You're the star of two upcoming comedies, About Last Night and Ride Along. How does it feel to be the leading man?
"Oh man, you know what? I'm just in a great place right now. My workload is definitely going up, and right now I'm at a place where my opportunities are growing and getting a lot bigger. It's really time for me to step up to the plate, rather than not being ready for the situation, not being prepared. It's time to step up to the challenge. I think thus far I have, and I'm going to continue to do that."
Mark Liszt, a food broker from Los Angeles, has had operations on both knees and a toe. A doctor has suggested a total replacement of his right knee, but he’s afraid it will affect his ability to play ball. At 59, Liszt can’t stop. On Tuesdays and Fridays, he plays basketball with guys who are sometimes half his age. On Saturday, he hobbles around all day with serious knee pain. Friends and family have referred him to doctors, but he’s stayed away. “I don’t want to be told what a fool I am,” he says...
So, clearly you're in huge demand right now. What do you look for when considering a role?
"Right now, it's all about progression. You want to pick roles that will put you in a place where you can continue to grow. It's all about challenging yourself. You don't want to do the same thing over and over. It's one thing to be in a relationship movie, but it's something completely different to be in a relationship movie and be the guy in the relationship. Take About Last Night. I'd never been in a movie where I was the guy in the relationship, and that's one thing that attracted me to the role. It's a great movie, based on a great movie that people love, and to try and modernize it and do it right was a good thing for me."
When did you first discover you were funny?
"I've always been a funny guy, but when I went to community college and was working at the same time, I was known as the guy who would hold court. But it kind of hit me when some of my friends kept suggesting that I pursue comedy. They said, 'You're funny as hell.' You hear that kind of thing enough and eventually you're going to try it. When I did, I fell in love with it and knew it would be my career."
You've talked about your early experiences on stage, getting booed and dodging half-eaten chicken wings. What drove you to keep going? What makes comedy so important to you?
"That was early in my career. Comedy at that point was not yet something that I had really adapted to, but it was something that I would look at, something that I respected, something that I wanted to be good at, and I had never had anything like that in my life. I had never had anything that I put my all into. When I found comedy, I fell in love with comedy. I was, like, 'This is it.'"
How do you prepare to perform? Has that changed over the years?