April 18, 2014 at 10:49 AM ET
Billy Crystal is bringing his Tony Award-winning, autobiographical stage production, "700 Sundays," to HBO, and with it, he's giving a whole new audience a look at his life growing up with and without his father.
The title of the show refers to the number of Sundays Crystal had with his dad before losing him to a heart attack when Crystal was just 15.
"That's sort of the strength of the show," Crystal told TODAY's Matt Lauer of the focus on limited time. "(It's) at the end, when I come to grips with that and say, 'Yeah, it wasn't a lot, but look what I got in the short period of time that we were together.'"
But eventually, Crystal lost more than his father. In 2001, his mother died too, and although she was in his life longer, the loss was just as jarring.
"You always think you're going to be ready for it, and (I wasn't)," he said. "I had about three weeks to contemplate, after the initial stroke, that I may lose her."
The actor said his stage show gives him the chance to honor his parents every night, and he puts it at the top of the list of his career accomplishments.
As for Sundays, now that both of his parents are gone, Crystal said the days are still special to him.
"Because the kids call (on Sunday)," he smiled. "'What are you going to do today, Grandpa?' My 4-year-old grandson, Hudson, is starting to figure out what I do. ... He says to my son-in-law, 'I want to be like Grandpa. ... I want to be a chameleon too.'"
See the chameleon-comedian in his special on HBO April 19 at 9 p.m, and see more of his sit-down with Lauer this weekend on TODAY.