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The Author Speaks

Interview With Paul Reiser, Who's Mad About 'Familyhood'

The actor and comedian's encore: being a father

Q. There's something to be said for the potato-salad years. Tell us about the challenge of turning your kids on to old movies.

A. Not easy!

Q. Fun, though?

A. Yeah, well the victories are sweet, and they're surprising, when they end up liking the things that they do. The sheer technicalities of movie-making are so advanced now and older movies are slower, there's less editing, less action. My guys are used to Pixar and action movies. But they'll also surprise me — they'll watch The Sunshine Boys with me and really like it.

Q. What else do your kids like?

A. They both surprised me by liking The King's Speech. Of course, my little guy liked it because he got to hear the king curse. And that's all he took away from it: learning to curse like Colin Firth.

Q. Did he ask you what "fornication" means?

A. No, no, I have the opposite of parental guidance in my house. My kids will tell me, "Dad I don't think you should watch this. It would be bad if you see me watch this, and I think you should walk away." So they protect me, which is very sweet.

Q. Let's jump ahead 20 years, to grandparenting.

A. Can't even imagine it. Can. Not. Imagine!

Q. Do you consider yourself a boomer?

A. I've never really understood that term because I don't know that there was really such a boom. My sisters were born literally right after World War II, but I came years later. I guess I don't know what I am. I know I'm not an Xer or a Yer, that's for sure.

Q. And if you weren't busy parenting and writing, what would your ideal career be?

A. My dream has always been to slice cold cuts in a deli. First of all, it's secure, because there's always going to be someone who wants turkey. And just the challenge — it's not quite bungee jumping, but working that slicer, you know, there's an element of danger. And everyone's always happy to see you, I mean, who's not happy to see the guy giving you meat?

Q. There is a lot of pressure to get the deli slices thin enough.

A. Believe me, I'm not saying it's without its challenges. But someday you just might be at the deli counter, when I'll look up and you'll look at the fellow slicing the lox, and say, "Didn't this guy used to be on TV?"

Betsy Towner lives in California.

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