BWW Interviews: Jaston Williams Answers the Question, IS THERE LIFE AFTER LUBBOCK?
As Jaston Williams prepares for his show in Austin, I had a chance to speak with him about life in show business and growing up in Texas.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into this business.
The laugh line is that I didn't have any other marketable skills. I grew up in the pan handle of Texas and I wasn't a big guy. I think when you're small, your world of football and rodeo and all of that kind of stuff, you build up a sense of humor or you perish. I was the little guy who was always funny and made people laugh and of course the laughter was very addictive. It supported, this is what you can do. And I had some really great teachers who recognized that I might be an actor and even in a small small town. I had some teachers that saw that and they supported me and taught me and helped me, sent me off to summer camps for theater and stuff like that. By the time I was 16, I knew what I wanted to do. I had no idea how difficult it would be or what the odds were against it. I just knew I wanted to do it. You know, ignorance it a great guide sometimes. You don't know when to be afraid. And that's kinda the way I approached it. I just didn't know enough to be afraid. Being afraid can keep a lot of doors closed. In this business, if people sense you're afraid, they smell fear and they don't have time for it. I just chose not to be afraid and had a lot of good breaks and I'm still doing it. I'm the luckiest actor I know. I get to live in Texas and watch my cat kill squirrels in the back yard and have a nice laid back life and we're still in the middle of the business. It's wonderful.
Who were some of your role models when you were growing up?
Kids wanted to grow up to be a doctor or a dentist or the president of the United States; I always wanted to be Elizabeth Taylor. I just thought that she had it down. I loved Elizabeth Taylor as a child. I was always amazed by Jonathan Winters and I actually got to meet him later in life. He was an absolute genius and a huge heart. I think everybody saw that in him in spite of how crazy his comedy was. People always suspected that this big man had a big heart. And he did. Jonathan Winters was somebody who always appealed to me. But, I had the same kind of heroes that any kid in West Texas who goes to the movies. I loved Paul Newman, Lee Marvin, John Wayne until I became politically aware of things. I loved the great comedians. I loved Red Skelton on television. When I was growing up in the 50s and I was really young, there was a show on television called the Gary Moore Show. It was a variety show that came on every Monday night for an hour and that's where Carol Burnett made her television debut. And you would look at Carol Burnett comedy every week and I loved that. I grew up in an era when television was just getting unleashed on us. And frankly, there were only 2 or 3 channels but there was so much more on that was good than there is today, in my opinion. There was so much more that was worth watching. You had fewer choices and it was always better and you had this amazing [group] of actors and writers and performers in television a lot of whom had grown up in vaudeville or who had played the circuits. There was that comedian that was the sneezer and that was his whole thing. He always got in a real good sneeze in any routine and he's better than anybody else. Or you think of Joey Brown who would scream. One of my favorite shows for comedy was the Dick Van Dyke Show. You just never knew what kind of crazy character actor was going to turn up. You just never knew what kind of crazy character actor was going to walk through the door. And you had such a core of fine fine actors that knew each other so well and just played off of each other; just like water rolling off a duck. And then you would see some old crazy walk through the door with his french poodle and there you go. I was lucky to grow up when I did because you had lots of examples of great comic acting on television all the time every day.