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Joe Pesci Hates Practical Jokes
Joe Pesci hates practical jokes as evidenced by this exchange when Pesci was promoting Lethal Weapon IV in 1998 on The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder. It was perpetrated by none other than Mel Gibson who is famous for his on-set practical jokes.
What's interesting about this interview is Joe Pesci's calm demeanor as opposed to the over-caffeinated characters he generally plays in the movies. This story contains all kinds of nuance in the way Pesci tells it.
Joe Pesci: “Mel did this last time. I was doing a scene and I always keep the cigar off the set. And after I do the scene, I come back, I pick up the cigar and I smoke it. And Mel and Chris were standing there and he said, 'How's that cigarette taste?' Which is not a strange question because we both smoke cigars a lot. And we trade cigars. They'll say something like, 'Is that a good one?' Something like that. So I said, 'It's all right,' I said, 'It's not as good as the other one we smoked.' He said, 'A little bitter?' And I said, 'Well, it's just not as good as the other one.” He said, 'You think this might be the reason?' And he holds up a Polaroid of a cigar stuck up a butt.
“And I said, 'There's no way that's my cigar.' There's no way they could get into my stash, but it was a good try. I just think that Mel likes to walk around with cigars up his butt.”
When asked if he retaliated for joking around like this Pesci replied, “It depends on the seriousness of the prank because they get out of hand. I'm not one who can take it. I don't take it very well. So it depends on how extreme it is… Sometimes I can't take it. So I avoid trying to do it back to someone or so that it doesn't go too far.”
Pesci also talked about his father, a working man who realized early on his son had talent. “What he was worried about more than anything was a trade,” the actor said. “He always thought about trades. In other words, he started me off acting and singing and dancing in Marie Mosher's School of acting, singing and dancing when I was about five years old.
“So I was getting trained that way and I was performing and going along, but he always said, 'you can't take anything for granted. And if it doesn't work out with show business or your acting or singing or anything like that, you should learn something…' Well, then he started me playing the guitar at nine years old so I would learn some music, some extra music. Then he wanted me to become a barber and I had that trade. Then he got me a civil service job in the post office. He says, 'civil service is a good job to have.'
“So I worked in the post office. I was a mail carrier, a mail sorter, and I worked on the docks and loading the job. I did it all. And things like that. Those kinds of trade things that you would never starve, you could always feed your family and feed yourself.”
Watch the entire episode, Tom Snyder was one of the greatest interviewers in TV history and Joe Pesci rarely appeared on talk shows.
Joe Pesci - Tom Snyder: The Late Late Show (1998)
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