Tough Pigs Anthology

 

It Feels Like Christmas

December 2001

 

December Anthology  --  Anthology Contents

 

 

Part One : Kind of a Sad Christmas

Johnny Fiama and Sal on Larry King Live

December 24, 1996

   

Larry

 

We're here with two of the great stars of the Muppets -- Johnny Fiama, and his bodyguard Sal. They have their own program as well. And then later, Michael Feinstein will be here with his wonderful piano and repertoire of songs. Anyway, we start things off by welcoming a singer, a crooner, a showman, a great host in his own right, one of the kings of Las Vegas -- Johnny Fiama!

 

Sal

 

That's right! Johnny Fiama, right here on Larry King!

 

Larry

 

Hold on, let me introduce him.

 

Sal

 

What, what? Oh, oh, all right.

 

Johnny

 

Sal... Larry's introducing me. 

 

Sal

 

Aw, I'm sorry. I'm sorry there, Mister K.

 

Larry

 

Okay. Johnny, welcome to Larry King Live.

 

Johnny

 

Thank you very much, Larry. What a pleasure to be on your holiday show.

 

Larry

 

It's my pleasure to have you. Now, Sal, what is your -- what is your job? Are you a bodyguard? What do you do?

 

Sal

 

Well, actually, usually I introduce Johnny Fiama. No, no, I'm actually his bodyguard. I keep him clean. I picked out that little holly for him, and yeah, y'know, I take care of him.

 

Larry

 

But you're a monkey.

 

Sal

 

Well, yeah, I am a monkey. I'm sort of like a simian security guard, y'know?

 

Larry

 

I see. How did you meet him, Johnny?

 

Johnny

 

Oh, well, I'll tell ya. It's a long story. My mother was making Thanksgiving dinner, and, well, he happened to be at Kresge's -- I don't know if you remember, that's a chain of stores --

 

Larry

 

I remember Kresge's.

 

Johnny

 

Yeah, and he was having a little ice cream, I said, Ma, there's a monkey eating ice cream, and she said bring him home.

 

Sal

 

Yeah, that's right. And y'know what? Then I came home, and I ate the ice cream. And we had spaghetti and stuff.

 

Larry

 

That's, like, a nothing story. I mean, I thought there would be such a big story, but -- you saw him eating ice cream, and the mother brings him home?

 

Johnny

 

Well, life's a simple thing, isn't it, Larry. 

 

Sal

 

And then we ran a barber shop for a while. 

 

Larry

 

Were you a singer first, and then a TV host?

 

Johnny

 

Well, yes. Yes. I've always been a singer. It goes back a long time, I'll tell you. I sang with some of the greats. 

 

Larry

 

Like...

 

Johnny

 

Well -- don't let me go into it, but -- Nelson Riddle. Okay. Artie Kaiser.

 

Larry

 

Artie Kaiser?

 

Johnny

 

Yes. Kay Kaiser's brother. 

 

Larry

 

Billy May?

 

Johnny

 

Billy May. Yes.

 

Larry

 

You had a career somewhat akin to Sinatra. 

 

Johnny

 

Well... Yes. We're very close friends, Frank and I. Happy birthday, Frank, by the way.

 

Larry

 

And you're in the same idiom, like, Italian...

 

Johnny

 

I'm sorry -- did he call me an idiot?

 

Larry

 

No -- idiom, idiom.

 

Sal

 

I think actually he did call you an -- did you call Johnny Fiama an idiot? 

 

Larry

 

No! I would never do that!

 

Sal

 

Hey, listen, Larry, I want you to know -- we didn't get dressing rooms! There was no dressing room for Johnny, nothin'!

 

Johnny

 

Sal... It's all right...

 

Sal

 

No audience to applaud...

 

Johnny

 

No, okay, Sal...

 

Sal

 

I wasn't allowed to introduce him... 

 

Johnny

 

Excuse me, Larry... I'm going to speak to Sal in Italian for a moment.

 

Sal

 

No, I really don't think it's right!

 

Johnny

 

Sal -- basta!  [speaks to Sal in angry Italian for a moment]

 

Sal

 

Sorry, Johnny.

 

Johnny

 

Sorry, Larry. Excuse us. 

 

Sal

 

Sorry there, Mister K. 

 

Larry

 

Okay, it's all right. No, you can get mad, you're entitled. I think you should have had a dressing room. And I'm sorry to see that you hadn't.

 

Johnny

 

No. It's okay.

 

Larry

 

Okay.

 

Sal

 

No, it isn't, really. All right, I'll drop it. 

 

Larry

 

What do you do on that show? Do you sing?

 

Johnny

 

I do a little singing, yes, and I also --

 

Larry

 

[to Sal] Wait a minute. What are you doing? 

 

Sal

 

Excuse me?

 

Larry

 

What are you doing?

