Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shorely that interview with Pauly Shore could have gone better

“Hey Kevin, this is Laura, I'm Pauly Shore's agent, he's coming to Madison in a couple weeks, and I was wondering if you wanted to do an interview with him.”
Pauly Shore

I received that voicemail almost seven years ago, when I worked as the arts editor at The Daily Cardinal, a student daily newspaper at University of Wisconsin-Madison. The arts page chiefly concerned itself with music and movie reviews, but when something like this happens, we shift our focus. Sure, when given the opportunity to interview someone of the stature of Paulie Shore, star of “Jury Duty” and “Goof Troop,” it's not something you really jump at. It's something you say “Eh,” and shrug your shoulders.

And I did shrug my shoulders. I figured, no way was I going to interview that joke of a celebrity. But as I continued through my two week backlog of voicemails, I realized it could be funny. When I got to Laura's second message that said essentially the same thing, I became set on doing that interview.

I hung up my phone and immediately picked it back up so I could give her a call.

“Hi, this is Kevin Nelson from the Daily Cardinal. I received your message about Pauly coming to town, and I think it would be pretty cool to talk to him.”
“Oh, that's great, when's good for you?”
“Whenever is good for Pauly,” I said, being mindful of celebrity and the pitfalls inherent to it.
“Did you want to talk to him... now?” Laura said, not really being mindful of celebrity and the pitfalls inherent to it. But I suppose “celebrity” and “Pauly Shore” don't really go together in the first place.
“... I should probably prepare some questions for him first,” I said.
“Oh yeah, right right,” Laura said. “Should I have him call you in like an hour?”
“Sure. Thanks,” I said as I hung up the phone.

Then it hit me. I'm interviewing Pauly Shore in 60 minutes and I have absolutely no clue what to ask him. Sure, my brothers and I grew up watching “Encino Man,” and I was the person who saw “In the Army Now” in the theaters, but I couldn't think of a question related to those factoids aside from “... really?” or “....... really!?!?”

I resorted to calling my brothers to see if they had any ideas. When that only netted further variations on “... really?” I had one of my friends post to the Something Awful forums, asking for any question to ask the Weasel himself. But being true to Something Awful, the questions all mocked and chided in a hilariously blunt fashion.

I didn't use any of the Something Awful questions.

But time eventually ran out. When my phone rang, everyone in the office knew who was calling. I looked at the ringing phone and then up at the 40 student journalists looking at me. I didn't pick up the phone, but ducked into a side office where I could at least have some privacy. Privacy I needed, because the “conversation” started like this.

“Hi, this is Kevin Nelson with The Daily Cardinal.”
“Hey Kevin, it's Pauly!!! Waaaa oohhhhoh blah ahhhhhhh!” It then followed with a solid minute of sounds and noises. I imagine my face went completely white. Not only had I set up this interview, I needed to use this interview, and in our first minute of conversation, I had encountered nothing but noise. Stupid noise at that.

We eventually got on track and did talk about things that could actually be used in an interview. His stand up comedy career, his reality show and “Pauly Shore is Dead,” a mockumentary he made.

One of my favorite parts of the interview came when I asked him what he considered the pinnacle of his career (thank you Something Awful for that suggestion). After explaining to him what the word “pinnacle” meant, he responded that it had to be “Pauly Shore is Dead,” because he wrote, directed and starred in it. It was just really close to his heart. “But if you ask the fans, it's probably 'Son in Law.'”
2/3 of these actors have appeared in Oscar winning films.
I have never talked with someone who appeared in
an Oscar winning film.
Upon hearing this statement, my immediate, heartfelt reaction caused me to blurt out “More than 'Encino Man!?!?!” As expected, this caused some hate daggers to fly. The response he mustered after an icy silence was “Yes. More than Son in Law.”

By the time we started talking about the pluses and minuses of being a celebrity guest at the opening of a Whole Foods (plus—free food), I realized the interview was coming to a close. With most people a standard “Thanks for the interview” suffices. It lets them know everything is done. In this case, it certainly didn't suffice. Instead, it just got more bizarre.

“Thanks for the interview Pauly.”
“Hey, hey, how old are you.”
“........ 21...”
“Ohhhh, that's the best age! I want you to promise me you'll have a lot of fun. Just go out there and do everything that's fun.”
“... okay. Will do, Pauly.”

And I did, Pauly. Thanks for the advice. Sorry about the career.

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