Aziza: You have such a huge wealth of character voices. Do you ever do impressions of real life figures?
Jim: Yes. In fact I broke into show business that way. I went to London for an audition for a touring production in a musical. It was - these were discoveries. These were people that they discover in various towns... †
Andrew: Mhm. †
Jim: ...and if you're that good you join the show and tour with them. Until they discover somebody who has more talent than you in another town and you're in a sack. †
[Everyone laughs] †
Jim: This guy came to our local town and I went along with two or three hundred other people from all the surrounding districts for an audition. And I was doing singing and a little bit of tap-dancing then and I thought, "Oh! I'll do impressions. I'll use voices." So I waited by the side of the stage and when they announced my name I walked onto the stage and tripped over a big curtain that was - and I fell flat on my face... †
Matt: Oh! †
Jim: ...in front of hundreds of other people who immediately laughed because, obviously, this guy is an idiot, he tripped over as soon as he came in. He's not going to get the job. I limped to the microphone and I did my impressions, and from the back of the theatre I heard a voice saying, "Those impressions are terrible!" †
[Micah laughs] †
Jim: And I remember shouting back, "I think they're very good!" †
[Everyone laughs] †
Jim: "But we don't know who your mother's butcher is." I said, well, I think that's funny, doing impressions of people you never heard of. And I said, "They know these people in Rothwell." He said, "We're not in Rothwell..." †
[Everyone laughs] †
Jim: That was where I was born. "Did you tour through the country doing impressions of people nobody has ever heard of? So realistic that fall you did when you came on. That was funny." †
[Everyone laughs] †
Jim: "Come back tonight!" †
Jim: And that's exactly what I did. That night I went on - I was thrown on, actually, by two stage herders. One grabbed my legs and one grabbed my arms - I was only 17 - and they swung me three or four times and as he said, "Jim Dale," out flew this body twelve feet in the air, you know, twelve feet into the center of the stage... †
Andrew: Wow. †
Jim: ...and I just crashed onto the center stage and it was about 4-5 minute act, and afterwards the audience sort of loved it, and they asked to join the show, which I did, and I was with them for a year and a half. That's how everything started, you know. From then an agent came to see me and said, "When you come out of the Royal Air force in two years time phone me because I'd like to represent you as a stand-up comedian as your agent. You'd be a stand-up comedian." And I joined him. Within months of me being a stand-up comedian I was asked to warm an audience up for the first Rock-n-Roll show in England which I did. And I sang a song on somebody's guitar, and after that they said, "Can you come back next week as a singer?" †
Andrew: [laughs] Oh my gosh. †
Jim: And then they had me as a singer. Then George Martin, The Beatles George Martin, phoned up and said, "I've just become a recording manager and I'd like you as my first recording artist. Will you become a pop-singer?" That's how that started. And then two years later I was asked to join the Edinburough Festival playing Shakespeare. Then Laurence Olivier came to see the show and said, "Would you like to come to the national theatre?" Then the national theatre sent a production to America in 1973 with me playing Petruchio in a show called "Scapino" which I helped to write. And it was "Scapino" that was the play staged on Broadway for a year and a half, and then now, the rest is history. Disney came along and offered me three films. After that, in 1980, came "Barnum," the big musical, and...
Jim: ...that was 27 years ago, and since then I've just worked in America, except for one trip to London to play Fagan in Cameron Mackintosh's "Oliver" at the London Palladium. But I've been here in New York since then, and that's how my career sort of progressed from that very first time I went on that stage to do impressions and voices.
Micah: So this all started from tripping over a curtain?
Jim: That's right.
[Andrew and Aziza laugh]
Andrew: That's crazy.
Jim: Absolutely. Yes. But I think what one should mention is, yes, it got a laugh, tripping over the curtain, but the movements that I incorporated into my act were the results of having studied ballet, and tap, and national dancing, and judo...
Jim: ...and eccentric comedy dancing for six years prior to that. I'd been dancing since I was nine, and it's the movement that I learned doing all those - ten lessons a week, sometimes - after school, straight into dancing lessons for two lessons, and then on Saturday mornings as well, another two. And so all of this physical training was invaluable when it came to working in the British musicals.
Micah: [laughs] So...
Jim: As a young stand-up comic, if they didn't laugh - if they didn't laugh I would very deliberately limp off the stage slowly.
Andrew: So they'd feel bad for you?
Jim: Then suddenly you'd hear someone clapping because they'd say, "Oh God, he's a cripple!"
Jim: And then I'd run back on, forgetting that altogether, and take a nice big curtsy, like some big lady in a ballerina, you know. So it was all fun.
Aziza: So you said you did judo. You could probably easily kick all of our butts then.
Aziza: Yeah probably.
Jim: Say that again?
Aziza: You studied judo. You could take all three of us right now.
