August 17, 2011
When I first met J Keith, I found his personality really grating. A friend brought him to a softball game my wife and I used to organize every Sunday. He was competitive and started to take over the game. I’m not competitive. I’m not a huge fan of sports. But I loved our low-key softball games. And this guy was f—-ing them up.
J Keith runs a show called “The Fix Up Show,” “which is a live on-stage matchmaking show where we fix up people on dates with the help of celebrities.” He’s hit me up many times to use “my single peeps” for his shows, and I send them his way. But I know he’s still single. And although I had remembered him being really irksome, I thought I’d give him another chance. So I told him to sit down for an interview with me.
He shows up to meet me looking like a shlump in an old baseball hat, ill-fitting jeans and a sweatshirt. But I quickly notice a nice, tailored dress shirt peeking out of the sweatshirt, as well as an understated dress watch on his wrist. You can sense he comes from money, but it goes back a couple of generations. There’s no need to show it off. “Make me look good,” he says. “Why?” I ask. “Make me look accurate, how about that?” I promise him I will do my best.
J Keith’s last name is Dutch, so people are often surprised to find out he’s “100 percent Jewish.” He was born and raised in Chicago with no religion. “I’m about 96 percent atheist,” he says. His mother was killed in a car accident when he was 2, and his father remarried twice. At 14, he moved to Los Angeles “under great duress.”
He’s a writer/performer. “I’m not a good actor. I’m a good host.” He did a bunch of those VH1 talking-head shows. “I’m good at being quippy that way.” He also writes poetry. And not the cool, hip kind. “It would not work well in a slam. It would work better in a bookstore or a coffeehouse. It’s not contemporary. The best thing about my poetry is that I won’t make anyone read it.” When he discusses it, though, I get a window into his intellectual side, and he lights up as he discusses history.
He loves art, theater and baseball. “I’m a huge Angels fan, so I’d love someone who’d go with me to games. I also love board games. I’m in a Scrabble club … ladies?” he says with a laugh.
He wants a woman who’s smart, pretty and thin. “Someone who does something creative, even if it’s not their occupation. It’s really important to me that someone does something creative in their life.”
He also wants a woman who works on herself in some way. “I’m very pro-therapy. I think everyone should do therapy. It should be government mandated. We all have our issues, but as long as we’re working on them somehow, it’s very appealing.”
I ask him about being an artist and if now, at 40, an unstable career scares him. “There was a point where every year was better than the year before, and I thought that will keep happening, but it didn’t. Fortunately, I’ve done well with what I’ve saved, and in many ways I’m a responsible grown-up. I have an IRA, no debt, matching placemats. Luckily I don’t need to worry about money.”
He looks at his watch and excuses himself. “All right, I don’t want to be late to therapy.”
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Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.