So that first album was nearly 60 years ago. How do you feel looking back on those first few years of your career?
The weird thing was, you had to learn the standup business from the top. You had to learn your craft in front of 3,500, 4,000 people. That was the hard part. And it was like a singer's album - the people wanted to hear me do those routines. The hits. It was tough. You were a success already, but there was a lot to learn about standup.
It must have been an ego boost though, having such immediate success. How did you stay grounded?
I'm not sure I did. [Laughs.] I was in San Francisco doing a movie called Hell Is for Heroes  with Steve McQueen and Bobby Darin, and I had two weeks off. And I had been stationed in San Francisco in the Korean War, and I got down there, I'm walking around Union Square, enjoying it. Who knew six months after my discharge I'd have this record album? I'd go by these stores, a Maserati store or an expensive car store, and I'd look in the window and go, "I could buy that." And go by another window: "I could buy that." I didn't buy it but –
You liked the idea of it.
Oh yeah. And then there was the time, when I was an accountant, I was going to leave accounting and go to another firm, so I signed up with an employment agency in '57, '58. So after the album and after I've done four or five Ed Sullivan shows, I'm at home and I get a call from the employment agency. And they say, "are you happy in your present job?" And I said "yes," because I knew what was coming. And they said, "Well we have an opening as a plant comptroller, and we think you'd be ideal." And I said, naturally, I'd be willing to make a change if the money is correct. They said, "Well that should've be a problem, what would your salary demands be?" And I said "right now I'm making about 250,000 a year, so it would have to be at least 300,000 for me to consider." And there was a long pause. And they said, "the president of this firm only makes 150,000." And I said, "well, I wouldn't be interested." It was… [the feeling was] like buying the company you used to work for.
I know you've talked about this before, but since it's one of the most genius things in comedy I have to ask about the Newhart finale, where you wake up and find the entire TV series was a dream that your character from your previous TV show had. It's so good, but was there any trepidation that people would feel 'had'?
There was that concern, yeah. It actually was my wife's idea. She came up with the idea. The Newhart show, so much was inexplicable. You had Larry, Daryl and Daryl, who I always thought right out of Deliverance – what the hell were they doing in Vermont? The maid was an heiress. There were inexplicable things about it, and she said, "You ought to end it explaining to Suzanne [Pleshette, who played his wife on The Bob Newhart Show] this dream you had about owning this really odd inn." I said, "that's a great idea!" There was some concern. St. Elsewhere had ended where it was a fiction – and [you think] "but we've spent all this time!" But the reaction when we did it in front of the audience was immediate. The minute they saw the bedroom set from The Bob Newhart Show, they started applauding.