Several years ago, back when I was writing for RetroJunk, I sent my next interview subject an e-mail asking about the possibility of an interview. Truthfully, I hadn’t seen enough of her material at the time to ask proper questions. That changed over these past few years, as I purchased DVDs and started watching YouTube more.
Teresa Ganzel is a tremendous comic performer. With her recognizably light and sweet voice, she’s worked alongside entertainment industry giants in both television and film, and in recent years, has done voice-over work for several of Pixar’s biggest hits. I contacted her on Facebook a few weeks ago, asking about the possibility of an interview, and last week, I spoke to her. Now I invite you to get to know this talented performer in my newest Flashback Interview.
Say hello to Teresa Ganzel!
Johnny: I always start every interview I do with the following 2 questions, which are carry-overs from the days when I wrote for RetroJunk. The first question is this: What were your favorite pop-cultural likes growing up, like movies and music?
Teresa: For me, starting when I was a little, little girl, like Kindergarten age, I loved “I Love Lucy”. That was my favorite show. I was crazy about “I Love Lucy”. When I got to be a little bit older, like in third grade, I loved “That Girl”. I just loved television. I was a complete television junkie, so I mention those two shows as particular favorites, but every week, my whole life revolved around watching television. When the TV Guide came in the mailbox every week, I couldn’t wait. I absolutely loved it. With music, I was really a funny kid. I liked the music that was of my parent’s generation more than of my own generation. I have to say, even when I was a teenager, when I really should’ve been listening to rock and roll, I was still very much into the American standards, like Frank Sinatra, which was always kind of shocking and weird to my friends, but to this day, I love the Great American Standards. I love Tony Bennett. I like Frank Sinatra. I like the music of my parent’s generation. I love Rosemary Clooney. I love the words. I just love the lyrics to those songs. I often have current people singing those songs, and I loved “Lucy”. That’s for sure.
Johnny: Moving into my next question, what were your high school days like?
Teresa: I loved going to high school. I know it was a torture for some kids, but for me, I loved going to high school. That’s when I started doing plays…Actually in junior high, but junior high and high school are the same thing. I started doing plays. I was very active in the speech contests at my high school. It was different than the debate team. It was more specifically about speech, and the category that I did was Humorous Interpretation. We would have competitions between our high school and other high schools. If you won, you would go on to a higher level regionally, and if you won regionally, you went to a bigger region, and then you went to the state competition. There would be these overnight stays in hotels, and you would get trophies. I loved doing the speech contest every year, and the plays…I did both musicals and straight plays. I couldn’t sing a note, and to this day can’t sing at all, so my roles in the musicals had to be supporting. As opposed to playing the lead in “The Music Man”, I would play the mayor’s wife. I would do the Hermoine Gingold role. Whatever musical it was, I was the little part because I couldn’t sing, although I tried very hard, but I did do a lot of plays. Some of the plays I did? It cracks me up. It would be hilarious to see it now. For instance, we did a production of “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?”, which I find already funny that a high school would do that. I played the Elizabeth Taylor role. When I think about how all I ever do as a professional actress now is comedy, and certainly nothing like that role of Martha, I think it would be hilarious to have seen me do that. Back in high school, you’re allowed to do anything. Nobody is typed yet. All those high school plays were so much fun for me, and that’s also when I actually started to work professionally, even though I was in high school in Bloomington, Minnesota, so it wasn’t like I was in high school in California or New York. It was Bloomington, Minnesota, but it was just a flukey thing. One day in English class, class was interrupted by people from a local advertising agency who were looking for real teenagers to be in an Arctic Cat Snowmobile commercial. They pulled me out of class and chose me for my look. The commercial was supposed to be a take-off on “American Graffiti”. They cut my hair, and basically sort of made me look like Cindy Williams. I was sort of playing the Cindy Williams character in the Arctic Cat Snowmobile commercial, but it was a really big deal, because they flew me to Yellowstone Park. You have to understand, being in Minnesota, the other kids weren’t doing TV commercials, so it was a big thing that I went to do this commercial. When it aired on TV, it really gave me the bug to try and do this professionally. After I did that commercial, I did a couple of other commercials, because then I got an agent in Minnesota, and so I did a fast food commercial and I did some industrial films. Besides giving me the bug of wanting to do television and everything, it also gave me a leg up professionally, because I had my Union cards before I moved to California. That’s often very difficult for people to get into a union when they first get to Los Angeles, and so for me, it was really meant to be, I think, because I had that nice, easy start from just being in class.
