October 1st, 2005
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. ...
Entry Filed under: let's digress