Kenny’s Interview with Norm Goldman
|The following interview was conducted by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures.comToday, Norm Goldman, Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Kenneth Kahn, author of The Carny Kid Survival of a Young Thief. Ken is not only an author but also a successful criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, as well as a stand up comic.
Good day, Ken, and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview.
KEN: THANK YOU VERY MUCH, IT’S A PLEASURE FOR ME TO HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO BE WITH SUCH A DISTINGUISHED REVIEWER.
Norm: Ken, what made you want to write an autobiography of yourself?
KEN: I NEVER WANTED TO WRITE IT, I HAD SPENT MOST OF MY ADULT LIFE HIDING MY EARLY BACKGROUND. I WAS AFRAID PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE ME HARSHLY, I WAS HIGHLY MOBILE, UPWARDLY MOBILE, AND I REALLY WANTED TO MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF MYSELF IN THE SOCIAL WORLD AND I THOUGHT MY BACKGROUND WOULD HINDER ME.
SO I SPENT THE MAJORITY OF MY LIFE HIDING MY BACKGROUND. IT WASN’T UNTIL I GOT TO A CERTAIN POINT WHERE I HAD THE CONFIDENCE IN MYSELF AND IN WHO I WAS TO ALLOW ME TO GO AHEAD AND WRITE THIS BOOK.
Norm: What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing The Carny Kid Survival of a Young Thief? How did you overcome these challenges?
KEN: THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I HAD WAS GETTING THE DISCIPLINE TO WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY. I KNEW THE STORY, IT WAS IN MY HEAD. I DIDN’T HAVE A LOT OF PROBLEMS AND I HAD MADE A NUMBER OF FITFUL STARTS IN THE PAST, BUT WHEN IT CAME TIME TO SIT DOWN AND JUST WRITE THE BOOK IN IT’S ENTIRETY. . . IT WAS A MAJOR CHALLENGE TO FIND THE DISCIPLINE WITHIN MYSELF TO SIT DOWN EVERY DAY AND COMPLETE A COMMITMENT TO DO THE ENTIRE BOOK. THAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I HAD.
Norm: When you wrote your book, did you have a particular audience in mind?
KEN: NO, WHAT I WAS WRITING THE BOOK FOR WAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF GETTING MY CHEST AND OUT OF MY HEAD. I WAS HOPING THAT A NUMBER OF PEOPLE, WHO WERE PERHAPS FROM A BACKGROUND WHERE THEIR PARENTS WERE LESS THAN GREAT, WOULD GET SOME TYPE OF MOTIVATION OR INSPIRATION FROM THE STORY. . .AND I WAS HOPING THAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULD FIND IT OF GENERAL INTEREST.
I WAS ALSO HOPING THAT PEOPLE OF MY GENERATION, WHO GREW UP IN THE 1950s, COULD APPRECIATE THE STRUGGLE AND UNDERSTAND THE STRUGGLE. SO, IN A SENSE IT’S WRITTEN FOR PEOPLE WHO HAD DELINQUENT PARENTS AND FOR PEOPLE WHO HAD TO STRUGGLE IN THEIR OWN LIVES AND LATER ON WENT BECAME A SUCCESS. IT’S BASICALLY FOR THOSE TWO GROUPS.
Norm: What would you say is your biggest strengths? Your biggest weaknesses?
KEN: MY GREATEST STRENGTH IS MY ABILITY TO HANG IN THERE, NO MATTER WHAT THE ODDS ARE. I’M NEVER DETERRED BY THE FACT THAT I HAPPEN TO BE IN A HIGHLY DIFFICULT SITUATION WHERE I’M GREATLY OUTNUMBERED, PARTICULARLY IN MY LAW PRACTICE.
VERY OFTEN I GO TO COURT AND I’M ARRAYED AGAINST THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, THE ENTIRE POLICE DEPARTMENT, THEIR INVESTIGATORS. . . AND THERE IS JUST ME ON THE OTHER SIDE. THIS DOES NOT DAUNT ME, AND I BELIEVE THAT MY GREATEST STRENGTH IS THAT I NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP.
MY WEAKNESS IS THAT I’M A HIGHLY EMOTIONAL PERSON AND I’M ALSO SUBJECT TO ACT ON A MOMENTS NOTICE. I HAVE A GREAT IMPULSIVE DRIVE INSIDE OF ME, AND MY IMPULSES WILL LEAD EVERYWHERE FROM TAKING ON A NEW CAREER, SUCH AS I DID IN COMEDY, TO JUST DROPPING EVERYTHING AND GOING TO BRAZIL.
IN A SENSE IT’S A WEAKNESS BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A LOT OF CONTROL OVER THESE IMPULSES, AND I IN FACT ENJOY GIVING IN TO THEM. UNFORTUNATELY, IT DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK OUT TO MY ULTIMATE BENEFIT.
Norm: Who are your favorite authors, and why do they inspire you?
