The Bills Are Piling Up: Bill Boggs Joins Bill McCuddy For Some Sitdown Comedy

He’s been everywhere. Talked to everyone. Bill Boggs had one of the most watched television shows in New York history. It was called “Midday Live.” Sinatra, Sammy, Belushi, Martha, Brooke, Carly Simon, Elliot Gould (hilarious YouTube video when you’re done reading here), and Jerry Lewis are just the tip of a giant show business iceberg. 

And he writes books. The latest is a sequel featuring his alter ego and pal Spike the Wonder Dog. “Spike Unleashed” is set partly in the Hamptons. You should pick it up because you might be in it. There is some interest in it becoming an Adult Swim-ish animated series. Speaking of animated, even at 82 there is nothing sedate about Boggs. He’s fast, funny, and over a meal at Main Prospect in Southampton, a perfect dinner companion for Hamptons history. 

Here are a few moments from the comedy team of Boggs and McCuddy.

Bill Boggs: The first time I came out to the Hamptons was in 1975.

Bill McCuddy: Was there electricity?

Boggs: There was this thing you had to wind up. Some people had kites.

McCuddy: Which Hampton?

Boggs: My friend Dr. Robert Levine who lives now in East Hampton had rented a house in Westhampton right near the beach. I grew up in Philadelphia and we always went to Ocean City, New Jersey. Love the beach. And I love swimming.

McCuddy: 1975 there was a huge disco in Westhampton.

Boggs: Called Marrakesh, and to this day I can hear “The Hustle” and it totally reminds me of every night at that disco. What really brought me out here was a long-distance romance with a woman who lived in Munich. We met at the New York Marathon and it was love at first sight.

She went back to Europe. We spent Thanksgiving in a castle in Ireland, and in the middle of the night I woke up with this idea for a book. It was about our relationship. So I got a deal and enough money to rent a house in the Hamptons. And I pulled it off. The book was called “At First Site.” So I came out here and met a realtor named Bill McCoy. He took me to a shack on stilts at the beach. Roy Scheider had it the year before. Two little bedrooms, one little bathroom, and a deck around the house. It was on the biggest sand dune on the East End, in Sagaponack, on John White’s farm. 

Hamilton Fish and I split it the first year. Then the next year Dr. Bob Levine split it with me. From ‘78 to ‘83 no one sat on my beach. We were far enough away from Main Beach that no one would lug a chair down.

McCuddy: No one even walked by?

Boggs: Sting would go walking by. And for those six years we paid $2000 a season.

McCuddy does a spit take.

Boggs: And this is what I want to say that’s so funny.

McCuddy: Please.

Boggs: People would say, in 1978, the Hamptons aren’t as nice as they used to be. (Both laugh.) Here’s another funny thing. It was so sought after, we didn’t have a telephone. There were no cell phones. The only phone we had was in Bob’s Lincoln. So if we needed to make a call we went down, started his car, and made the call.

McCuddy: You didn’t want a phone?

Boggs: The first year we had a phone everyone called saying “Can we come stay with you?” And it was so annoying we got rid of it. We didn’t want visitors.

McCuddy: No one?

Boggs: Some people had open invitations. Teri Garr came out once. Gregory Hines. But for the most part, no visitors. You know who did come out once? Andy Kaufman. I went to see his show at Carnegie Hall. The one with milk and cookies. Andy had been on “Midday.” And he liked it because they tried to throw him off the air and I stood up for him. So he came out on a Sunday with his girlfriend. And that was great. Just sat on the beach the whole day with Andy Kaufman.

McCuddy: Tell the “Midday” story.

Boggs: If you see the movie “Man On The Moon” with Jim Carrey you see him thrown off a TV show. That’s a recreated moment from my show. He was doing Latka, the character from “Taxi,” and the executive producer of the show wanted him to act normal and he wouldn’t break character. So the producer had him dragged out. And I said “No, what are you doing?!”

McCuddy: Was there any drinking at any of these parties?

Boggs: (Laughs.) There were some legendary Monday morning hangovers. Once it was so bad we couldn’t drive back to the city. We had to fly back. Then I got a show called “Saturday Morning Live” and so by the summer of ’84 I was working six days a week and couldn’t come out anymore. And it was upsetting. It was luxurious, even with one little bathroom. Because it was the front row and how often do you get to live on the front row?

McCuddy: You have a place here now. What’s the biggest change?

Boggs: The East Hampton I remember was not a brand-name kind of place. You didn’t have tourists taking selfies in front of stores.

McCuddy: Anything else?

Boggs: These days I’m not on the beach. I’m in Springs. And I have a phone.

Yes, he does. Just don’t call him. He still doesn’t like visitors.

“Spike Unleashed: The Wonder Dog Returns (As Told To Bill Boggs)” is in bookstores and online. And perhaps, coming soon as an animated series. 

An East End Experience

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