Rich Koz is a Chicago area actor and broadcaster best known as horror-movie host Svengoolie. Out of costume, he is also the knowledgeable host of the syndicated The Three Stooges Stooge-a-Palooza program.
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I am Rich Koz, best known as Svengoolie, the host of MeTV's national horror movie show. I've been Svengoolie for 36 years, and have been on TVs around the country on MeTV since 2011.
My Proof: http://svengoolie.com/reddit.jpg
Thank you! I'm stepping away from the computer now. Thanks for all of your questions, I had a great time. If you want to contact me, stay in touch through my website, Svengoolie.com, and on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/therealsvengoolie. You can also find me on Twitter at @Svengoolie. See you Saturday night on MeTV!
Hi Svengoolie! So glad to see you doing an AMA! Silly question, I'm sure, but I don't think I've heard your actual "origin" story. I know the version that guy Koz probably tells about Chicago and whatnot, but where did YOU come from? A distant land or just outside of Berwyn?
BTW, please continue to take care of yourself, ya big joker. I'm relieved that ticker of yours is okay. :) Hope to meet you someday and thank you in person for all the smiles!
The Svengoolie family of course hails from Transylvania. I came over shortly after my dad, the original Sven, arrived in this country. He eventually let me stay.
Hi Svengoolie! Been a fan since I got my pair of 3-D glasses at 7-11 for the showing of Creature from the Black Lagoon. Your program is the reason I became a horror movie nerd. Thanks for all the laughs over the years. I've always wondered: what's the origin of your show using Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" as a closing theme song?
Side note: I was just about to hang this glorious piece of art my wife gave me for x-mas in my office when I saw you were doing an AMA. No lie. http://i.imgur.com/4jkziJm.jpg
It was kind of a statement to the then management of the station I was on.
Did you ever send us a copy of this? A photo or whatever? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Your show has grown so much recently. You now broadcast nationally, you have a new coffin, and a new set! What's next?
We've really hit the pinnacle with this Reddit thing.
Through the years I've noticed a repeat of the same movies. Will you ever get different movies like, Doctor Faustus, The Tomb of Ligeia, The Masque of the Red Death, or the 1932 classic Freaks?
We have a contract with Universal which dictates that we show certain movies a certain number of times. Our bosses are working on getting additional movies from additional distributors.
Hi! Huge fan! What is your favorite stop on the L?
To the founder of the original AMA, The Koz Zone, "Why is grass green,? What makes it rain? Who's Asking?"
Anyway, where did the Berwyn thing originate?
The original Sven was doing his show around the time Rowan and Martin's Laugh In and Johnny Carson were making small town jokes about Burbank. He was also influenced by Ghoulardi, who made jokes about Parma. He wanted a local suburb to poke fun at, and decided to use the western suburb that held a yearly parade in honor of mushrooms.
Do people actually throw ducks at you? Also what is your favorite show on MeTV?
No, but I duck... when they throw chickens.
I'm a big fan of Get Smart! and The Honeymooners.
Has there been any discussion to have CM Punk on the show? He is from Chicago and is a fan of the Universal Monsters?
He has mentioned me in a couple interviews, and I'd be happy to have him on if he wanted to.
Whose on the writing staff? Is it just you, that Koz guy and Kerwyn?
No, it's just Kerwyn.
Your show brings so much joy to so many people. What has been your proudest moment in regards to playing Sven?
Going national and having people around the country accept me.
How do you feel being a TV host?
It's a great job. It is work, but it's a lot of fun as well. I always enjoy doing radio as well.
Hi Rich/Sven, thanks so much for doing this. I see that you make a lot of local Chicago appearances. Any chance of you coming out to the SF Bay area? We'd love to have you out here!
I will go wherever I get booked. Ask your local station or retailers or conventions to book me!
I understand you're good friends with Alex Ross. How did this friendship begin? Ever think about making a comic book together?
It turned out that when Alex was growing up, he'd come in to Chicago to spend summers with a relative, and watched my original show. At one of his signings, one of our staff mentioned I was a fan and we found out about his longstanding fandom of Svengoolie.
We have been talking about doing a comic book for a while now, it just falls on me to have the time to write it.
are there any it came from berwyn shirts available, I keep missing the old shirts. love the show, used to watch jerry g as a kid.
When those sold out, they sold out. I keep saying we should bring them back, but some management people were saying they don't know if our national audience would like the Berwyn aspect. Go figure!
I live in Connecticut and recently became a fan of yours, thanks to Me-TV. I proudly wear my Svengoolie shirt everywhere I can. Are there any plans to make new Sven merchandise?
