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Because I, Too, Enjoyed It
posted: 03/27/07

A few nights ago I was watching the tube (or "the magic box," as it is referred to in "Simon," to clear that up, should I ever refer to the television in such a manner in the future, or if I have in the past - plus, Alan Arkin rules), which is not at all uncommon, so I don't know why I should mention it. But anyway, I have digital cable, and I caved and just went for the Give Me Everything All The Time Plan, which gives me, no kidding, 999 channels (roughly 500 of which are pay-per-view or Coming Soon) and one of the first things I got around to after getting digital cable was programming my Favorites into the two remotes, so I can skip over all of the crap that I don't or won't likely ever watch (or, like, ever see now that it isn't in Favorites). And I think, out of the 999 channels I receive I have something like 106 Favorites programmed. Which is a ratio that, when held up to the Cable Company Marketing Chart and Payment Plan corresponds to Customer Type = Moron.

Anyhoo, I was flipping through the Favorites at the speed of light, and I came upon Carrie Fisher's show, which is, I think, called "Conversations From the Edge With Carrie Fisher." Talk show. Sorta.

I like Carrie Fisher okay. Smart gal. Famously troubled. You know, with the substance abuse and the Star Mom and the bi-polar and the failed-Paul-Simon-marriage (quote from some documentary related to the latest point, in which someone said: "In a relationship you can have a gardener and a rose, or you can have two gardeners, but you can't have two roses and expect them to grow," which has always stuck with me, though I don't know that I completely agree... but I don't necessarily disagree) and the Dealing With It. Carrie Fisher = okay. Looked good in metal bikini. Jabba Jabba.

Carrie Fisher had Janeane Garofalo on. Now Janeane Garofalo I like. Janeane Garofalo is better than okay. Janeane Garofalo is all cool and funny and smart and stuff. Like it matters that I'm saying this.

So Carrie Fisher has Janeane Garofalo on. And Janeane Garofalo is really, really cool and funny and smart. And stuff. And on Conversations From the Edge With Carrie Fisher, which I think is on The Oxygen Network, Carrie Fisher won't let her talk. Janeane Garofalo would go to say something, or try to answer something, and Carrie Fisher would hop in there and just talk over her. And there was nothing at all conversational about it. And it pissed me off. Because Janeane Garofalo is way better than okay. And this just went on and on.

I used to see Janeane Garofalo in New York a lot. Not, like see her, you know, but see her. With me peepers. She used to go to this bar down in the Village where I'd been installed basically as a permanent fixture at one point, and she'd come in, and let me tell you, Janeane Garofalo is, if you didn't know, famously tiny, like pocket-sized, and she would come in this bar usually wearing black track pants and a t-shirt, and this HUGE watch, which it looked like she was still wearing on the Carrie Fisher show, and she would walk back to the back room of the bar. And I'd always say to myself, "What's Janeane Garofalo doing in a bar where I go?" Because Janeane Garofalo is cool. And then, eventually, someone would throw me in a cab, usually headfirst. And in a few days, or sometimes after only a few hours, I would come back, and Janeane Garofalo would come in, and walk to the back of the bar, and I would ask myself weighty questions, and so forth.

Janeane Garofalo always goes on about being fat and out of shape and not caring and being anti-derive-your-self-esteem-from-your-looks-which-ain't-like-what's-featured-in-Vogue, but I tell you: Janeane Garofalo ain't fat (and so what if she is, but she ain't) and she's easy on the eyes, as far as I'm concerned. And that's all I have to say about that.

Now Carrie Fisher is just blabbing on (she had Robin Williams on a few nights before; can you imagine the sphincter-tightening din of stress and dementia and pent-up frustration that must have issued from that little "talk"?) and it looked to me like Janeane Garofalo was getting a little sick of it, and then Carrie Fisher asked Janeane Garofalo if she'd been in therapy.

So Janeane Garofalo said she'd been to a therapist once, for a day, because she had been drinking a lot, for about 10-15 years, and her friends had done an intervention of sorts, and that she'd been to AA and done the "30 Meetings in 30 Days" arrangement, and that she'd done it, it seemed to me, largely for her friends (which she seemed to be implying), and that she'd been sober for 11 months. And Carrie Fisher tried to sort of get Janeane Garofalo to say "I'm an alcoholic," but Janeane Garofalo wouldn't really say that. Instead, Janeane Garofalo said, essentially, that she'd really liked drinking, for a long time, and when she drank she drank ALL OF IT, and she did this all through her twenties [because that's what your twenties are for, to burn you out for your thirities], but there came a point, in her thirties, when her body sort of couldn't keep up, and things got somewhat out of hand, but she really, like, enjoyed drinking, and maybe that might make her an alcoholic, we can't say for sure, but maybe on the other hand it was just that she really liked to drink, and when she drank, she drank until the well went dry. And sometimes but definitely not always she'd drink to feel better but mostly she drank because it was fun to drink and she would drink, drink, drink and be drunk and merry.

But no more.

And I thought: yep.

Carrie Fisher has unfortunately gone into my "They Don't Know How to Interview/They Think They're The Reason We Tune In/Why The Hell Won't They Shut Up?" pile of television question-asker-but-not-really-I'd-rather-talk-come-to-think-of-it types. I mean, it's a broad category. Some interviewers are just idiotic. I won't get into that subject...

But there are some interviewers who have some really great, interesting people on their shows. And you tune in because you're really curious to hear what they have to say (the people, not the host). Or you tune in because at least something funny might happen, like they might fall over or be wearing a headdress or something. And these cool people come on, and the interviewer just BLABS onandonandonandon and the cool person says little to nothing. Charlie Rose is the classic example. Charlie has some of the most talented people in the world in the arts and in politics and various fields on his show - people who would otherwise probably never get an audience in mainstream media. And Charlie talks through the whole show, about little to nothing. "Roll videotape." Thanks Charlie.

If you get The Royal Tenenbaums Criterion Collection DVD there's a great short that's included whereby Wes Anderson essentially parodies Charlie's show (at least's that the way I'm calling it) at length. Which he also does in the film when "Peter Bradley" interviews Eli ("Wiiillldcat."). Same actor/show in the featurette. Funny stuff. And there was a New Yorker piece several years ago that did the same thing. I think Steve Martin might have written it. Also funny stuff.

In my opinion, which is also held by my friend Adam, Bob Costas is one of the best interviewers in the business. He had a show in the 90s called "Late Night With Bob Costas," and it was fantastic. Bob's not just a sports guy. He's a very, very intelligent man. And he was always very well prepared and researched on each and every guest, which is really so very cool I must say, and he asked the right questions at the right times. And then he'd shut up. As it should be.

And now I will take my own advice.

But first, and last, it's my birthday. I am officially older today. To celebrate I will drink tea and turn in early. And you have no idea how cool I am with that.

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