Interview with Hugh Fink

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Warning: The “F-word” is used in this interview. Do not listen or download if you have a problem with that.

Guest: Hugh Fink
Emmy Award winning TV comedy writer (for “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Program”), stand-up comedian, TV producer.

Hugh Fink’s credits include: Saturday Night Live, The Drew Carey Show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Showbiz Show with David Spade.

Greg Zeigerson talks with Hugh Fink about his career and how comedy works.

Hugh Fink (photo by Ann Johansson)

Topics covered include

How Greg Zeigerson has known Hugh Fink since their college years at New York University. About the name “Hugh Fink” …  reactions to that name from birth and beyond.

Deciding to be a comedian. The influence of government monopoly, Indianapolis Water Company. Hugh’s comedic quest to expose hypocrisy and stupidity.

The influence of having a younger sister with Down Syndrome – how this contributed to developing a “sense of wanting to lighten things up” and overcome stress and sadness.

What do all good comedians have in common? “Every good comedian has some anger” says Hugh Fink. He explains why.

Different approaches to comedy. The problem with the formulaic “surprises” used by many sitcoms.

The joke Hugh Fink wrote for Steve Martin (at one of Steve Martin’s Academy Awards monologues) that didn’t get used. Teaching comedy at UCLA 10 years ago and the Gallagher Exclusion Test.

What makes a good and original comedian and how good comedy comes from some aspect of the comedian’s actual personality. Australian comedian, Barry Humphries/Dame Edna as an example of good and effective comedy.

Dame Edna Everage (photo by Greg Goman)
Dame Edna Everage (photo by Greg Goman)

Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage

Another example is David Spade. Comparing the real David Spade with David Spade, the comedian. Explains Hugh Fink: [paraphrased] “It’s the guy who got the cr– kicked out of him as a kid. The small, slightly-built nerdy kid who was ridiculed … but then discovered his own razor sharp wit … taking on people and things that were more powerful than he was.”

Why Hugh Fink cancelled his appearance at a benefit concert at his old High School – North Central High School, Indianapolis – in 2006. How school organizers considered part of his proposed comedy routine highly inappropriate, upsetting, and offensive. Two days before he was to appear, the school asked him to change it.

Listen to the “offensive” comedy routine and judge for yourself: CLICK HERE [The offending line: “I’m glad I got to meet the school principal, Mr. Quandt. He seems like a cool guy. Though I’m not sure why he’d ask me, ‘Where’s the best place to score weed?’ “]

How “what is funny” has changed. How comedy done in poor taste can’t hurt the recipients of the comedy, but it can lower the standards of the profession.

Hugh Fink’s influences and favorites include:

Bill Cosby!

… The Marx Brothers!

Martin Mull!

About the pilot for a new late night talk show with Steve Schirripa (Sopranos) that Hugh Fink has been working on.

Steve Schirripa

How Hugh Fink got started with his stand-up career after winning a college contest held at the Comic Strip club – sponsored by Columbia Pictures. He co-won with Robert Smigel.

Meeting David Spade and producing “Spade in America”. Working at Saturday Night Live. Working on the Drew Carey Show. Working on the Craig Ferguson talk show as Head Writer.

Why Hugh Fink intentionally moved away from performing and towards writing and producing shows. But now would like to get back in front of the camera.

Interview with Chuck McCann

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Guest: Chuck McCann
Actor, character voice extraordinaire, children’s TV show host, comedian, and man of many, many talents!

Gregory Zeigerson ("Zigory") and Chuck McCann

A personal note from one of Chuck McCann‘s biggest fans – our very own Greg Zeigerson! …

Chuck McCann is a veteran Hollywood comedian and actor, who created many children’s television shows primarily in the New York area in the 1950s and 1960s, where I first encountered him.

I watched him probably from my birth until he went off the air when I was about 6, as he performed with puppets, played The Great Bombo (an inept magician and escape artist), portrayed a large Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, and many other characters.

He was a student and friend of Stan Laurel and has often portrayed Oliver Hardy on television.

A highlight of my conversation with Chuck McCann is his commentary about Stan Laurel the man, and the influence of Laurel and Hardy on later comedians.

He is the voice of numerous cartoon characters including Duckworth on “DuckTales” and The Thing on “The Fantastic Four.”

He directed and performed in a feature animated film called “The World of Hans Christian Anderson” and he played W. C. Fields in the 1982 TV movie biography of Mae West.

He starred in “The Projectionist,” appeared in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and several Mel Brooks films, and added his spark to numerous TV commercials.

It was a great pleasure to speak with Chuck, and to thank him for being part of my happy childhood memories.

Chuck McCann's Laurel and Hardy Show

Topics covered include . . .

What artistic skill do most comedians enjoy? Who is one of the best at this art? How did McCann get to know Stan Laurel? Who were the Sons of the Desert?

Keeping Laurel and Hardy alive. What kind of man was Stan Laurel? Did Laurel die a pauper, as some people have said?

What was Chuck McCann doing at the Playboy Mansion? What’s the Playboy Mansion like? Hugh Hefner? Hugh Hefner and movies.

A tribute to McCann coming out on DVD. Whats McCann up to now? Character voices. Hanna and Barbera. Who was “The Dreamfinder”? The “World of Hans Christian Andersen”? . “The Projectionist”?. About Chuck’s friend, Dick Van Dyke. Who’s into special effects and animation?

What kind of show would McCann do today if somebody said “Here’s the money – do what you want”? What kind of show do kids need these days?