Jim: Oh, no no no no no. See that happened one night. Somebody called something out from the second balcony, and you're not allowed to say anything - not in musicals - and it's - you shouldn't do it, but I did. He called something out and I said, "I've got one word for you," and like an idiot, he called back, "What?" and I said, "Jump."
Jim: So I go outside the stage door and three of them are waiting for me. Now it doesn't matter whether I've done judo. I promise you when three guys attack you, you really can't defend yourself. You just go on the floor, you curl up in a ball, you let them do what they want, and then hopefully you can get up. And the very next night after that, I walked on the stage with a black eye and my arm in a bandage...
Andrew: Oh no!
Jim: ...saying, "A funny thing happened to me on the way home last night." You know the old musical joke, "A funny thing happened to me on the way to the theater" - on the way home from the theater.
Aziza: Oh dear.
Matt: The theater's dangerous.
Jim: Oh yes. But you're kids, you know, you can jump off a roof when you're a kid and not hurt yourself. You can get beat up as a kid, as you often are, and not hurt yourself too much.
Micah: Now, Jim, you've been around...
Jim: What you do learn is not to call out to somebody, "Jump!" That's what you learn.
Aziza: But get ready to make sure they're smaller than you.
Jim: That's true. Yeah.
Micah: Now, Jim, you've been around the series for quite some time now. What do you think of the Harry Potter fandom as a whole? The sort of how the fans...
Jim: Oh, I think it's unbelievable. I didn't - I didn't appreciate how many fans and how ardent these fans were. Living in New York can be quite isolated - such isolation. [laughs] If that's the right word. By that I mean, you have an apartment. Most people in New York live in an apartment and they don't even know the people who live above them or below them, maybe even next door.
Jim: Where as if you live in a small town, obviously you get to know many, many, many people. So, I hadn't done many readings in New York City and I was asked to go on a tour of some of the cities of America. And it was only when I arrived in these places, these smaller towns, that I realized that there were such a fanatical group of people called Potterheads.
Jim: And they packed these theaters. We did one in the San Fernando Valley and they had to - the wall was one of these walls you could fold back, and they folded the wall back and there was a car park. And there were, I think, about a hundred seats put in the car park for the overflow of people.
Andrew: Oh, my gosh.
Jim: So, I was amazed at how popular Harry Potter was. I hadn't understood it, but I realize now. And they were there in the hundreds everywhere I travelled, you know, to promote Harry Potter. I couldn't believe - lots of places, I'd look at the audience - I usually bring the children up on the stage at the end of a reading and I give them certain parts of the script for them to read.
Andrew: Oh, that's a great idea.
Jim: But I don't want them just making up voices. They have to do an impression of Jim Dale doing the voices.
Andrew: Right, right.
Jim: That's fun. And then they get prizes of the latest CDs of Harry Potter, you know. So, I do this, and I remember one place I asked for the children to come up and I looked around and most of the people there were adults. I got about ten children on the stage but I had to ask for two adults to come up, as well, to make out the twelve people because I put them in teams of four, you know. But, it's not just children who are ardent fans.
Jim: Who are true Potterheads. It's a lot of adults as well.
Micah: Oh, yeah.
Jim: I was truly amazed.
Andrew: There are listeners...
Jim: But thrilled! Because, come on, I mean, I was a pop singer, I was a rock and roll singer, I was one of the few in England at that time and we didn't have many rock and roll singers. There was another guy called Tommy Steel and another one called Cliff Richard, but there weren't that many, so the girls wanted to scream at what they thought was going to be a bejeweled sacred monster.
Jim: Pounding on the stage and, of course, Jim Dale arrived in a checked shirt and jeans.
[Andrew and Aziza laugh]
Jim: They were screaming, they were screaming their heads off and I remember thinking, why weren't they here a few weeks ago when I was limping off the stage?
Andrew: Yeah. [laughs]
Jim: As a comic? You know, this is fake. This is not for real. They're not screaming at me, they're screaming at anybody who sings a pop song. So, I've been through that period of being mobbed at traffic lights at silly teenagers. And it was embarrassing. Even to this day, I never go into a restaurant on my own. And if I do go with friends, I always face the wall. It's just a habit that I've got into. It's like carrying your sucky blanket with you or something.
[Andrew and Aziza laugh]
Jim: So, when I - suddenly, at my age, I'm now - go along to do a reading, and it's like being a pop star again.
Jim: It's wonderful! It's wonderful because nobody knows Jim Dale over here, unless they go to the theater. I mean that, seriously, and that's my joy in life.
Jim: I love going into a small town in America and nobody knows me. But if I was a big film star, or a television personlity, or as they say, "A house-hold name," then I would be mobbed. And I had that and it's not nice. It's - because you can never say, "Today, I'm going out and nobody's going to recognize me." Everyday, it's the same. And it can drive you crazy. So, I am thrilled with the fact that I show up to these readings, and nobody knows Jim Dale until I'm introduced. In fact, at one radio station, there were three or four men there. And the man came into the room and - who was about to get me into the studio, and he looked around. He said, "Jim Dale? Anybody?"
