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Episode 293: Nerdist Podcast
Paul Williams
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast: Paul Williams

Legendary musician Paul Williams sits down with the Nerdist guys to talk about his amazing career in music and entertainment and the documentary about his life Paul Williams Still Alive!

Watch Paul Williams Still Alive and follow @IMPaulWilliams on Twitter!

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  1. Kevie (sounds like Chevy) says:

    Maybe I should chalk it up to being sick and feeling horrible right now, but hearing this guy talk about the Muppets and Rainbow Connection is making me cry. I may have to come back to this one later.

  2. Beth says:

    Love Love LOVED this podcast! What a great conversation on everything from Muppets to intellectual property. I’m so glad to hear that Paul Williams is alive and so so well. I went straight to Showtime to watch the documentary as well. Fascinating sometimes heart-wrenching stuff. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  3. Oreo says:

    “Showtime! Showtime at the El Sleazo…” I never knew, until I saw the pic above, that this was the man. Also, thank you Joe H for that link to Dexter’s Lab.

  4. Karen says:

    I have loved Paul Williams since I was a kid without even realizing his credentials. Listening to him talk about writing Rainbow Connection gave me goosebumps and I teared up a little. So brilliant! Thank you for bringing him on and sharing him with us! I feel a little goofy that things Muppet related make me so emotional, but it is a lynchpin of my childhood and now, fortunately my children’s as well. πŸ™‚

  5. Handsometeddy says:

    Was annoyed how often the hosts kept talking over Paul, he’s quite the card and all, but he’s always been a bit on the soft spoken side

  6. Angela says:

    This was an amazing interview, thank you so much. I was so interested to hear him talk about the song of Gonzo’s in the Muppet Movie and the thought it might be too adult. When that movie came out I was 12 and I had the soundtrack. It was and is my favorite song from the movie. I didn’t know what it meant but I knew how it made me feel. Paul’s writing is genius and his voice is unique and beautiful.

  7. bg says:

    Wow. Great Ep, I knew he was a singer and on smokey and the bandit but didnt know about all the songs he wrote.

  8. Meaghan W says:

    I’m really glad you guys talked about the muppet christmas carol, I love that movie so much it’s a family tradition. It seems like it meant a lot to him that you guys loved it. You guys get the best people to interview!!

  9. Rebecca N says:

    I just wanted to say how much I loved this podcast! You are getting some amazing people on lately, way to go!

  10. kadium says:

    Oh wow. I only got around to listening to this today and I have to say I had no idea how important Paul Williams was to my childhood. I just knew him as the strange little guy from “Smokey and the Bandit”…not as the soundtrack to my early life. I think I even started to well up a bit when he started reciting the lyrics to “Rainbow Connection.” Simply a magnificent conversation.

  11. Rob S. says:

    This is what I like. Christ knows when to just get out of the way. Sometimes it is a conversation Ron Pearlman, D. Martin. This on and Mel Brooks he just pointed the legend in a direction and let him go. YAY

  12. Fermit the Krog says:

    Oh my holy hell, hearing the name “Emmett Otter” gave me a flashback to when my parents taped it off of HBO for me to watch over and over and over. What a remarkable career!
    I also loved Paul’s cameo in ‘Rules of Attraction’ as the surly smartass doctor: “It’s toetag time in Teenville tonight”.

  13. Paul says:

    The rainbow connection story alone made this worthwhile to listen to. Great stuff.

  14. Joe H says:

    I had no idea how many of Paul’s songs have inspired me throughout my lifetime but during the entire podcast I kept asking myself: “Where do I really know that voice from… ”

    And it finally hit me:

    Fantastic work on Dexter’s Lab Paul! That episode will always have a place in my heart πŸ™‚

  15. Taryn says:

    One of my favorite episodes of all time and that’s saying a lot! So many great stories and loved how he could just launch into any of his lyrics at the drop of a hat. Good stuff. I tweeted him to tell him I enjoyed the interview and got a reply right away, calling me T no less! A nickname, that means we’re tight now, right? Anyway, would love to have you guys have him on again. Great job as always!

  16. Robin says:

    Thanks so much for this podcast! The Muppets Movie and Muppets Christmas Carol are two of my all time faves and it was so awesome to here Paul talk about them. He seems like such a sweet and interesting guy. Gotta check out the documentary.

  17. amysrevenge says:

    I’m gonna say that Paul Williams wasn’t a name that I was familiar with when I saw it on Twitter, but I knew the face and the voice when I popped over for a listen.

    One of the better episodes. Great stuff gang.

  18. SaintKate says:

    Paul – Thank you for writing the song I walked down
    the isle to at my wedding.

  19. Michelle says:

    Too funny. Before i saw this was the latest posting, hubby and me talked about watching “The Muppet Movie” and putting it on our agenda for this month.

    Thanks for this!!

  20. JetpackBlues says:

    This was great. πŸ™‚ Funny, with loads of history and depth.

    Another mention of Xanadu. Jeez….

