Mark David Interview
This interview with Mark was conducted via the internet from October 2001 to October 2002. Both of our heavy schedules made it difficult to complete and post this interview in any sort of timely fashion. But here it is now and hopefully our readers will forgive the delay.
Adge: What originally made you decide to be a performer?
Mark: It just kind of happened, I was dancing in a club, and an agent saw me. The next thing I know I'm auditioning for Janet Jackson.
Adge: What was your first job in entertainment?
Mark: Janet Jackson’s video, "Alright."
Adge: What was your first job of any kind?
Mark: My first job was at a clothing store in Palos Verdes, CA.
Adge: What was your first car?
Mark: 1976 Honda Civic, 1500ccs of pure power.
Adge: If that agent had not spotted you dancing in that club, what other profession might you have considered besides the performing arts?
Mark: Interesting question. Well, I was on the way to working on films behind the camera, so I'd probably be on my way to becoming a director.
Adge: What are you doing now?
Mark: I have joined a group of Ninjas.
Adge: I see. So, when you're not a warrior of the night, what are you doing?
Mark: I work in music in New York City.
Adge: How are things in New York City now, after the terrorist attacks? What is different for you now?
Mark: Things are getting better here in NYC, tourism is back up and that's a good thing. It has affected me I think as much as any American. I am a lot more aware of my surroundings. I try not to take things too seriously. I think it is an important lesson to just try and live in the moment, and appreciate the "small" things and to realize that the small things are just as important (if not more) than the big things.
Adge: Where can I get the best pizza in Manhattan? (Or are you more of a bagel person?)
Mark: I am a burger person, and the best burger in NYC, I have not found. My favorite burger place on the planet is FATBURGER, by far. It was the first thing I ate in the 21st century. I am neither a pizza guy nor a bagel guy. I do like Domino's while watching my beloved SD Chargers; I get the medium pizza with sausage and pineapple, and BBQ chicken wings.
Adge: Wait, so what’s so great about a Fatburger?
Mark: A Fatburger is just better. I think if you went to their site Fatburger.com, they could tell you why in greater detail. It's just a better burger, how ever they season the meat, it's just kick ass.
Adge: Please tell me about your Roundhouse audition. Why weren’t you in the pilot?
Mark: I have Ivan to thank for the audition. He told Rita Sheffield about me and she had me in. I went to this giant building and the first thing they had me do, I guess, was some impressions (Pauly Shore was big at the time,) stuff like that. The singing was the next thing. I sang Michael Jackson's "Who's Loving You," and they seemed pleased. They brought me in to do the same stuff for the Nickelodeon people, and that was that. Rita said that the Nick people didn't like any of us except Ivan, so Rebel Entertainment had to fight for all of us. I am grateful that they felt so strongly. I was not in the pilot; I was trying for a record deal when it was being done. My good friend Chris Dupre (choreographer now) had the spot I filled in.
Adge: When did it come up that the show would be filmed in Florida, and did that ever pose a problem for you?
Mark: I think they knew the show was going to be done in Florida way before I auditioned for them. When I knew I had the part, they came up to me after the Nickelodeon people had seen me and asked, "Do you have a problem with flying to Orlando on Monday?" I said, "Hell no!" And that was that. So, no, it didn't pose a problem for me at all!
Adge: Greg from Florida wanted to know why you guys picked up and moved to California after the first season?
Mark: Well Greg from Florida, we moved the show to California because that's where the magic happens. The only chance the show had to survive was to take it there. Nickelodeon (based in Orlando) and Rebel Entertainment were always at odds in terms of the content and the music of the show. So to have the show in L.A., we had distance between us and Nick. And it didn't help (in terms of survival) that Roundhouse was Nickelodeon's most expensive show to produce. Also being in L.A., we had a chance for people in the industry (i.e. agents, managers, other network execs, and press) to come and see a live taping of the show. In Orlando you don't get that opportunity.
Florida is also a "right to work" state, which means they don't have to have unions, which means the cost of production goes way down (much less money for the cast and crew.) That's the reason all of those big theme parks have their biggest attractions there, they don’t cost as much to run, and you don't have unions looking over you shoulder. It's good business, but on the other hand the quality of your work suffers [without the unions.]
Adge: It was heavily rumored that you and Ivan had purchased matching motorcycles. Suwannee from Washington state asks...Do you still have those?
Mark: Yes Ivan and I bought the same kind of bikes. He still has his but he won't ride it because he has tricked it out completely and there aren't a lot of those kinds of bikes out there. Honda Hawk 650, they stopped making them. I, on the other hand, crashed mine. I miss riding. I loved that bike.
Adge: How’d you crash it?
Mark: I was riding my motorcycle over by UCLA. I was in the left lane approaching an intersection, and there was a guy waiting to turn left in the other direction. The light turned yellow and the guy turned left in front of me. I was going about 40 mph and there was no way I could stop. I was really, really lucky. My helmet didn't touch the ground, which is amazing -- but I hurt my wrist a little.
