If you are fan of comedy, or familiar with the comedy genre, chances are you are familiar with veteran actor, writer, producer and director, Dean Morgan.
Born and raised on the tough streets of Chicago, Morgan has won 75 awards in his illustrious career for Best Director, Best International Film, Best Short Film and Best Comedy Short. An ordained rabbi, Morgan is also the creator of Sheldon Mashugana, which recently premiered in Plano, Texas. In addition to Sheldon, the Second City native started another new character, The Macher, who—according to Dean—is funnier than Sheldon, with both comedic styles being vastly different, as Sheldon is more Jerry Lewis slapstick and The Macher is more obnoxious.
Below is my Q and A with Dean, as we discuss the current Israel-Hamas war, and his hope for peace, his background in comedy and influences as well ad exciting new projects that he has in the works.
1.) What are your thoughts on the recent writers strike? How has it impacted you and what do you hope will make things better in the industry?
I am nonunion for now, so my productions are still on going. In fact, I’m shooting a feature film right now. However in the streaming area, pertaining to the actors’ strike, we are not getting paid for showing me online. So in that respect, it would be fair for us to be paid for that. As for the writers’ strike, on my end it’s not bothering me at all since I write all my films.
2.) As an ordained rabbi, what are your thoughts on the recent Hamas attack on Israel, and what do you think can be done in terms of establishing a lasting peace?
They need a common ground and organization to plan that out. They also need to educate that region due to the fact that a lot of them are taught to kill Jews and laugh and have fun, then die. They need to learn the normal way of life, as we know it here in the States, in order for them to have any peace. So they need to get a good and proper education.
3.) How did your career get started?
I’ve been interested in comedy all my life. I had a friend in college ask me to try out for Second City. I was 19 years old and I passed the audition. When that happened, I found out that I was made to act.
4.) For those who don’t know, tell us more about The Macher and some of your recent work?
In Chicago, there is a radio station called the Loop. They had this program on April fool’s day that was a little over the top for its time. On that show there was a program on Sheldon Mashugana called Little Brown Things That Float in the Water. After that I was hooked on Sheldon. I then created Sheldon as a Where’s Waldo guy with a different voice and put those plastic glasses on him. We made 12 films, which include 5 features and the rest are shorts. We won over 300 film festival awards.
The Macher was made based on my Chicago personality with the swear words, and I decided to ask and answer the questions myself when talking to people or the audience. I tried it as an experiment. I put it on Tiktok and it went viral. Everyone loves this guy. He doesn’t even smile. I’m making a feature for him right now.
5.) Who were your influences growing up, and how did they influence you?
I always liked space stuff, so William Shatner was my guy to get me to the stars. I was a meteorology major and wanted to work in space. So we went with the weather aspect instead. And then we have the Saturday Night live Bunch that taught me the comedy. I looked a little like John Belushi so I figured I could do a lot with that. But as for Sheldon, Jerry Lewis, The Three Stooges, and Mel Brooks were my guys.
6.) How excited are you for Sheldon Mashugana premiering?
I have a contract with United Artists in France thru Cannes film festival. Bridge of Peace they call it. They are premiering Sheldon Mashugana this week in Japan. I’m really excited that I was able to get the films out there. We are going to be streaming on Elevated Artist entertainment which is working with Hulu. I am currently on Opprime.TV and Vimeo.com
7.) Any future projects down the pipeline you would like to mention?
The film we are shooting today is called The Macher in Mr Big. The Macher getting into trouble with girls and the internet. Rated R. Feature film. The 3 full length Sheldon Movies we are looking for producers for are then following. What a Schmuck is about Sheldon figuring out life and getting into trouble all the time on the way. The next film is Sheldon Mashugana Gets Lost in Space; I’m combining the Lost in Space idea with Star Trek. Sheldon and his family get chosen to go to Uranus and end up lost in space. The 3rd movie is Sheldon Mushagana Goes Back to the Future. Sheldon and James go back in time and try to fix the invention of the Woopy cushion. Those are all comedy. I have scripts ready to go for all 3.
8.) Any lasting and parting thoughts, or comments for those hoping to get into the industry and what to do and expect?
When going into the industry you need to stay 15 years or nobody will know you. The more contacts you know the better you will be. Auditions are also about marketing yourself. If you don’t get the part it’s okay. You may get another part in the same film, it happened to me several times.