Hi Sven! What was the first horror or monster movie you remember seeing as a kid? Did you see it on TV on a creature feature show or in a movie theater?
Actually, it was King Kong. I saw it on TV, and was pretty scared.
Another movie that always scared me was The Wizard of Oz. That witch really, really frightened.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in writing comedy? Where do you find your creativity?
Use a pen.
No, seriously - the best way to develop your craft is to do it. Do as much writing as you possibly can.
As far as finding creativity, you just have to keep your mind open to anything that might suggest a bit.
Huge fan, thank you for continuing and introducing countless numbers of people to the horror movie show genre. Any thoughts about doing a biography? Also could you spare a autographed rubber chicken?
We get far too many requests for chickens. You can enter a contest on Svengoolie.com - we give away one autographed rubber chicken each month!
When I have time, I might write a biography.
Hey Sven, what is the story behind the rubber chickens?
When the original Svengoolie Jerry G. Bishop started his show, he thought it would be funny to have things thrown at him when he did an incredibly bad joke. The usual rotten tomatoes would be too difficult to clean up after, so he decided to use the old stock vaudeville prop the rubber chicken.
Who wins in a fight between the classic movie monsters: Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolfman, or Dracula?
They would all be disqualified after The Creature from the Black Lagoon entered the ring and hit them with a deck chair.
Will it get easier to acquire new movies now that you've gone national?
It does make it a little more difficult because we're competing with other national networks and cable channels.
Three questions about Kerwyn...
Where was Kerwyn born? Is Kerwyn a boy or a girl? What is Kerwyn's favorite food?
Where was Kerwyn born? Inside an egg.
You can't tell he's a boy? After all he's not wearing pants.
His favorite food is French-fried tofu.
Hiya! Big fan-I remember watching you when I was younger and growing up in Chicago.
Question: What has been your greatest personal victory so far this year?
Also, if a hundred years from now, someone somewhere does a ghost tour and claims that your ghost "haunts" a place, what place would you like that to be?
This year? 2015? Finding out comedian Dana Gould is a huge fan, and specifically came to one of our tapings to meet me.
If I was going to haunt anywhere, it would be City Hall, so I could continue to vote.
Hi Sven! Is your taping schedule finished for the year? Generally speaking, when do you record?
Seeing as how we're only three months in, I don't think our taping schedule is finished for the year.
We record at least every three weeks!
I believe you once mentioned that the name of your show’s theme song was “Son of Svengoolie Theme”. Would you please tell us who wrote it? Also, it seems to me that over time, you have shortened the theme (and the video introduction sequence) by using several key changes in quick succession. Very catchy! Would you tell us a little about that? And by the way, is that Vincent Price’s laugh you slipped in there recently?
It's actually called "Son's Theme" and was written by Doug Graves, in reality Doug Scharf. We have shortened it to get in more program content.
No, it is not Vinnie.
If Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees were to have a rematch who would win?
Hi Rich! My husband grew up in Chicago watching you, and now he's introduced me to your antics thanks to the wonders of MeTV - we actually bought an over-the-air antenna JUST to watch your show!
Any chance of having your shows available to stream or download in the future? I understand there might be broadcast rights issues involved, I just wish I had the ability to revisit old shows or catch up on ones that we missed!
Not unless we can obtain Internet rights for the movies from the distributor.
Are there any inspirational "words" you CAN give to your long-suffering fans in Arkansas to sustain us during the Svengoolie blackout? We all look forward to your return to our airlanes!
Thank you for the support! We're doing the best we can!
Any reason why Derwood and Tombstone don't appear as much, or am i just missing them?
Yes, you're missing them. And they miss you, too.
Thanks for doing this! Will you be emceeing any wrestling event this summer? I saw you at 6 Corners BBQ Fest last year
Not so far, but keep saying your prayers and taking your vitamins, brother! It just might happen.
Hey Sven, now that MeTV has started airing Twilight Zone again, will we see any marathons hosted by you? That would be cool. I used to love those!
It's certainly possible. If we can get that damn gremlin off the wing.
Sven, are you friends with any other horror hosts?
Yes, I am. This includes the iconic Count Gore, and Elvira.
Good afternoon, what do think about classic horror movies that makes them better then today's horror movies?
I've always thought that those classics create such a perfect atmosphere that today's movies do not always do.
Hey Sven! Thanks for doing an AMA with us! Just curious, are you a fan of watching the old movies that you air every Saturday? Do you always watch the movies you show in their entirety, or do you enjoy just writing the material for the episodes?
It was great seeing you at Cottonwood Farms, by the way! Thanks for visiting the Plainfield area!
