About 5 weeks ago I was asked by Richard S. Drake to appear on his television program ‘On the Air’ for an interview. I don’t have cable, so to my embarrassment, I had to ask him about his show. Was it a religious chat? Political? Would I have to show up before dawn (not my best time) and perch on a small pointed stool like my last interview? (They nearly had to get the Jaws of Life to retrieve the stool after I was done with it.) Would it be recorded via a wide angle lens, making me look like I Sumo wrestle on the weekends? Most importantly, would it be LIVE?? The following ‘conversation’ ensued:
Also, will the interview be live or taped? I’m abominable on live tv. Well, so far I am … Only one interview, but I was unsettled by the interviewer’s tendency to stare past my head when I was talking. I don’t know – Maybe she was merely presenting her best side to the camera. . . (If you want a rather candid account of the debacle: http://theaphipps.net/?p=505 )
The show is a little about everything, since I get bored very easily. In the past 19 years I have interviewed writers, politicians, former CNN anchors (well one, anyway) singers, and artists of all stripes.
The show would be taped, and shown about a month after we tape it. When we started the show in 1991 it was live, but that got old very quickly. We tape Thursday mornings at around 11am. I hope that this might be agreeable to you.
I’ll check out your interview – I think you might have a better time on my show!
And I am sure that I will have a better time on your show. I am already at ease and looking forward to getting together with you.
Do you already have a tentative date for me to come in?
(Whoops! I’d better read ‘The Doll’ myself! I’m in the middle of book 3 and my mind is tangled up in another plot… Most call that forgetful… I call it ‘unburdened’…)
First, I was asked to do a station promo. I was to look straight into the camera and say, “Hello. I’m Thea Phipps, and you’re watching Community Access Television in Fayetteville, Arkansas.” That was all. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, so did I . . .
I looked straight into the camera, a hush fell in the studio . . . I mean a silence so profound I heard a toilet flush next door . . . I opened my mouth to say ‘Hello’ . . . and suddenly had an insane desire to look at Richard sitting beside me and say, “Now? You mean . . . Now? Like . . . right now?. . . Oka-a-a-a-y, NOW!”
I would have been kicked out of the studio before they would have had time to turn off the kleig lights.
I got myself under control – though I have to admit that it took some ultra-silent seconds for me to do so – then began my one sentence spiel.
When I got to the part of, ‘in Fayetteville, Arkansas’, I became aware of Richard mouthing the words along with me as a sort of prompt. When you are already smiling, holding back a fit of laughing becomes a herculean feat. I nearly lost it. I have no idea why. It just struck me as so funny. I made it through, however, with nothing more than a slight wobble to the word, ‘Fayetteville’. I sounded demented, but he was right! I was already having much more fun!
Then before beginning the interview, Richard gave me one very emphatic morsel of instruction: DO NOT AT ANY TIME SPEAK TO THE CAMERA. LOOK AT ME. NEVER AT THE CAMERA.
Guess what I did.
But in my defense, I wasn’t exactly speaking to it. I was gathering my thoughts. I was letting my eyes rove about the studio. I was using my memory, which tends to skew my eyeballs a bit to the right. Everybody does it. Try it. Watch others. Ask a G-man trained in interrogation. Unfortunately, the camera was right in my line of memory vision and I wasn’t even aware of looking at it. It was merely an upright stationary object in the middle of the floor. So I have those moments of searching for the right word . . . of remembering an event . . . and looking right into the camera with an utterly blank look. In fact, I begin my interview with that skill.
Then came my favorite part, well into the interview, when I felt a burp starting to form. Great! I knew that as soon as I opened my mouth, it would pop out. So I tried to diffuse it while he finished his question. It kind of released itself as a low frequency belch. Well . . . two low frequency belches. The anxiety of the first belch caused the existence of the second one. Too late, I remembered that my mic was clipped on the neck of my sweater. Would the audience hear it? Would they think that I ate beans the night before?
The only thing I regret was that I didn’t do the interview a week or two later than I had. At the time, I had just gotten over the flu and was still suffering the aftermath of low energy. I used the table in front of me as a prop, leaning my elbows on the edge for support – not to hold myself upright, but because it was more comfortable. Unfortunately, this made me speak relatively gesture free. A couple of times I thought I saw Richard glance pointedly at my hands. So, eventually getting the message, I gestured. Rather spastically. I had to stop. I was afraid I’d start laughing at myself. It would have certainly made for a livelier interview if I had let myself go, or if I had the energy to be more irreverent, but I couldn’t risk Richard asking me to leave the room. Little did I know at the time that Richard wouldn’t have minded a bit.
All things considered, it was a wonder I didn’t complete my appearance by falling out of my chair.
Thank you, Richard for asking me to be on your show. I had a great time!
Do you have any embarrassing moments you want to share? (Yeah . . . live them twice over.) Remember, to leave a comment, click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right. Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.
And now, to watch a funny video – oh, wait. You’ll have to wait until I can post the time and date of the interview. . . Richard, feel free to jump in any time and comment . . .