Chuck McCann plays the voice of Santa in “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas”. To find out more about or to purchase movies featuring Chuck McCann – actor, entertainer, or character voice extraordinaire: CLICK HERE

Chuck McCann as Captain Flash – bored with his life, fantasizes that he is one of the superheroes in the movies he shows in the theater!

Stan Laurel – Chuck’s mentor.

Statue of Stan Laurel in his hometown of Dockwray Square, North Shield, England.

More information about Chuck McCann . . .

Wikipedia entry on Chuck McCann: CLICK HERE

Internet Movie Database (IMDb) filmography on Chuck McCann: CLICK HERE (over 100 listings!)

Some background information on Chuck McCann “One of New York City’s most beloved children’s entertainers”: CLICK HERE

A brief biography of Chuck McCann from Yahoo! Movies: CLICK HERE

Interesting fact: Chuck McCann spoke from the Playboy mansion for this Zigory Show interview. He’s good friends with Hugh Hefner. Did you know that philosopher and novelist, Ayn Rand, was interviewed by Alvin Toffler in the March 1964 issue of Playboy? Shown above is the cover from that issue.
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Interview with Michelle Steffens on the Business and Pleasure of Food!

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On this Zigory Show, Michelle Steffens, who has been a chef at Bobby Flay‘s Mesa Grill and Bolo restaurants in New York, and who operates her own catering business in New York and New Jersey, talks about the business and pleasure of food, with anecdotes from her career, and tips on making your own dishes more flavorful.


Michelle Steffens has worked with celebrity master chef, Bobby Flay, pictured above.

Topics covered include

All about Michelle Steffens’ business: Michelle’s Creative Catering based in Lincroft, New Jersey. How she set it up, what inspires her, how she makes it a success.

Off-premise and on-premise catering. Hiring kitchens. Small parties versus larger ones. Food for every occasion! The Italian-American influence. How did Michelle’s wedding lead to her changing careers? How her first career in advertising as a producer transferred to her career as a caterer?

Presentation versus flavor. Standard menu items but variations with the four seasons. What is a good indicator of food freshness in a restaurant? What should you avoid to make sure food is fresh at a restaurant?

Bobby Flay, now a famous chef, hired Michelle at Mesa Grill in her first culinary job while still in training. Experiences with Bobby Flay. How Bobby Flay became a “superstar” chef. What characterizes his food?

Chef “brigades.” What distinguishes one cuisine from the other. Which cuisine is most familiar to Michelle. Why it’s fairly easy for a chef to change from his most familiar cuisine to a less familiar one.

What makes the restaurant business difficult? Consistency. Seasoning. Recommendation of a good source of recipes. Texture and “mouth feel”.

And here’s how you can contact Michelle’s Creative Catering:

Phone her on: 732-450-1905 (USA)

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Interview with Composer, M. Zachary Johnson

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Greg Zeigerson speaks with Composer, M. Zachary Johnson, about his work, music concepts, and the Arts today.


Topics covered include …

The new CD – “Saxophone Music of M. Zachary Johnson Live at Steinway Hall” – which can be purchased through

An interesting collaboration with saxophone player, Brian Horner. Using an image to keep a musical theme on track while composing. What does “Romanticism” mean in music? Contrasting tonality and atonality.

Ayn Rand’s hypothesis about how music affects emotions. How did M. Zachary Johnson get interested in classical music? Government funding for the arts: should artists refuse such funding? Should the National Endowment for the Arts exist? Is it all right for artists to accept funding from the NEA?

Are audiences for classical music shrinking and getting older – as many claim? The concepts of “serious” music and “popular” music. Why is there a small audience for serious music today? Today’s style of performing classical music – what’s the matter with it?

What is “rubato”? Why is it important in conducting and performing? Why is it missing from performances today? Playing “on the page”.

Optimism about the trend of music in the future. What is M. Zachary Johnson working on now?

What Robert Tracinski, editor of The Intellectual Activist, wrote about M. Zachary Johnson’s work:

The sound [M. Zachary Johnson] creates is something entirely new: the richness and lyricism of the Romantics, rendered on an entirely different instrument, with a unique timbre and ‘voice.’ … The Scherzo’s minor key, a rhythm that moves in unpredictable stops and starts, and a melodic line that is constantly darting up and down the scale, never quite coming to rest, all combine to create a sense of mystery and intrigue … ‘Solitude’ … is more contemplative … the rich harmonies and slow, thoughtful pace give the sense of being admitted to a man’s private thoughts and reminiscences … I found myself involuntarily humming its melody … enough complexity to keep the mind constantly engaged, but with enough unity to be grasped and remembered as a single whole … The Scherzo from the Quintet for Saxophones & Piano is a fast-moving piece with a driving rhythm that keeps building to a powerful crescendo … I was astonished by the sense of explosive energy this piece was able to create.

Click here to listen to musical samples or to purchase M. Zachary Johson’s CD.

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Protecting Children from Abusive Parents

In this heart-wrenching and, at times, disturbing interview, Greg Zeigerson speaks with Kip Liles, a former foster parent to over 200 children.

Kip Liles became an activist in the cause of protecting children from harm after one of her foster children was returned to the custody of his mother and stepfather only to be brutally murdered by them.

We explore the role of the police force, the courts, current laws and statutes, and foster parents, in protecting children or failing to do so.

Why do some courts make judgments that are not in the best interests of the child? Why are so many abused children returned to harm’s way?

For background on the discussion, see the column, “The Death of Bradley McGee” by Michelle Malkin, available here:

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