I do watch the movies, and have been a fan for a long time. In order to write the show, I watch the entire movie and take notes.
Would you ever do an episode of The Walking Dead?
Only if I could ride.
As a young kid, I watched your original show on Channel 32, and I remember a mannequin next to your coffin--a mask of a woman and a red dress--that was sometimes used in skits. Whose mask was that and whatever happened to it?
The mask was actually used when we would have a live person play Ghoulia Childs, the Trench Chef. I have no idea where that mask is now.
The bits about the Vampire Carpets, Svenard's, etc. are still hilarious.
Any new commercials planned?
Of course! They're pretty much a staple of the show. Would you like to buy some staples?
I recall you said that you met Doug in high school band. Was Doug playing trumpet then? What instrument did you play? Do you still play that instrument? Do you play other instruments?
Yes, Doug was playing trumpet in band and I was playing trombone. I'm not just adding the bone part as a scary joke. I haven't played in many years, and may have lost my lip. No wait, there it is... under my nose!
Sven, you make my Saturday night the best! Besides "Fiend Without A Face," what are some of your most favorite old school horror flicks?
House of Wax, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Fried Green Tomatoes
Rich/Sven, you are my hero! I owe my career to you, seriously!
Would you and Doug consider recording and releasing an album of Sven's Greatest Hits and Misses? Your tune parodies are fab! I would promote it like crazy if you did!
It would probably involve getting a great deal of rights and permissions. If we could work that out, sure!
sven, ever thought of contacting the guys at mystery science theater 3k about you being on their show or visa versa?
No, not really. But I will be working with Trace Beaulieu at the Those Were The Days 45th Anniversary Celebration coming up in Chicago on April 12th. You can find details at Svengoolie.com. Check under appearances.
How much fun did you have writing the wrap-around material for the '66 Batman movie? That is definitely one of my favorite Svens.
We had a lot of fun. I've always been a big Batman fan, and enjoyed showing that movie.
Rich - we've known each other for quite a while, both on-air and personally. One question I've always wanted to ask, but was, frankly afraid to, was this:
When you first started the gig, waaaay back when, it was because you had sent in jokes at first to the late, great, nearly departed Jerry G. Bishop. He eventually brought you on-board, as I have been told, as a writer. When SYT was done, you took over the "mantle" as it were... When the time comes, is there a succession plan, or are you going to let sleeping ghouls lie? I think it would be a shame if the idea went away when you did, (hopefully many years from now) With your heart attack, did thoughts of finding or grooming a replacement cross your mind?
When I sent jokes to Jerry, it was never even a thought in my head that I was angling for a job. I just sent it because I was a fan of his. He was the one that decided I should work with him, because, as he put it, "I had pretty much done everything I knew when you came along."
As for myself, I'm still doing okay and coming up with things and long ago, Jerry and I decided I would be the end of the family line.
as today is lon chaney sr birthday what was your favorite movie of his ?
Phantom of the Opera
Who is your favorite stooge and what's your favorite Stooges short?
It's a close tie between Curly and Shemp.
I really like An Ache in Every Stake.
How has the gig changed since getting the national audience? Are you under different pressures content-wise? And did the budget increase for licensing?
Well, we do have to eliminate or tone down some of the local references. We have many more eyes on the show so we definitely have to make sure what we're doing will appeal to a wider audience.
Could you tell us a little bit about when you signed with MeTV? What was it like suddenly going national?
I had already worked for this company for several years and was very pleased that they had the confidence in my program to put it on the national network. Getting the response from all over the country was pretty overwhelming.
You always have a bunch of toys and action figures on set, related to the movie you are showing. Who picks those out? Do you collect them or what do you collect if anything?
We get some of the items from viewers and all of us on the show will usually pick something up if we see something that relates to our movies.
I collect a bunch of different things, including bizarre travel souvenirs, and various action figures. You should see my Simpsons collection.
I really love the parts of the show when you give background on the actors. Some of the best ones are when you get personal information, more than would be available than on imdb, for instance. How do you make those connections?
A lot of it comes from books that I've read. I still use a pretty large library of actual books. Plus, people will actually contact me who have worked with or known some of the actors.
If you could have anyone come on as a guest, who would it be?
If you could meet someone from the past, who would you choose?
I would love for my friend Mark Hamill to come on the show, and I know he will if he's ever in Chicago.
If we could have someone from the past, I think Boris Karloff or Vincent Price would be terrific.
I’ve heard you mention the influence of early radio and TV on your humor. How did you first discover that creating characters who love to annoy “Svengoolie” (Kerwyn and Tombstone are prime suspects) would be funny? Did you create characters for your own amusement in childhood?