    Being our age and mentioning that YOUR GRANDFATHER had a LaserDisc player (or DiscoVision, as it was marketed) seems out of time/place. Having worn out CED/VideoDiscs (12″ vinyl movies), I wish my family could have been that ahead of the times.

    And talk about dating yourself (only until you get to know you), I remember Mr. Williams co-hosting the Dina Shore show.

    The song at the end, featured in the movie, made me a little weepy as Mr. Williams sang it.

  21. Phil says:

    @Chris, Ha. I think you kicked in a backlog of “that’s rights” in my memory cache because I think I remember something like that.

  22. Chase says:

    I just jumped back in my chair out of excitement at seeing this; Phantom of the Paradise is a favorite of mine. I also saw and really liked the doc at SXSW this year. Can’t wait to listen!

  23. Stephanie says:

    This might actually be my favourite episode of this year, and just what I needed right now. My family watches A Muppet Christmas Carol every Christmas eve as part of our holiday tradition. This is my first year living on my own away from home and the thought of watching The Muppets again is the only thing getting me through my final projects for school. Thank you guys so much! I could not stop grinning this whole episode, and I teared up more than once when Phil started singing. I’m going to save it and listen to it with my mom when I finally get home next week.

  24. Chris Hardwick says:

    @Phil: they actually also dubbed his name very poorly as “Mr. HANLEY” for the remaining episodes.

  25. Phil says:

    Speaking of Ralph Hinkley I think I remember reading they called him Mr. H on the show because they didn’t want to make reference to the Reagan shooting.

  26. Phil says:

    I was wondering when you guys were gonna get around to talking about BUGSY MALONE. I thought you were gonna fuck it up like the Tom Hanks MAZES & MONSTERS thing. That would’ve been like asking William Katt to come on and not mentioning Ralph Hinkley.

  27. David says:

    Paul Williams used to skydive!

  28. calvinorion says:

    What a fantastic interview! Paul Williams was hilarious, sweet and inspirational. And is body of work is impressive as heck. I had no idea that the same guy wrote all those song I loved from childhood. I actually have the songs from Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas on my ipod.

  29. Chad H says:

    I still watch the muppet movie (original) all the time.

    Movin’ right along…

  30. Theresa Z says:

    @Justin Hoskie – Love that video, thanks!

  31. Lars’s try that again…

    @Chris Would a video do? πŸ™‚

  32. Ashley says:

    @Chris love the podcast! You guys are awesome! I live in Nashville, so I was excited to hear you were doing shows in TN, but I was bummed it was a weekend I’m out of town. I hope you enjoy your time in Nashville and have great shows with great crowds. Enjoy lots of southern cookin’ while you are in TN. Come back soon!

  33. Chris Hardwick says:

    @Justin you should always feel free to share factoids! You are in a safe zone, my friend! Now I just want to see a pic of that Paul Williams Muppet.

  34. Fun fact! Paul Williams is one of the only Muppet Show guest stars to be presented a muppet version of themselves. While some guests were privately given one behind the scenes, Juliet Prowse and Connie Stevens were presented theirs’ on screen (their episodes being the pilots and the presentation intended as a tradition to continue), while the muppet versions of Paul and Marty Feldman appeared with their flesh-and-blood counterparts on the show. When asked if he still had his muppet in an interview, Paul said that he does, and that it sits by his piano, but it’s fading overtime by exposure to sunlight.

    Why am I sharing this? Because, it’s 2:30 in the morning, I should be asleep, and I love sharing facts like this.

  35. Ebbie says:

    Can’t buy the documentary from Amazon instant video because I’m in Australia and itunes doesn’t seem to have it…

  36. Wendy says:

    This was Nerdist at its very best. Thank you Chris.

  37. scott says:

    That was awesome. thank you Nerdist.

  38. Kati says:

    Oh I’m so happy that Phantom of the Paradise made it into the conversation amongst all his other muppet and songmaking glory.
    This was so great!!!

  39. Curtis says:

    ‘Muppet Christmas Carol’ is a mainstay for my Christmas EVERY YEAR. I watched it enough that my VHS actually wore out (that and ‘Hook’). If I don’t watch the Muppets on Christmas, it just doesn’t feel right.

  40. Theresa Z says:

    Phantom of the Paradise! I saw Paul and got to chat with him in June, here in Los Angeles at An evening with Paul Williams. So kind, so gracious, it was a thrill to meet him.

    Fantastic pod cast. Happy Holidays Everyone!

  41. Kevin says:

    Chris – based on this get, if anyone can get Paul Lynde and Dick Sargent to show up, it’s you.


  42. Patty Marvel says:

    Sweet Cthulu, a flashback from my childhood! I remember when he was on shows such as “Love Boat” and “The Tonight Show” when Johnny Carson was still the host. Man, I’ve gotta share this link and take a few friends down Memory Lane with me…

  43. skittles says:

    Listening now, and I am soooo excited that Muppet Christmas Carol got some love. I absolutely adore that movie. Outside of the more popular specials, I make a point to watch Muppets and Santa Claus: The Movie (anyone?) every year.