Simon Helberg quotes and sayings
December 9, 1980
There's a lot of closeted nerds out there.
I wanted to come to Chicago. I also wanted to do "Saturday Night Live." And then I got to a place where I didn't want to do those things anymore.For the sketch comedy thing, I got cast on "MADtv," and that will kill any man's desire to do comedy.
There's also these moments when you're like, oh, I really want to do different things. Not instead of this show The Big Bang Theory. It's just a hunger to do something else, too.
I came in "MADtv" kind of late in the season. Some of the producers didn't want me but the network did. It was all from the beginning.
I have great instincts, like the instincts of a squirrel. You know, like when you're driving and a squirrel stops in the middle of the road.
It's not the coolest thing in the world to be walking around humming the Taylor Swift song. It's not as cool to be singing along with the number one song in the country as it is to be the jaded, indifferent hipster who wants to turn you on to something that nobody else is talking about.
There's something very funny about giving a menial task to a genius and watching him find so much complexity and overanalyse it to such a degree that the waitress from Nebraska working at the Cheesecake Factory has passed them all by.
I grew up surrounded by sketch comedy.
I actually didn't finish NYU. I would have, but I was lucky enough to get my foot in the door before I graduated.
Until I was about 16 years old, my dream was to be a musician. I played in rock bands and jazz bands. Then I decided to be an actor and kept the stable career of 'jazz pianist' as my safety net.
When I was young, I believe I met Nicolas Cage. I think I was probably eight, and I remember seeing him at somebody's house - it was an event, and he happened to be there.
I met a bunch of people and they said, "We're gonna do a show Second City." So we would buy the theater out and do a show, and we did that for five years and we ended up becoming popular. It was before sketch comedy was hipster-time - when you would hand out a flier, people would roll their eyes. Now it's kind of cool.
I watched a lot of 'I Love Lucy.' Then I went to college, and I didn't watch TV, really. I don't know: something happened after 'Friends' went off the air. I think something dipped in the whole sitcom world.
I always honestly dreamed of coming to Second City in Chicago, although I've never even been there to see a show. But I did a ton of sketch comedy at the Second City in LA, which wasn't really a theater, it was just a space where you took some classes.
My whole life revolved around TV as a kid. I would come home and make sure I finished my homework every night by 8 o'clock, generally so that I could sit down and watch TV from 8 to 10. As a kid, it was 'Family Ties' and 'Roseanne' and 'Growing Pains' and 'Perfect Strangers' and 'Golden Girls.' I mean, I watched everything.
I'd say I'm really, really good for a 16-year-old, which is where I peaked. I'm impressive, but not classically trained, not a concert pianist.
I'm obviously more known for being on television, and that's where most people see me.
There are those moments where you realize that your parents or your heroes are human and are fallible. That concept, in and of itself, is something that is dangerous to me, in a good way. It's exciting and scary to meet those people.
I don't think Hollywood respects multi-camera television. Well, I don't think they disrespect it, but I don't think it gets respect for its artistry.
I guess I get really obsessive or passionate about things.
My parents tried to convince me that school won't always be there, but auditions will. I said, 'Really? Are they tearing down NYU?'.
When I decided I wanted to be an actor in high school, I really went into improv. I took classes at The Groundlings. I studied acting. Did sketch comedy in L.A.
I was like, I can't believe I get to be in a scene with Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins! And then I was like, but why do I have to play Chopin? It's already going to be intimidating.
What I wanted to do was music, until I was about 16. But it was jazz and rock, never classical music.
In America, the first thing people say is, 'What do you do?'.
I wanted to move on. I wanted to do acting. The next thing I did after MADtv was a good hybrid of that. I did this show with Bob Odenkirk and Derek Waters and it was a little homegrown thing that we shot and then we sold it to HBO. We made a pilot and HBO didn't pick it up, but then we made all these webisodes. This was before streaming stuff online made any sense. (The episodes are available on YouTube). Nobody even knew how to watch things on the internet.
Surprise is a huge element in acting.
I'm happy to try on as many characters as I can.
It's amazing to watch somebody who is kind of this sleazy, degenerate lothario, sex-crazed guy become sort of a romantic, settled-down man about to have a baby.