Yes, I started doing this type of thing as a child, and having learned a lot from watching comedy movies and shows, I knew creating characters who would cause conflict would equal comedy.
Every local horror host I grew up watching had something to like, but your show has hands-down the best movies of them all! I'm so glad the Universal monsters have a home.
What kind of controversy does a horror host endure? Do viewers hold you responsible if you broadcast a movie that's too silly, or too scary?
Viewers hold me responsible for just about anything they can complain about. They will complain if I show too many Frankenstein movies, or if I don't show enough. They will complain about too many black and white movies, then complain if I show a more modern color one. And they will complain about too many comedic horror films while others will demand more Abbott & Costello.
Rich, a friend of mine recently asked you if you could be interviewed on a Halloween podcast he's associated with, and you politely turned him down. Any reason for not doing podcast interviews?
Recently we have gotten so many requests to do podcasts and live interviews that we just don't have the time. I only rarely will do one for long time friends.
Hi Rich, HUUUGE fan here in Columbus, Ohio. Any chance of Stooge-A-Palooza coming back?
We are hoping we can bring it back but the negotiations will take time.
Do you ever think you will retire? You have been on WCIU forever!
Yes. What time is it now?
Hiya Sven! My daughter is 6 and we love to watch your show together on Saturday nights. We live in Mississippi, btw.
Our question is: Do you ever dress up for Halloween as anyone other than Svengoolie? If so, what are your best/favorite costumes?
Most of the time I'm working on Halloween, so I'm dressed as Sven. In the past, I have dressed as The Penguin, Bizarro Clark Kent, and Groucho Marx. Also, The Macho Man, Randy Savage.
How far in advance do you tape the host segments each week? I saw your PM Magazine interview from the early 80s where you mentioned that you go with whatever comes to mind during the tapings: is that still true?
We can tape anywhere from a week out to a month out. With the time constraints of the network, a lot of the show is scripted but there's room for ad-libbing.
Hello, How are you doing today? I only recently discovered your program a few weeks ago and I love it! I don't have a real question but I just wanted to say keep doing what you're doing and I'll keep watching every saturday!
I'm doing fine, thank you for watching! Watch all the people writing in now complaining I'm wasting time.
Do you do personal appearances? Would you ever do an independent horror film? If so, what is your price range?
Sure, I'll be happy to do business in this forum. Wanna buy a used car?
When you are Koz, do you have a 9-5 job?
No, that was Dolly Parton.
I am so excited to see this! I grew up on Sven, and remember watching the show when I was about 8 on up - I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see your show again! My question is, as a Chicagoland institution, with many jokes old and new pertaining to that area, do you have a hard time getting some of your jokes to translate around the country? Berwyn is a running one of course, but I'm also thinking of old gags like Vampire Carpets (though I suppose that's more nationwide now).
No, they're all in English.
I'm trying to have fewer local jokes, but let's face it - David Letterman makes jokes about New York.
Hey Sven...love the show (I'm in Fresno...pretty far from Berwyn). Have you ever thought about airing an old silent film or two? There's some great possibilities there (Nosferatu, Phantom, the original Frankie) that, rights allowing, might be fun for folks to see.
We've talked about it, but unfortunately the feeling is that a majority of the audience might not appreciate a silent film.
Hi Sven! My dad, mom, and I watch you every Saturday! Thanks for such a great show! My question is, will you ever be in the South Bend, IN area anytime soon? I would love to meet you in person!
Anything is possible! We have a station there! All they have to do is book me for an appearance.
Do you enjoy the movie Fright Night? If so, what did you think of Roddy McDowall's performance as a horror host?
Yes, I did like that movie, and thought that it was pretty amusing that he was just an actor who was forced into being a real monster fighter.
My mom and I watch the show every Saturday. We love it.
We were wondering, who is your favorite monster?
The Creature From the Black Lagoon.
I grew up in Chicago and I recall the original Svengoolie show when I was about 4 years old (1974-1975-ish?). I have to say it scared the hell out of me at that age. Then I remember you in the 80s with the 3D experience (Creature from the Black Lagoon if I recall). Great memories thank you!! My questions: (1) Were you friends with Bill Jackson who was doing the Gigglesnort Hotel show? That show scared me too. (2) Have you encountered children who were scared of you when in character? In person or from TV? (3) Do you have a good recipe for an Italian Beef? Can't get em here in AL. (4) Are you a fan of today's horror films? (5) Do you think about retiring? - Thanks!!
