John Dezso Ratzenberger is an American actor, voice actor, and entrepreneur. He is best known for his role as Cliff Clavin in Cheers and his recurring supporting/minor cast roles in Pixar films.
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Hi reddit, John Ratzenberger here. I'm excited to talk with you guys about my many projects including my newest one American Made celebrating American companies, the products they make and the people behind them. You can check out my campaign [here] (http://fundanything.com/americanmade) for cool rewards, limited memorabilia and even be a producer on my project. Hopefully I can meet some of you on my travels around the U.S.A. And thanks to all Veterans today for our freedom. Ask me anything...
Social Media Proof: https://twitter.com/Dratzenberger/statuses/399954854925201408
It's been a fun couple of hours but I have to hit the road for that voiceover session. I look forward to doing this again very soon. And if you see me out there, don't be shy, I'd love to meet you.
You can always tweet me at @dratzenberger.
Do people come up to you and say "It's a little known fact...".
Yes. And that in itself is a little known fact.
How did you prepare for your role in Empire Strikes Back?
Showed up on time.
Who was the most fun person to work with during Toy Story and why?
Fortunately there were no grumps. I always request to go in just before or just after Don Rickles so I can talk to him. As far as funny goes, he still hits it out of the park.
What was your favorite random "fact" Cliff Clavin ever said?
The buffalo theory of how beer kills off the weak brain cells so the more beer you drink the smarter you feel.
Hi John, Did you ever get any kind of backlash from the Postal Service for your portrayal of Cliff?
Yes, I did get a couple of angry letters from postmen saying I shouldn't have been wearing my keys in the bar. Then after the Postmaster General Anthony Franks did a guest spot on the show, the letters stopped.
Would love to see you reprise your role as the 'Underminer' in an Incredible's sequel. Any hope for us superhero/pixar fans?
I'll let you know as soon as they let me know!
Do you think Mike and Sully ever came back for Yeti?
Yes. And the 3 of them talked about setting up a fishing charter business in the Florida keys.
Did you ever go out drinking with the other Cheers people? Or was that too much like work?
Yes I have been drinking with the other Cheers people. The rest is classified.
Thanks for doing this! Two things: Do people recognize your voice when you are out in the world? Second, your mustache is magnificent.
People do recognize my voice. A lot of them are children. Thanks for the mustache compliment! I think I'll keep it/
Mr Ratzenberger, what was the beer from Cheers made with? The heads on those were awful.
It was called Near Beer. It wasn't real beer otherwise we would never be able to get through an episode.
Who's funnier, Tom Hanks or Tim Allen?
who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?
Me and the two other guys sitting here!
sex, marry, kill: Kirstie Alley, Shelly Long, Rhea Pearlman GO!
I'd marry all of them and move to Utah. Then let fate take its course.
How did you come up with the Cliff Clavin voice? Was it inspired by a specific person or was it more of your take on a general Boston accent? Those are hard to do consistently well.
It was the voice and attitude of the father of a friend of mine growing up in Connecticut.
Do you prefer on screen acting or voice acting? Why?
No preference as long as I'm working. I'll do standing on a roof in a blizzard acting as long as they keep calling I'll keep showing up.
Thank you for doing Made in America. It was a great family show and we all got together to watch it. I was sorry to see it end.
Thank you. It sounds as though you're really going to like John Ratzenberger's American Made - http://www.fundanything.com/americanmade
Best to you and your family.
What was your favorite episode of cheers and your favorite line from the show?
Favorite episode was when Cliff dated Diane and sang Misty to her.
Who was your favorite character to voice?
hammy the pig
Who would win in a fight to the death between you, Kelsey Grammar and Ted Danson?
Ted plays a cop, Kelsey played a general and I was an officer of the Alliance in Star Wars so its a hard call.
Do you watch "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"? How do you think Cliff would fare in such a bar?
I enjoy watching Danny Devito and whatever he is in.
Are you a cat or dog person? Or neither one of them?
With the right preparation and spices I think they both taste great. Just kidding. I'm a dog guy.
Could you please share a story or two about working with the great Nicholas Colasanto?
I asked Nick what it is that makes his character so funny and he said he just thinks like a 12 year old.
What was it like to intermittently return to the character of Cliff over the years, such as when you appeared on Frasier?
Having invented the role of Cliff in the original audition for the show he's never far away. I don't need a seance to conjure him up.
I love you. What's your favorite color???
Right now its blush red.
Hi John. Thank you for doing the AMA.
While I appreciate the sentiment behind shows like American Made, I also wonder what your thoughts are on the intangible things produced right here in the USA. Shows like yours place high value on products that can be held in your hand and closely associate them with patriotism. I, along with many others in the Reddit community, am a software developer. I work hard every day to produce a high quality product. While my hands don't get dirty, I do feel that I am producing something of value. What are your thoughts on products that are made of bits instead of atoms? Products that cannot be held in your hand but still have great value to the American economy? Of course, I don't expect any TV shows to document what I do for a living. I realize that watching a person write code is certainly not going to build a TV audience, but do you think that these products deserve some credit as well?
In fact our new show plans to highlight jobs just like yours. We are starting at the electrical turbines and following electricity to show how its all interconnected. We're all part of the same tapestry.
Why did they over-dub your voice in Gandhi?
They didn't want to spend the money flying me back to London from Los Angeles to re-record becuase of the noise from the Jeeps motor.
I've been a fan of yours ever since Camp Cucamonga (I was too young to watch Cheers at the time).
A few questions:
How comfortable were your stools on Cheers, especially after filming for 11 season? Was the cast as close as it seemed on screen? How many of the Cliff-isms were your own idea (or were they mostly always written for you directly)?
Finally...when is Pixar going to finally give you a starring role?
