May 31, 2012

May 31, 2012

Sorry I Missed It: Inside the Actors Studio

My obsession du jour is Bravo’s “Inside the Actors Studio.” While you may have never watched an episode of this show, you probably know a little about it from its many parodies on Saturday Night Live. The gist: host James Lipton interviews a performer (or a group of performers, like the cast of a TV show) starting with where they were born, continuing through what inspired them to enter showbiz and how they approach the craft of performing. Lipton’s questions and research are printed on a giant stack of blue cards. After asking his own questions, Lipton asks a series of questions developed by a French interviewer named Bernard Pivot. Finally, the episode wraps with Q&A from the students in the audience. (This whole thing started as a sort of classroom seminar at Pace University.)

Several things fascinate me about this program. First, its treatment of acting as a craft. From the episodes I’ve watched so far, I’ve learned that some actors have been technically trained and thing about things like pacing and diction and whatnot. Others just go by instinct and do what comes naturally. I also appreciate finding out just how many actors moved from the Midwest to a coast in order to pursue their dreams. Me too, guys! Me too!

But what REALLY intrigues me is the Pivot questionnaire. All those times I saw Will Ferrell-as-James Lipton ask someone what their favorite word was, I thought it was a joke. But it’s real, and it’s amazing. For your reference, the questions are as follows:

1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on?
4. What turns you off?
5. What sound or noise do you love?
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
7. What is your favorite curse word?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

I like hearing what the actors’ responses are. But I *LOVE* thinking about what my own responses would be. I think I have my answers set, but am still looking for even-more-succinct-yet-witty-yet-hilariously-insightful answers. Obviously, I need to be ready for my own interview someday, when the program has morphed into “Inside the Geniuses Studio” or some such.

So what’s your favorite word?

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