If you didn’t make it to Pine Box Rock Shop’s last installation of Late Night Basement with Chris Rose, you missed out. Longtime fans of Clarissa Explains It All packed the back room of Pine Box Rock Shop for headliner Jason Zimbler, aka Ferguson, from the early ’90s Nickelodeon sensation. Host Rose dug deep and raised some hard-hitting questions: Is the former Young Republican planning a run for office? Did Ferguson and Clarissa ditch the sibling rivalry off-screen? Was there any time for video games? And most importantly, was Sam really that cool?
Late Night Basement, which began last January, is held once a month in the back of Pine Box Rock Shop. This past month Weyerbacher Brewing Company teamed up with Late Night Basement, offering 2-for-1 of its seasonal AutumnFest beer. Easy to drink, AutumnFest pours a dark amber with a fruity hop upfront and a crisp, dry finish.
Beer in hand, the night began with standup from professional funnymen Mike Drucker, a writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Seaton Smith, an alum of Montreal’s Just For Laughs. Both were crowd-pleasers and likely collected some new loyal followers.
They were joined by Sari Botton, the editor of the new anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York. Botton spoke about her on-again, off-again love affair with New York City, comparing it to a bad boyfriend. “I’m happy I left pissed off,” she stated, recounting her departure eight years ago for the Hudson Valley after she lost her rent-controlled apartment in a court battle.
Recalling a phone conversation she once had with her uncle, she described the changes the city has undergone since she left. At one point in time, when she told her family she was going to cross the East River to attend a dinner party in Park Slope, her uncle replied with the stern order, “Don’t go to Brooklyn” Although Brooklyn is safer today than it used to be, Botton said she was happy to see that the borough’s ongoing gentrification hasn’t completely wiped out the diversity in Bushwick, noting that it “still has some nice grit.”
The final show of Late Night Basement’s 2013 season culminated with Zimbler, who played Melissa Joan Hart’s scheming little brother on Clarissa Explains It All. Now 36 years old, Zimbler opened up about his experience as a child actor and pounding the pavement at the budding age of six. He went on 5-10 auditions a week yet still made time for school and homework, and even more impressive—ActRaiser and Super Tennis on Super NES.
Zimbler also addressed Ferguson and Clarissa’s on-screen sibling rivalry, which according to Zimbler, continued offstage as they both vied for attention from the cast and crew. Discussing his character’s early interest in politics, Zimbler admitted that while he wasn’t making an official announcement, a career in politics “intrigued” him.
Twenty years after the show ended it appears Zimbler is doing well, which is not the case with most child actors (ahem Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan, Macaulay Culkin et al.). Reflecting on his childhood as a young star, Zimbler said it best, “I’m here and I’m not depressed.”
And for the record, Sam really was that cool.