KEN: WELL MY FAVORITE AUTHOR IS HERMAN HESSE, AND I’VE READ EVERYTHING OF HIS. MOST IMPORTANTLY, SIDDHARTHA, AND HIS STRUGGLE AND SEARCH FOR THE MEANING OF LIFE REALLY HAD A DEEP IMPACT ON ME. BUT EVERYTHING THAT HERMAN HESSE WROTE HAS DEFINITELY IMPACTED ME.
|OBVIOUSLY, J.D. SALINGER WITH HIS CATCHER IN THE RYE HAD HUGE IMPACT ON ME AS A TEENAGER, JOSEPH HELL IN CATCH 22 HAD THE ESSENCE OF HUMOR THAT YOU SEE VERY RARELY IN BOOKS. ASIDE FROM THAT I LOVE MARK TWAIN, I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF MARK TWAIN. . .NOT ONLY HIS WRITINGS BUT THE REFLECTED SPEECHES THAT HE GAVE DURING THE COURSE OF HIS LIFETIME.Norm: What sage advice can you give individuals who have come from similar backgrounds as yourself?
KEN: YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE NOT THE VICTIM OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES. . . IF YOU FIND YOURSELF FINANCIALLY DEPRIVED, ON THE BOTTOM, WITH NO SUPPORT. . .THE MOST IMPORTANT REALIZATION YOU MUST GRASP IS THAT YOU STILL HAVE THE ABILITY WITHIN YOURSELF TO DIRECT THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE. . AND THAT NO POWER ON EARTH CAN DISSUADE YOU FROM YOUR CHERISHED GOALS.
Norm: I understand you are a stand- up comic. When did your passion as a stand-up comic begin? What kept you going? How do you come up with ideas for what your routines? What methods do you use to flesh out your ideas?
KEN: MY COMIC CAREER CAME AS THE RESULT OF A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE IN COURT WHEREIN A CLIENT STABBED ME IN THE CHEST WITH AN ICE PICK, AND ALTHOUGH THE PHYSICAL DAMAGE TURNED OUT NOT BE SEVERE, THE PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE WAS HUGE … I REALIZED MY MORTALITY, AND I KNEW IF THERE WAS ANYTHING I WANTED TO DO IN THIS LIFE I’D BETTER GET ON WITH IT.
MY SECRET FANTASY HAD ALWAYS BEEN TO DO STAND UP COMEDY, SO WHEN I SAW AN OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND A WORKSHOP ON STAND UP COMEDY I SIGNED UP FOR IT. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY I FOUND OUT I HAD A TALENT FOR IT.
AS FAR THE MATERIAL GOES MY CLASSMATES WERE VERY HELPFUL, WE ALL WORKED ON EACH OTHERS MATERIAL. I DEVELOPED AN APPROACH ON HOW TO DEVELOP DIFFERENT TOPICS AND HOW TO TURN AN ORDINARY SUBJECT INTO HUMOR.
I ALWAYS KEEP COPIOUS NOTES AND HAVE HUNDREDS OF SCRAPS OF PAPER, MANY OF THEM NAPKINS FROM VARIOUS RESTAURANTS, WITH ALL TYPES OF IDEAS AND SITUATIONS, EVEN SERIOUS ONES, WHERE HUMOR CAN BE FOUND. THEN I WILL SIT DOWN WITH THIS MESS OF NOTES AND BRING FORTH A ROUTINE.
THE HARDEST PART OF STAND UP COMEDY FOR ME WAS REMEMBERING MY MATERIAL ON STAGE. IT TOOK AN INCREDIBLE NUMBER OF REPETITIONS, DOZENS AND DOZENS, BEFORE I FELT COMFORTABLE ON STAGE KNOWING THAT I WOULD NOT FORGET MY ACT.
Norm: How have you used the Internet to boost your various occupations?
KEN: YES, I HAVE HIRED A BRILLIANT GUY BY THE NAME OF BRAD BUTLER DOES ALL OF MY WEB RESEARCH, HE IS FANTASTIC.
IN FACT HE CONTACTED YOU ABOUT MY BOOK. I AM TOTALLY COMPUTER ILLITERATE AND DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THEM, THEY WEREN’T INVENTED WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL AND I’M NOT VERY GOOD AT IT.
BUT I DO SEE THE TREMENDOUS POWER AND REACH OF THE INTERNET. AS A RESULT I HAVE ENGAGED OTHERS TO DEVELOP MY CONNECTIONS AND GAIN EXPOSURE THROUGH THE WORLD WIDE WEB. IT REALLY IS A FANTASTIC AND POWER TOOL.
Norm: Any unique ways you’ll be marketing your book that is different from how others authors market their books?
KEN: I AM GOING TO START GOING DOOR TO DOOR SELLING THEM INDIVIDUALLY LIKE THEY DID WITH ENCYCLOPEDIAS IN THE OLD DAYS.
Norm: Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
KEN: YES, I WOULD LOVE GET THEIR FEEDBACK IF THEY WERE KIND ENOUGH TO READ THE BOOK, ANY COMMENTS THEY MIGHT HAVE WOULD BE HELPFUL. WE ARE TAKING THE BOOK INTO ANOTHER PRINTING, SO ANY COMMENTS THEY HAVE WOULD BE APPRECIATED. THEY CAN TO ME THROUGH MY EMAIL AT firstname.lastname@example.org OR THEY CAN SEND THEM TO BRAD AT email@example.com AND THEY WILL BE FORWARDED TO ME.
Posted by: Denise | September 24, 2008
Kenny’s Interview with Norm Goldman