Celebrities tire of giving interviews. I’ve learned this by spending most of my career conducting interviews myself, and thus desperately trying to master asking the questions that wake up a weary interviewee, getting them engaged enough to cast aside the boilerplate and speak like a conversing human being. But what about the celebrities themselves? What can they do to spice up their experience? In 1971, the oft-interviewed Woody Allen sat down with Granada Television and took a bold move to keep things interesting, apparently challenging himself to reply to each question as untruthfully as possible. Though the conversation never aired, Allen did manage to keep up the routine for quite some time, and you can watch nearly forty minutes of it in the clip above.
The interviewer asks Allen for a synopsis of his new picture. “It’s a drama about human emotion in the United States,” the director flatly replies. “It deals with the tragedy of divorce as it relates to the children and those who have to suffer continually from the effects of an unhappy home.” So it contains no comedy whatsoever, then? “No, I try and keep as much comedy out of my films as possible.” The film ostensibly under discussion: Bananas. Asked question after broad, brief question, Allen lobs back ever drier and more implausible fabrications. His dedicated fans, though, will notice that he does slip in a factual statement. Asked if he watches his own films, he says no; and indeed, he famously never looks back at past work. The increasingly nervous-sounding interviewer (who may be in on the joke?) asks why. “Because I don’t have the patience to sit through them.”
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.