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They don’t have to come to LA, or New York, or Chicago, or the bright lights of Atlanta…the pandemic helped people except a lot more on YouTube and TikTok…

Keith Coogan

Actor, Writer, Director, Keith Coogan

We talked with Keith Coogan, best known for his acting roles in Adventures in Babysitting, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, and many other 80’s classics. We talk about his early years, comedy, and touch on his upcoming cameo with Live! from La Crosse.


Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by People’s Food Co Op, a community owned grocery store in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota that promotes local farmers and producers through an emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable food. Anyone can shop, everyone is welcome. For more information, visit them online at We talked with Keith Coogan, best known for his acting roles and Adventures in Babysitting, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead and many other 80s Classics. We talk about his early years, comedy, and touch upon his upcoming cameo with Live! From La Crosse. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 00:47
And I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 00:48
And this is La Crosse Local.

Brent Hanifl 00:50
I was kind of digging into you today. Do you do stand up as well?

Keith Coogan 00:54
I have done stand up.

Brent Hanifl 00:55

Keith Coogan 00:56
I did a Virgin Sacrifice, which you got to, there are all these rules I had to follow. I had to have never done stand up before. I had to write my own act. And they wanted me to advertise it by email but I was mostly resistant. I did some email, but mostly Facebook. Packed the house loaded with all friends and family basically and it was in like a Whitesnake basement it was in. That’s a bad joke. But West LA there’s a comedy place it’s like in an alley. You have to like look behind the dumpster and ask for Tony. It fits 70 Max, 50 or maybe 70 people. I crushed it. Crushed the second gig that I had Best Sophomore Balm. I was like I don’t even want to watch the recording that my wife took over the second one. I know what I did wrong. And yeah, so it’s not it’s something I wanted to try. Oh, and during Virgin Sacrifice you have all these established comics open for you and then they throw you to the wolves as the closer. And so Bryan Callen was one of the openers he went right before me. He said, you know, do stand up for, you know, 10 years or so you might get good at it. And I’m a jerk sometimes. But when I was growing up in the 80s standup was a means to an end. I knew comics that come from New York and Chicago and they just wanted to get on Leno or Letterman and then get their own show. They wanted to Greg Brando. And basically they wanted to get and get their own show. Not die like Brando. But so it was I had already done the film and television. Just kind of going back to you know, I wasn’t going to look at stand up as a means to an end. And I wrote comedy for years. Me and my mom wrote and would get up in the morning and fax Leno, Letterman and Miller. Dennis Miller also paid for drip, she had the secret fax number and for them to pay her. And we read LA Times, you know, have watched the news the night before. At six o’clock in the morning, we’d talk on the phone, write out jokes, send them in, see them on TV that night. And then the next day LA Times have laugh lines, which is quotes from the evening television talk shows and you’d see your own joke in the paper the next morning. So it was really and they all paid 50 bucks. Except Dennis Miller paid 75 a joke because he relied less on outside writers and valued obscure references. And it was funny. My mom was a stand up and I saw her try to be a woman, funny woman in the 80s. So that was at one point painful to go into comedy clubs and see the same comics do the same acts or steal from each other too. I’d see them just blatantly steal each other’s material and it was vicious than, I still think it’s vicious. Now I think that the only two things harder than being an actor are being a singer songwriter, or trying to make it in music or being a stand up.

Brent Hanifl 03:53
It’s crazy to me that you’d fax in jokes. I mean, that’s, that’s pretty wild. Things have changed just a little bit.

Keith Coogan 04:00
Yeah. Well, I was there with the first internet with you know, put your phone on the cradle, and I was born in 70. So I consider myself the last of the analog babies. I was part of the 80s which was fantastic. Of course, I had auditioned for all the early 80s stuff ET and Goonies and Gremlins, didn’t book any of those movies. But I really enjoy the 80s and video games and the movies and music. The fashion is fantastic.

Brent Hanifl 04:28
Yeah, I was born in 1980. So I got to experience about 10 years of it. So coming up LIVE! From La Crosse. It’s episode 24: Don’t Tell Mom featuring yourself. How’s it going? How do you kind of adapt when you jump into like this comedy troupe thing? Do you show up? Do you practice? I mean, do you just kind of whip it out? Just see what happens?