Yes, I'm very fortunate to still be friends with Bill Jackson. He's a very talented man.
I often hear from both children and adults who tell me they used to be absolutely terrified of me. Most of the adults have gotten over it.
I get my Italian Beef from Buona Beef.
I like some of today's horror films - not the ones that are gore for gore's sake, or Al Gore's sake.
I think about retiring every single day of my life.
Hello, Mr. Koz! I created a reddit account just for this AMA!
Hope you had a great birthday! You are a Chicago institution! (Or, you should be in an institution? Wakka-wakka!)
Obviously, you are a horror movie fan as well as a super Stooges fan. (And I think I read an Amazing Race fan? Or maybe just for the Chicago contestants...) Are you by any chance an animation fan? If so, what do you like? Would you ever voice yourself in an animated version of Svengoolie?
Hope you're enjoying this gorgeous weather as either Sven or your alter ego!
(And I also hope you secretly entered the Victory Auto Wreckers commercial contest with one of your spoofs!)
Yes, I've always been an animation fan. I first started watching the old black and white Popeye cartoons, Mighty Mouse, and the Warner Brothers cartoons. I really liked Batman: The Animated Series. I also like some of The Avengers animations.
Sure, I'd voice an animated version of Svengoolie - if he wore a metal suit and fired repulsor rays.
How can I get your autograph? I live too far from your appearances!
Email me at email@example.com.
The first episode I ever watched was at my aunt and uncle's place in Berwyn, The Killer Shrews with Svensurround. To this day, I can't go into a Menards without singing "Save Big Money at Svenards!". Have you ever considered selling an album or DVD with your commercials and parodies?
As I've said before, we'd have to work out a lot of permissions and rights. I'd like to do it, but I would need a lot of help from our station.
Any book recommendations? What does a Goolie read?
I like Stephen King books. The Agent Pendergast books by Preston and Child, and I have enjoyed Mick Foley's books.
Do you agree with me on this? People think I'm crazy because Shemp is my favorite stooge. I tell them to watch Shemp's first short, Fright Night, and tell me he wasn't one of the most brilliant comedians of all time.
I agree. You can always tell when he's doing some of his really off the wall improvisation. He was a very funny comedian.
It seems that a toaster is also doing an AMA and has over 1700 comments to Sven's 200. My question is: have you ever thought you'd be defeated by a toaster?
No. A microwave oven, maybe. But never a toaster.
I'm a big fan since I first saw you on ME-TV. It's great that stations across the country can carry a Saturday night horror host like yourself. Any plans to produce any Svengoolie spin offs or specials in the near future?
Say "Hey" to Kerwyn for me! His humor is finger lickin' good, but a bit prehistoric. :)
We have done some special marathons in the past. There's always a chance we'll do some more in the future.
As a guy in my 40s, I think I have been watching you perform as Svengoolie since before I could drive. My question to you is ... do you age? I don't think you age. Are you actually a vampire? I'm wondering if when you do the Stooge-a-palooza, you're actually wearing human make-up to hide that you're actually a vampire that doesn't age. It's cool if you are; I ain't no vampi-phobe. I just wanna know.
Yes, I age. The wig does not show any gray. I'm not a vampire, but I play one on TV. When I do the Stooges show, I use a strange elixir called Brighto.
Out of all the horror films you have shown over the years, which is your personal favorite?
I don't have one favorite because I like different movies for different reasons.
Do you ever do meet and greets and/or set tours for fans of yours? We are in Portland and would definitely come out to Chicago for this. How about the opportunity to throw a chicken during your show?
We don't have studio tours, but I make appearances all year long.
Do you pick all the movies that you show? And which movies would you like to show, but couldn't, or haven't for whatever reason?
- Kaz from Woodridge, IL!
I choose from what movies we are offered. There are any number of movies I'd love to show, but it's difficult to get the broadcast rights for many of them.
I'd love to show "Fiend Without a Face."
Hi! Is it true that you're a world champion "Words With Friends" Player?
Not hardly. What's a five letter word starting with Z?
Ok, two questions. One, isn't there someway to meld Svengoolie and The Stooges into some acid trip, comedy-horror meeting of the minds at least once? Two, why hasn't Tom Skilling appeared on the show?
Wrong on both of them. We did a Sven Stooges show locally several years ago, and Tom Skilling has appeared and we showed that on the national show.
Any thoughts of ever releasing DVD's of these out of print films with your segments intertwined ala Elvira's home video offerings?
Yes. But it really isn't as easy as that.
Any chance of showing schlockier movies and doing an entire one in Svensurround?
We did that in the past, it depends on what our management will allow.