Shocking! An Interview with Balki Bartokomous
By: Jake Jarmell
Okay, so youíve probably looked at this title, and are wondering one of two things. First: who the hell is Balki Bartokomous?!? Or, if youíre knowledgeable in 1980s sitcoms, then how can Jake be interviewing Balki? Heís a fictional character played by Bronson Pinchot! Yes, this is true. However, the skilled character actor, Pinchot, decided to sit down with me to discuss playing the role of Balki on the hit sitcom ďPerfect Strangers,Ē the show itself, and his acting career in general.

Jarmell: Itís such a pleasure to sit down and talk with you, Balki!
Pinchot: My nameís not Balki, itís Bronson.
JJ: Ah, yes. Iím sorry. Itís just a slip of the tongue. Iím so used to seeing you as that lovely Myposian sheep herder.
BP: Yeah, youíre not the only one. Itís been rough. For a long time, any person would see me and yell ďBalki! Balki!Ē They thought I really was Balki.
JJ: Much like Urkelís situation Iím sure?
BP: Yes, and ironically, Family Matters was a spin-off of our show. But, if the Balki situation wasnít enough, it got worse. I took a role in the Beverly Hills Cop films as some gay art gallery guy. So, suddenly, I was on the street either being asked to do the Balki voice or the gay voice or both at the same time! People on the street thought I could be a gay Balki.
JJ: Thatís crazy. But it shows your amazing ability as a character actor. Speaking of your ability, you went on to play a French guy on Step by Step and an alien who looked like a human in the short-lived Meego.May I ask why you picked those roles?
BP: I donít know. I wanted work, and in both cases, the production companies were desperate. Step by Stepís ratings were dropping like flies, and Meego just needed a respectable actor for a role that consisted of poor writing and a terrible premise. They were trying to bank off the name Bronson Pinchot, and it just did not work out.
JJ: And we all know when we think of the most famous celebrities, Bronson Pinchot comes to mind! Now, letís discuss Perfect Strangers, which was the key to your success. How was it on the set?
BP: Well, Mark-Linn Baker and myself got along real well. It was a real fun show to do. The writing tailed off in the end.
JJ: Yeah, I mean just look at some of the plot synopses of these episodes. Balki picks which team will win football games based on the animalsí ferociousness. Larry and Balkiís wives both give birth simultaneously on a hot air balloon. And, a special 2-part episode in which someone kidnaps Balkiís stuffed animal puppet that means so much to him? Itís crazy. It seems like the writers though the latter was equivalent to ďWho Shot J.R.?Ē or something.
BP: Yeah, like I said, it got bad in the end, but it was entertainment. People were watching and enjoying, and thatís all that mattered to me.
JJ: Some people speculate that Larry and Balki secretly were a gay couple.
BP: (in his Balki accent) Of course not, donít be ri-deck-ulous! A lot of people say a lot of dumb things. Larry and Balki were related, so itís strange to comprehend that possibility. People said that Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street are gay, too, but thatís a ridiculous concept as well.
JJ: Yeah, of course. I mean, to my knowledge, muppets donít have sex with each other. As a fan of the show, I always had a dream that you, Larry, and your two flight attendant girlfriends would have mad orgies in your Chicago apartment. Is that possible?
BP: I suppose itís possible. Anything was possible with the type of episodes that were being written for the show. I really feel bad because the producers and writers didnít learn from their mistake. The same thing happened with Family Matters years later. It went from being a family show, to a mix of a family show with the comedy of a well-known character in Steve Urkel to just completely turning into The Steve Urkel/Stephan Urquelle show.
JJ: And, thus, the downfall of the show. How did you like ending your run as part of ABCís TGIF line-up?
BP: It was great. TGIF was a great concept that unfortunately faded away. It had quality programs for families, and I was proud to have the show be a part of it. Seven years on the air. It was amazing. I didnít think the viewers would be so accepting of such a weird concept to a show.
JJ: Speaking of the concept, what kind of mindset did you have to get into to play a character from Mypos?
BP: Well, Mypos is a fictional, Mediterranean island, so it was just throwing in a strange kind of Greek-ish accent that would be both foreign, yet cute. Sometimes Mark-Linn and I would go out and I would actually use the accent and pick up hotter chicks in a bar than Mark-Linn could imagine. See, Balki had a type of sexiness to him that Larry Appleton could only dream of.
JJ: You mean to tell me that the island of Mypos really doesnít exist?
BP: Yeah.
JJ: (in my best Balki accent) Of course it does, donít be ridiculous! So would you be willing to come with me on a vacation to Mypos?
BP: Hey, if you can find a ticket, Iím there.
JJ: Excellent! Now, are you and Mark-Linn still in contact? Do you go watch Cubs games together or try and walk in the gusty winds of Chicago as seen in the theme song intro to the show?
BP: Well, yeah, Mark-Linn and I do get together on occasion. We both donít live in the Windy City, so we donít do things like just on the show, but we meet up.
JJ: Smoke weed?
BP: Sure, back in the day. Sometimes we were both high when we did episodes of Perfect Strangers. As established before, the writers always seemed to be high.
JJ: Unbelievable. One of the great 1980s sitcoms composed of a bunch of drug users.
BP: Well, we werenít addicted, but it was something everyone was doing in the 1980s.
JJ: So, I suppose if the Hollywood community beat a person to death every month, everyone would do that, too?
BP: Sure, and Alf probably would have been the first to go.
JJ: Oh, if only that could have happened. Then, it would be one down in the annoying individuals involved in 10-10-220 commercials.
BP: I hear that.
JJ: So, what are you up to these days?
BP: Well, Iím getting jobs in films on occasion and I do voice-over works for animated shows and such. Itís working out well.
JJ: Any chance for a Perfect Strangers reunion?
BP: Iíd love to do it if the offer came on the table.
JJ: And Iíd love to write the script! I have it all planned out. Balki goes back home to Mypos with this family, but this time, Larry is offered a hefty sum to take work, in, off all places, Mypos! So, the Bartokomous family and the Appleton family meet together again this time in their European ancestry.
BP: Well, just pitch it to Warner Brothers! With ABCís crap shows like The Bachelorette, hopefully theyíll be willing to bring back some of their great 80s show.
JJ: Yeah, Iíll be praying for it. Well, thanks for this interview, Bronson!
BP: (in his Balki accent) As they say in Mypos, ďKiitzii kooki galah!Ē or ďYour Welcome and Goodbye, Everyone. I Love You All!Ē

It's Balki! Looking quite spiffy as well for his important job as the mail guy at the newspaper!
Here's Balki and Larry in their family portrait. Notice that the rest of the Appleton and Bartokomous family did not seem to show up. Well, at least we all love you, Balki and Larry. Well, not Larry so much. But, Balki, we love you, you foreign funny man!
Here's a great picture of the Myposian lifestyle. Having to leave his homeland for the great United States, Balki carries a modest luggage: a few bags, some sort of cage, a loaf of bread, and a sign: "AMERICA OR BURST." Apparently in Mypos, rather than saying "AMERICA OR BUST," they say BURST meaning that if Balki does not get to America, his intestines will burst. Either simply from disappointment or that month old Myposian wheat bread Mama Bartokomous gave him!