20 Questions Tuesday: 199 - Pat Francis

This week I have the honor of asking Pat Francis of… of, well…  I am sure some of you have heard of him.  I joke, Pat Francis is the “Third Chair” of the critically acclaimed podcast, Never Not Funny.  While Pat is not a permanent fixture on the podcast, he is the go to for when they need a guest and he is often the third chair on the live Never Not Funny podcasts.  Pat has a fantastically impish sense of humor, and is always ready to laugh.  He is hilarious and an absolute delight. So without further ado, 20 Questions with Pat Francis.

I make maps for a living, but I look at maps and geography as a way to tell stories.  I was born at Tinker Air Force Base just outside of Oklahoma City. The fam moved to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama when I was 3.  Soon after, we moved up to a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama where I lived until I went off to college at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.  After graduating from KSU, I followed my fiancee down to Ohio State and we have made our lives in Columbus, Ohio ever since…. but enough about me.  Question 1: What is your geographic story?

Lived in Roaring Springs, PA for the first 2 months of my life then moved 8 miles to Hollidaysburg, PA.  I lived there until it was time to go to college in Latrobe, PA.  After college I lived in Laurel, MD with my Aunt Nora for about a year where I worked the night shift loading trucks at UPS… a great use of my BA in Theatre//Communications. After a year I moved back to Hollidaysburg, PA and I worked as a youth counselor in a group home for about 8 months in order to save money and move to Chicago.  I moved to Chicago in January 1989 to pursue my dream of becoming a stand-up comedian.  After a year and a half of non stop open mic performing I started to get paid and from then on I was a full time stand-up comedian.  After 6 years in the Windy City it was time to head west… Los Angeles!  Left Chicago on February 14th 1995 and arrived in Los Angeles Feb. 16th.  I have lived here ever since met my wife, had two beautiful daughters and have continued to keep my foot in the comedy and TV pool in one way or another.  

Too long??,

No such thing as too long.  Just long enough in my opinion. Question 2: Since you grew up in Penn, but have made a life in LA, does LA now seem like your “hometown” or is there still a feeling a being a transplanted Pennsylvanian?

To quote the Frank Sinatra song… LA is my Lady!  It’s fun to go back and visit PA but there is really nothing there for me as far as the things I like to do and have access to such as LIVE music etc.  CA definitely feels like home. My parents family lives in PA, my family lives in CA.  Pat, Pilar and their 2 California Girls!

It is amazing how when you drop roots and have kids, the town that you have the kids in becomes home.  I grew up in Alabama and that place seems like a foreign land to me now.

So, I ask this of all my Questionees this… Question 3: Cake or pie? Any specific kind?

I agree with you about the kids etc.  When I go to the Walmart in my hometown… which I try not to do… it is like some hillbilly zombie apocalypse in that place!!

Pie!!!  Cake just seems to sweet and makes me sick after I eat it.  Pie on the other hand… I could it a whole pie.  There is never leftover pie but there is always leftover cake! Pumpkin & Lemon Meringue please!

Oooh, I am seriously curious whether pumpkin and lemon meringue would be a good flavor combination, even though I think you intended that to be an “either/or.”  I have never done any improv stuff, but pumpkin, lemon meringue seems like a “yes/and” situation to me. You have the light and fluffy mellowness of the meringue partnered with the crispness of the lemon and then adding the smooth cool (almost savoriness) of the pumpkin… I think I have a new fall concoction to make this October/November…  that sounds like it could be delightful.  Any bakers out there? If so… make it happen.

I have been asking 20 Questions to all sorts of people that I find interesting as of late. Many of whom tend to be in the entertainment industry in some shape or another.  One of the things that I find fascinating with these primarily creative types (of which I consider you a part) is what they do as a past time.  I work for the state department of transportation and catalog holes in the ground, but when I am at home and have free time I love to draw… Question 4: What do you do in your free time (other than chase down autographs on albums because that seems like something more akin to an event than a hobby)?

Free time??  What free time??  I guess I would have to say… playing with iTunes!  I am always adding artwork, lyrics, producer information.  I also like to make different playlists.  It sounds crazy but I love doing it.

Well, that does make a bunch of sense considering the podcast where you are a co-host (NNF Presents Rock Solid).  I would be surprised if your free time did not involve music is some shape or another. So keeping that in mind…

Question 5: Were you a creator of mix-tapes back in the day? Did you make a perfect one and give it to a girl… what was that outcome? (that’s right, a potential three parter!  I am on fire tonight!)

