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By Jeffrey Slonim | January 1, 2009 | People
FROM LEFT: David Price; Ralph Lauren; Bernadette Peters.
Sure, the taxi drivers who get passenger complaints about those pesky little TV screens in the back of their seats might not be too thrilled about them. But those mobile mini screens have produced their first breakout star: writer/actor David Price, host of The Middle Show—produced for Black20.com and sponsored by Loopt—and a National Amateur Dodgeball Association champion. Vroom, vroom.
Not in a cab at the moment? Click on Black20.com for Price’s “Monster Prat Falls” episode in which he tosses a ? ve-disc DVD changer into the air on a crowded sidewalk. Next, he shrieks like a little girl after hurling 12 stacked-up cups of coffee from Starbucks up in the air. And Price had me at “donor” when he dropped an ice-packed heart on the sidewalk and yelled, “Oh, my God, the donor is going to kill me.This is supposed to be for Broadway legend Bernadette Peters.”
His hair, his teeth, and even the button-down epaulets on his shoulders are funny. “Producers and agents are calling me,” he says of his captive cab audience. But Price’s career trajectory wasn’t always aimed at the screen. After graduating from Ohio State, Price and the Bexley Reckers, wearing only Speedos and tube tops with spaghetti straps, nabbed three National Amateur Dodgeball Association Championships. As a result, the NADA created the prestigious Bexley Cup, awarded to any team that wins both the indoor and outdoor championships in the same year.
According to a lawsuit, as reported by The New York Times, the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story was oddly close to his own life story and a script that he and his writing partner, Ashoka Thomas, had already peddled around Hollywood. Both scripts, for example, noted China as a dodgeball mecca (it isn’t), and each had a coach in a wheelchair who returns as a ghost to consult. Ka-ching.
“We reached an amicable settlement,” Price answers when asked about the legal debacle. “That’s all I’m allowed to say.”
When the dodgeball champ ?rst moved to Los Angeles, he recalls, “I figured I was going to be a movie star.” He promptly fell “flat on my face,” ran out of money, and “ate a lot of condiment-based sandwiches.”
He first sputtered into Manhattan in a 1989 Honda Civic. Besides being a manny for the high and mighty (expect a script), Price’s first real gig was working as an extra on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. “I barely had any scenes,” he says. “Ashoka and I would sneak up to the craft services table and grab a cup of dry noodle soup and Rice Krispies treats. After a day of extra work, we’d have food for a week.”
Another minor success came when, while eating off the dollar menu at McDonald’s after a date, Price encountered the producer of Ed, who cast him for a couple of weeks.
But it was Black20.com that was Price’s big break. As the host of The Middle Show he’s run across the Brooklyn Bridge wearing a Speedo and nothing else in brisk weather (talk about shrinkage) and attempted to enter the fashion tents at Bryant Park with no credentials, claiming he had an emergency briefcase of underwear for Ralph Lauren (who didn’t show in the tents). The plan backfired when an alert cop noticed a mic poking up out of the back of Price’s pants. When an army of police and security, whispering “bomb,” surrounded Price, he talked fast and apologized profusely.
One of his most probing sketches for The Middle Show has him quizzing New Yorkers about white stereotypes—i.e., they can’t dance and can’t jump. “I got a lot of crazy answers, such as all white people like mayonnaise,” he said. “One guy from Jamaica said that growing up, he thought that only white people were gay.” And, nutty answer numero uno, according to Price: “White people smell like dogs when they get wet.”
Photographs by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage.com (PETERS); Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com (LAUREN); Mei Tao (PRICE)