I thought it was going to be a hut in Topanga and Janis Joplin was going to come out, but it's a real doctor... I went to Beverly Hills to meet this midwife; you'd think they'd be in nature.
Actually, when I was young, I believe I met Nicolas Cage. I think I was probably eight, and I remember seeing him at somebody's house - it was an event and he happened to be there. People would ask me if I was his son, because I looked like him at that point, so I do remember feeling some connection and just wanting to say, like, 'Papa!'.
I love Jerry Lewis. I loved Jim Carrey when I was younger, and Mike Myers and Phil Hartman, all the 'Saturday Night Live' people in the late '80s.
Stephen Frears is brilliant and has made movies that inspired me for my whole life.
There's no real escape from the work, but in some ways, if you're as obsessive as I am, it's a sweet little thing we've figured out. You bring your work home and you work 24 hours a day, but it's good.
Meryl Streep is so brilliant is because she is so human, and aware as a performer.
I don't believe I'll be in the new 'Arrested Development' unless they ask me, in which case, okay! That's how easy I am to get.
It's always nice when someone says that they don't realize it's me on screen, but it would be strange to enter a one story while thinking of another character I do, which is completely different.
I play piano, and I was really, really obsessive about playing piano in high school. I don't know if that's nerdy, but I definitely locked myself in the room and was playing jazz. I was 14. I guess that's kind of cool, actually.
I'm married, so I tend not to hit on every girl.
As actors, we tend to usually have some issues with self-esteem and some need for validation, and it takes awhile for that fear of not having a job to go away.
There are bits at the table read that destroy, so much so that we can't wait to do it in taping. And then, no reaction. And then there are times when I can't get the right read on a line in rehearsal, and then the audience howls at it. The strange thing is I still don't know why it happens like that. It's not like afterwards I think, 'Now I know why that worked!'.
Working is a bonus; working on something you love is a bonus, and getting to do it for a long time is the ultimate.
The weird part is actually, there were so many exceptionally talented people there on "MADtv". But it was a disaster. I don't think I enjoyed any of it, really. I had a different sensibility.
I grew up around the business quite a bit; I saw a little bit of the underbelly of it.
I am fairly physically aware and agile, and I imbue that into the characters I play.
Failing passionately is a success in its own right.
I really like 'Project Runway.' I know it's reality, so that might be kind of faux pas for me to say.
I think in terms of a career trajectory, it's good for people to be reminded that, in spite of seeing me a million times a day on a show for ten years playing the same character, I'm an actor, and actors like to play different people.
I own a fart CD. It has, I believe, over 100 fart sounds. A lovely variety, from the up-close and personal to the more experimental and dissonant. Some people prefer to listen to Bach when they go to sleep... not me.
Everybody has something now. It's become very over-saturated, and it's hard to weed out what's good, what you should watch and what you have time to watch. And Twitter was much less crowded, at the time, and it was an easier way to reach people. So, the combination of having a great video, a lot more access to people through Twitter, and having Kickstarter be this new thing in. We tapped into it, at its inception, and got people interested in it just based on the concept of what Kickstarter was. The timing was right.
I wouldn't wear turtlenecks. That I'm not envious of. But who knows? I might sneak out a few things and hope and pray that no one says, 'Hey, didn't you wear that when you were playing an enormous geek on TV?'.
My mom is a casting director, which is pretty awesome.
To me the ambiguity is, maybe our perception of ourselves is always going to be different than somebody else's perception. There will always be that disparity.
Generally people are nice, but it's so weird that it has made me more cautious. Just like anyone else, I like looking around at my environment, but now as I walk down the street I tend to look down.
I looked at the job of piano accompanist. It's a selfless position and generally they are odd people, according to opera singers I talked to. Just like everybody else, they want more from their life, but now their job is to make others shine.
I don't mind being recognized, it's just that I have a bit of social anxiety, and this situation has increased it. The idea of having to be 'on' and social at random times can be difficult. I'll be out in the morning, someone comes and takes a picture, and then I discover I have toothpaste on my face.
I think there's a freedom in freeing yourself of the baggage of ability.