Keith Coogan 04:49
No, I think well, you know it was first pitch. Typically their guests don’t do a lot of the sketches. ACME Comedy in LA did a live on YouTube and you know, in person, kind of a Saturday, our format of sketch comedy and it was tough. We would like meet on Wednesday, pound out pick material Thursday, rehearse Friday go up, you know, Saturday night. And with like a dress, just a tech dress. You’re putting sides on the back of the set. You’re like, what scene is that? I don’t even know what we’re doing. Oh, I remember rehearsing that, it was so high pressure. And but you know, it’s just for 100 people in the crowd and whoever’s watching on YouTube, and ACME has a good following. They have a good, they’re, you know, like Second City or Groundlings. The process was, I think, similar to Saturday Night Live and a lot of preparation and a lot of and still making cuts as you go, you know, you’re like, that sketch isn’t really working out. This one is going to be a one day thing. I’ll fly in, you know, go to dinner, spend the night and then the next, maybe I’ll glance at the material or what his ideas are. And then we’ll do a rehearsal during the day figure it out. And then I guess we’re doing two shows that day. I do a photo op from Adventures of Babysitting, I bring this backdrop that’s turned sideways. Kind of like the Batman TV show. It looks like you’re climbing up the building and people can come and be Elisabeth Shue with me. Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead are done with, I’m going to set up a little autograph table, merch table, photo ops between shows, I don’t know how that’s gonna go. You know, sometimes it’s like a concert experience. And people want to get T-shirts and things. And sometimes that’s not expected, they’ll go to a show. One of the things I’m focused on, the reason I’m coming there is that I always like finding places that have a really strong community that regardless, if you have a guest coming, they’re going to have an audience, and just seeing the reaction of the announcement and the crowd, you know, hearing announcing me as a guest. That felt great, and it feels like it’s going to be a very warm welcome, I’ll probably get all sorts of accommodations for going up on lines or you know, breaking. But I’m going to come and do a day of you know, this is work, this is coming, just pretend it’s a show shows, and you’re gonna go on live that night.

Brent Hanifl 07:11
You being a lifelong performer, kind of goes into a side of what we’ve been experiencing the last two years, you know, it runs in your family of being a performer, writing, all that jazz and just the history of your own life. How was COVID for you, kind of having to take a break from the stage and all that?

Keith Coogan 07:28
Can’t really say that I did. I did three TV shows and two features during Covid.

Brent Hanifl 07:35
Wow it didn’t stop you.

Keith Coogan 07:36
Yeah, well, you know, the show must go on. And you saw that during the pandemic, people crawled into their houses, they couldn’t go outside, they couldn’t go anywhere, they couldn’t go to work, everything shut down. And they popped open Netflix and pull back into their DVD library. And they went for comfort food and I found I did too. I was watching Neverending Story and Labyrinth to make some sense of it all. And my residual checks went up. So you know actors get a little bit of money whenever producers sell the content again. You know is there also a lot more streaming services now, but hours watched I mean, everyone saw you know, Apple iPhones give you that little how many your average daily each week, and I saw it go from you know, for six hours at the most eight hours to typing 12 hours a day on my phone. Watching YouTube videos and reading news and stuff like that. That’s just this screen, let alone you know, the living room TV. Yeah, they know the craving was there. As soon as autograph conventions. As soon as numbers lightened up, autograph conventions opened up and there’s one we chickened out on because things went nuts. But then about a year after that it really started open. The first one in LA happened and then we drove to another one we flew out to east coast we did shows in Parsippany, New Jersey, moved through New York. It was crazy in New York at the time, and there was a garbage strike and all this great stuff. Then we went to the Rhode Island Comic Con, and people just were dying to get out, you know, have some sort of social life again, you know, I don’t know it’s different everywhere. That is, bars and restaurants would be open in one town or you know, you could drive to Orange County or up to Ventura County and they’d be like what COVID. And then traveling the country, every state was different, every city and every business was treated absolutely differently. Frankly to move forward Sag came up with the way forward and it was the most rigorous testing. So Sag was already kind of back before the vaccines even you know came out Hollywood found a way it was expensive for producers and stuff they got seasons of TV to deliver on.

Brent Hanifl 09:41
So for the LIVE! From La Crosse show that’s coming up featuring yourself is this something you do on an ongoing basis?