Andrew: Oh no! [laughs]
Jim: I said, "I'll be him, I'll be him."
[Andrew, Micah and Aziza laughs]
Jim: So, what I'm saying is: I'm not known. So, I'm not mobbed in the streets. That's the joy. And it's fun now, so much fun at my age to have a whole new audience of youngsters...
Jim: ...who love the sort of thing I'm doing.
Jim: And I couldn't be more thrilled.
Matt: All right, well that does it for our Part One of the interview with Jim Dale. If you guys want to catch on to Part Two of the interview, just go onto Portus2008.org and catch on Portus Previews, and there you'll find the Part Two version of our exclusive interview.
Andrew: That was great. Jim Dale's a great guy. We had so much fun with him.
Andrew: And we look forward to seeing him at Portus...
Andrew: ...this year.
Matt: He's really a fun guy to talk to. I mean, he's so much fun. He's very - he's so old-school.
Andrew: His thoughts on the movies and how they portray the stories is so interesting.
Andrew: I mean, he's so wise. And it's just - we're very lucky to have him on the show.
Matt: I loved his take on the movies - on how they're portrayed. I mean, what he doesn't like about movies to film.
Andrew: So, visit MuggleCast.com for a link over to Portus Previews to check it out. Or just go to Portus2008.org for Part Two. Well, Matt, we're not going to do anything else this week. As we said at the beginning, this is a very abbreviated show.
Matt: Yeah, it is. Well, it's because it's a long interview. I mean, it's only half of the whole interview too.
Andrew: Right. And plus, we did that fantastic live show early this week which was...
Matt: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: ...two hours and twenty minutes. So....
Matt: I don't know how you guys did the whole twelve hour thing. That's just two hours, it just got knocked out of me.
Andrew: You know, the twelve hour show - everyone - a lot of people - well, everyone loved it. I mean, everyone who listened loved it. And we had such a fun time doing it, so maybe we'll do it again sometime.
Matt: Yeah, why not?
Andrew: Because it's a lot of work. That's why not. But, we'll be back to our normal antics next week. There is a chance that we may skip MuggleCast (a new episode of MuggleCast) next week. Just because, we need a little break. We've been really busy this week preparing for these episodes. And....
Matt: And we had a triple header this weekend, pretty much.
Andrew: We did. MuggleCast triple header. One night was the live show, one night was recording this, and one night was recording Jim Dale. A lot of work, man.
Matt: Technically we redid the same episode twice. Thatís why it was a triple header.
Matt: Because we - well, should we just tell them?
Andrew: Go ahead. Reveal it.
Matt: Okay, well, technically we did the same show twice. We recorded with Micah, who was in the interview with us and, apparently, it wasnít - my Internet was really horrible. I couldnít hear anything they were saying so Andrew and I are just redoing the closing for everybody. Thatís why Micahís not on right now, so...
Andrew: We had Make the Music Connection, we had rebuttals, we had news discussion.
Matt: We had a lot of stuff but we can probably hold that off until the next episode.
Andrew: Yeah, weíll do that and I think that may be a little bonus for PicklePack members. The lost episode.
Andrew: So, PicklePackers, look forward to that. Anyway, like I said, we may be taking next week off because we need a little break. Weíve been so - seriously, weíve been very busy this week with all this MuggleCast stuff, but weíre very happy with it, right, Matt?
Matt: Yeah, oh yeah, totally!
Andrew: Itís been a good week for MuggleCast and its listeners.
[Show music begins]
Matt: ...dot mugglenet dot com.
Andrew: Thank you, Matt. How about community outlets?
Matt: Yeah, why not?
Andrew: [laughs] We got the MySpace, the Facebook, YouTube, Frappr, Last.fm, fanlisting and the forums. You can also Digg the show at Digg.com, and don't forget to vote for us once a month at Podcast Alley.
Andrew: I think that does it for this special edition of MuggleCast, Episode 137 with Jim Dale.
Andrew: Matt, thanks for being on the show today. Thanks for being the only host that could come in and talk today.
Matt: Aw, itís okay. Itís not like I had anything else better to do.
Andrew: Yeah, itís a Saturday night. What are we going to do?
Andrew: Iím Andrew Sims.
Matt: And Iím Matthew Britton.
Andrew: Weíll see you next week, or in two weeks, for Episode 138. Buh-bye!
[Show music ends]
Jim: So, all of that is in the hands...
[A phone rings]
Jim: Oh dear, just a minute. Can you hold on, I'll just get rid of this person.
Matt: Oh yes.
Andrew: No problem.
Jim: There we are. That was my wife...
Jim: I told her I was talking to you.
Written by: The Transcribers