Archive for October 1st, 2005

Show of Hands

So I'm still kind of behind on the stagecraft of being on TV. Out of the many examples, let me just pick one: Apparently, I wave my hands a lot when I'm interviewing people. In normal conversation, this might be somewhat irritating to my interlocutor -- as well as a danger to nearby glasses of orange juice, etc. -- but basically no big deal. But being as I'm currently talking to people on TV, my hand-waving creates a more pragmatic problem: it tends to block my guest from the camera's view.

And it seems to be getting worse. Last week, while I was animatedly interviewing Alan Alda (who, by the way, ate a Rice Krispy Treat -- my only guest, so far, to do so! I was practically verklempt!), it got to the point that my stage manager on the set, the very hip and spiritual Margaret Clarke, started holding up a little whiteboard on which she had written: "Hands Down!"

With the professionalism for which I am quickly becoming known throughout the broadcasting world, I nodded, put my hands down, and then, moments later ... forgot all about it and started flapping my hands around again. Once more with the sign: "Hands down!" At this point, I felt a bit like the guy in Evil Dead II whose arm takes on a life of its own and starts banging him over the head with dishes and such. I physically grabbed one wrist with my other hand and kept it pinned there for the rest of the interview.

The next week (yesterday), as we prepared to tape a conversation with the hilarious author Daniel Handler, crew member extraordinaire Harry Betancourt made the helpful suggestion that I use only my left hand (or maybe it was my right) to gesticulate or reach for coffee; this way, my gesture wouldn't block the camera trained on the guest. Unfortunately, during the interview I misremembered his instructions and -- wrongly -- used my right hand (or maybe it was my left).

I wonder if Ted Koppel ever makes that mistake. Probably not. Probably never did. Well, at least I have better hair. ...

2 comments October 1st, 2005

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