Johnny: Very good. Jumping into film, one of your first big-screen roles as was Diana in the “Growing Yourself” segment of “National Lampoon Goes To The Movies”.
Teresa: Yes, exactly. Real nice to start out topless. (Giggling)
Johnny: My question is: Since you were able to see the types of movies spoofed in that segment first-hand…I mean, in your early 20s, there were movies like “An Unmarried Woman” and “Kramer Vs. Kramer”, which I think the segment was sort of in the style of…Since you’d seen movies like that first-hand, what were your feelings about spoofing them?
Teresa: You know, I didn’t have any negative feelings about spoofing them. I was just happy to have a job, so there was no deep thoughts about the implications of me spoofing these movies. It was just, “Oh, boy! I’m in a movie! I’m really excited!”. You know, Bob Giraldi, who directed that segment, was THE biggest commercials director at that time, and this was his first feature film, so it was exciting to work with him, and of course, Peter Riegert. My thoughts about spoofing a type of movie wasn’t even in my thoughts. It was like, “I’ve got a nice role in a National Lampoon movie. Great!”. That’s the only place my mind was at.
Johnny: Moving on, you were a featured player in the 1982 comedy “My Favorite Year”. Knowing who the characters were supposed to be (Peter O’Toole’s Alan Swann is Errol Flynn, Joseph Bologna’s King Kaiser is Sid Caesar and so on), were you supposed to be Imogene Coca?
Teresa: You know what? No one said that to me. Richard Benjamin, who directed it, who was so fantastic, I ran into him just the other day. It was just so nice that he remembered my name and me and everything immediately. The point of the matter is, he never said that to me, that I was supposed to be Imogene Coca, but of course, I sort of assumed I was supposed to be something like that, the woman in the sketches. There was a movie out around that time called “10 From Your Show Of Shows” that I loved, which was the highlights of the Sid Caesar show, which I loved. I have to tell you: Being on the set of that movie, it really, really was exciting because this was truly the old MGM lot that we shot on. It hadn’t become Sony Pictures yet, so the commissary was still there. Even though my part was so tiny, I was on the lot, I was on that set for two whole weeks. Just standing there watching Peter O’Toole work, it was spectacular. I mean, the emotions in his eyes, they were just so deep. You just saw life in those eyes. It was a real special movie. It still is. Forget about my experience being in it. Just strictly as an audience member, it’s truly one of my favorite movies. I just think it’s a beautiful film.
Johnny: I absolutely agree. I was watching it last week in preparation for this interview, and another question related to “My Favorite Year” is: I know there were deleted scenes from the movie. Was your part originally bigger before the final cut?
Teresa: I’m trying to remember. I don’t really think so. It was a little bit edited, but not much. It wasn’t like it lost a lot, no. They cut a little bit of it, but not a lot.
Johnny: Moving to my next question, you played Fancy Bates in “The Toy”. You worked with some high-octane comic talent in the forms of Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason. What were your favorite memories of working with them?
Teresa: Well, first of all, Richard Pryor, he was so sweet. To be honest with you, it was after his accident, after his burn. Who knows? Maybe he was always sweet and gentle, but I’ll tell you this: I saw a real fragile side of him. I think it was after his accident. He was certainly funny, but he did seem a little…I keep coming back to the word “fragile”. There was something quite adorable. I don’t think most people would use that as their first description of Richard Pryor, but that’s the Richard Pryor I got. He couldn’t have been nicer to me. Everyone knew I was very scared to have that large of a role with two comic geniuses like that.
Teresa: I was nervous, and both he and Jackie Gleason couldn’t have been kinder to me. Gleason was fabulous. He got a kick out of me because I loved hearing his stories, he and his wife. The best way I could say it is he had a manservant. He really had this valet. He seemed totally thrilled and loved working for Gleason. He was more than an assistant…He was a manservant. He was very old school. Gleason would be surrounded by his wife and his manservant, and oftentime, he would call me Clara Bow, and he’d be like “Clara Bow, get over here”. I would come and I would sit next to Jackie and he would tell me stories. I felt very flattered by this because it wasn’t like he was doing this with other people. I think he connected with me and he got a kick out of me and I do love hearing old Hollywood stories, any film stories, theater stories, television stories…I loved that, and he appreciated that. I was a good audience member, and I was just thrilled with Jackie.
