crazy ideas like you're gonna parachute in and go all red dawn with my lazee-boy while "nobody's looking.”

Sorry, I do that sometimes. Where was I?

Well, the fallout has been great I'd say, but I digress a lot.

I'm digressing right now, right here in front of everybody, nobody to stop me., no one to teach me when to pull back the reins.

See, it dawned on me today what the world is missing. The world is missing the passing of the torch from the seventies to us, their abandoned children, because there aren't enough of the great ones left around to pass torches.

Hell, the decade started off with a bunch of great ones dying, kept on that way too. There just weren't that many survivors.

It makes me sad. There's no closure with a generation of great minds. We were robbed of a generation of genius. Then I see my kid sneaking around to watch Dave Chappelle and I catch myself sneaking off to catch The Colbert Report and I remember...

They can't take away my laughter no matter what.

Funny is funny.

That's what John Belushi was about, reminding you laughter was laughter during the gas short -- post Watergate -- end of the cold war 70's, always there waiting patiently for you amongst the darkest of the shadows, "I'm not talking about that vampire soap opera either."

That brings me to the story of Bluto, Jake Blues, & the Samurai Comic. A working actor and world class wit that refined his trade and made his mark. Also a human being, a husband, a mentor to kids like me.

These are the thoughts that confront me as I dial up Judy Belushi-Pisano for the second time today to ask her about the man that was Belushi. Screw the drug bullshit, that's not the story. It was the seventies, our current president had a head full of blow and passed out in bathtubs in the 70's for Dick Cheney's sake. That might explain a few things about our sorry state today come to think of it.

I ask her first what she wants to talk about when I reach her.

Judy Belushi is cool. She says: "They're your readers, you have their pulse, you tell me?"

I like her instantly. We exchange pleasantries and she is a very cordial woman. I ask her how long she was married to John.

Judy: 5 years.

But you were together from high school correct?

Judy: Yes.

What about the time before John made it, when he made it? How hard he clawed to get to where he got? I don't think anyone understands what kind of effort it takes to make it In the entertainment industry.

Judy: Exactly. It took a lot of work. John wasn't just some guy that partied and got lucky, he worked and planned, he worked at it all the time. That's what my new book Belushi is about, that period right there. A lot of the motivation {for the book} was to present that person. That person who had a dream and had a plan and worked at it and strove for it and reached it, not some party guy. In fact, a lot of his early stuff was political...

Yes, Both John and Lenny Bruce are top 5 for me. I remember three things from my seventh year, Star Wars, Saturday Night Live, and Grease. I remember seeing John and the killer bees and I was like, what is this???

Judy: Yes. John was also a fan of Lenny Bruce, and I'm glad you mention that, he is someone I want to mention more as far as John goes. Early on John did a hip comic on SNL that was a kind of a Lenny Bruce impersonation. I can't remember the name of it. It was kind of an early blues brothers look.

We discuss John breaking barriers with Dan and all that talent on SNL and I say that the 70's got written off as all cocaine and parties. Honestly, pick me an era that isn't drug addled, come on.

The 70's got blamed for the pent up release of an uptight America that got rebelled against by kids in the 50's and 60's. There was meat to the 70's, a new freedom to say things you felt. Something along the lines of one of the principles this country was founded on, true freedom of expression.

Judy: I think you're right, the drug scene was bad, but actually, I think right now is worse with meth. Not like there are good drugs and bad drugs. All drugs have the potential to be bad, but they have different purposes.

Was he ever upset he wasn't taken more seriously like a Lenny Bruce?

Judy: What was interesting about John was {how intuitive} he was. How he read what people wanted, & I think after a while he floundered in it. I think he did when he died. He was almost a parody of himself.

Do you think not being taken serious bothered him when he died?

Judy: No, I don't. I don't think he wanted to be a Lenny Bruce per se. After Animal House he thought he should have more power.

That's it right there, if he were alive today, with Comedy Central in the information age, he would write his own ticket. Certainly he was more talented than Adam Sandler, no knock, but Sandler calls his own shots.

Judy: The young stars today have much more control it appears, and I think part of that comes from lessons learned from John's group. He never earned anything from Blues Brothers other than his salary (30k). The contract was structured in such a way that it never made money. The movie made over 300 million.

What would he be doing today if he were around?

Judy: Probably at this point relaxing a lot, with cable it might be hard to get him from in front of the TV. Creatively he never would have stopped and he would have learned and sought advice from those successful like Deniro and John Landis. He wasn't just involved in a very important time, he was a leader.


Judy: And he knew what he was doing, and how to pull it together and how to make it work. That's one of the things that's so frustrating, not to say if he'd directed a film, his first one would've been a hit, because that's a big job, but he would've found help, worked at it, and got it right. He would've turned to Landis. Landis is a really good director and he knows his craft and he would've turned to Scorcese and to Coppola. He knew them. He would've studied.

Where did he think he made it?

Judy: I think there were various levels. Second City was big, he was working, made a couple hundred dollars, supported a college girlfriend at 21. Not bad.

Got his foot in the door.

Judy: Lampoon was like, he knew he needed to go to New York, needed a job. That brought him off Broadway, and he was the darling of the show. SNL was a good stepping stone, actually not a stepping stone, he thought it was like a sideways step. He didn't want to do TV, but it was too tempting to pass up because so many people he worked with and so many people he wanted to work with were there. But it turned out to be great. It's like children, you don't know what you have till you raise them. Then Animal House came out and it got crazy...

Did he like that experience?

Judy: Oh yes, he loved it, but it's like candy, too much makes you sick. A lot of things are great and a lot of things are not great, same thing happened to Elvis, you get trapped by it. It's all in the attitude. You have to learn to accept it, the ups and downs. It's life!

It came about that John was a secret square, that roll he played in Neighbors was a piece of John. We agreed, straight, crazy, whatever, John was John. I ask what John would've done with cable?

Judy: Funny you ask, MTV came out in the summer of 81 and John died in March of 82, but he didn't think cable would make it. Something technical, can't remember.

We discuss the web and she says he would've had problems with it as he wasn't tech savvy, which I understand, but he would've got along, and he would've loved it, the interactivity.

In the end we both agree, that's the ticket, torch passed or not: life goes on. My daughter realizes I am watching her and changes the channel from the Chappelle show to Lizzy McGuire. I smile, maybe there was a torch passed after all.

Judy has a husband and a restaurant opening, a kid in High School, but it's nice to remember the past sometimes, even after you worked out some of it in print like Judy did with Samurai Widow and the more recent, more nostalgic Belushi.

Life is a sadder thing without John, laughter is laughter though. Life goes on even past you, & thanks to a select few like John Belushi who grabbed it by the balls, took control of it, made it what he wanted, ain't such a bad place. In large part because of memories of Killer Bees and dead on Joe Cocker impersonations, and Amadeus jamming the blues...

Rest in peace John.

Your torch still burns after all.

About the Writer

Deminizer is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on Happiness is not a state you want to be in all the time... An interview with Judy Belushi-Pisano

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By TonyBerkman on November 10, 2011 at 12:19 am

fn amazing interview

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