Everyone’s favorite antagonists from The Big Bang Theory, John Ross Bowie, stops by to chat with Kenric about Kripke,
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John Ross Bowie Interview
Kenric: [00:00:00] Welcome back to the show. Today it’s super exciting because if you’re like me. And John big bang theory is my go-to when I’m sick, it’s big bang theory, the it crowd and trailer park boys. So if I’m sick and embed, those are the three shows I’m watching and get covered.
[00:00:17] All I’m going to say is Barry cookie is one of the funniest antagonists. On a, on a, on a, on a show like this. So I really, really appreciate it. John Ross Bowie. Thank you so much. I don’t know why you’re here. You must want to kill your career for coming on sport of the country, but we appreciate
[00:00:34] John Ross Bowie: [00:00:34] it. That was the idea.
[00:00:37] Yeah. I’m just going to really give this one a Viking funeral. Let me start by essence. It’s going to be a whole hour. Or so I actually pronounce it Bowie. Oh, Bali. Yeah. Yeah, don’t edit this. Don’t like go back and redo it this deep in this moment. I hardly ever correct anyone anymore, but I just feel like we’re going to be talking for a while.
[00:00:57] And I actually, the, the, the it’s funny, we’re, we’re going to talk about my, my recent trip to the UK. When I go to the UK they say Bowery right out of the gate. For whatever reason here in the States. Yeah, that’s great. That’s phenomenal. For reason, for reason here in the States, it’s it’s Bowie, or if I’m in the sort of a Southeast or Texas it’s buoy.
[00:01:18]But my father and his father about how he’s going back to Scotland and said Bowery. So there you go. Take that under
[00:01:25] Kenric: [00:01:25] advisement. I guess my last name is Regan. And as soon as Ronald Reagan became president, no one could pronounce her last name. It was always
[00:01:35] John Ross Bowie: [00:01:35] Reagan, right? Yeah, you spell it. R E N
[00:01:39] Kenric: [00:01:39] E G a N.
[00:01:41] John Ross Bowie: [00:01:41] So Reagan is art. Yay. You spell it. Regan, Regan. I see that. I see that again. So I always have to go into the whole diatom area. Okay. And it’s Reagan. That just makes sense. I was like, I’m just going to die.
[00:01:54] Kenric: [00:01:54] Try to as well. How do you, how do you spell reverb? And reject.
[00:02:01] So, you know, it’s not Ray
[00:02:02] John Ross Bowie: [00:02:02] Jack,
[00:02:06] Kenric: [00:02:06] so man, you have, you’re going to be on feel good, which is the may Martin show on Netflix right now. Season one, finished up season two starts here. We’re going to say late spring, early summer. I think that’s fair to say. And. Yeah, you’re in how, w how was the experience? What was it like working for Netflix?
[00:02:29] John Ross Bowie: [00:02:29] It’s it was great. I’ve done other things for Netflix. I was on a show called love with, with Paul rhe Rustin and Gilliam Jacobs, which was, yeah, it’s great, right? Yeah, it was really good. And I was bummed that canceled. And this is a similar this actually has a similar vibe in the sense of, it’s just this very thoughtful, very funny grounded comedy.
[00:02:51]I went from not knowing who may Martin was to a such rabid fan to maybe even one of her friends. Now it’s been pretty, it’s been a real rollercoaster relationship, but we. I auditioned over zoom just like this. Yeah. Her and her writing partner, one of the producers and we hit it off wonderfully.
[00:03:14] And then we went for this wonderful once I got over to the UK, because they, they shoot it in the UK. Once I got over there we went on this long walk, along the Thames you know, keeping our obvious, because this was October, this was height of COVID. Everything was locked down. Everyone’s like, Oh my God, how was London?
[00:03:31] And London was, it might as well have been hard for is no nothing going on at all. It was just, the architecture was out beautiful, but you couldn’t go anywhere. Right. And we just really hit it off. Really had a nice time and she’s done. Something kind of striking the awesome in the way she has created a fresh take on let’s build this, let’s build a sit-com around this stand-up genre which you know, which, which goes back to, you know, God, there’s an argument that, that it goes back to.
[00:04:05] I love Lucy. It feels really fresh and innovative the way she’s, there’s a lot of interesting things are about sexuality and intimacy and, and, and it got kind of lost in the shuffle last year in the States because Netflix released it on the same day as tiger King. Oh man. And America was just right over it.
[00:04:30] Yeah. Which is a shame. But I think it’s, it’s getting It’s getting its due finally. And people are late to the party, but are enjoying it. And you know, this is scientific city, but when I announced that I I’ve got to, I’ve gotten to do the The series a bunch of my friends on, on Instagram, like, Oh, that’s fantastic.