Johnny: Cool. Speaking of high-octane comic talent, you were a regular on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” from 1982 to 1991. Were you the only one they had in mind to replace Carol Wayne, or were you competing for that role?
Teresa: It happened very organically. What happened was I did a sitcom. It was a Carson Production called “Teachers Only”. It ran for 13 weeks before it got cancelled. It was Lynn Redgrave, Jean Smart, myself, and some other great actors, too, Tim Reid, Joel Brooks, Norman Fell…It was a great cast. Anyway, it was a half-hour sitcom and it was a Carson production. Johnny never came to the set, but one day, I got a phone call saying that Johnny wanted me to do “The Tonight Show”. This was not to do a sketch…It was to do the panel to promote the series. I did the interview, and it went really well. Johnny and I definitely had chemistry. It was very funny and, once again, I was really nervous, but my nerves worked for me. Johnny got a kick out of it. My first interview was very funny and good. Several weeks later, I got a phone call to do “The Tonight Show” again, the panel. I said “I don’t have anything to promote. The series has been cancelled”. The powers that be at “The Tonight Show” said “Johnny knows that. It’s his show, but he just thinks you’re funny. He just thinks you’re great on panel”. He had me come back out again, and had me tell funny little stories about what was going on in my life. He’d ask me who I was dating or what was up, and I would just tell silly stories. I started to get some other work and that was great. There were many times I would get these phone calls out of the blue to come on and do panel, and so I would just go on. Sometimes I would have something to promote, sometimes I wouldn’t, but he would have me on just to talk to me. One day, during the commercial break of doing an interview with him, he said “Would you be interested in doing sketch work with me?”. I said “Are you kidding me? I would LOVE to do sketch work with you”, and then he said, “You know the Tea Time Movie sketch?”. I said, “Of course!”. He said, “Would you like to do that?” and I said, “Yes!”, so the next time I did the show, I was doing that sketch. A lot of people think Carol Wayne had passed away. She hadn’t. I lose track of time often when I think about my career. I can’t remember if it was two years after I started doing sketches, or if it was three years, but all I know is I had been doing “The Tonight Show” for a while before Carol Wayne passed away. It wasn’t like I went on an audition or anything like that. It happened very organically.
Teresa: The other thing about it, too, which I thought very great about Johnny, is that once he had me do the sketches, he said “I want to make you a deal. Whenever I ask you to do a sketch, if you want to do panel again, let me know”, which I also though was great. Occasionally, what would happen is I would do the sketch at the top, after his monologue, that would be the first thing, and then I would change clothes. If I wanted to, I could come back out and be the final five minute segment before the show wrapped up. It was a really great gift, and I did the show for the last ten years of his run. That was a real gift because I also enjoyed seeing different stars backstage, and doing sketches with Johnny was so much fun. The thing that always amazed me about him was that by the time I got to “The Tonight Show”, Johnny had already been doing it for 20 years. The man did the show for 30 years, so I did it the last 10 years. I think most people, after having done a job for 20 years, would be a little burned out. They’d be a little cynical, a little less enthusiastic. That was not the case with Johnny. Even when he was interviewing me, he was having fun. That is, I find, so important to somebody’s success, and who was more successful than Johnny? Nobody. He was the king, and especially when we would do the sketches, you would see it all over his face, the whole vibe. He was like a child, he was like a kid playing, and his joy and his enthusiasm in doing those sketches was just contagious. That’s why he got the kind of response he did from the audience. Another thing he did that would be great is that sometimes I would be sitting next to him and we would start to rehearse a sketch, and Fred DeCordova, the producer, would walk up. Fred would say, “Johnny, we got a call from so-and-so’s manager, they want to do the show.”, and they would be a big star, a BIG star, and Johnny would go, “Nah. I don’t want to talk to him. I dont want to do the interview”. Fred would go, “But Johnny, he’s got a big movie coming out.”, and Johnny would go, “Well, I’ll think about it. He was kind of boring the last time he was out here”. Fred would go something like, “Well, we have a lady who has a potato chip who looks like Yogi Bear”, and Johnny would go “Yes! That sounds great!”. Sometimes I would think, “Why is Johnny saying to me that he would like to do panel with me?”. In other words, I was never a big star, but he wanted to interview me. I think it was great that, even though Johnny interviewed huge stars all the time, I think he also continued to make sure that he was having a good time because it was his show, and that the audience would know whether he was having a good time or not, and so if he wanted to talk to a lady that had a potato chip as opposed to a movie star, he did it. I think that’s a lesson for everyone to learn in show business, that you must keep having fun because the audience benefits from it if you are having fun.
