Waxing Poetic with Ralph Macchio at Guild Hall

Ralph Macchio as the Karate Kid
Ralph Macchio as the Karate Kid

On Friday, August 23, Guild Hall will present Celebrity Autobiography, a show in which performers act out real memoirs from Hollywood stars. In case the description isn’t clear, it’s a comedy. The show, which plays monthly in Manhattan, features a mixture of comedians and well-known actors, including Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, Jennifer Tilly, Ralph Macchio and more. We spoke with Macchio about the hilarious show, his upcoming projects and asked him if HE would ever write a memoir. The answer might surprise you.

“I’m excited to do Celebrity Autobiography,” Macchio explains. “It’s a lot of fun. It’ll be interesting at Guild Hall, though. Usually when we do it in Manhattan, a half-hour in, everyone’s laughing because there’s usually a two-drink minimum. So it’s usually very cabaret style. I also did it in a large theater. They do them all over the place. The audience always has a blast.” Macchio says that the combination of performer and memoir often produces hilarious results. “I’ve done the show with Sherri Shepherd and Mario Cantone, and Dale Reyfel and Eugene Pack, who created the show and [former SNL producer/writer] Alan Zweibel. He’s…I don’t know how old, and doing Mike the Situation [from Jersey Shore]! I’ve done David Hasselhoff in the past, and I don’t know what solos I’m getting this time but I’m getting great mash-ups. You know, it’s all done tongue-in-cheek with a mode of sarcasm.”

Macchio, who audiences know from ’80s classics like The Outsiders, the Karate Kid trilogy (before the ill-conceived fourth film starring Hilary Swank) and My Cousin Vinny, was born and raised on Long Island, has a house in Montauk and went to Half Hollow Hills High School West. “I get recognized more like the neighbor down the street than ‘Oh my God, it’s Brad Pitt!’” he laughs. “But there are those, when you mention that time, who know me from those films.” Macchio’s youthful look—he was 19 when he played 14-year-old Johnny Cade in The Outsiders—now helps him with the comedy. “I’ve always had that five-year buffer and sometimes a 10-year buffer,” he admits. And I usually play that card very often [in Celebrity Autobiography]. Matthew Broderick also has that ability to be Eugene Morris Jerome [the character he played in Brighton Beach Memoirs] even at 50.” Macchio is appreciative of the followings his early films have gotten. “Some of the movies I did, certainly the Karate Kid, My Cousin Vinny, were iconic of the times. I embrace it; the movies reinvent themselves with each generation,” he says. “There’s always this warmth when I run into people, they introduce it to their families. It’s the blessing and the curse of that time period.”

When asked if he would write a memoir, Macchio laughs out loud. “I could easily be one of the people being ripped apart onstage by these guys! And I embrace that. I did a FunnyorDie.com video called Wax On, F*ck Off. And Macchio points out that the show is done in a good-natured way. “I’ve yet to have an angry thespian come to me after a show,” he laughs.

In addition to Celebrity Autobiography, Macchio recently directed a short film he’s been submitting to festivals. The film, Across Grace Alley, stars Macchio’s Dancing With the Stars partner Karina Smirnoff, who has become a close friend since his time on the show. “Dancing With the Stars was a great thing. It’s tough, because you’re still a produced show and you feel the machine of the show and the less-behind-the-camera-the-better-you-are. I understood it too much. “You know when you get ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for a waltz it’s going to be a good week, when you get ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ as a samba it’s not going to be good,” he chuckles.

Macchio is looking forward to performing at Guild Hall and hopes audiences enjoy it. “It’s like hometown for me. It’s fun to be had by all.”

Celebrity Autobiography plays at Guild Hall on August 23 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. For more tickets, go to guildhall.org. For more information on Celebrity Autobiography, go to celebrityautobiography.com.

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