 

Sal

 

Oh, I'm doing my hair. 

 

Johnny

 

Sal...

 

Larry

 

That's very distracting. What are you doing?

 

Sal

 

Well, I was just taking care of my hair. It's very important, y'know.

 

Larry

 

Does he do that on your program?

 

Johnny

 

Yes, he does, Larry. 

 

Larry

 

Does he attempt to steal your show?

 

Johnny

 

Yes. Yes. If you don't mind, Sal -- we're on Larry King!

 

Sal

 

I'm sorry.

 

Larry

 

When you have guests...

 

Johnny

 

Yes.

 

Larry

 

You talk to the guests.

 

Johnny

 

Yes, I do.

 

Larry

 

What does Sal do?

 

Johnny

 

Sal, uh... well, he usually brings cannolis. 

 

Sal

 

I bring cannolis and I bodyguard.

 

Johnny

 

Right. He makes sure everything goes real well. 

 

Larry

 

You bodyguard... Does Johnny ever have threats on his life?

 

Sal

 

Well, yeah. Sometimes. 

 

Larry

 

And you protect him.

 

Sal

 

Oh, yeah. You know, when we go to the grocery store and stuff like that, sometimes we'll be trying to get in the line, and there'll be some, y'know, some big lady in the way, so, you know, I get her out of the way so that Johnny can get to the register. 

 

Johnny

 

Yeah, y'know, or prosciutto's like $12.99 a pound, and I say, Sal, this is too expensive, and they lower it.

 

Larry

 

So you push her out of the way.

 

Sal

 

Yeah, I push her out of the way. I negotiate with the butcher. That sort of thing.

 

Larry

 

Okay. You got an important job, then, Sal.

 

Sal

 

Yeah. You know.

 

Larry

 

Okay. You guys are branching out on Muppets Tonight. I understand you have your own talk show, and Tony Bennett was a guest.

 

Johnny

 

Yes, he was. Oh. What a pleasure. What a pleasure he is.

 

Larry

 

He's a real hero of yours, right?

 

Johnny

 

Oh my, yes. He is such a fabulous man. And we have so many things in common, Tony and I. 

 

Larry

 

Like what?

 

Johnny

 

Well, we both love linguini marinara. And we both realized that, really, the only thing that you can't get in LA, that you can get in New York, is good bread. 

 

Sal

 

That's true!

 

Johnny

 

Because of the water.

 

Larry

 

Wait a minute. This is something you have in common with Tony Bennett?

 

Johnny

 

Yes.

 

Sal

 

He's a great bread connoisseur, you know.

 

Johnny

 

Tony loves bread.

 

Sal

 

He sure does.

 

Larry

 

How about singing?

 

Johnny

 

Oh. Well. Yeah. He's a master. I mean, he needs a little help every now and then, but he's doing good.

 

Larry

 

Okay. Your show is -- you have an audience, right? You're like The Tonight Show or Letterman, right? 

 

Johnny

 

Well, uh... Yes.

 

Larry

 

Sal, are you on camera when you bring him on?

 

Sal

 

Oh, yeah. I kind of rare up the audience, and get them going, and I get the audience to applaud -- because, you know, if they don't applaud, they got me to answer to later.

 

Larry

 

I see. You're a tough guy.

 

Sal

 

Well, yeah. I'm a tough monkey.

 

Larry

 

Okay. So you get 'em all revved up.

 

Johnny

 

He's kind of like the Ed McMahon. If I may.

 

Sal

 

I'm kind of the -- y'know what, Larry? I'm kind of the funny one. [Johnny glares at him] It's not really true. Actually, Johnny's just as funny, at least. 

 

Johnny

 

Why am I here? Why -- why am I here?

 

Sal

 

Hey, you need to fix your holly there? Your holly's a bit crooked there.

 

Johnny

 

All right, okay, all right.

 

Larry

 

Why do you tolerate him, Johnny?

 

Johnny

 

Well... I feel sorry for him, Larry, to tell you the truth. I mean, the guy's had a hard life. He's all right; he's just a little hyperactive, that's all.

 

Larry

 

But, I mean... you have an enormous amount of understanding... I don't mean to talk in your presence, Sal.

 

Sal

 

What?

 

Larry

 

Well, you have problems... and Johnny's awful nice to...

 

Sal

 

Well, he is awful nice. You know? He gave me this ring on my finger, but I lost the stone. 

 

Johnny

 

Yeah. He lost the stone.

 

Sal

 

I didn't lose the stone, actually. I know where it is. It's at a pawn shop. I can get it back. And he gave me this necklace, here...

 

Johnny

 

You pawned the stone?

 

Sal

 

What?

 

Johnny

 

You pawned the stone.

 

Sal

 

Well, yeah, I did. How do you think I got the video machine?

 

Johnny

 

I thought, but... What's the matter with you?

 

Sal

 

Well, I can get it back. 

