Jim Carrey Recalls Visiting Rodney Dangerfield on His Deathbed and Delivers a Message of Hope … From His Ass
Comedian, actor, artist, and author returns to discuss his and Dana Vachon’s new semi-autobiographical novel “Memoirs and Misinformation”July 14, 2020
Few entertainers can gracefully pivot between fart jokes and existential observations, but then again few entertainers are Jim Carrey. The comedian, actor, producer, artist, and co-author of a brand-new book returned to the Stern Show on Tuesday and opened up to Howard about everything from life during quarantine to past romances with two award-winning stars. He also spoke at length about his and Dana Vachon’s novel “Memoirs and Misinformation,” based loosely on many of Jim’s real-life experiences.
Howard thoroughly enjoyed reading Jim’s deconstruction of himself, though he wondered which bits of the novel were fact and which were fiction. “In the book, Jim Carrey buys Charlie Chaplin’s cane. Did the real Jim Carrey buy Charlie Chaplin’s cane?” Howard asked.
“That I can tell you. I can show you right now. Want to see?” Jim told him, brandishing the cane on camera. As the legend goes, Jim purchased it at an auction via proxy with money he earned playing the cane-wielding Riddler in “Batman Forever.”
“It’s thinner than I thought it would be,” Howard remarked.
“It’s thin, insignificant, and he made the world with this thing. It’s incredible,” Jim said, explaining he owns a camera from Chaplin’s 1925 silent film “The Gold Rush” as well. “As things go—I’m not a big thing guy—it’s pretty cool.”
Plenty of celebrities make cameos in the book. Jim’s real-life friend Nicolas Cage is one of the main characters. Howard wondered if Cage was anywhere near as outlandish as his literary counterpart.
“He just wants to grab ahold of everything he sees that he thinks is cool,” Jim said. “He’s just inspired that way and he really is the art. He’s one of those guys, like Salvador Dali, who becomes the art.”
“It may be eccentric. It may be way off the deep end, and he’ll make a choice to go there, but to me it’s like German Expressionism,” he continued.
Jim and Nic first shared the screen in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1986 romantic fantasy “Peggy Sue Got Married” and Jim still vividly remembers some acting advice the legendary director gave him. “‘Real life is stranger than fiction,’” he recalled Coppola saying. “You’ll see a character like that and go, ‘Wow, what a wild character,’ but in a movie an actor makes a choice like that everybody goes, ‘Wait, wait. He’s taking too many chances here.’”
Cage, who also happens to be Coppola’s nephew, certainly let his character go wild in the film. Jim said his co-star’s bold portrayal of Charlie in “Peggy Sue Got Married” has since inspired him on countless other projects. “If he hadn’t done that, maybe I wouldn’t have knocked out my tooth for ‘Dumb and Dumber,’” Jim said.
Howard marveled at his guest’s fearlessness when tackling roles ranging from Stanley Ipkiss in “The Mask” to cinema’s most unforgettable pet detective in “Ace Ventura.” “That shit could’ve backfired on you, you know?” Howard said. “All of that, it could’ve buried you.”
“That was a chance we were taking every day,” Jim replied. “Every day we went and saw the dailies and [‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ director] Tom [Shadyac] and I would just sit back and just howl with laughter and go, ‘It’s the end. If it doesn’t work, it’s the end.’”
“And that’s where I love to be, and I feel that way with this book,” he continued. “It’s either going to work or people are going to look at me like I’m from another planet.”
Howard believed most Jim Carrey fan would appreciate “Memoirs and Misinformation” if for no other reason than it provides plenty of insight into the comedian’s unique mind. “I learned more about you in this book than I think I ever heard in any interview,” Howard said.
“Well, Norman Mailer said exaggeration helps a writer to explore things that are bigger than himself, you know?” Jim said. “And then he stabbed his wife.”
At one point in the novel, Jim’s character interacts with late comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield via simulation. Carrey and the iconic stand-up were close in real life, too.
“He was always there for me, always supported me, even when I was experimenting and didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” he recalled. “He sat in the wings with his balls hanging out of his, you know, frigging robe on the side of the stage just howling with laughter, and I’d get off and he’d say, ‘Man, they’re looking at you like you’re from another fucking planet.’”
They were so close Jim even visited Rodney on his deathbed, which fittingly resulted in a comedic anecdote for the ages. “I said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll let everybody know that you were gay,’” Jim recalled with a laugh. “At that point, his eyes kind of shifted and his mouth started shaking like he wanted to say something to me. I could see there was a look of like joy and recognition and stuff, and all the machines lit up.”