[00:04:50] I love that show. And she’s so nice. He’s so talented. She’s so charismatic. So yeah, I think, I think I’m hoping that season two will do really good things for her because she’s a huge talent and it’s really it, season two goes to some really interesting places. You know, the funny
[00:05:04] Kenric: [00:05:04] thing about that show is that it’s funny in a real world way.
[00:05:10] You know, nothing is like over the top where you’re like, Oh, that would never happen. No, it’s like, Oh, I feel I’ve, I’ve felt exactly how she’s feeling right now.
[00:05:19] John Ross Bowie: [00:05:19] It is really remarkable how it manages to have a warmth and a kindness and a grounded-ness and still be laugh out loud. Funny. I actually it reminds me.
[00:05:31] Sort of my other big favorite from this past year was Ted lasso. Which I have nothing to do with I’m just a fan, but in terms of. AE aside from to get over the big jump of this American football coach, going over to, to coach their football. Once you get over that rather big suspension of disbelief, everything else feels firmly rooted in our world and and warm and hilarious, the fun and and smart to get.
[00:06:00] It’s been, it’s been, it’s been pretty neat. It’s pretty neat. Being involved with that. So when
[00:06:05] Kenric: [00:06:05] you’re over there in the UK shooting, Everything was locked down. So that must’ve been such an odd experience. Like you guys are you’re working, but
[00:06:15] John Ross Bowie: [00:06:15] it was, we I’ve gotten to work in London a couple of times.
[00:06:20]And and I love it over there. I really, I really dig it. And I usually spend my time when I’m not working you know, blow it out and I’ll go to the theater, which is really affordable and accessible over there. And there’s tons of great stuff. And there’s so many great museums. There’s so much history.
[00:06:35] And what I did this time was I would just, I would just Postmates Indian food and sit in my hotel and watch British TV. And I discovered the show that I’m evangelizing about. That is not streaming here in the States yet, but it’s called portrait rest of the year. Just that as a reality competition about portrait painters, who, and the winner of each series.
[00:07:01] Yes, a few paint and athlete. I have never heard of a portrait that will hang in a museum. I have never heard of. And that’s it. That’s the big prize and the stakes have not be lowered. So they’re in, I’m over there in like exactly November when I was over there. We were figuring out the election here super stressful time.
[00:07:23] The whole world is watching us sort through our shit. Yeah. Right. Shit. Show amuse with us. And I switched over to sky arts and they’re showing this wonderful show hosted by Stephen Mangan from episodes. And it’s the most relaxing hour of seeing paints and figuring out how to capture the shadows under people’s eyes.
[00:07:45] And it could not be. More low key. It makes the great British baking show. It looked like an episode of 24. So chill. Aye. Aye. Aye. It cannot stream here. Fast people think I’m crazy. It is such a great show. If you have any way hydrating,
[00:08:06] Kenric: [00:08:06] get onto the BBC app streaming app.
[00:08:09]John Ross Bowie: [00:08:09] You can’t cause it’s, it’s technically it’s sky arts, which is a which is privately owned. BBC is public in the sky app. We don’t have the sky arts in our, any of our stores. There’s gotta be a way I’m sure if you’re really diligent, you can find a way to stream it here in the state portrait artist purchase artist of the year is shit.
[00:08:28] The portrait. I want to watch
[00:08:30] Kenric: [00:08:30] I like there’s, there’s something on Netflix. That’s been. Transferred over from England. And it’s like this guy that has a warehouse or like a big ass barn on his property and people just show up and he’s, and he’s got a crew of people and they’re like, I got this old telescope that is on the side of, of the sea where people could put the quarter in look and we’re hoping, you know, it’s from the 1930s and we’re hoping you can fix it.
[00:08:54] And he’s got like a group of guys that come out and they do it and they have all the one guy brought a cane that is, that his grandfather back brought back from India from when the British still ruled India. And it had a little monkey’s head and you hit the button and the ears flared out and the mouth opened up and down and he wanted to get that fixed.
[00:09:12] And they, you know, and it’s on Netflix right now. I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s so good. It’s so funny. Oh my God. That was not funny, but it’s so relaxing. Tell the same way. Give me something to sit and just veg out on.
[00:09:25] John Ross Bowie: [00:09:25] I love it. Yeah. I mean, these are trying times right now. I don’t necessarily need to be on the edge of my seat and need to be in the middle of my bed
[00:09:33] Kenric: [00:09:33] when you’re not working.
[00:09:35] What, what is John Bowery up to
[00:09:39] John Ross Bowie: [00:09:39] these days? Yeah.
[00:09:44] Well, that’s all that I’m doing. I’m doing like all like the, the. I I’m doing a lot of the, the pandemic hobbies. Like I’ve been playing a lot more guitar. I’ve been making bread. I’ve been hanging out with my kids and cooking a lot more, which has actually been a little bit nice. My writing on a new ABC show called rebel.