Johnny: I definitely agree with that. To go baxck to movies, you played Elizabeth Ellison in “Transylvania 6-5000”. What was it like to be filming in Yugoslavia as opposed to America?
Teresa: Well, now it’s not even Yugoslavia anymore. Back when we did it, it made me appreciate the United States Of America, because in Yugoslavia, even though there are certainly some beautiful things there, the people were sad. That’s the best way I can describe it. We would walk into a shop and we’d be laughing and then you’d realize the people in Yugoslavia working in the shops and the restaurants, they weren’t really smiling or laughing, and you’d feel like sort of obnoxious, loud Americans to be so happy. The people were dressed in dark colors, rather than bright colors, and all the Yugoslavian people were very nice, but there was a sadness. I even remember one time the cast though “Let’s go find a disco”, because if we hang out with college kids, they’re always happy, they’re always fun. Even when we found a discotechque, the college kids just…You’d go, “Wow”. You realize how lucky you are to be here (in America). A lot of other countries aren’t as happy as we are. The people were kind, they were good, but I wanted to get back to California, that’s for sure.
Johnny: I can understand that. I had a smile on my face when watching the movie, but it was trashed in its’ day, most infamously by Leonard Maltin on “Entertainment Tonight”, who put on a recording of “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, but before the word “Pennsylvania” was said, he said, “Transylvania 6-5000…Stinks! I’m Leonard Maltin. Entertainment Tonight”. Have you ever crossed Maltin’s path in the years since that review, and have you ever spoken to him about it?
Teresa: No. Not to offend the cast, or anything like this, because that was a fantastic cast, but I kind of agree with Leonard Maltin. I think the movie did kind of stink. Now here’s the deal. I run into people I can count. They’re sincere about it. They go, “Oh my God, that’s my favorite movie! I love that movie!”, and I can tell when it’s sincere. There’s a lot of people that love that movie. I love “My Favorite Year”. I think “Transylvania 6-5000” does kind of stink. I don’t know. Somehow, it didn’t come together. Like I said, that’s not the fault of anyone. It was a quite a good group, in fact, a wonderfully talented group of people came together, and that movie kind of stunk, in my opinion, but that’s art, actually. I mean, certain people love that movie, like a piece of art. Someone’s gonna love it, someone’s not gonna love it, so let me put it to you this way: I’m not mad at Leonard Maltin.
Johnny: Okay. Moving on, in 1986, you played Bobbie Jo Bobb in the famous soap opera spoof “Fresno”. Over the years, you’ve guest-appeared in several TV dramas. Did you think about “Fresno” while working on these more serious shows?
Teresa: Well, no. Here’s the thing. I thought “Fresno” was fantastic. Now that’s something I’m really proud of. There was some political thing that was happening when they put “Fresno” on the air, so that on the third night, it was preempted. They tried to air it again, but the schedule got all messed up and so I think that was really bad timing. That was before On Demand and DVRs, and so because of a scheduling error, things were messed up. “Fresno” was fantastic. I thought it was brilliant. Even though you speak about me guest-starring on dramatic shows, the truth of the matter is, I’ve never done a dramatic role in my life. If I’m on a dramatic show, I’m always some sort of comedic relief, so actually, my acting style for “Fresno” was a perfect match, because we were spoofing a soap opera, so we had to kind of play it straight, like you would do a comedic role in a dramatic show, which is you play it straight, yet it’s comedic. I love that style of acting, like when you are in a dramatic show as the comedic relief, or something like “Fresno”, where you’re spoofing something dramatic like a nighttime soap opera. “Fresno” is something I’m really proud of. I thought that was fantastic.
Johnny: Yes, I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see it. I don’t think it was issued on VHS in America, and the only DVDs available are bootlegs. Any chance we’ll see it coming to DVD or Blu-Ray anytime soon?
