Michael Donovan "Spike" Feresten Jr. is an American television writer, screenwriter and television personality.
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I'm Spike Feresten, a music-school dropout who dropped into being an intern for NBC. I got very lucky and was hired to be a writer on David Letterman's show. I went from there to Seinfeld, and from there to my own Late Night show. I now sit for you at a computer at my home office in Los Angeles to talk about my latest creation, Car Matchmaker airing on Tuesdays at 9/8 central on Esquire Network, and premiering tonight, where I find cars for regular people like you, and hopefully have a few laughs along the way. It's my favorite day of work thus far.
Go ahead and AMA!
Would you rather:
Drive only front-engined Porsches for the rest of your life
Only rear/mid-engined GM products for the rest of your life?
You torture me sir... But gun to head, I think you know the answer. I would drive the Porsches. Porsche tractors if need be
How did you get into cars and car culture? Was that always something you loved growing up?
Yes, I grew in a blue collar Mass town (West Bridgewater). Was rasied on a steady diet of Chevy Nova's and Ford Mustangs. But mostly a car represented a way for me and mr friends to cruise. Cruise away from our parents!
I don't remember what the bit was called exactly but on Talk Show you had "Stupid Paparazzi" where you along with a group of paparazzi would rush regular people, cameras flashing, yelling out names of celebrities they vaguely resembled. I LOVED that bit. Do you have any memories about someone getting really angry? Or Something you couldn't put on air?
Idiot Paparazzi, yes. Thanks. One of my favorite bits. Yes there was a woman I called Howard Stern. She did not like it at all. I regreted saying it the moment it left my mouth. Her husband was a lawyer and by the time we got back to the studio, there was a cease and desist letter in the FAX machine. Damn he was good.
Favorite memory of working on The Dana Carvey Show?
Shared an office with Steven Colbert and Carell. Super nice, funny guys, but I remember thinking at the time. These fellas are not going to go to far. They were super funny, but too bad... They'll be bellhops before long.
Did you have any idea how popular the Soup Nazi episode would be?
Nope. Biggest surprise of my life, next to the 2004 Boston Red Sox
What was it like working on Seinfeld?
Dream job. Incredibly nice, bright staff. Lots of eyeballs on the screen every week. Super talented cast. It was a great place to tell real stories from my life in NYC. Best craft service ever too. I mean, omelet-bar-tastic
Ben and Jerry's Americone Dream. Eaten with a fork and Boardwalk Empire
Hi Spike, what's the soup recipe for Wild Mushroom? I have a dinner party in 3 hours!
It's too late my friend. Call the audible. Chipotle time.
Ferrari 250 SWB, 1958 Porsche Speedster, this 3rd car is so hard.... too many choices.... Flying Car not invented!
My Dad's Ford Granada. I like Granadas but his were 4-wheeled ash trays, with food containers on the floor. Try high-school dating in something like that!
What kind of person would you match with a 1967 Pontiac Firebird?
I am obsessed right now with 70's Firebirds. Looking hard for my Rockford Files mobile. James Garner was my neighbor... I mean if anyone knows of a
good Rockford car for sale.... Facebook me!
or tweet me @spikeferesten
What's your favorite gameshow?
Gong Show was probably the last game show I watched closely. Is that still on?
What was your dream car growing up?
1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Fastback. Primarily because there was one for sale down the street from my house. I visited the car almost every day, but the seller never gave it to me. Even when I offered to mow his lawn for it.
Hey Spike, huge fan since I discovered you're late night show one night when I was high. Quick question: Any chance you'll make a comeback to late night tv? Also, if you do come back.. can I work for you? I kinda need a job.
Things not to say in a job interview... "I saw your ad when I was high"
Despite that, yes, you're hired. You are my new weed producer.
Can I mow your lawn for your car?
Be here tomorrow at 8am
With all of our air pollution problems, do you feel a little guilty about enjoying cars so much?
Living in LA, I think about it a lot. That's why we feature green cars whenever we can on Car Matchmaker. I am also a Prius owner. (3rd actually)
So far here are my favorites.
BMW i3. Game changer. Some of the interior is made with recycled bottles!
CHEVY VOLT. Plug in Hybrid. American made. 40 miles all elec, then gas kicks in. But possible to keep same tank for 6 months if u plan right.
NISSAN LEAF. Run all your mindless errands in this car. Zero emission and no gas station visits except to use bathrooms!
Do you collect model cars or real cars?
I collect both little toys and big ones. My doctor just gave me a Corgi Porsche Carrera 6 model. Sits on my desk while I write. I wish I could shrink myself down and drive it! Here's a snap.
What?! No bathroom in the Nissan Leaf? FORGET IT.
Electricity and toilets don't mix.
Ok, FMK: Porsche Panamera, Fisker Karma or Tesla Model X?
F: Panamera. Love the new GTS. M: Tesla Model X. I want to spend my life your gullwing doors. K: Fisker. Already dead, right? I mean Bieber drives one.
Do you think you might do some sort of crossover with Click & Clack?
> Click & Clack
I would love to meet them. Been a fan of car talk for years. Boy are they knowledgeable.
Hey Spike, what's your availability like for interviews? I'm sure you're super busy, but I think my listeners would really enjoy a short interview. Would you be interested in being on my podcast by chance? Either way, thanks for being here and providing entertainment through my last hour at work!
Charlie Rose, is that you? I guess as long as it is "a short" interview. What are we talking, 30 seconds?
What's your favorite letter and number?
Are you trying to fish for my password? If so I will just give it to you HOTPANTS69
Spike ! Did you golf at Buncey's back in your WeeBee days?
C'mon now. Of course. Who is this? A Sheedy perhaps?
I can't tell if you are serious or kidding?
That is a true story
Any tips on writing jokes? What's your process?
Find news stories or social situations that feel wrong or make you angry.
Write punchlines that quench that thirst or just plain make you laugh.
I also try to use the 3rd punchline I come up with. That way I usually eliminate the hack joke everyone is expecting. I am not always successful. These days you are competing with the world.
what was the budget for your late night show? could you have traded a lower budget for more freedom?
Great question. If the budget were any lower, we could not have had an audience. No kidding. It costs a lot of money to bring them in. Our budget was roughly 300k per show. Super low when compared to the other network late night shows. And when you look at the viral content the writers and I were creating...
FOX kind of blew it. But we lasted 3 years. It was an awesome experience. Dream job.
I'm a big fan,you've written some of my favorite Seinfeld episodes. I listened to your podcast on Nerdist last week ,it rocked. Looking forward to Car Matchmaker,you spoke very passionately about cars and your enthusiasm was contagious. I was wondering if you had any upcoming projects to possibly look out for beyond the new show? Pete Holmes left a black hole for you to come back to late night. Do eet.
Hey man, thanks. I'll be honest. I would kill to get out there and create late night comedy again. Doing a monologue and commenting on the day's events is in my DNA. I have a lot to say. (Mostly to my wife these days) If the right opportunity came around, I might try it again. But for now I'm focused on Car Match. It's an incredibly fun day of work.
Then again so was shooting Lil Bill O'Reilly and Idiot Paparazzi. Thanks for the question.