[00:10:08] Cool. I’m with KTC gal and Andy Garcia, which has been great, but she’s been really big and bad. She’s on set right now wearing, you know, you know, six masks, face shield giving muffled notes to to peg Bundy. But so I’ve been sort of when I’m not working cause I’ve been doing, I, I did feel good. And I’ve been working on this show called a generation for HBO max, which has come out that I can say firmly comes out on March 11th.
[00:10:33] Cool, cool. Which has been great, but when I’m not working on those, I’m just sorta house husbanding, which has been kind of cool. You know, I had three years fairly steady work with speechless and the end of big bang. Yeah. So actually, and this is not just me trying to put a happy face on a, on a the Twilight of her career.
[00:10:53] Right. It’s been really genuinely nice to, to be home more and Just hanging with the kids and sort of cooking with them a little bit. And you know, it’s, it’s been really hard for the, my kids are 13 and 11 and this should be like a real social butterfly time for them. And it isn’t, which has been, which has been tough.
[00:11:13] But my son’s teaching me to kick ass in for tonight. My daughter started playing bass comer so we can hear her sometimes in the other room working on stuff. So that’s exciting. How’d you
[00:11:23] Kenric: [00:11:23] get into the bass guitar? I always find that
[00:11:27] John Ross Bowie: [00:11:27] really usually people like to pick up,
[00:11:32] Kenric: [00:11:32] like, I want to play guitar. I want to play drums and then it’s okay, well
[00:11:37] John Ross Bowie: [00:11:37] base, if she’s anything like me, she recognized it.
[00:11:41] She recognizes it as the shortest route to getting into With the bears, you know how can I be in a band, but not have to learn chords? I have just the thing, you know, so she’s, she’s into that goblet. And she shares her father’s intuition. But it’s been fun. Yeah, she’s in there. Brian and she’s got really random tastes too.
[00:11:59] Like there’s a lot of beetles that’s care and then there’s a lot of newer stuff that I’m just getting familiar with. So it’s been, it’s been kind of kind of fun watching them. Make the best of their ample amounts of free time. I
[00:12:14] Kenric: [00:12:14] got to tell you, speaking of music, I didn’t know that you played guitar and was able to sing and do all that until I saw you in speechless playing Jimmy de Mio.
[00:12:25] And I’m, I’m really kind of bummed that they, that show’s canceled that I many driver was fantastic. The kids were amazing. I thought that show showed that you could lead a comedy. Joe a sit-com with many drivers and many, I thought many was amazing. I mean, I loved her since I ran a video store in the nineties.
[00:12:45] And so circle of friends came out that was a sleeper hit, like
[00:12:49] John Ross Bowie: [00:12:49] a cold
[00:12:49] Kenric: [00:12:49] sleeper hit. And, and then when you saw her do other movies, I’m like, Oh, that’s Minnie driver from circle of friends. That’s how I always see her still to this day. And so to see her do speechless and just to see how much she’s how well her comedic timing is was, was awesome.
[00:13:06] And so much fun and you guys played so well
[00:13:07] John Ross Bowie: [00:13:07] too. Really? He’s a really gifted clown. She really is. The I had played her boss on a couple of episodes of about a boy. So I came in knowing a little bit about her skillset in that regard. And of course you’ve been kind of broadly funny on will and grace, right.
[00:13:24]Where she really got to kind of. Be goofier than usual stretch shops. Yeah. I mean, it’s not, it’s not, I was not a video store employee in the nineties, but I was a frequent video for a customer and it is not lost on me. Like how crazy it was that I had. Excellent. Excellent comic chemistry. The chick from Goodwill hunting don’t think that like I’m so jaded in my career that I was not really pleasantly surprised that that me.
[00:13:56] And is it Skylar? Is that the characters name and Goodwill hunting hundred? I think so that we just hit it off and like, it just made sense on camera, but both her son is between the ages of my kids. Henry is 12 and my kids are 13 and 11 and right there, we’d had a few play dates and we had a few hang times and I think we had very similar parenting philosophies.
[00:14:20] Yeah. And the whole cast was great. I mean, Mae and Micah and Kyla, Cedric is the gift. You know, it’s, I have, I have had a lot of people bemoan the canceling of that show. And obviously I was super bummed, but to do 63 episodes of a really smart, funny show on a network. Yeah. It’s no easy feat nowadays.
[00:14:43] So I’m I, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, you know Light a candle rather than curse the darkness really out of the work did. And there was the day thing I was when I was in London. It’s still round rock on on E over there. And you can occasionally get yourself a horrific genre that we double feature because sometimes it follows one of my big banks.
[00:15:05] You can get more value than you could. Possibly ever want. Oh, that’s awesome. Had from Latin Nam on in the UK which was striking. That’s hilarious.
[00:15:17] Kenric: [00:15:17] W w when you worked on that, you worked with John Cleese. What was that like? One of the greatest comedic actors of all time. If I’m looking down and you see me looking down, I apologize, is that my camera’s up.
[00:15:29] But you’re down.
[00:15:32] John Ross Bowie: [00:15:32] I figured, I figured I figured it was good. I just don’t want you
[00:15:38] Kenric: [00:15:38] guys now you paying attention to what I’m
[00:15:40] John Ross Bowie: [00:15:40] saying,
[00:15:43] not a visual medium, so I wasn’t going to comment on it, but knock yourself out and draw attention to it if you must. This is just so weird. If went out of focus or I went out of focus. One of went out of focus for a moment. Oh, that might’ve anyway. Was a dream was he really was really, he really was, you know, I’d heard, I’d heard, like you can be a little cantankerous and, you know, he said some things politically over the years that I don’t jive with, but if you’re going to.
[00:16:12] You know, say things that I, I disagree with politically the least you can do is be a complete icon otherwise. And he was, and it was a playful game and he liked the script. And he said a couple of nice things to me and I have there’s one. I don’t. I think, I don’t think we were actually shooting on 40%.
[00:16:32] I think it was just three in a rehearsal where I cracked him up. So I don’t think there’s actual footage of him of making John Cleese break, but I have it in my heart and I remember what it looks like. Right. And it is a it was a real career peak for me. What’s interesting about CLI is specifically.
[00:16:52] In, in how it relates to to speechless is there’s an amazing, well from Cleese about Python. And I was absolutely one of those, like one of those gen X, white kids, quote, Holy grail in life for Brian backwards and forwards without doing the whole,
[00:17:09] Kenric: [00:17:09] it is three.
[00:17:09] John Ross Bowie: [00:17:09] It is not four, absolutely. Three or somebody of the number of accounts.
[00:17:14] And there’s absolutely, it’s not my sexiest. It’s quality by a damn night, but so I’m, I’m hugely familiar with his, his oeuvre. The first time I visited my, my now wife into our apartment, chief fish called Wanda poster up in her little apartment. I was like, I gotta make it work. I have to make it work with this woman, but he’s certainly amazing in an interview years ago that I take into heart is When we started money Python, we thought comedy was watching people do funny things.
[00:17:42] And then the second season we realized that watching comedy, but comedy is watching people, watch people do funny things. Right. Right. And you take that and you look at that and the larger The larger context of his work. And that makes the, it makes you realize that the famous black Knight’s sequence and Holy grail is just as much on Graham Chapman’s shoulders, as it is on Cleese playing the guy who is clearly losing a sword fight, but refuses to give up.
[00:18:10] But it’s Chapman is us. Chapman is voice of reason saying you’ve boss and, and the moment of Terry Jones being really uncomfortable that Eric idle is STM all these personal questions about what sex is like a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, you know all of these. All of these sketches rely on a crazy person and a voice of reason.
[00:18:29] And I had taken that to heart while doing speechless because so much of speechless was me being surrounded by wackiness and sort of my foot on the ground being the straight man being the, the audience’s proxy. Right. So I mean, yeah. I’m not just a fan of Cleese. He has shaped my worldview and how I approach what I do for a living.
[00:18:51] It was pretty pretty seismic. That’s
[00:18:55] Kenric: [00:18:55] awesome. You know, my favorite scene in all a speechless is the scene where you guys refuse to clean up the yard and you go and you meet the neighbor for the first time. And then you tell your daughter. Basically for no uncertain terms. Cause I can’t remember the exact quotes is you’re the assholes of the neighborhood.
[00:19:12] You’re not going to do the L you know,
[00:19:15] John Ross Bowie: [00:19:15] We’re not jerks we’re idiots. Yeah. Oh yeah. That was my, that was when the show really started that’s I think only our second or third episode. And that’s when the show made a very loud sounding click for me. That’s when I was really like, Oh, I see what we’re doing here.
[00:19:28] Because as the neighbor gets annoyed with us for not cleaning up. Hard. And she lashes out at him by ordering like a bunch of pranks for him. And I’m like, no, that’s not what we do. That’s a jerk move. We’re idiots be careful. And it’s a, it was a. It was sort of the show leaving with its governing philosophy.
[00:19:51] Kenric: [00:19:51] right. That kind of tone for the rest of the series.
[00:19:54] John Ross Bowie: [00:19:54] Right. It really did. I had to give a speech at one point. It was my first big speech on the show where I laid down the whole deal about we had a snake when we moved in. We don’t know where it is now, if we receive your packet, It just, they will become our packages, looking down the rules of what it’s going to mean to be a de Mayo.
[00:20:15] A neighbor
[00:20:16] Kenric: [00:20:16] of the domains.
[00:20:18] John Ross Bowie: [00:20:18] Yeah. And it was and Kyle is so good in that episode. I don’t know if you’re watching Mr. Mayor. No, she’s great. As
[00:20:24] Kenric: [00:20:24] the mayor, as the mayor’s daughter. Yeah. She’s killing
[00:20:26] John Ross Bowie: [00:20:26] it. She, she had an enormous, enormous, I’m a huge fan. But like anytime I got to work with her was a delight and that was our first time kind of having scenes one-on-one and yeah, she was really, really fun to work with.
[00:20:42] Kenric: [00:20:42] How much joy or maybe how much frustration and how much like learning and being able to build how you kind of incorporate yourself into the acting career. Does the upright citizens brigade give to you
[00:20:56] John Ross Bowie: [00:20:56] a lot? And it’s funny, I was just talking about this with my wife yesterday. Nailed it. Cause that’s how we met.
[00:21:03]Yeah, well time we did not do a pre-interview there’s no way you could’ve known that let’s bring at home and just say happy.
[00:21:11] Kenric: [00:21:11] I got my bat right here. I’m just trying to hit him. Abs.
[00:21:15] John Ross Bowie: [00:21:15] Absolutely. I met my wife at the upright citizens brigade, where we were taking improv classes. And it has changed everything.
[00:21:26] I mean, it changed my, my, my life in a very tactile way. And that made me decide I wanted to be an actor and It was becoming the hot comedy place in the late nineties and casting directors and agents were coming to see. And that’s how I got my first commercial agent and that to some very tangible benchmarks in, in this thing that I’m going to a straight face Sidley call it.
[00:21:51] And it also, it, it, it led to something else in terms of. You know, you do so much work for free at a place like that. And cause they, they don’t, and there’s some controversy about this that I’m not going to touch, but we were never paid. But we got free stage time in a city where pre-stage time is not easy to come by.
[00:22:12] Right. So we take these classes or we would intern to pay for these classes and then we’d get up there and we would do our thing. And it made you, it’s a cliche to say it, but it made you part of an organism part of an organization that where you had to rely on each other, you had to have each other’s backs on stage.
[00:22:32]And it made you it, it ideally it took away your sense of entitlement. And it made you a little less precious about things sometimes. So, you know, you’re not, as, you know, you’ve got this one joke and you’re really, really proud of it. And someone shoots it down and you’re like, okay, we gotta go on to the next one.
[00:22:50] Right. Right. You know, creativity is a renewable resource. Let’s keep going. So I, I think if I’m. I think if I’m not an asshole on set and I really try not to be I’m I’m, I’ve got a pretty decent reputation. I think a lot of that comes from UCB and that sense of comradery that we built coming up with guys like Audrey and Jamie and Donna Fermin and Danielle Snyder and Rob HUBO, Paul Scheer, all those guys who were in and around my generation.
[00:23:23]And we’ve all gone on to, you know, Not had day jobs, you know, to evolve. We’ve gone on to not to consistently qualify for insurance. Which I think is a phenomenal Pence market. You know, I’ve got, I’ve got the sag health plan for 19 years running. I win. Yeah. Yeah. I’m going to go to the dentist just for kicks, but it really, it, it helped my, my whole philosophy around this business and I think it has made me just very grateful and, and really appreciative.
[00:23:56] But also if, if a joke isn’t working, I, I’m not sure person to run up to the writers and go, Oh, this isn’t working in, fix it. I’m the person who go up to the writers and go, Hey, let’s work on this thing. I have a couple of ideas. Let’s hear you yours. Perhaps we can come around to something here. There was an example of one time where we were, it was super late at night.
[00:24:15] And I don’t know if you remember, we had a running gag on the show where we had a bunch of things written on the wall that were dead to Maya things that Maya simply did not like. And they were up there for the entire run of the series. They went on in like episode five and they just stayed up there for the entire run, which was one of my favorite things.
[00:24:35] And we would add and take things away and scratch things off. But there was one thing where they put one of the writers put sky. Maya hates Scott and many NGOs. Here’s the problem I am in my forties. I’m from Britain. We all left of Scott. It becomes an entire extra story. If this British woman who was born in the seventies, doesn’t love madness.
[00:25:01] Doesn’t love the specialist. Doesn’t love speed. That’s a complete outlier. And we, we, we didn’t like just throw it. Now we were like, okay, how do we fix this? How, and I think I was actually me who pitched her. I was like, how about 90 Scott? What if we make it? Like you, you like the stuff that you grew up with, but once it got kind of went pop and the Bosstones came in and there was sort of a weird pop punk influence, maybe that’s it for the joke with her going in the sky.
