Opinion: Shticky interview situations


This is my 40th year working in television. Seems like just yesterday I had no idea which camera to look into and no clue what I was going to say next. Wait, that was yesterday!

After conducting almost 5,000 interviews, it’s tough to name my favorites. Several standouts involved some shtick, which is a glorious Yiddish word that connotes comic theatrics, a gimmick or a setup to temporarily fool the audience.

Here are two of my wackiest moments:

The long and short of it

Back in the ’90s, I interviewed a jockey who was racing that night at Hoosier Park in Anderson. The young rider let me question him while he was standing on a chair with the camera only showing him from the waist-up — the premise being that he was the world’s tallest jockey, at about 6-foot-7. He rode the comedy sketch like a pro.

“Why did you become a jockey?” I asked him.

“I was really bad at basketball,” he confessed, “but I loved horseback riding.”

I didn’t reveal the ruse until my last segment on that morning’s news, but the owner of the horse never saw that portion. She also had never met her new jockey. She called the track in a panic, and to this day I don’t know if she found the prank funny. I do know that tall-in-the-saddle was not what she was looking for!

Suite revenge

The Sybaris is a rendezvous spot for lovers. Each room in this hotel has a theme, and couples looking for romance can enhance their experience by adding a little fantasy. Dress like it’s the Wild West, or a trip to Jamaica. There are indoor pools and mirrors and waterfalls. You get the picture.

When the chain first opened back in the ’90s, I called to arrange an on-camera interview with the manager. I made a request that I never expected him to grant: I asked if we could walk into a room and act like we didn’t notice a couple still in bed (those two people would be friends of mine who agreed to participate in the fun). While we did the interview, there was no hanky-panky going on, of course, but my friends kept peeking out from the covers, feigning curiosity about what we were doing in their room.

The next day, viewers approached me and asked if I knew there were people in bed behind me. I told them yes, they were friends of mine, and that they like having an audience.

Next week, you’ll get to read about some shenanigans with Soupy Sales and Dick the Bruiser…

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