Actor and comic Fred Willard – who has skewered Justin Bieber, Richard Burton, Lance Bass and Burt Reynolds – is a longtime “Celebrity Autobiography” participant, appearing in the readers’ theater show almost since its start.
“I haven't done any women's parts yet. My biggest stretch was doing Mr. T,” says Willard, appearing this weekend in an installment at Feinstein's at the Nikko. “We should all be so famous and well off as these people whose books we're reading. I'd love to have Burt Reynolds' career,” Willard adds.
The show is the brainchild of Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel, who presented it in San Francisco's Sketchfest and keep it running each month at the Triad in New York and on tour nationally.
Charles Isherwood of The New York Times described the seemingly innocuous concept of reading from celebrities' published memoirs as “a merry compendium of the witlessness and wisdom of the rich and famous.” And that's no surprise, with content provided by self-obsessed and frequently self-delusional authors such as Bieber, Ivana Trump, Vanna White and David Hasselhoff. There also are infamous love-hate couplings, like Loni Anderson and Reynolds, or the quadrangle of Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
In this week's shows, Willard, Pack and Reyfel will be joined by regular collaborators Laraine Newman of “Saturday Night Live” and Groundlings alumnus Tim Bagley (replacing previously announced Roger Bart).
For Willard, a regular cast member of Christopher Guest's films including “Best in Show” and “Waiting for Guffman,” the gig is another item on his resume, which boasts a half-century of varied work, including guest spots on an amazingly long list of TV series from “Get Smart” in the 1960s to a recent story arc on “Modern Family.”
Willard's history with San Francisco is equally deep. “I worked there with a partner at The Hungry I as an opening act. I did not know Barbra Streisand at the time, but I knew that she'd gotten a lot of publicity at the Blue Angel in New York.” He also spent time at laugh spots like the Boarding House, Cobb's Comedy Club, the Marines' Memorial Theatre, Lefty O'Doul's. “Oh, yeah,” he adds, “My wife just reminded me: I met her there. I love San Francisco!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Feinstein’s at the Nikko, 220 Mason St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Tickets: $35 to $50
Contact: (866) 663-1063, www.ticketweb.com