[00:25:30] And Cedric goes, what did 90 Scott ever do to you? And she goes, ruined the night
[00:25:38] and. You know, the point of that incredibly long story is just that, you know, it makes you a collaborator. It makes you a fixer before you’re a complainer. Yeah. And it was really and that’s absolutely UCB coursing through my veins when, when moments like that come up
[00:25:54] Kenric: [00:25:54] and that’s awesome. That’s awesome.
[00:25:56] So you went to Ithaca college, right? And your parents are you’re lucky enough to be able to go to college. And you come home and you tell your parents I’m going to do the episode, upright citizens brigade. And I’m going to be an actor.
[00:26:10] John Ross Bowie: [00:26:10] What’s that? Oh, dude, it’s so much worse, but I got to know what was their reaction.
[00:26:15] I did first. What I did first was I led them on for a year. I came back from college with a degree in English and education. Okay. So you’re going to be a teacher in their mind. I went back and I got age. Job at my old high school teach it. That’s like, hi, don’t mind me guys. I know that costs a lot of money, but I’m about to go into the noblest profession.
[00:26:36] That is, was it a sitcom? And here’s why it’s even more of a sit-com because of the way they, they pay New York teachers. I live with my mom for that year, so I I’m living with my mom going back to my old high school, but this time I’m teaching instead of the student there. I do that for one academic year and it breaks me like a twig.
[00:26:55] It absolutely cracks my spirit into, I am not cut out for that job. At least not at that age. I was 22. That means
[00:27:06] Kenric: [00:27:06] there’s kids that were in junior high, middle school that were going to school while you were like a senior. And now you’re teaching them.
[00:27:15]John Ross Bowie: [00:27:15] Huh. That’s correct. Kid was like, Hey, I was in your gym class when you were a senior.
[00:27:19] I’m like, okay. That means you’ve been here for six years, but brag about that. But yes, it is true. I remember you in my gym. It’s all set. So that was a mess. So then, so then I go, okay, I got to quit teaching. I’m not I’m way too young for this job. I look like a senior in a tie. The kids are actively mean to me.
[00:27:39] I have to, I ha I’m only five foot eight. I am not equipped for this right now. So then I, I move out. At least I started a punk rock band and a punk rock band puts out its own records. And there’s no parent in the world. I don’t care if you’re Billy Joe Armstrong, nobody nobody’s parent is like, excellent.
[00:27:59] My son plays bass in a punk band. And then the punk and breaks up. And then me, well, I have one cousin who is starting pre-law at Holy cross when this is going on. And the child pump that is broken up, I’m going to start taking improv classes and we’ll see where that takes us. So I really bless my parents hard.
[00:28:17] They’re both gone now, but they really, I took a real rollercoaster in my twenties and was able to pay them back. That’s the word? Untold amount of loans and it all worked out and they got to see me make a decent living and support a family. So it it all came out in the wash, but I really, I took them on quite the emotional roller coaster throughout my twenties.
[00:28:39] I love it.
[00:28:40] Kenric: [00:28:40] I love did they, and they saw you on like the big bang cause that was, was, do you consider a big bang, your big breakout?
[00:28:48]John Ross Bowie: [00:28:48] I consider. The short answer is yes. I think the doing a show with a reputation as large and as sprawling as big bang has definitely opened doors that were not open beforehand.
[00:29:03] But but there’s an argument to be made that the very first sitcom I ever booked, which was a show that nobody remembers called a USA from 2003, that was a break. Right. There were there were little things along the way that like helped me, you know, rung by rung, but big bane was a big shift and then speed flows are really big shifts and there definitely felt like a, a way You put it in very stark video game terms.
[00:29:28] Cause I know what podcast I’m on. Right. It felt like definite level up, you know, it’s like that moment for you, you know, like you, you turn the corner and the game auto saves and you’ve got a couple of new weapons and you know, your outfits get a little fancier. That’s kind of what speechless felt like, you know?
[00:29:45] And I’m not, you know, I’m not cruising around in a Tesla or anything, but it’s definitely opened up some, some more doors.
[00:29:53] Kenric: [00:29:53] Did it. You had more say of how you wanted your character to be, to be in speechless than you would have in big bang.
[00:30:01] John Ross Bowie: [00:30:01] Yeah. Yeah, I definitely did. Big bang. I, I came onto that show about a year and a half into its run.
[00:30:06] And anytime you do guesswork, it feels very much like you’re hopping onto a moving train. And if you want to view me as a hobo to, to extend that metaphor, you’re welcome to do so. There’s a real sense of this thing knows what it’s doing. This is a finely wheel machine. I’m just going to like hop on and try not to fall off.
