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Media: November 2021 • “When Harry Met Rehab”

| October 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

Harry Teinowitz

Harry Teinowitz and Spike Manton have teamed up to write a new play called When Harry Met Rehab, based upon the true story of Harry’s journey toward sobriety. It’s not the first time Harry and Spike have worked together. Their collaboration on the radio goes back thirty years.

“When Spike and I started out,” Harry says, “we were two comedians that were giving up our source of employment every week to do a sports show on the radio. But because it was on AM 1000 (before it was called ESPN), a lot of people heard us. After they broke us up, Spike went on to do a lot of radio. He was on with Steve Dahl for years, and I went on to do Mac, Jurko, and Harry.”

Despite Harry’s later stints on the radio working with the likes of Danny Bonaduce, Mike & Mike, and Jonathon Brandmeier, the Mac, Jurko & Harry Show is the one that brought him the most recognition.

“Mac (Dan McNeil) to his credit, found Jurko (John Jurkovic). Jurko was a great guy—the most secure guy I’ve ever met. Even though he grew up in Cal City and sounded like a dese, dem, and dose guy, he often had the most thoughtful and incredible insight. He was the smartest guy in the room. And Mac could have called it the Dan McNeil show, but he called it “Mac, Jurko, and Harry.” I’ll always appreciate that.”

That show was a roller coaster ride for all involved.

Mac, Jurko, and Harry was exciting, and it also sucked. We argued a lot. I’m an idea guy. I throw a ton of ideas out there, and not all of them are going to be good. Mac actually thought I was trying to ruin the show. Mac did a lot for me, and I’ll always appreciate that. But there were days when he was angry at somebody else, and he would take it out on me.”

The show was nicknamed the “Afternoon Saloon,” an irony not lost on Harry considering what happened to him next.

“No matter what I do the rest of my life, I could solve any world problem, and if you googled me on the internet, the first thing that would come up was that incident. The day I was coming home from a Blackhawks game, and a gentleman was kind enough to pull me over. I got a series of tests and did about as well on those as my tests in college, and the next thing I knew, I was in the back of a squad car.”

It was just a matter of time before it happened.

“If you check the stats, the average person drives drunk 80 times before they are pulled over the first time. I know I made the wrong choice many times when I was on the road as a traveling comedian. I was the Cal Ripken of drinking,” Harry now admits. “I used to have four shots of Cuervo before I took my coat off. It was like taking the Concord – it gets you there quicker. Well, that night, I wasn’t even spotted driving drunk by the cops; a tow truck driver saw me and called 9-1-1, saying he saw someone weaving. They pulled me over about two blocks from my house. I was mad at that tow truck driver at first, but it turns out that guy saved my life.”

It also led him to the life experience that is now being dramatized on stage.

“I wasn’t working, and I was bouncing off the walls, so I wrote a one-man show about my time in rehab. You know, for all the years I was drinking, I didn’t know that rehab meant you had to stop drinking. Wait. What? Do I have to totally stop? I was talking to Spike (Manton) about it, and he said, ‘boy, this is surprisingly good,’ which, of course, is a compliment and a slam at the same time. But then he said, ‘It would be so much better if we could bring these characters to life.’ And, Spike had already written two great plays, so I thought it was a good idea to work with him on it.”

Spike helped Harry bring it to life, first on paper and then on stage.

“The one-man show was 2 hours and ten minutes, and now we have a tight 90-minute show, and I’m not in it. The cast is amazing. Dan Butler, who played Bulldog, the sports talk show host in Frazier, is the star of the show. Poor Dan Butler. He’s done all these great things and won major awards, but here he is stuck playing another sports radio guy.”

The cast also includes stellar actors like Ora Jones, Chicke Johnson, Keith Gallagher, Elizabeth Laidlaw, Richard Gomez, and Melissa Gilbert.

“The entire production is top of the line,” Harry says. “The executive producer is Don Clark, who owns the Chicago Magic Lounge (5050 N. Clark Street). He was a lawyer for 40 years and now is in the entertainment world. He spared no expense at the Magic Lounge, and he’s sparing no expense on this show.”

Previews begin on November 24 at The Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. To get tickets, go to whenharrymetrehab.com.

Harry can sum up the entire play in one sentence.

“It’s a comedy that takes alcoholism seriously.”

Update: Since I interviewed Harry in early October, and after our press date, When “Harry Met Rehab” managed to sign Melissa Gilbert to be part of the cast, playing the important therapist role.

-Rick Kaempfer

 

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