I did create a few mix tapes in my day but mostly for myself… I would take my LPs and make best of mixes of my favorite bands!  As I type this I can hear Queen pumping out of my Buick Skyhawk!!  I did make a mix tape for my wife right after we met… she was not a power ballad fan that’s for sure. Apologies to Foreigner and Journey.

I was not a big mix-taper.  I think part of that is due to being in high school at the point where CD’s were really just taking hold.  CD players were not standard in cars yet, but cassettes really were done in the house.  Mix tapes were just going out of style.  I did however have to record the alternative import bands off of Coyote J Calhoun’s indy Sunday show on the local radio station.  It was a confusing time technologically…  Why am I telling you this?

Question 6: You admittedly like 80’s metal/hair band music… do you have a favorite or is that like a “Sophie’s Choice” kind of question?

I think I have been pigeon holed as ONLY liking 80’s hair metal.  Paul Gilmartin is relentless in this opinion of me.  If you were to actually look at my extensive CD collection you would be quite surprised.  That said… I do enjoy some Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and Poison.  No Twisted Sister… those girls suck!!

I think that perception is due to your knowledge of the deep cuts off of the more obscure 80’s metal bands and albums.  However, as one listens to you more one realizes that deep cuts off of obscure albums, regardless of genre, are kind of your own personal savant ability.  Well, it is time to set the record straight then… Question 7: Do you have a favorite genre of music or couple of genres?

To say I like everything is a copout so I guess my favorite bands are 4 -piece hard rock bands.  Not metal just rock & roll… Guitar, Bass, Drums and Singer.  Cheap Trick, The Who, Queen, Pretenders, U2, Van Halen, Led Zep.  Maybe sometimes there is a rhythm guitar player too but the band is still a 4-piece… The Kinks, The Beatles.

Interesting… I like the categorization of music by pieces instead of genre.  That is an interesting take.  I think I need to really start looking at the music I like by pieces instead of genre.. A horn section helps though.

Question 8: You clearly love music, do you play any musical instruments?

The simple answer is… no I do not play any musical instruments.  

Growing up my parents never introduced us to anything artistic… music, movies, drawing… not even reading… nothing!  Yet they will now say things like… “I wonder how that Kevin Costner made it as an actor?”  Maybe because he had… parental support!!  Which was also not my parents thing when it came to my stand-up comedy career.  My parents would always say… “Just get a good job with benefits.” Loving your career and having fun at your job was never on their radar.  Last year when they were visiting California they came to see a show I was in at the UCB Theatre in Hollywood. The show  was great!  Everyone involved including myself were hysterical.  After the show my parents talked about every other performer in the show and to me they said… “Thanks for bringing us.”  That’s how it’s been my whole life.  That said… I did take drum lessons in 6th grade… no drum set… just a drum pad!  Lame to say the least.  As an adult I do like to bang around on my nephews full awesome drum kit and I think with a few lessons I could be good.  It’s never too late right? Peart, Bonham, Moon & Francis!!

My mom taught piano when I was a kid… I took a total of 2 lessons.  It always bothered my mom that I didn’t do anything more musical in my life, but you cannot take music lessons from family or in the same house as a music teacher…. Every practice becomes a lesson, and there is too much emotional baggage trapped in the parent/child student/teacher relationships.

If I step away from myself for a second, it sucks that your parents did not encourage you.  I think you are a winning though, and I know you will do well… Go get’em, Tiger! You are a force of nature and unstoppable!

Question 9: Are you trying to get your kids into some creative activities? If so, what activities?

Our girls are very active in the arts.  They have taken dance, piano, guitar and drama classes too.  These are not classes that we have forced them into but rather things that they are interested in and have chosen. Currently our 7 year-old is taking yoga! Who would have thought!

The preschool where my 3 yr old girl goes showed the kids some yoga… Now the little girl only likes to do “downward dog” whilst being super naked… It is very shameless. The amount and breadth of the arts you are showing you kids is amazing.

Question 10: The half-way point… To keep from being half-assed, what is one thing in your life (other than family) that you cannot help but get drawn into? For example, I have to draw… and I can’t help but get into internet conversation with people I find interesting for right around 20 questions.

That’s a tough one!!  We’ve already talked about music but in all honesty that is what I love to do… listen to music and go to LIVE shows.  I love podcasting, performing in front of an audience and running on the treadmill too.  That sounds boring but if you’re taking the family out of the equation for this question then those things are what I love to do!  BORING ANSWER!!!!

