PLAYBOY: You have a son, Jack, who is six, and a daughter, who’s one and a half. Have they seen your movies?
RUDD: Oh God no. Not yet. But honestly, they’re just not curious. Jack doesn’t have any interest. I think because of home videos and YouTube, it just doesn’t seem that special. He hasn’t figured out the distinction between seeing himself in a video and what I do. He’s starting to now. Before, if somebody approached me on the street, it was confusing to him. He’d say, “Do you know that person?” And I’d tell him no, and he’d say, “Well, how do they know your name?” Now he gets it. He’s like, “Oh, they know you from the movies.”
PLAYBOY: Your movies are not exactly family friendly. There’s lots of cursing and sexual scenarios. When your kids are old enough to watch what their dad does for a living, will you be tolerant when they start swearing?
RUDD: I don’t know. I definitely make an effort not to use profanity when I’m around them, but sometimes I do. And when it happens, I just tell them not to do it. I think my job as a parent is to confuse my kids as much as possible. [laughs] It’s hard, though. When Jack swears, I laugh every time. And I know it’s the wrong reaction to have.
PLAYBOY: It’s certainly not going to discourage him.
RUDD: I know, I know. It blurs the line between father and son. I’ve had many moments when I’m laughing with him at the most puerile stuff. Yesterday I was picking him up and then throwing him onto his bed, and he kept kicking me in the nuts. One time he hit me so hard that I said, “Dude, you just totally nailed me in the penis. Right on the tip.” He laughed and was like, “In the triangle?” I started laughing and said, “Yeah, that’s it.” And then he was like, “Right in the roof of the house?” I just died.
PLAYBOY: So your son’s become a guy friend?
RUDD: That’s it exactly! He’s a dude I want to hang out with. There’s no parenting book I can refer to when my kid just starts making hilarious jokes about the tip of a dick being like the roof of a house. All I can do is laugh and give him a high five and say, “Nice one.” My son’s always been bizarre and funny. For a year he was obsessed with sprinkler heads. And between the ages of three and five he would dress only in a suit. He wouldn’t leave the house without wearing a coat and tie and dress pants. I remember thinking, This is my dream kid.
PLAYBOY: How did Jack come to have an Irish pub named after him?
RUDD: [Laughs] He actually has two. The first one was built by his grandfather. Around the time Jack was born, my parents moved into a new house in suburban Kansas City. And my father was a very handy man. He could build homes. He could do anything. He had this unfinished basement, and he said, “I’m going to build an Irish pub down there, and I’m going to call it Sullivan’s.” Which is Jack’s middle name.
PLAYBOY: Is that a family name?
RUDD: Not at all. Nobody in my family is Irish. But my father was a huge lover of Ireland. He used to travel over there all the time. Thus the Irish pub. He had all these rules about it. It was going to have Guinness and good beers and no Coors Light. There would be single malts and high-end whiskeys and nothing with an umbrella in it. On the shelf behind the bar he’d have Jameson and Glenlivet and [the baby formula] Similac. He always said, “Jack is the proprietor. He’s the owner.” The only thing he asked of me was a picture of Jack that he could have sepia toned and made to look like an old photograph to put above the bar.
PLAYBOY: Did you help him build it?
RUDD: No, it was a complete secret. He never sent me pictures, never gave me updates. I just knew he was working on it, putting in plumbing and electricity and everything. And after a year he said, “It’s done. Come back to Kansas and bring Jack. I want you to see it.”
PLAYBOY: Was it as amazing as you imagined?
RUDD: It was better. My dad was really good at building stuff, but this was his masterpiece. I went down to the basement and…I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s like there was an old Irish pub already there that somebody had built a home on top of. He had Guinness on draft and incredible historical paraphernalia on the walls. My dad was a history fanatic and collected all sorts of weird things. There was a framed invitation to FAO Schwarz to attend the grand opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. An old New York City police uniform from the late 1800s. A 1936 Olympics document signed by Hitler. Being Jews, we’re all obsessed with Hitler. No Irish pub is complete without some Nazi paraphernalia on the walls.
PLAYBOY: When did the second pub happen?
RUDD: Well, I told my dad that if I ever bought a house, now that I’d seen what he’d done, I’d need to have a pub in it. So when Julie and I decided to buy a place in upstate New York, the first thing I looked for was whether it had a basement with enough room to build a pub. We found one in Rhinebeck, and right away I started working on my own basement pub. My father was going to come out and we were going to do it together, but then he was diagnosed with cancer. Over the course of a year I hired somebody and built another version of Sullivan’s, which I called Sullivan’s East.
PLAYBOY: How does it compare with the original?
RUDD: I must say, I improved on it. It’s a little bigger, and I learned a lot of things from my father. He told me, “If I had it to do over again, I’d make sure to do this and this.” The only thing I feel was a lost opportunity was that I didn’t put in a urinal. But it’s still got some great things I’m really proud of. There are markers in the bathroom so people can write horrible things all over the walls.
PLAYBOY: Did your dad live long enough to see it?
RUDD: [Pauses] He didn’t, no. [pauses] It’s funny, the original Sullivan’s was a tribute to my son, and Sullivan’s East has become a shrine to my father. My sister had a son, and his full name is Henry Sullivan Arnold. She gave him the middle name Sullivan so he could be co-owner of the pub. [laughs] She and her husband didn’t want Henry to grow up not feeling a part of the family business.
PLAYBOY: Have your friends and co-workers seen the pub?
RUDD: Oh yeah, everybody I’ve worked with has been there. There have been a few live fantasy football drafts, a few poker weekends, a few karaoke parties.
PLAYBOY: Karaoke is especially popular among comics, isn’t it?
RUDD: Wildly popular. [Wanderlust director] David Wain is a big fan of karaoke. As are Joe Truglio, Ken Marino, all those guys from Wet Hot American Summer.
PLAYBOY: Why is that? Is it like AOL e-mail addresses—it’s so uncool that it’s cool?
RUDD: [Laughs] That may be part of it. When comics get together to do karaoke, it’s not like anybody is trying to be funny. At the same time, nobody is taking it too seriously. It’s hard to explain.
PLAYBOY: Do you have a favorite karaoke song?
RUDD: Not at all. That’s a rookie move. I had a karaoke song 10 years ago. Now I like to do ones I’ve never done before.
PLAYBOY: So what do you look for in a karaoke song? Does it need to be in your vocal range or something more challenging?
RUDD: A lot of these decisions are made based on who I’m ’raoking with. And please spell ’raoking correctly: without the k and a and with an apostrophe. Everyone I know refers to it as ’raoking. And yes, I do realize how pathetic that sounds.
PLAYBOY: Don’t apologize.
RUDD: Oh, I’m not. Not at all. That’s just the way it is. If I’m in Los Angeles for a day or two, I’ll call Joe Trigly , and we’ll go ’raoking. That’s just my social scene now. A few weeks ago I was out in L.A., and Joe and his girlfriend, Beth, and I got a private room. Joe and I like to give each other some surprises. You’ve got to go deep in the book and find something the other person hasn’t heard.
PLAYBOY: Like what?
RUDD: The last time I went ’raoking, Joe did “The Worst That Could Happen” by Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s an impossible song to sing, but it’s incredible. It’s kind of unintentionally sexist, but it’s just incredible. When you find a song like that, it’s like hitting oil. The first question we always ask before going to a new ’raoking place is “How’s the book?” We don’t want a standard book. [laughs] You want to talk about socially awkward? Come to a ’raoking session with a bunch of comics. That’s where you’re going to see the magic happen.