[00:30:24] Let’s give you the title of the show.
[00:30:27] Kenric: [00:30:27] John Ross, Bowery professional hobo.
[00:30:32] John Ross Bowie: [00:30:32] It, it really so much of guesswork is that, you know, so much of, of guesswork is just everyone knows each other. You’d go in and just try to try to find your footing, but fortunately, everyone on. On big bang. And I’ve said this before, and it’s going to sound a little canned, but it’s true. That cast was made up of people who had either been at it for a really long time and recognize that jobs were rare to come by like Galecki and Kaylee and everybody else was on their first big break.
[00:31:05] And then they brought in Miami who had taken like 10 years off to get her advanced degrees and was coming back to acting right. Health insurance. So everyone in that show either everyone, unless you’re recognized what rare air they were breathing. Right. We’re very appreciative. And a lot of them had done a less work beforehand.
[00:31:24] Like Simon had done, it had a bunch of recurrings in different places. And Jim had like popped in on like a judging Amy and here and there, but he had never been a series regular before. So they kind of understood what I was going through, hopping on as this very brash big character. So they were super welcoming and They’re they’re good folks.
[00:31:44] I owe Galecki a call actually just reminds me I should call Galecki. And I said I was going to about a week ago and I should call him. Yeah.
[00:31:50] Kenric: [00:31:50] T tell him, I said, hi young man. I’m sure he’ll remember me. I’ve never met him. I have to go that when he had you, when you read the script and they said you gotta do the speech impediment, what was your first reaction?
[00:32:04] John Ross Bowie: [00:32:04] My first reaction was, was it was not actually in the script. Well, if something that was sprung on me at the audition the character as written with just this alpha nerd bully. Yeah. And I came in and played him as such with just sort of the sort of crotch first posture and this guy with this completely undo sense of competence.
[00:32:27] And I think they rather wisely suggested that he have some sort of vulnerability. And this all happened in front of me. This was Chuck, Laurie, and I, and bill Prady and maybe Lee, Aaron, just sitting on a couch in front of me going, they should have some sort of vulnerability, maybe a speech impediment bill, pretty suggests, Oh, maybe something like what Tom Brokaw has that kind of liquid L yeah.
[00:32:49] And I, you know, every, the eager to please actor was like, yeah, absolutely. I can do that as sort of a subtle liquid L you got it. And instead, you know, this Elmer Fudd things comes out and I got the job that night. I went to work the following week. You know what, I, I laughed so hard
[00:33:05] Kenric: [00:33:05] because I had that speech impediment.
[00:33:07] When I was a little kid, when I was in, when I was in elementary school, they actually sent me to speech classes just to work on when
[00:33:15] John Ross Bowie: [00:33:15] your last name. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, your last name is
[00:33:18] Kenric: [00:33:18] my first name is Ken Rick. So Ken Rick Regan. It was terrible. Yeah. And I had to do speech impediment classes and I’ll never forget this.
[00:33:28] Like, she’s probably a wonderful human being. Let’s just preface it by that. Cause she’s, she’s doing the Lord’s work. When you think about that, she’s dealing with kids that have you know, impediments and she’s got to try to get this fourth grader wrangled in and. Yeah, I was not picking up the RS. She finally, one day just completely lost it on me and said, if you don’t learn these, be able to speak correctly in an NCA and say these ares in a way that people understand what you’re saying, you will amount to nothing in your life.
[00:34:00] And I use it. Oh yeah. I started balling. I went home. I told my mom, she pulled me out of that, out of that, like right away. And then. But, you know what? It was a catalyst because instantly like within a month or two later, my R’s were perfect.
[00:34:18] John Ross Bowie: [00:34:18] You know, what’s, what’s funny is considering how long I, you know, 11 years of showing up that show two or three times a year.
[00:34:27]I got very little pushback about that character because there’s an argument to be made that he is. You know, a lot of the jokes came from his inability to pronounce words. But what I think helped it is that despite that he’s never a victim. Well,
[00:34:45] Kenric: [00:34:45] that’s exactly right. Even when they made fun of it and the fact that he flips it on Sheldon, are you making fun of my, my, my speech.
[00:34:53] And then, and then it’s able to push that into Sheldon’s face. I mean, you, you were never a victim and I think that makes a huge, huge difference.
[00:35:03] John Ross Bowie: [00:35:03] I think that was what, what did it, and I think that’s what I, and I think that also translated philosophically over to speechless too. And by the fact that they made, instead of making JJ this like perfect little kid who happens to have CP JJ could be kind of a Dick.
[00:35:17] Sometimes I loved it. And there’s a great episode where they find out he’s just coasting through his classes cause nobody has the nerve to fail him. And which was one of that’s one of my favorite episodes. I, I don’t even remember what I do in that episode, but that whole arc of all of the teachers who were like do not, no one wants to fail the kid who uses a wheelchair, which I thought was endlessly raw and funny.