Teresa: You know, I mean, who knows? I’ve never heard any kind of a rumor about it, but who knows? You never know. I mean, boy, oh, boy, some of those people that were in it that you don’t see that much of anymore, like Dabney Coleman and Charles Grodin. I was so thrilled to see Charles Grodin the other day, in fact, he did a couple of episodes of “Louie”. He and Louis C.K? I was like, “Oh my God, I’m in Heaven”. I love Louis C.K and Charles Grodin, so to see the two of them together was pretty special, but anyway, the “Fresno” cast? Oh, boy. That was an amazing cast.
Johnny: Absolutely. Moving from fiction into game shows, you were one of the most gifted players on “The 25,000 Dollar Pyramid”, to the point that entertainment website The Backlot dubbed you as one of the ten greatest celebrity “Pyramid” players in a 2013 countdown. What was your favorite part of competing on that show?
Teresa: I loved playing the game. That’s a great game. First of all, I like playing charades. I like playing games in someone’s living room. I find the “Pyramid” is a perfectly constructed game. I also like that you’re really playing, and all the humor that comes out is secondary, I mean, rather than “Hollywood Squares”, where the point of the show is to be funny. I concentrate on something else, like playing a game, and then being funny is sort of gravy. I like to put my focus on the game, so I find that such a great game.
Teresa: Here’s another great thing: The truth is, you’re helping people win money, and what’s great about it is, I’m telling you, years later, I’ve been places. I remember one time I was at a Chinese restaurant and I was leaving the restaurant. A man goes, “Oh my God, Teresa Ganzel! Stop! Stop!”. I turn around and he goes, “You changed my life”. I go, “What?”, and he goes, “You helped me win $100,000. You don’t understand”, and then he gave me this story about winning the money, and it was really great. I go, “You know what? I did help change that man’s life”. Whether someone wins $5,000 or $10,000, you’re experiencing charity first-hand. Not charity, they won the money, too, but you know what I’m saying. In fact, I often recommend to people that are having financial difficulties, I go “Get on a game show”, because you can get out of your financial trouble in one fell swoop. My advice to anyone that needs some extra money? Try out for “Wheel Of Fortune”. What do you have to lose? Get on a game show.
Johnny: That sounds like good advice. Taking a turn from your live-action work to your animation work, your first voice-over credit was for Gertrude Vandergelt in the Hanna-Barbera TV movie “Top Cat And The Beverly Hills Cats”. Since you were growing up when Hanna-Barbera was making a big name in the world of TV animation, how did it feel to work for them?
Teresa: Oh, Hanna-Barbera was a great place to work. It was a huge company, don’t get me wrong, but the feeling there was very mom-and-pop. It was the Hanna-Barbera family. They hired so many of the same directors. They treated their writers really well. It was also nice because I did a series for them called “Droopy, Master Detective”, where I played Miss Vavoom.
Teresa: That was a little bit more of a regular thing, where I came to work for a couple of years, or however long it was (Author’s note: The character of Miss Vavoom originated on “Tom And Jerry Kids”). They took the time to gather the cast together to do a table read-through like you would do on a sitcom before you went to record. That was a real sweet old-fashioned way to work, but a real great way to work for the voice actors because they treated it more like you would a sitcom script, which really helps you when you’re doing your voice acting, as opposed to now, where not all the shows but many of the shows will call in one cast member at a time. You could be working alone at the mic, and they edit it altogether. Sometimes people don’t even come in. They phone-patch from their studio at home. I mean, this is not always the case, but it’s often the case now and so it was great that Hanna-Barbera really gathered the cast. Occasionally, someone couldn’t be there because of a scheduling conflict, but mostly you were there, and so those were really good, sweet times. Hanna-Barbera was really a great company to work for.
Johnny: Indeed. Going to a different animation studio, you’ve been one of Pixar’s most reliable auxilary players, contibuting voice-over work to some of their biggest successes, including the high-powered trio of “Wall-E”, “Up” and “Toy Story 3”, all of them Best Animated Feature Oscar winners. How did you get involved with Pixar?
