Spike Feresten may not be a household name, but you know his work well. As a former writer on "Seinfeld," Feresten gave us muffin tops, Elaine's bad dancing, and the Wig Master before moving on to his own show. Called "TalkShow" and airing Saturdays at midnight on Fox, the truly hilarious show combines elements of sketch comedy with Letterman-inspired antics. I recently got the opportunity to speak with Feresten, and he's just as funny in person as on his show. To see what he had to say about "TalkShow," "Seinfeld," and his bizarre first day working for David Letterman,
Q: How do you come up with ideas for "Talk Show"?
We have a head writer, but I get to write and guide them creatively and it’s a blast. You can really go after people in a way you can't as a normal person. For instance, we had this one sketch based around a woman who was letting her dog poop on my lawn, and there's really a woman doing this, and it's been going on for like a year, so we based a skit on it.
Q: Did she have any idea it was going to be on TV?
None! TV is a great vehicle for revenge. I have done it before I will continue to do it.
Q: What other ways have you exacted revenge?
On "Seinfeld," I used to write stories about people I knew all the time. For an episode called "The Wig Master," this girl I was dating was cheating on me with this guy who was George Hamilton’s personal assistant. So on that show, the wig master, who was gay, was getting picked up by a man who was George Hamilton’s personal assistant. It backfired, though, because he was very flattered when he found out that was based on him.
Q: How did the writers get stories on the show?
There was just a lot of storytelling. You would go in and tell a story about the Soup Nazi, and it would be a character. I had a girlfriend who only ate the tops of muffins. I had an old boss who danced funny like Elaine, who I lost respect for after that. That was really a fun part of that job.
Q: You also spent some time as a writer on Letterman. What was that like?
My first day on that show, I walked by (Letterman's) office, and the door cracked open, and an egg roll came out with a firecracker in it. Then, the door slammed and it blew up all over my head. I’m totally serious. That was my first day on Letterman.