I hate to tell you this, but I have never really found any answers to be boring.  I love this answer.  Well, that was the first 10… so it is all downhill from here…

Question 11: Fill in the blanks…  ”I find that I am mostly _________.”  ”Other people find that I am __________.”

Here they are in the order the answers came in:

Comedian Mike Preston:  FUN
Podcast Producer & Co- Host of “Never Not Funny” Matt Belknap: A loyal friend, a devoted husband, a loving father and a complete jackass.
My nephew Kyle: Funny, energetic, and always thinking outside of the box whether it be or how to reorganize the garage.
“Never Not Funny” Intern Dan Katz:  a joy to be around
Comedian, Host, Actor, Podcaster Mike Siegel: An admirable combination of responsibility and immaturity.
Super Screenwriting Instructor, Owner of “On the Page & my Wife Pilar Alessandra: HILARIOUS, ANNOYING, GREAT IN BED
Host of the “Laughing With You” Podcast Emily Volman: “much more attractive than I look.”
Comedian, Actress, Co-Founder of SF Sketchfest and host of the JV Squad Podcast Janet Varney: "Other people find that I am encouraging and complimentary of my friends. But also a jackass."
Registered Nurse and frequent concert date Suzanne Dillingham: “funny, thoughtful, always fun to be around, someone you can count on.”
Creator of “Never Not Notes” Darryl Asher: Friendly, Funny, Warm, Interesting
Comedian and host of the “40 Year-Old Boy” Podcast Mike Schmidt: Honest
Photographer & Author of “Liezl Was Here” Liezl Estipona: Funny unfiltered jackass
Portrait Artist Rick DeMint: Funny, thoughtful, and a genuinely good guy.
Writer “Mike & Molly” Carla Filisha: a good father
Author Nina Berry: Funny and a man of integrity
Comedian, Podcaster, Marathon Runner Russ McGarry: Other people find that I am easy to share a van with for 20 hours stretches.
Comedian, Actor, Financial Advisor Chip Chinery:  Funny and organized
Comedian, Actor, Host of “Never Not Funny” Podcast Jimmy Pardo: a good roommate, hardworking, a good guy, tenacious, hilarious
3D Artist Manager for Double Negative VFX Dara McGarry: “eventually going to ask every known musician, band member and roadie to autograph an album cover.”
My oldest daughter Sara: a good dad who likes 2 joke around

I find myself to be:   Dependable, honest, a good husband and dad… a fun too.

I like that there is a consistency to the answers.  That is pretty telling.  It let’s me know, as a questioner, that within your circles, you either don’t put on airs, or if you do, it is the same… air? (that started out much better sounding in my head). I hope you are able to take in and process the affection that you are getting from this diverse and large number of people.  I can tell in our rather brief interaction that most of these, if not all, immediately ring true.  I also noticed that “jackass” came up more than once.

Question  12: I know from my extensive stalking/research/listening to Never Not Funny, that you have  hobby of collecting signatures of recording artists on your record collection.  Who is your best get, and who is your white whale… tormenting you with their very existence?

There are many best gets for me… Springsteen, Daltrey, Townshend, Ray Davies, Chrissie Hynde.  But I think my favorite was Steve Perry!  Jimmy Pardo and I had heard that Perry like to eat lunch at a certain restaurant in Studio City, CA.  So one day we grabbed some vinyl and some CDs and went there for lunch.  Sure enough about an hour later in walks Steve Perry!!  We waited until he was finished eating and then we approached him outside.  He was the nicest man.  He took his sunglasses off and talked to us for 10 to 15 minutes.  He was surprised, flattered and gracious.  Whenever you get actual one on one time with an artist you respect, that is something special.

Who is the white whale?  I would love to get Billy Joel, Elton John, Aerosmith, AC/DC but the one that has been difficult for me has been Pat Benatar! The others I have mention are on my wish list but I have never come in contact with them.  Benatar however… she has refused to sign for me twice!!  Both times were after I had just seen her perform and both times… I was the only person waiting for an autograph!!!  In her book she wrote that she would do anything for her fans… I’m not so sure about that!

I am surprised you are even remotely interested in getting Benatar’s autograph after she ditched you twice.  I am not sure about her willingness to do anything with her fans as well.  Elton would be pretty darn epic.  I mean that would be seriously epic.  

Question 13 is typically about superstitions, but I really want to know what you do with your collection… so I will table the superstition questions to Question 14.  Question 13: So, what do you do with your collection. Do you have a display room or are they tucked away in milk crates in a closet?

