He has tickled the ivories to fame and acclaim. Now the 46-year-old jazz crooner/actor will tickle your funny bone as he plays along with Stupid Questions — and helps find the next singing champ as the new (and enthusiastically received) judge on Fox’s American Idol.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Sing me a song about how Idol is going to have a big comeback year. And make it something that really swings.
HARRY CONNICK JR.: I think I could do more of a hip-hop thing: I don’t drink/but if I had a beer/I’d tell you what/Idol‘s great this year/I’d drink some whiskey/I’d drink some wine/but by this time/I’d done run out of time.
That’s just off the top of your head?
Well, the middle of my head, where my mouth is. But I am doing a movie with a dolphin who has a hole on the top of her head.
We’ll get to Dolphin Tale 2 in a sec. The judges seem to be getting along so far. What will you do to fix this problem?
It’s all fake. Being up there with Jennifer Lawrence and Keith Sweat isn’t exactly my idea of a panel, so I got stuck and I gotta deal with it.
What is something surprising about Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban that may or may not be true?
The whole [in Australian accent] “Oh, I love it, mate. Yeeh, it’s griite” — Keith is actually from Brooklyn. His name is, like, Frank Clemente. And Jennifer has a third arm. She’s a beautiful woman, but it’s a little off-putting. It comes straight out of the middle of her back like a fin. It’s a functioning third arm. It’s got a hand, and it can sign contracts. If you’ve ever wondered why she’s able to wear those sexy dresses and not have a wardrobe malfunction, it’s because that third arm is holding it in place.
Which TV judge would make the best Idol judge: Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Wapner, or Beavis and Butt-head creator Mike Judge?
I gotta go with Wapner, only because [The People’s Court host/reporter] Doug Llewelyn is there and he’s got the bongo soundtrack. With Wapner, you get Llewelyn, and that’s tough to beat because you know Llewelyn’s going to be sitting up there on his lap or something. You’re going to get that whole extra world and the soundtrack, so it’s undeniably Wapner. You don’t get that with Judge Judy. You get it with Mike Judge — you get two other characters, but they’re animated so you would have to have the whole team come in and do that, so that’s a huge budgetary concern.
You did the soundtrack for When Harry met Sally. What was it like when you, in fact, did meet Sally?
We all know that Sally is a euphemism for Molly, the drug. So that’s where all that crazy big-band music came from, man. You know, me and Billie Joe Armstrong — we had a band together and that’s where I was going. Then I met Sally and all of the sudden I’m singing all these old standards.
People listen to metal to get out their aggression and break stuff and set personal bench-press records. Why do you think they listen to your music?
Well, the aggression has to come from somewhere, and that’s where my music comes in. My music causes the aggression to which they would have to lift weights and listen to heavy metal. I mean, if I think about how much my music pisses me off, I can’t imagine how much it would piss off somebody who doesn’t actually like it.
You received U.S. Patent 6,348,648 in 2002 for a “system and method for coordinating music display among players in an orchestra.” Is this as impressive and boring as it sounds?
It’s pretty boring but it’s also pretty cool, because it’s a system that you don’t need sheet music anymore. We’ve been using it for years onstage. It’s just a way of… yes, it’s extremely boring.
What else are you developing?
The latest thing is this device you use to get liquid out of a cup or glass. It’s like a thin, cylindrical tube that you put between your lips and suck the liquid through. It’s cool — I think when it catches on, it’ll be great. The “drinking tube” is the working name.
You married a Victoria’s Secret model. How does it work? When she invites her friends over, do you pull out a collapsible runway from the closet?
I never pull that out because that’s the runway that I use. The guest runway is always on display. My personal runway is only two feet long so there’s a lot of turning. I can only do four or five laps before I fall from dizziness. I mean, you can’t even get a full stride on it. It’s a closet model.
You’re filming Dolphin Tale 2. Is this the dark and brooding Empire Strikes Back of what I assume will be a trilogy?
Yes, she has a laser beam that comes out of her blowhole and she starts firing at all the volunteers in the aquarium. I’m serious, bro — it’s really, really deep. Super dark. She talks now. They CGI’d her mouth. They really went all out for this. And it’s a musical. They have James Earl Jones’ voice come out of Kris Kristofferson’s head, singing and shooting lasers. They did the 3-D thing, but now they got the scratch-n-sniff, so you get the smell of dolphins and sea turtles and river otters. It’s the next frontier.
You’ve signed on to star in a Fox family comedy as a successful entertainer/single dad who takes time off to reconnect with his teenage daughter. For the promos, will you be posing with your back against hers, shaking your head in amused frustration and pointing at her with your thumb while she’s rolling her eyes?
So you’ve seen them already. And there will be a CGI dolphin that barks above our head. That’s the whole campaign right there. And a couple of pratfalls.
When would you like to quit or be fired from Idol?
Today is the first day of Hollywood Week and I’m out. I’m going to head on over to The Sing-Off.
Is it better over there?
I don’t know. But I know that they have Jewel. I like to call her JewelLo. I’ll be over there, checking out her third arm.