We all have those dreams of going back in time and seeing what it was like when our parents were younger. Maybe we don't all have that dream. I don't know. Getting to role play or step back to a different moment in time and see things through a different lens is something that resonated with me, for sure. We don't get to do that, generally, but when the right neurological disorder lines up with the right unstable woman, that moment presents itself. Getting to know where we come from is a really profound way of getting to look at who we are.
I walked into the wrong examination room. I'm bad enough at facial recognition... I saw more that day than I cared to. Fortunately, I didn't recognize her from that angle, whoever it was, and I didn't ask. I'm off to a rocky start on the road to fatherhood, but I got a free view.
When you have this long of a run in The Big Bang Theory, you don't have to have something happen every episode. Like, Sheldon lost his virginity last season and in the first season he didn't even like girls. So I feel like you can earn that stuff. And that is really fun, because you get to find new layers. It's a testament to the writing.
I did not want to be the accompanist to an operatic star. But I was at a very high level for a 16-year-old, and I maintained that. So really good, but more impressive than classically trained. So I had to take a crash course in classical technique because I really wanted to get away with playing this character in Florence Foster Jenkins without people saying, "That's not really accurate.".
Everyone feels at times like they're missing a page or two out of the handbook that tells you how to live your life.
It was like in the film, when I was actually doing a take and wasn't quite sure of the context, and then in the completed film it works beautifully.In the end I didn't know why I felt so shitty doing it, and why it turns out great in the final product. I guess you have to live in that unknown.
My dad was one of the original members of the Groundlings, and I watched him as an actor have ups and downs, and I watched my mom as a casting director have ups and downs.
I was young. I was 23 or 24. I just wasn't a fan of the politics of campaigning - of going into that environment and competing and trying to get into the good graces of the writers.
I try to act with my whole body and, for better or worse, this is the face that's attached to it.
As an actor, you always want to root for your characters.
As a piano player, if 10 is concert level, I'd put myself at a 5 or a 6, but in a completely different genre than classical or opera. In terms of classical and opera, playing accompaniment, I'd say I was a 3.
We're going to do a natural birth. At first she was like, 'We should do it at home,' and I said, 'Look, either way, when you go into labor, I will be checking into a hospital... so if you want to come along, come along.
Every time we do anything artistic, the way it's perceived is always going to be different from the way that we had intended it to be because it's subjective.
I had to learn all the pieces backward and forward to play it in "Florence Foster Jenkins". We practiced on weekends. It was very much like being in school, except it was with Meryl Streep. Like, I would go to her apartment and we would practice Mozart's "Queen of the Night.".
I think working for the audience, for me, is the most fun. It's really a chance for something to work towards. It's where everything kind of comes together, and you have to make it work. You have all these people who are sitting there, wanting to have a good time and wanting to laugh. You really have no choice but to pull it out.
That is what's disconcerting about working on the show, you can't seem to get an instinct about what works and what doesn't. It happens a lot, and in different ways.
Working with the Coens was a dream come true.
I certainly think, obviously, rhythm is a huge part of being an actor. It just is unconscious, to a degree, but particularly in comedy, rhythm is pretty essential, and there's probably something more physiological going on.
Playing piano well is one thing, but attempting to play at concert level accompanying Meryl Streep while Stephen Frears is filming you in front of hundreds of people is - well - psychotic.
Personally, I'm not into 'Star Trek' or physics or comic books, but I know I might be in the minority.
I'm deeply insecure. I ask my wife all the time, 'Was that OK? Are people lying?' I'm not as happily oblivious as I'd like.
I would say Mick Jagger plus Mr. Furley equals Howard Wolowitz.
Karate probably gave me an incredibly deep awareness of all the parts of me, my flexibility, and the nimble qualities I'm doing, even if they're unconscious.
I've learned over time that human beings tend to want to do more than they have the courage to do or that the social contract will allow them to do.
I do have sometimes a difficult time watching myself.
It's not really about confidence. It's just something that isn't really in the vocabulary of what goes on at work. The writers write and the actors act.
Julie Anne Peters
Roy Jones Jr.
Robert W. Service
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