Benatar… she plays about once a year at a club near my house so it is not really a big investment of time or money to try again.  Plus… this next time I might be a little more vocal before I get dissed.  Maybe try and guilt her into signing by quoting from her book.

All of my signed albums are framed and hanging in our office at home.  I have close to 70!!  3 LPs on deck that are signed and need to be framed… The Bangles, Elvis Costello & Marshall Crenshaw.   Running out of wall space fast.

70? That is basically 70 square feet. If you just have them papering the wall, that is a 7 x 10 wall… That is a bunch.

Okay, now onto the superstition question.  I usually ask this on 13 because of the association with 13.  Question 14: Do you hold onto any superstitions or rituals? For example I would consider a superstition to be something akin to throwing salt over your shoulder for luck, and I would consider a ritual as something like putting on sports equipment in a specific sequence to get your head ready for the upcoming game.

That’s pretty much how it is… papering the wall.  They are spread out onto 3 different walls in the office.

Right sock, left sock… right shoe, left shoe.  No reason but that’s how it’s always done.

Question 15: Have you ever consciously tried switching that up to see what might happen?

Yes.  I once tried right shoe, left shoe, right sock, left sock… it just didn’t feel right.  Not comfortable at all.

But nothing nasty happened (aside from slipping on hard wood floors)... So that is good at least.

We are nearing the home stretch.  I am super excited that you have stayed with me throughout this lengthy process.  You are a Viking, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.  But remember underwear and then pants, otherwise you look like a superhero, but only marginally so.

Question 16: Since we are 2/3rds done, Is there a question that I have not asked you that you are surprised by the omission?

I actually didn’t know what to expect from these 20 questions… 16 so far… and I have enjoyed the ones you have chosen.  I can however  tell you that I hate the movie “Inception”

You know, I have a 3 year old and very few local friends who are movie watchers.  I have not seen Inception.  It seems like it was at least a new idea for a movie, and I have to applaud that, but as to the actual content… I have no judgement.

Turnabout is fair play, so for this question I am allowing you to turn the tables…

Question 17: Is there any question you have for me?

Of all the answers you have received from the questions you have asked, have any of the answers moved you to tears?

I love this question…  I feel like Maybe I should have given you a few questions to ask me.

I have never actually been moved to tears, however when I asked Chris Corrigan about his rock balancing hobby, he brought out a story about teaching a woman to balance rocks.  To make a long story short, he saved a life.  If I weren’t made of stone I would have been tearing up.  Question 5 over here if you want to read it.  Powerful stuff, but I am a granite statue.

So, I will return depth with depth… Question 18: What is the driving question for you that you are using your energy to answer?  For example, my driving question right now is “How do I create a comfortable space for me to turn what I enjoy into what I do for a living?”  Accompanying question is “How do I bring my work life more in line with emotional life?”… and… go!

How can I stop using all my time on small tasks and start focusing that same energy on big picture career projects?

Boy, I would love for you to be able to answer that question.  That is a great question to hold onto, and I hope that it can drive some of your future endeavors.

Question 19:  What are you taking away from this 20 Questions that you did not have when you started it?

$50.00 right?  I mean I am getting paid for these answers!!  

It was nice to read what my friends thought of me so I am taking away some self awareness and of course the aforementioned $50.00.

How about I make a deal with you.  I will kick in an additional $50 to my typical annual $50 that I give to Smiletrain during the Pardcastathon?  Is that an acceptable financial arrangement?

Question 20: What’s next? Be as vague or as specific as you want.

That is a very kind offer but I wrote all that for humor!

My Story Producing job ends Friday, going to see The Avengers on Saturday and start writing a script with my friend Carla on Monday and a Blog site coming soon! Site is online… just need to add the blogs!

I want to thank Pat so much for taking the time to do this.  He is a marvelous man and I have had a ball asking him these odd 20 questions.  Listen to his podcast, visit his site, and follow him on twitter.  Seriously, I love being able to do this.

This was fun.

To recap:
The house is back on the market
We cleaned and got things set up all weekend long
I painted 2 walls in an unfinished basement
My hands hurt from painting
It was not a restful weekend at all
Still a few things that need to be done, but they are not major
Pull some nails here and paint some holes there
The house looks damn incredible though
Yesterday was my wife’s birthday
Happy Birthday, Love
I have 7 more interviews going on right now
But next week will be my 200th 20 Questions Tuesday
Going to do something interesting on that one… not sure what just yet
Other than the ones I have done here, I have a metric crapload of 20 Questions located at my old blog
Click here and read for days
I need to make some juice tonight
Have a great weekend everyone