Ed Begley talks it up on faux morning show Wake Up World

Monday night, I watched Ed Begley and his wife, Rachelle, prattle on about their 1,500 foot home with the recycled plastic fence on a talk show called, well, that’s a good question. What was it called?

Before Begley got on stage—a tiny platform in a basement theater in an area we New Yorkers begrudgingly acquiesced to calling NoHo—he sat with the audience to watch a live, faux morning show (which began around 8:30 PM) called Wake Up World. The hosts are Hope Jean Paul (Plenty columnist and Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead) and Davis Miles (comedian Baron Vaughn), so thoroughly convincing in their send up of that particularly plastic brand of news institution that it was at times hard to tell what they’d written and what they’d simply culled from YouTube (the video of dancing adult diaper boxes from The View, for instance). The guest host, Williams Daily (director Tom Gilroy was filling in for Davis Miles) announced his new childhood obesity charity, Ben & Jerry’s kids, and detailed his Chunky Monkey summer camp. It is worth the $12.50 ticket, folks.

After, Winstead admitted that making fun of the media is easy—though not easy to do it so brilliantly—and had an actual talk show, sans wig and cleavage-producing costume. Begley and his wife were good natured about the whole thing, slipping easily into the strange space between irony and sincerity the writers had created.

Begley was plugging his new book, Living Like Ed, based on his green living TV show, Living with Ed, which apparently broadcast the bickering between him and Rachelle (who was named after Rachel Carson) and their struggle to accommodate his environmental needs and her more traditional desires (make up, nice clothes, and, one wood assume, a bigger house).

Begley seems uncorrupted—dare I say unpolluted—by Hollywood, and his house is a testament to that. Besides its modest size (tiny by LA standards, he said, and a mansion by world standards), it’s solar-powered, lit by CFLs, of course, soy-insulated and plugged with double-paned windows.

As a member of the sometimes too uncritical media—sometimes I feel I’m paid to exult, rather than report—I appreciate the strange format. Hard questions weren’t asked, like how can we expect global change when we place the burden of that shift on individuals, not governments and corporations—but I left feeling that Begley was truly a walk-the-walk guy, a sentiment encouraged by his willingness to add this avant garde theater experience to his book tour.

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