Adge: What were some of your favorite sketches from Roundhouse?
Mark: Anything Ivan and I did together was really fun because we're best friends. So like Sigmund and Troy, and the nerd bit with Louis and I forget my nerd name.
Mark: I have so many. I liked the one when we dressed up in army clothes -- that was probably my favorite. I remember that we decided to just have a lot of fun on it, i.e. breaking character and so forth.
Adge: You and Ivan cracked me up so much in that one. That food fight in the IHOFF sketch... you guys just kept going and going -- it was hilarious. How about favorite songs?
Mark: I liked Crystal's song, "I Do Not Care" the best. It's a great song, and she did a great job as always.
Adge: How about songs you sang?
Mark: I like some of the "smaller" moments like the vocal bumpers; some of those were really fun. I guess my favorite would be the "Break These Chains" song I did in the last season. It was just a small bit going into one of the commercial breaks but I got to show my "Eddie Vedder" side.
Adge: If you could step up your involvement in the creative level ofRoundhouse, would you: a) Write a sketch? b) Write a song? c) Choreograph a dance bumper? d) Direct?
Adge: Next to the chair, I think the most recognizable signature prop was Principal Bose' Speaker Head. How was that character conceived?
Mark: Buddy Sheffield's mind. These things just come to him.
Adge: Who would win in a fight: Barney or Ed McMayonnaise?
Mark: Barney would win because Ed was always drunk.
Adge: What's that tattoo of, on your shoulder?
Mark: The tattoo on my shoulder is of a mountain lion.
Adge: Why a mountain lion?
Mark: When I was but a boy, my Aunt had a pet mountain lion and we use to wrestle around because we were around the same age. So cougars have always been sort of a totem for me.
Here's Mark's newer tattoo. Mark describes this one as being inspired by the dragon of the movie Excalibur, whose existence parallels that of the "Force" to Star Wars. The close-up of his arm shows how the tattoo looked before it was completely filled in. The picture on the right shows it in completion.
Adge: Please tell me what the proposed "Roundhouse stage show" was like - that Rita was planning after Roundhouse was cancelled. I heard the title "Studio X" a while back - was that the same thing? How about “Cheap Theatrix”?
Mark: “Studio X” and “Cheap Theatrix” were basically Roundhouse with different names. The execution was slightly different, but generally the same show idea. They were pilots of shows, but done as a "play" -- live for studio people to see.
Adge: What I wouldn't have given to see those! Where'd you do them and what year? Was there anyone else in the original Roundhouse cast in them?
Mark: We did them on various soundstages around L.A. John Crane, Julene Renee, Alfred, and Seymour all appeared in these shows. “Cheap Theatrix” was actually done at Buddy Sheffield's house. I don't remember the years but it was like '95, '96ish.
Adge: Once upon a time I heard that you and Ivan were planning on producing some kind of talk show... what was that about?
Mark: Ivan and I had a bunch of different ideas, but they all kind of fizzled out.
Adge: Please tell me about your audition for Newsies. What made you decide to try out?
Mark: It was a huge audition and Kenny Ortega did all the cut downs the same day, so at the end of the day he had his group. What made me decide to audition besides the opportunity to work with such great people, was money, but it turned out to be a much more gratifying experience than just a monetary one. I made a lot of friends on the movie i.e. Ivan, Sid, and the stunt coordinator Mike Vendrell!
Adge: Were you a part of any of the practical jokes that allegedly were
happening everyday on the Newsies set?
Mark: I don't know what you mean? ;)
Adge: Uh huh. So what was the deal with the "Murder Mystery" on the Newsies set, did you have any part in that?
Mark: It was called, "Blood Drips Heavily on Newsie-Square.” I played Don Knotts. [Don Knotts] asked Kenny if he could be in Newsies, and when Kenny told him to get off the set he started bumpin' off Newsies one by one. It was a funny little side project headed up by Michael Goorjian.
Adge: Now for the favorites section… what’s your favorite book?
Mark: Lord of the Rings, and I’m not just saying that.
Mark: I would say that my favorite movie is The Godfather!
Adge: TV show?
Mark: Right now, it's West Wing and The Wire on HBO. Old school: M.A.S.H. andStarsky and Hutch.
Mark: I like System of a Down, Fishbone, Incubus, Black Eyed Peas, old school rap, and Ozzy to mention a few.
Mark: Italian, Thai, Chinese, East Indian, and Mexican. FATBURGER.
Adge: Sports teams?
Mark: Padres, LA Kings, SD Chargers, LA Lakers, Formula 1 Racing: David Coulthard (Mercedes) and GP Motorcycle Road Racing: Norafume Abe (Yamaha). Premiere League soccer Blackbourne Rovers.
Adge: What do you value most from your time on Roundhouse?
Mark: I think I value the friendships that were established. It was like a family. We all got along very well.