Teresa: I count my blessings. I believe it was Frank Welker, who is one of the top, I think he is the top, not one of the top, voice-over man, who put in a good word for me with Micki McGowan. It was through one recommendation and sending my demo tape over. It was great. Those Pixar films are as good as it gets. “Up” is one of the all-time greatest movies, animated or not. I just love “Up” and all those Disney/Pixar movies. They’re works of art. Look at “Toy Story”. It’s so funny and it breaks your heart, and so does “Wall-E”. They’re just amazing, amazing films, and all of the talent? I’m so honored. If I work one day on any of those films, I walk away feeling so honored. Whenever I have the opportunity to be called, I’m just so excited and thrilled, because to see your name on that cast list when the credits roll is such an honor, because they are works of art. I really mean that sincerely.
Johnny: I definitely agree. I recognized your voice when I saw “Monsters Inc.” on the big screen in 2012 for my 30th birthday. In the scene where Mike Wazowski and James Sullivan were walking to the factory, I recognized your voice as the mother of a child monster.
Teresa: Probably. I don’t even remember. They do this great sort of improvisational thing where it’s really fun. What happens is there are several actors there, and they will call people to go up to the mic and do a line and do it a few different ways, or come up with a line or whatever, and when I see the movie, I think, “Okay, that’s me”. It could be me, or several other actresses they tried out in the part, or even men, because sometimes the men do the women’s voices, too, and vice versa, which is also fun. It’s sometimes hard for me to remember. Other times, it’s definite and I go, “Oh, I’m the giraffe”. It’s really clear who I am. You are probably right. That probably is me.
Johnny: One more Pixar question: Will you be contributing voices to Pixar’s upcoming movie “Inside Out”, or are you not allowed to reveal that right now?
Teresa: As far as I know, I didn’t do any work on “Inside Out”. I don’t know when the release date for that is, but sometimes, it’s kind of surprising how close to the release date they will continue to do some voice work, some sprucing up, some last-minute changes. I’ve been shocked by that in the past where it’s like “Really? The release date is when? They’re still doing work on it”, but to tell you right now, I have not done any voice-over work on it.
Johnny: Okay. Jumping back to live-action, as you’ve said several times in this interview, you do comedy, but have you ever auditioned for more serious roles?
Teresa: You know what? No. One time I did, and it always stuck with me. It gave me mixed emotions. It made me sad and it kind of made me happy at the same time. Many years ago, I had only one dramatic audition, which was for a role on “L.A Law”. That’s how long ago it was. I auditioned and I thought of the feeling in the room. The producers were in the room, the casting director, and I felt like the room went silent. I felt like, “Oh my God, my first and only dramatic audition and I nailed it”. I was really happy and I thought for sure I was going to get it, and then the phone never rang. I normally don’t do this, but I said to my agent, “Please call them back”. My agent said that the casting director told him that when I left, the producers were all kind of shocked. They were like, “Oh my God, we never thought she could do that. That was amazing.”, and then the casting director was like, “Well, you know, let’s hire her”. This is sort of creepy, but the producers said, “Yeah, but come on, she’s the sketch actress on ‘The Tonight Show’. That’s going to be weird. It’s going to take the audience out of the story. It’s going to be jarring. They’re not really going to believe that she’s this victim in this thing. It’s going to be like ‘Oh my God, the actress on ‘The Tonight Show’ who’s doing the funny sketches'”. Why it made me happy was that it wasn’t my imagination. I did nail it. I did do a great job and everything, but it was an artistic choice. I’ve experienced that where you see a comedic actor doing something serious and it’s hard to believe them doing something dramatic, because it’s the fact that you’re so used to seeing them do something comedic. I can understand the logic of that. I’ve never done anything dramatic. I think I can do something dramatic, but I’ve let that go. In other words, I don’t walk around sad like, “Oh, I wish I could do something dramatic”. You know what? It’s not in the cards for me. It’s not in the stars. Big deal. If it happens one day, great. If it doesn’t, no big deal.
Johnny: Okay. My next question, and I just have two more, is this: What would you say the biggest change in the entertainment industry has been between the 80s and now?
