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Richard Karn likes to play the nerd

We interviewed Richard Karn, who stars as Al on the ABC show Home Improvement. In his spare time he likes to play with his 4-year-old son, Cooper.

Question: Al is a little nerdy on the show. Why is it okay to be a little nerdy instead of having to be cool all the time?

Answer: Nerdy is a wonderful way to confess problems. Even though the audience might know what's going on, the character can get more mileage and laughter out of approaching the problem from a naive or nerdy angle.

Question: Do you wear flannel shirts even when you're not on TV?

Answer: As little as possible. I live in Southern California, and the weather doesn't lend itself to flannel.

Question: Why don't they ever show the face of Tim's neighbor, Wilson?

Answer: Wilson was a character that Tim wanted to have the qualities of an actual neighbor of his from Michigan who he never saw (he'd just see stuff go by the fence), and his grandfather, who'd give him advice.

Question: How has being a TV star changed your life?

Answer: It has afforded me the chance to be able to step back and see what I want to do. When I was doing theater in New York for $150 a week, I was pursuing a living. Sometimes you can't always see the big picture as you're pursuing a living. Once you have a little security, you can step back and say, "Okay, this is where I want to go in life."

Question: Is Bob Vila really your favorite home improvement person?

Answer: No, my dad is.

Question: Do you do home repairs in your house?

Answer: I do what I feel comfortable with, but I can afford to have repairs done professionally.

Question: Why do you like being on Home Improvement?

Answer: Because it's a show that I feel proud to be associated with. It's something that my parents and their friends enjoy, it's something that my friends enjoy and it's something my younger nieces and nephews enjoy. Also it gives me the chance to be seen in the industry, which is always a good thing if I want to continue working.

Question: Did you know Tim Allen before you got on the show?

Answer: About a year before I had seen and enjoyed his stand-up routine, but I didn't know him until we started the first day of rehearsal.

Question: What would you be if you weren't an actor?

Answer: When I was doing New York theater I thought what else can I do? Now that I've had some success, I can see a lot of other things to do.

Question: Who was the most interesting guest on the show?

Answer: About three years ago we had actors Ernest Borgnine and Jack Elam on the show. They were television icons who had been around a long time, and they had some great stories.

Question: What was your favorite episode?

Answer: When Tim came over to my apartment and we talked and got to know each other a little better.

Question: What are your hobbies?

Answer: Golf; I play in golf tournaments to raise money for cancer. I also like to snow ski.

Question: Who is your favorite actor?

Answer: Sean Connery.