 

Johnny

 

I can't... I can't believe you pawned the stone! I'm not getting it back!

 

Larry

 

He pawned the stone. 

 

Sal

 

It's all right. It was Johnny's father's ring. 

 

Larry

 

Let's talk a little about Christmas. What did you get, Johnny, for Christmas?

 

Johnny

 

Well, I got quite a few things. Sal gave me a few things. He gave me a razor, and some cufflinks.

 

Sal

 

And I gave you those kerchiefs.

 

Johnny

 

Yeah, he gave me kerchiefs with my initials on it.

 

Sal

 

No, it's true, you know what I do? I take my hair and I can weave it up, and then I make 'em into kerchiefs. Kinda smelly, but they're nice.

 

Larry

 

How do you do that? 

 

Sal

 

Well, y'know what, I take my hair -- you see how loose my hair is? Y'see? I do that, and then I comb it out, and I use what's left in the comb, and I make up kerchiefs. 

 

Larry

 

I see. And show 'em how you exercise.

 

Sal

 

Oh, that's for my arms.  [Sal throws his arms back and forth.]

 

Johnny

 

Gettin' a little workout there.

 

Sal

 

Y'know, being a bodyguard, you gotta be fit. Gotta have those arms ready.

 

Larry

 

I see. You've gotta be ready at any time. Okay. You have the tree up at your house for Christmas -- he lives in your house, Johnny? 

 

Johnny

 

Yes, he does. We put the tree up the other night.

 

Larry

 

Sal, you're getting a little overexuberant.

 

Johnny

 

Sal! Sal.

 

Sal

 

What? What?

 

Johnny

 

I'm talkin'. I'm talkin'.

 

Sal

 

Oh -- oh, sorry, Johnny. I'm sorry.

 

Johnny

 

We put up the tree the other night. Sal put the little angel on the top.

 

Sal

 

Yeah, that's right. Only, y'know what? I stepped out on the tree, and it overbalanced.

 

Johnny

 

Yeah. Busted the angel's head right off.

 

Sal

 

I know. And I landed right on the cat. 

 

Johnny

 

And then the next thing you know, the lights blow, and the tree's on fire...

 

Sal

 

That's right.

 

Johnny

 

And Ma gets all upset, so... we don't have a tree.

 

Sal

 

Yeah, and we burned the cat as well. 

 

Johnny

 

It looks better.

 

Larry

 

So, it's kind of a sad Christmas, in a sense.

 

Johnny

 

Well, no, no.

 

Sal

 

Are you kiddin'? You shoulda heard last year. That's a good year.

 

Johnny

 

Yeah. Things are going really well.

 

Larry

 

Now, you've got your own Christmas show, right?

 

Johnny

 

Oh, yeah -- and as a matter of fact, Larry, if I may ask you... Would you like to be on our show?

 

Larry

 

Oh... Sal, Johnny... I'd be deeply honored.

 

Sal

 

Oh, would you!

 

Johnny

 

We would be deeply honored.

 

Larry

 

Honored to be on your show...

 

Sal

 

We would be more than honored to have you on our show!

 

Larry

 

I'd be honored! Doubly honored!

 

Sal

 

NO NO NO! We would be MORE honored!

 

Larry

 

I'D be honored!

 

Sal

 

NO, I'm TELLING you...

 

Johnny

 

Sal, Sal... basta!

 

Sal

 

Excuse me? I'm sorry, Larry.

 

Larry

 

I'd be honored. But how could we do this? I'm in the middle of my show.

 

Johnny

 

Well, I'll tell ya -- the funny thing is, is that Sal brought everything over...

 

Sal

 

That's right!

 

Johnny

 

And we set it up next door, there. 

 

Larry

 

Wait -- you brought your set here? 

 

Johnny

 

Yeah. 

 

Larry

 

So, in other words, we could just -- in the next portion, do like a show within a show.

 

Sal

 

That's right!

 

Johnny

 

Let's just jump right to it!

 

Larry

 

So, in other words, I'm on your show, while you're on my show, but we're doing it from your show's set. 

 

Sal

 

That's right, it'll be the Johnny Fiama Show in the Larry King Show!

 

Johnny

 

Creative, isn't it?

 

Larry

 

Okay. We're gonna do this. Okay?

 

Sal

 

Yeah!

 

Larry

 

We're gonna do it. When we come back, I'm on Johnny's show. Sal will introduce it, right? 

 

Sal

 

All right!

 

Larry

 

Don't go away!

 

 

Yeah, don't go away! Next in the Anthology:

Johnny and Sal's Christmas Eve with Larry King concludes with 

The Johnny Fiama Show on the Larry King Show!

 

December Anthology  --  Anthology Contents

 

 

Thanks! to my pal Chris Smigliano

for sending me this great interview!

 

 

Danny@ToughPigs.com