Teresa: Wow, there’s so many. One of them is it’s less personal, which is hard for me. Before, and this was well into the 90s, too, when you auditioned for something, you auditioned in person. There were producers in the room. There were people in the room, and I know that’s one of the things I did well. I was good at working the room. When you’re doing comedy, it’s very important to hear laughter. It helps your timing. You hear them and take how they’re reacting into what you’re doing, and so I would adjust my performance based upon, like, “Oh, they’re liking it when I acting big? No, they’re liking it when I’m acting smaller.”, and I could feel it and adjust it. Nowadays, when you audition for something, you are auditioning just for a camera operator and a camera. There’s no audience there. There’s no people to say, “Hey, how are you doing?”. They don’t see you walk in the room. They’re just seeing you on tape, and we’re all at the same disadvantage, but that’s a huge change, if you ask me. Even your relationship with your agents used to be more personal. You would go to your agent in person, and talk about something. Now everybody just does a text message or an e-mail. You can go into your agent’s office, but you don’t do it as much.
Teresa: When I used to audition for voice-overs, you used to go to a voice-over casting place. Although they still exist, there’s fewer of them. You oftentimes audition from home, from your own home studio microphone set-up, so there’s less one-on-one connection with people. When I described earlier when you do a voice-over job, you might be doing it in a professional studio, but the rest of the cast isn’t there. There’s less interaction with human beings. If I go way back into the 80s, your agent would take your headshot in a book with his other clients, and your agent would literally get in the car, this is how long ago the 80s were, with a book of photographs, and go to casting directors and producers, but primarily casting people’s offices, with this book, and he’d go, “I have this guy. He’s this age. I’ve got an actress, Teresa Ganzel. She’s this kind of comedienne and she does this”, and they would pick you. Now a casting director goes to their computer, and they look at the screen and there’s thumbnail-sized headshots, maybe on one screen, of 30 actors or 40 actors. They click on them. They’re kind of small. They go, “Hey, let’s look at the woman with the red shirt”, and they bring it up as a close-up. It’s that distant sort of a thing. Yes, I can click on that picture, and then they click on that resume, and then they can click a little reel of a few minutes, if they’re going to last that long, of your work. It’s less face-to-face, less personal, but the technology is kind of great. You don’t have to drive as much. There’s a lot of really positive things about it. At the same time, I miss the personal connection. That’s one of the reasons I’m doing more theater now.
Teresa: When you’re doing a play, you get together with other actors in person. You are alive, and you’re interacting at rehearsal and on stage, and it’s very alive. I like that old style of not acting in a vacuum. I like acting with another actor, and I like a director there, and I like all that stuff. I gave you a lot of things that have changed in the industry. I know that you’re looking for one, but the technology has changed it. We save on gasoline and driving around, which is good, but I miss the human connection.
Johnny: Perfectly understandable. That was a pretty good list, and with that, I move on into my final question. This is the one I end every interview with, and it’s this: If you could go back to your youth with the knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently?
Teresa: Yes. I would have more self-confidence. I’d be less hard on myself. I was my own worst critic. Sometimes people would invite me to do things, and I’d go, “Nah. I’m good enough.” or whatever, and I would be so hard on myself if I didn’t get a job. I think the whole thing would be that I would just try and have more confidence and not take things so hard. It’s kind of an ironic thing. A lot of really good actors are really good actors because they are very sensitive, because they are very vulnerable, and those qualities of being sensitive and vulnerable really work for you as a performer. That’s not just for dramatic work, believe me. It’s also for comedic work. It’s often those same qualities that make you not as good in the business side of show business, because you don’t push as hard. You may not be as aggresive marketing yourself or getting that next audition or fighting for something. To me, even when I talk to young actors who ask me for advice, I feel like I want to coach them to say, “Get tough. Toughen up. You’re an artist, which means you’re probably a sensitive soul, but toughen up. It’s business”. I would say to the young me, “Toughen up! Don’t take things so hard. Get tough”.
Johnny: Okay. On that note, I want to thank you once more for taking the time to speak to me. As a tremendous fan of 80s culture, as well as Pixar, it was truly an honor to speak to you.
Teresa: Thank you. Thank you very much. Keep up the good work. Good luck to you, too. Let’s both keep on doing our stuff. This was fun.
Johnny: It definitely was for me, and I thank you very much.
Teresa: Alright. Have a great one. Thanks, Johnny.
Johnny: You, too.
Teresa: Okay, bye.
I would like to thank Ms. Ganzel for taking time out of her schedule to speak to me. I hope you all enjoyed reading this interview. Coming soon: I’ll rock out with my questions out as I interview Lita Ford for the next Flashback Interview. Stay tuned.