Stephen Tobolowsky

The veteran character actor Stephen Tobolowsky has finally achieved the kind of fame that depends not on his familiar face but his singular voice as a storyteller. With a long list of IMDb credits to mine (right up to The Mindy Project!), his podcast/radio show The Tobolowsky Files is rich in material, also now adapted into a new book, The Dangerous Animals Club (Simon & Schuster, $24). What makes Tobolowsy so appealing? I think it's his humility and his willingness to be surprised. Starting on Texas stages in the '70s, then moving to Hollywood, he's met people on every rung of the the showbiz ladder—moving in both directions. Today he's recovered from bypass surgery, which he had hoped to avert by "looking for a solution that didn't involve not eating fried chicken," he says in a recent podcast about his ordeal. What was the undiagnosed cause of his fatigue? "I just thought it was the apathy brought on by how bad movies had been recently." Later in post-op, doped up on Michael Jackson-caliber meds, he's told by a nurse that she'll yank the catheter on the count of three. "I opened my mouth to say 'One...'" Tobolowsky recalls, "and then she pulled. I thought it was revealing that modern medicine was using a strategy last employed in a Mad Max movie." BRIAN MILLER

Sat., Oct. 13, 8 p.m., 2012

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