Though Rodney has passed on in the real world, Jim’s character in the novel finds a way to continue their friendship. “This book is a wonderful chance, through the sci-fi aspects of it, through the complete apocrypha, I get to explore all these places, man, and bring him back,” he explained. “There’s just so many areas I was able to go because, you know, who cares?”
In the novel, Jim shacks up with a D-list actress named Georgie DeBusschere. Howard wondered if her character was based on anyone in particular. Jim told him she’s an echo of Marilyn Monroe. “Los Angeles, it gathers people, it calls people from all over the world to create their Marilyn, that unstoppable character that’s going to win everybody, you know?” he explained.
Jim also spoke about his real-life romances with characters who scored mentions in the book, including Oscar winner Renée Zellweger. “She was special to me, very special,” he said. “I think she’s lovely.”
Carrey had kind things to say about Grammy-winning singer Linda Ronstadt, too, as well as the short romance they enjoyed when he was coming up as a comic in the 1980s. “It may have seemed like some boy-toy situation to somebody looking at it from the outside, but she treated me with incredible respect,” Jim told Howard, explaining he was 21 when they met after one of his Comedy Store performances but that didn’t stop her from predicting how successful he’d one day be.
“It was a beautiful eight months and we both knew it wasn’t going to be forever, but I have such respect for her. She’s just an incredible human being,” he continued, crediting her for everything from convincing him to hire a real business manager to helping form the Eagles.
Still, Jim made it clear he’s gotten over all the exes mentioned in his book. “I don’t pine for anybody. It’s not that kind of situation,” he said.
Jim sent copies of his book to many of the celebrities mentioned, including Ronstadt, Zellweger, and even some of the stars he playfully lampooned. Actor Tom Cruise appears in the book, too, but he’s referred to by the nickname Laser Jack Lightning. “Because he’s just too litigious,” Jim laughed.
Howard wondered if Jim had any thoughts on film casting, should the novel ever get adapted for the big screen.
“I would play my own father,” Jim said. “Ryan Gosling would play me. Christian Bale would be Nic Cage. That would be the fun of it, having really famous actors do their best Sean Penn or whatever it is.”
In the book, Jim’s character is perturbed he hasn’t won any Oscars. In real life, Jim told Howard he’s overwhelmingly grateful for all his successes and doesn’t resent getting passed over for those kind of awards.
“Seriously?” Howard asked.
“Absolutely seriously, man,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m missing anything in this world. I’m sitting at a freaking banquet and I’m stuffed to the gills, and it just keeps coming.”
“If I don’t get something initially then the way I’m going to get it is going to be so special someday, it’s going to be really gratifying,” he continued, adding, “I don’t wait for anybody to give me anything.”
Jim told Howard he’s currently self-quarantining amid the ongoing pandemic, keeping busy with everything from meditation and art to conversations about metaphysics. When he does leave the house, he assured Howard he always brings a mask. Sometimes two.
“I go out to jog, I have a mask. I also put a mask on my ass for the people who are jogging behind me because who knows what a COVID toot can do?” Jim joked.
“How do you keep it on?” co-host Robin Quivers wondered with a laugh.
“One testicle on each side,” he responded.
Before letting his guest go, Howard had a question about the “Memoirs and Misinformation” cover, featuring a candid photo of Jim just seconds after he and millions of others were misinformed about the possibility of a North Korean missile obliterating Hawaii.
“This is my face after I’ve been told I have 10 minutes to live,” he explained. “Look what I went through because of misinformation.”
“I’m glad North Korea didn’t kill you,” Howard told him.
“Me too,” Jim responded . “It’s a weird thing to walk around the world knowing how you’ll be in the last 10 minutes of your life. It was a surprise that I actually slipped into this place of gratitude, of like going, ‘Well, if it’s gotta end—what a life, what an incredible life so far. It’s been amazing.’”
“And I got to live on,” Carrey continued. “It’s like Dickens, man—‘It’s still Christmas morning!’”
Given his guest’s positive outlook on life and past willingness to communicate via his derrière, Howard wondered if Jim might do Stern Show listeners the courtesy of ending the interview by delivering a message of hope … from his butt cheeks.
“It would be very powerful,” Howard laughed.
Always ready to push the envelope just like Coppola taught him, Carrey obliged. He turned around, bent over, and had his ass sing a little “God Bless America.”
Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon’s “Memoirs and Misinformation: A Novel” is available now.