Ed Asner performing at Ramsdell
"A Man and His Prostate"
Ed Asner has won more Emmy Awards — seven — than any other male performer. He’s one of the few actors to portray the same character in a comedy and a drama, and the only male to win an Emmy for both. He’s played Santa Claus in movies and TV shows numerous times, and appeared in both live action and animated films and television shows. And he’s coming to Manistee to perform.
Yes, acting legend Ed Asner will be performing the one-man play "A Man and His Prostate" at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee Sept. 21.
“I’ve had so many afflictions I thought it would be nice to do a show on one I haven’t had,” said the actor in a phone interview.
Many of the characters he plays are curmudgeons with a heart of gold, from Lou Grant to Carl Fredricksen in Pixar’s Up,and he’s similarly cantankerous in the interview. “Go get the phone, please!” he bellowed in the midst of this conversation when another telephone began ringing.
“It’s a lovely, wonderful piece that does a public service,” he continued without missing a beat. “It fits like a glove.”
The play was written by Ed Weinberger, a veteran comedy writer who wrote for standup comics Dick Gregory and Richard Prior, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, The Dean Martin Show, The Cosby Show and Taxi, as well as creating several sitcoms. Asner said Weinberger based it on his own experience but wrote it for him. “Ed reached out to me. He knew he was writing for me,” he said.
This wasn’t the first time the two worked together. They also wrote a book, The Grouchy Historian, subtitled “An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs.” Asner is well-known as a staunch liberal and served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, as well as supporting a number of progressive causes.
The cause here is not anything political: It’s health. While it’s largely a comedy, Asner said the message is important, as did Xavier Verna, the executive director of the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts. Verna said he had been looking for a way to collaborate with other organizations. “We want to have shows where we partner with corporate or other sponsors,” he said. “We talked to Munson about sponsoring a presentation. They said it needed to be health-related. We came across this and approached Munson.” As a result, Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospitalhas signed on.
The timing couldn’t be better: The show will be presented in the middle of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (Sept. 17–24).
“We’re excited about the idea. Cancer is such a big topic. This takes a lighthearted look to create more awareness. We thought it would be great,” said Verna, though he admitted he too was surprised to book the show. “I didn’t realize he was still touring. We tell people, and they say ‘Ed Asner?’
“It’s great to see him take on a leadership role,” Verna continued. He noted that celebrities bring publicity to their causes. “If I say something, who cares. When actors say something, it brings that matter to the forefront.”
The play will be followed by a panel discussion about the topic. “It’s lighthearted but with a heavy message. The message is clear. We need to create more awareness,” Verna said.
So, a serious topic with a comedic presentation. And Asner is just the man for the job. “It’s a role you can dig into. He bitches and bitches and bitches,” said Asner of the play’s protagonist. Sounds like a crusty Ed Asner role indeed, and, apparently, those who have seen the play agree. “I’ve been very happy with the audience response,” Asner said.
Tickets start at $18. For tickets and more information, go to MyNorthTickets.com.