Only once in a thousand years or so do we get to hear a Mozart or see a Picasso or read a Shakespeare. Ali was one of them, and yet at his heart, he was still a kid from Louisville who ran with the gods and walked with the crippled and smiled at the foolishness of it all.
In my standup work, I always do these characters, older people who are just off to the side. It's easier to write a story about the guy who made it to the top, but the middle is so much more interesting, so much more murky.
That's still the greatest high, that feeling of being in control of 2,000 people. It's me and them, and I like the odds. It's not even so much the funny. It's getting them quiet. In the quiet moments in '700 Sundays,' I just really love that they're getting moved.
When you're the host of the Academy Awards, and you grew up watching Bob Hope and Johnny Carson, and now it's your turn, and you get a chance to run with the baton on the relay for a while, I really embraced it and just really loved being there.
The death of Sid Caesar on Wednesday caused a chain reaction in my soon-to-be-66-year-old mind. I was saddened, of course, but felt a sense of relief that he was at last free from the indignity of aging.
You have to really respect what your kids are doing with their kids and how they're raising them. You can't push your way into areas where you shouldn't be saying anything. You have to always remember they're not your own kids. Play with them, love them, spoil them to death - then hand them back.
I have performed my one-man show '700 Sundays' over 400 times now. There were only two times that I can honestly say I was nervous. The first was when I knew Mel Brooks was in the audience, and the second was when Sid Caesar came.