Keith Coogan 09:47
Stand up with a one off ish doing, I wound up doing a couple of shows of ACME but they have a Hollywood dream role where you pick what kind of like a zombie movie. There’s a zombie movie that’s on YouTube. There’s a great you know, we do a zombie movie improv. We rehearsed a vampire movie. So we didn’t really, you don’t I mean, it’s still improv. But you know who the bad guy is going to be and stuff. That’s, that’s the secret. People have a character type. And so anyway, so I can’t wait to see how we do it over there. I mean, I am energized because Nick is crazy, I think. And I got along with him instantly, on, you know, connecting online and stuff and his sense of humor. He, you know, immediately said, and I, this will probably be material on the show, but he goes, you know, every time we announced that, you know, you weren’t coming or I couldn’t get in touch with you, I kind of got some sympathy, attention from my girl. And I’m like, oh, wow, you know what if you told her that Keith Coogan died? He’s like, oh, that would be a great night. He’s like, we might write in a sketch about somebody manipulating, but Keith Coogan man, he’s not doing well. So I just got his sense of humor, and I’ve been messing with him as we’ve been setting up back and forth. And so I know, it’s gonna be fun. You know, that’s another thing about when pandemic happened is everyone went on Zoom, and YouTube, everyone fired up YouTube channels. And you know, they just wanted to connect and talk to each other. I think we saw more of a true democratization than what happened with high quality DLSR is that gives you good looking kind of films, films are hard to make a movie, but people were really able to kind of connect. And we were watching stand up acts in other cities that you’d have to be there. And it was like, and then even Hamilton got a special because you can’t film a play, and then screen it on a movie because it conflicts with two unions. I swear to God. So they made a special exception for Hamilton this pandemic and then you don’t see that a lot. And then there’s a reason there’s a union rule against that. I think a lot of people got to share more experiences and find out I mean, you’ve done- are you from there? Or I know you went to school in Oregon? I was a duck. Yep. But are you from here?

Brent Hanifl 12:00
I’m from La Crosse, Wisconsin. Yep.

Keith Coogan 12:02
You are from La Crosse?

Brent Hanifl 12:03

Keith Coogan 12:03
And I think that it’s awesome for people to know that they don’t have to come to LA, or New York, or Chicago with bright lights of Atlanta, where 99% of everything is being filmed right now. And that I think that the pandemic helped people accept a lot more of the YouTube and the Tik Tok and the I don’t know if you consumed a lot more YouTube.

Brent Hanifl 12:28
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it was a way to actually see a lot more live shows too, and bands that you normally follow on social media, or comedians started doing, you know, more of these shows that you start to see them on more of a weekly basis versus just that one or two times you go see them out of out of three, four years.

Keith Coogan 12:44
And, you know, the live shows started up again, and they’re packed, everything’s sold out. Everything’s, you know, absolutely packed.

Brent Hanifl 12:53
The guys at you know LIVE! From La Crosse, when they reached out to me about this, you know, they’re telling me about you guys come in, and it’s just a it’s like, they’re so giddy for the show. Is there anything besides the show? Is there anything that you’re really excited about? That’s coming up for you that people can check out or what’s the best avenue for people to find out more about you? I mean they already know about you. But, you know, is there something that you’re particularly excited about?

Keith Coogan 13:18
That’s very nice of you. Yes, absolutely, is my website and you can get Great Keith Coogan works there, plug away. But Twitter and Facebook and that all leads to my twitter face, which is just Keith Coogan. I’m not really creative. Like Wil Wheaton was early on Twitter and he got Will W so just really short. And I was like Keith Coogan I just filled up the whole thing. Facebook, I do have a fan page that I run but I opened my personal page up and I’m at the 5000. So follow me there. It’s actually funner there, I barely poston the fan thing. My wife Pinky is better on Instagram than I am. Great photos. Oh my god, I’m terrible. I’m just very intermittent check. Con convention schedule is all announced on Twitter, when I’m in town or near to autograph convention has been basically been the road that we’ve been doing. And there’s a lot of shows on the south and the east coast and we’re trying to get to more conventions this year. Oh and go watch The Rookie on ABC. They’ve got the episodes on you know archived I was in an episode just before Christmas. Very explosive guest appearance I’d probably spoil the whole thing.

Brent Hanifl 14:27
Well, I’m excited to see see you perform at the Main Event Center May 7th with LIVE! From La Crosse. So I appreciate you chatting with me.

Keith Coogan 14:34
Thank you for chatting. I want people to come to the show. And if they can’t get into the show, watch it because it will they’ll put it on YouTube too.

Amy Gabay 14:45
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

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