[00:35:41]But yeah, I think the reason that I would get fan mail from speech pathologists, which was baffling to me, that is like, you get offended by it because he, again was a, was an alpha, he, you know, cookie one most of the time, you know, until the bitter end, when he. He doesn’t get a he doesn’t get a Nobel.
[00:36:01] He does, however, step in to make sure the bad guys don’t the really bad guys, don’t get a Nobel. And so it was, it was a really interesting character to play.
[00:36:13] He was great. Yeah, he really was great. Come
[00:36:16] Kenric: [00:36:16] in it just tear Leonard a new one. When it was like heard you ran 20,000 stuff with no with no usable data. Congratulations was like, who does that at work?
[00:36:29] John Ross Bowie: [00:36:29] In the very first episode, he has a line where Kunal set me up with something which was Oh, I asked where Howard was. I asked her why was because he’s he’s depressed because he’s sad and creepy and can’t get girls. And they gave me what is kind of the line of the series. I don’t want to give myself too much credit, but my line was something to the effect of we’re all creepy, empathetic, and can’t get girls.
[00:36:54] And, you know, I don’t, I don’t want to Pat myself on the back too much, but it’s hard to think of a more representative line for that series. Nailed it.
[00:37:06] Kenric: [00:37:06] So I’m glad to know that you made it through your career to a point that your parents, that you’re able to do all that they got, they got I’m sure. They’re very proud of you, especially for turning on the TV and there’s there. They’re bouncing, baby boy sitting there.
[00:37:21] John Ross Bowie: [00:37:21] My mom got to, got to see, I got to go to a big bang taping.
[00:37:25] Oh, that’s awesome. Which was re. Yeah, and got to is around for the first couple of seasons of speechless and yeah, I think she she got to realize that all those hours of letting me stay up late and watch sitcoms past my bedtime, you know, might’ve actually had some dividends. It’s pretty hard to prove to your parents that watching taxi and WK RP is is foundational education, but
[00:37:49] Kenric: [00:37:49] what’s the best w KRP episode in your mind?
[00:37:54] John Ross Bowie: [00:37:54] Well, obviously the Thanksgiving one with the turkeys,
[00:37:56] Kenric: [00:37:56] I still cry. I watched that YouTube clip almost every around Thanksgiving once every year.
[00:38:03] John Ross Bowie: [00:38:03] It’s amazing too, because the other, because they simply did not have the budget to show anything like that. So the entire shot is Les Nessman recounting what he’s seeing.
[00:38:11]So that’s always amazing. But there was an episode where somebody blows up the transmitter. Yeah. It’s a terror act, essentially. Somebody blows up the transmitter and I just remember less running through the newsroom heading onto the air. He thinks he’s going to go on the air, even though the transmitter is blown up and they go less than the transmitters blown up.
[00:38:31] And he goes, I know, it’s my lead story, dude. Les
[00:38:37] Kenric: [00:38:37] Nessman like her part of it was great. That guy was so that, that character is so funny. But Les Nessman dude, you know, w K in the news, I mean, it was just it’s too much.
[00:38:48] John Ross Bowie: [00:38:48] These are lines represent injured. Yeah, I believe it constantly has his finger for the splint and they hardly ever mentioned it, but he’s like got a bandaid over here or a finger and a splint, or like a soft cast on at all times.
[00:39:02] There are so many good bits on that show. We worked with an actress who came on and played a mom on speechless. Actress named Kiva jumped, who was Gordon Trump’s daughter ordered jumper, of course, being the bacon guy crossing the big guy. And she said that it was always sort of bittersweet. She had lost her father.
[00:39:20] Obviously Gordon Trump is no longer with us. She said it was always kind of bitter sweet Thanksgiving because yeah. The memes of her dad coming in with the greatest blow of any sit-com episode of all time as God is my witness. I thought you could fly. And by the way, if you don’t know what we’re talking about, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re a youngster watching the show, WPPRFP Thanksgiving on YouTube, we’ll get you where you need to go.
[00:39:41] And you’ll, and it is. It’s a, it’s a struggling radio station in Cincinnati, and they’re about to do a top secret promotion that nobody knows about and it goes horrifically, horrifically wrong. And it is the last five minutes of that episode are some of the greatest five minutes in history. Easy. No one.
[00:40:01] You agree with me on that? It’s not controversial. Amazing.
[00:40:08] Kenric: [00:40:08] All right, man. Well, we’re, we’re 45 minutes and I know you got to cook dinner for your kids. I got to do the same thing, John. Thank you so much for coming out and hanging out. Dude, this has been a pleasure.