The car: Lincoln MKZ
Hometown: Valley Stream, N.Y.
- Comedy Central named Miller one of the top 100 stand-up comedians of all-time
- Author of the best-selling book Spoiled Rotten America
- Hosts the podcast This Week with Larry Miller for the Ace Broadcasting Network on larrymillerpodcast.com
- Heard weekly on the most downloaded podcast on iTunes, The Adam Carolla Show
- Cocktails with Larry Miller: Little League, Adultery and Other Bad Ideas, The Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, Richmond Hill, Ont., Thursday, March 29
You’ve seen him in more than 100 films and television shows, starting with an appearance in Pretty Woman. Since then, actor and comedian Larry Miller has had roles in The Princess Diaries, The Nutty Professor, Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal and Seinfeld.
Now, he’s touring North America with his one-man show , Cocktails with Larry Miller: Little League, Adultery and Other Bad Ideas. He stands out on screen and on stage. But on the road, it’s a different story; Miller blends in with the crowd driving a beige 2010 Lincoln MKZ sedan.
Why did you buy a Lincoln MKZ?
It’s a nice car. It’s got good seats. I don’t need to feel every seam in the road.
I want the car to do its job while I do mine. The car itself is not a thrill to me. It’s fine if it’s a thrill to others. I want to be able to tap it on the hood when it gets us all around.
Two years ago, I had to get another car and my wife said – enough. Stop with the sticks!
I’d always had stick shifts – I had a Volvo, a Saab and BMW 5-Series. I enjoy a stick. It’s the same reason I shave with a safety razor and razor blades – I’m not a thrill seeker, a fast driver or crazy shaver, but it feels like you’re still doing something in life.
But you’re a celebrity – shouldn’t you be driving a flashy, sports car?
I’ve always had a slightly knuckle-headed view of cars.
Other friends who are comics would drive racy cars, fast and fancy cars. Whatever people want is okay with me.
When I was 35, I went with a couple of comics, George Wallace and Seinfeld, to get a car. We always used to go get cars. We’re single. We’re idiots. I said I wanted a Mercury Colony Park station wagon. Why do you want a Mercury Colony Park station wagon with phony wood paneling on the side? I don’t know why.
So the three of us went down to Galpin Ford in the valley and I got the wagon. That was about three months before I went on my first date with my wife. I parked outside her apartment. …
She said to me, “Which is your car?” There were three cars out there – a Porsche 911 convertible, a ’64 Volkswagen van with things written on the side of it, and my shiny white Mercury Colony Park station wagon with phony wood paneling. I said to her, “Which car do you think is mine?” She really couldn’t decide. I said, “It’s the wagon.” She said, “Oh. okay.”
We went out to dinner and she was talking to a friend later that night and her friend said how did the date go? She talked about the cars and said this is either going to end fast or really work out. And the issue is still in doubt. No, we’re married and I love her.
But isn’t Lincoln an old man’s car?
Remember, you’re talking to someone who picked up his wife on a first date in a Mercury Colony Park wagon. I bought it just because I wanted one.
In answer to your question, is the Lincoln an old man’s car? In the sense that old people should be revered because of their wisdom, yes it is.
But it’s fine with me. It doesn’t make me stodgy or cranky. If you see a 50-year-old man in a Ferrari or Porsche, part of you wants to say, “What are you doing? Go get yourself a drink and read a magazine.”
Who taught you how to drive a stick?
A guy with a Lamborghini and a guy with a Volkswagen. Who were these guys? Let me say I didn’t know them and they didn’t know us.
We were parking cars. A friend of mine ran the car concession at a local temple where I grew up. When there was a wedding, we’d park cars. When someone came in with a stick shift, we’d call our friends, “Hey do you want to learn how to drive a stick? Someone just drove in.”
We were decent kids – we didn’t go racing or anything, but we would drive it around the block a few times to learn how to drive a stick.
It didn’t strike me until later – maybe that wasn’t the nicest thing to do? In New York, this seems like ethical behaviour.
It took me a long time – even into adulthood – before I used valet parking.
What does a Lincoln say about you?
I’m looking for something solid, reliable, comfortable, pleasant and nothing flashy. By the way, that’s the way most of my friends would describe me.
Do you know how it works mechanically – do you know what’s under the hood?
Yes. An engine.
No kidding – I needed a new battery and I went over to AutoZone – they’ll put it in for you. The guy says to me, “Can you lift the battery out and I’ll get the terminals off?” He might as well have been speaking Chechen.
I said, “Alright. There’s no acid or something leaking from it, is there?” After he looked at me weird, he smiled and said, “Oh you’re kidding.” I said, “Exactly. I’m kidding. I’m joking. Who doesn’t know how to pick up a battery?”
What was your first car?
In college, two friends of mine and I hitchhiked to a used-car dealer in western Massachusetts in ’73-74. We found a ’61 Chevy four-door hard top for $75. We gave the guy cash – 25 bucks each – and he gave us the keys.
We drove back to school and drove it for a month. There was a hole in the floor under the floor mat on the passenger side in the front. It was eight-nine inches in diameter. After a month, we realized we had to take it in for an inspection. It was in bad shape. This thing was held tougher with chewing gum and tape. It was a miracle we didn’t kill ourselves.
The guy was a little shady, but he gave us our $75 back because there are laws you have to pass an inspection. You can’t sell a car that’s temporarily rolling.
If I could bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?
If I ever had a gillion dollars and decided to go car crazy I would get the cars I had when I was a kid.
I’d get a ’68 Chevy because it would remind me of my folks. I hope it doesn’t sound too sentimental, but I’d like to have a ’64 Plymouth Fury III with my parents in the front seat again, and my sister and me in the back with the dog in between us.
This interview has been edited and condensed.