The character of Cliff himself was actually my idea. They really gave me the freedom to throw in my own lines from time to time. The cast to this day is extremely close. As you can see, Rhea and Kirstie are working together again and I just had dinner with George and Ted a couple of weeks ago.
Never gave the stools a thought until this moment so they must have been very comfortable!
Hey John, loved you as Cliff on Cheers. I rewatched the entire series this past Spring and Cliff was by far my favorite character. My favorite Cliff Clavin quote was "They did a study between postal workers and chimpanzees. They proved chimps were 32% slower. Of course, they were better with public relations."
My question is, what were you guys actually drinking on set? Near beer?
Yes, non-alcoholic beet. tasted horrible!
Can you tell me about the history of plumbing?
Try Googling the Roman aqueducts, it's a good place to start.
Hey Mr. Ratzenberger,
Did you know the Toy Story (and Pixar as well) was going to be a massive hit? Or did you take it as a job that looked fun to do?
I had no idea it was going to be a massive hit much like Cheers, Star Wars, or Superman. I either take the job because it looks like fun but in the early days it paid the rent and put food on the table.
Were there a lot of Cliff Clavin groupies back in the day?
There still are.
No question, but I thought you had passed away recently and when I found out you were still alive I was relieved. Thanks for being alive!
Yes I did survive the motorcycle crash a few years back. And thank you for wanting me to stick around!
Any plans to open a burger joint with a extra special meat source?
As a matter of fact, a restaurant owner in Connecticut is creating a RatzenBURGER. And we have a delicious recipe for an American Made burger using Gator Rons sauce.
If your childhood toys had been alive, what kind of childhood would they have seen?
They would have seen the dog burying them in the back yard as he used to do.
What was your favorite Cliff joke from Cheers and what was your favorite Norm joke from Cheers?
My favorite Norm Joke was:
me: Hey Norm, how's it going
Norm: It's a dog eat dog world and I'm wearing milk bone underwear.
My favorite Cliff Joke is when I sold everyone in the bar squeeky shoes.
Do you still have the potato that looks like Nixon?
No but I'll bet you now Nixon looks like a potato.
Were you in Motel Hell? That was awesome. Will you do more Motel Hells? It would be awesome if you did more Motel Hells.
Yes I was in Motel Hell. I played the punk rocker. If there are more Motel Hells made and if they ask me I will certainly consider it.
I would like to hear some anecdotes from working on Empire Strikes Back and House II....
I got to work with Carrie Fisher and as a matter of fact I'll see her again this week when she films a guest spot on Legit.
Hey John - You still have the house on that little PNW island? I met you a few times as a teenager working at the local video store there, thanks for being a nice guy to a kid!
You're welcome kid! We moved off the island a few years ago but its still one of our favorite places in the world.
Loved you on Cheers and even more so in your voice over work. Have you worked with audiobooks at all? If so, which titles so I can be on the look out for them :)
I did record the Complete Idiots Guide to the Bible as well as Haunted Kids. You can buy both on Amazon!
Hi, John, I'm a big fan, love Cheers, and I think you're awesome and really talented! Silly questions:
I hope this makes you smile! Love & light Jo X
Laurel and Hardy, Ricky Gervais, and well written shows. I am ticklish, pretty much everywhere.
Have you ever been snipe hunting?
No but I have a board stretcher and a bucket of steam at home.
I'm a really big fan of the Pixar movies (though I suppose everyone else here is). My question is how did the whole 'Pixar good luck charm' thing happen?
Thanks for doing this AMA
That's a question for the Pixar team. I'm just happy that they still have my number!
Is the Bermuda Triangle REALLY not a triangle?
I believe its more of a trapezoid.
Do you enjoy the made for TV specials as much as the features?
Also, my nephew LOVES Mack. Thank you for what you do.
The work and process is the same, I just feel very fortunate and blessed that I can make a living doing what I do.
Hi Mr. Ratzenburger, do you remember your appaearance on the Opie & Anthony radio show where comedian Jim Jeffries diefied you and did spot on impressions of you (well, Cliff specifically). How surreal was that and does that happen often? Cheers! (no horrible pun intended, sir).
That happens a lot now that I am working with Jim Jeffries on Legit. Almost every day!
No question... just telling you that I love you to death.... Cliff Clavin is a true hero... not in the hero sense of good... but hero in the sense that Homer Simpson is also my hero...
Can you please tell the beer makes you smarter story though... I love that one!
Google buffalo theory because it's a lengthy explanation and I don't want to misquote it.
Do you have a bar which is your own real-life "Cheers"?
No but when we go out to eat my wife and I usually sit at the bar.
How about a little known fact?
It's a little known fact that there's no such thing as useless information.
What kind of shoes are you wearing at the moment?...Just curious
I am wearing new balance. Made in the good old US of A.
Weren't you in Superman, the Movie? Some sort of missile driver or something? Was that your first gig?
I was in Superman 1 and 2. One had to do with missiles, the other had to do with a moon landing. My first movie gig was The RItz directed by Richard Lester.
I really enjoyed the "Made in America" series and was wondering why you're not continuing that show as opposed to starting anew? Also, you should link to your crowdfunding from here.
The new one gives us more freedom to focus on the people as well as the products. Support us here at:
Is it true that you were a school teacher before you became an actor?
I founded a school in Washington State and in London I taught children carpentry. But was never a bonafide teacher per se.
What makes the perfect pita?
Peanut Butter and bacon.
How did you get into acting? Did you want to do it from a young age?
Until I got into college I never gave it a thought. I started my career in London after a two week visit turned into ten years of steady stage, TV and screen work that became my life.
Which of your characters are you most often recognised for?
Its either Cheers, Pixar or American Made.
Check out my new show at: