Carlos Alazraqui, Reno 911!
From Barney Fife to Barney Miller, cops and comedy have made hysterical bedfellows. Comedy Central's cult hit Reno 911! is proof that the bumbling-police shtick remains in fine hands. The mostly improvised series plays its Cops-like parody for plenty of white-trash gags and silly sexual innuendos. Comic Carlos Alazraqui, who plays dim-witted deputy James Garcia, took a few moments away from World Cup action to lay down the law with TVGuide.com about his screwy series arriving on DVD this week, what the new season promises, and what's up with these modern Keystone Kops hitting movie screens.
 
TVGuide.com: So, Reno 911! — The Complete Third Season is here on DVD.
Carlos Alazraqui:
Yeah, and fans will love the new intros we shot. Also, we've finished the fourth season, and all I can promise is it's bigger, better and broader. It's hard for me to remember exactly what happens, though, because we finished it in June [2005], and then we finished the movie (Reno 911! Miami) this past February.
 
TVGuide.com: Did you always want to be a comic?
Alazraqui:
Well, anything that didn't involve me having to work a real office job was OK. [Laughs] Growing up, I liked to watch Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family.... I was also a big Monty Python fan. Comedy was on my mind, but I was also a big jock in high school.
 
TVGuide.com: Are you still into sports?
Alazraqui:
I play tennis. I like to skydive — I have about 708 jumps and only one reserve ride, which is pulling your second chute when the first doesn't open.
 
TVGuide.com: Were you scared?
Alazraqui:
It's like a car accident. You just have to react and you don't think about it at the time, but afterwards you're thinking stuff like, "I could have made a mistake," or, "Luckily, I didn't soil my drawers."
 
TVGuide.com: Also scary is improv comedy. How much of Reno 911! is made up on the spot?
Alazraqui:
I'd say about 85 percent. We get an idea and improv it in the conference room until we get a few beats [jokes] we like, and then take it out there.
 
TVGuide.com: You once got to improvise with Kenny Rogers on the show.
Alazraqui:
Yeah, Kenny was a huge fan. I rode around with him in a car and we made up stuff for 30 minutes. I had a bunch of Kenny Rogers stupid facts about those Gambler TV-movies, and Kenny just rolled with it. He's a solid cat.
 
TVGuide.com: Why do you think the show has such a cult following?
Alazraqui:
I think it's because we're so vulnerable... and stupid. We're the underdogs, just a rinky-dinky sheriff department with nothing to look forward to but crystal-meth busts and the [crappy] Policeman's Ball. People like to see the desperation in us.
 
TVGuide.com: What can we expect from Reno 911! Miami?
Alazraqui:
The movie will be a classic fish-out-of-water story. It involves a big police-safety convention in Miami to which we've been invited, but we can't get in because we don't have our passes. Then there's a biological scare inside the convention center and the officers of Reno have to protect Miami and save the day. The film has some fun guest stars like Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt, and a few big surprises.
 
TVGuide.com: Some people may not realize you were the voice of the Taco Bell chihuahua.
Alazraqui:
Oh, now that was a huge gig. I was on Hollywood Squares once just because I was the voice of that dog! I also got to do the voice for all the talking toys they sold. I didn't go crazy with the money I made from that, but I did buy some classic Vespa scooters.
 
TVGuide.com: You do a lot of voices. Has anyone ever wanted you to trick someone with one of your impressions?
Alazraqui:
Hmm... one time a friend asked me to talk to his kid on the phone as Hulk Hogan, and after 27 minutes I had nothing else to say! I just ended by saying, "Be a good kid, brush your teeth... buy low, sell high... now get off the phone." What else was there to say as the Hulk?