Rest In Peace, James Lipton

I was saddened to read of the passing of James Lipton this week at age 93.  Many know him from Inside the Actor’s Studio, but he did so much more.  He was a writer and producer (working with greats like Bob Hope, and writing for many soap operas).  He was also an actor (on Guiding Light, Arrested Development) and voice actor (often playing himself on shows like the Simpsons and Family Guy).  He was also an author (he wrote the novel Mirrors, which was made into a TV movie in 1983).

He was born in Detroit and worked as a copy boy for the Detroit Times.  He actually starred on radio’s The Lone Ranger (which was broadcast out of WXYZ in Detroit) as Dan Reid, the Lone Ranger’s nephew.  He wanted to be a lawyer, but went into acting to earn money to pay for his education.

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It was with Inside the Actor’s Studio that made him a household name.  The show was a non-credit class at the Actor’s Studio Drama School where successful writers, directors, and actors were interviewed by him about their craft.  The acting students could also ask questions of the guests.  The sessions were recorded, edited, and broadcast on television for audiences to enjoy.  The show began in 1994 and continued with him as host until 2018, when he stepped down.

He was parodied by many, including Will Sasso on MadTV and David Cross on Mr. Show.  But the most memorable parody was done by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live.  Ferrell’s portrayal was over the top and hilarious.  When asked how he liked it, Lipton said, “I love it!  I love it!  It’s flattering.”  The thing I always remember about it was the HUGE stack of blue question cards Ferrell had on the table for his guest.

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I know many people found him to be a bit creepy, but I found him fascinating.  I was always amazed at how he was able to get his guests to open up and share stuff.  He was very good at that.

Whenever we interviewed someone on the radio, we had a jar with questions.  The questions were written by staff members, listeners, and some were just made up.  We’d have them dig into the jar and answer five of them  We called it the “Final Five”.  It was far from an original idea, as James Lipton always wrapped up his interviews with a series of questions inspired by French interviewer Bernard Pivot.

In honor of his passing, here are those 10 questions.

  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?

Here are my answers:

  1. Ridiculous.  I am not sure that I’d call it my favorite, but I use it a lot!  I am guessing it changes from day to day.
  2. Moist.  That’s the first word that pops into my head, and I hate it!
  3. My wife. Constantly!  She is beautiful.
  4. Smoking. I was exposed to it as a kid and I find it disgusting.
  5. Birds singing on a spring or summer morning.  Love it even more when I hear it on the golf course.
  6. Children crying – it always breaks my heart.
  7. Fuck.  Not proud of this, and believe me, I am trying really hard to stop using it so much!  There are just some things that force me to say it – like my co-workers – they’ve come to expect it from me.  LOL
  8. I would love to teach.  Today’s atmosphere is a lot different from when I was in school.  I would love to teach some sort of fun subject – music or entertainment oriented.  Wishful thinking, I know.
  9. Any political job.  No matter what you do, someone disagrees with you. I’m not sure I could handle that kind of criticism or pressure.
  10. I believe heaven does exist, and I would love for God to say, “Welcome, Keith.  You’ve done well.  You were a good father, a good husband, and a good friend.  You’re mom and grandparents have been waiting for you.  They need a fourth for pinochle.”

What are YOUR answers?

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Is it “Binge” Worthy?

I am a sleep technologist full time.  Naturally, when I see articles related to sleep, I read them.  The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently took a survey to find out what keeps us up at night.

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Coming in at #4 – Playing video games.  59% of men and 42% of women do it.

Coming in at #3 – Watching sports.  The survey says that 60% of us sometimes choose sports over sleep. (75% were men, while 45% were women)

The second thing that keeps us up at night is reading.  According to the survey 71% of women and 61% of men lose sleep because they couldn’t put down a book. (Personally, I LOVE when a book keeps me interested like that!)

So what was the #1 thing that keeps us up at night?  No surprise – Streaming TV shows or movies. A whopping 88% of us do this!  Of that group, 95% of the people were between 18 & 45 years old.

24 % of people in the survey said they usually are angry with themselves for putting entertainment over sleep.

The results got me to thinking.  As someone who rarely gets enough sleep because of my job, what TV shows would I consider to be “Binge Worthy”?

Since the birth of television, there have been thousands of TV shows!  With the availability of many of those shows on DVD and on streaming sites, which ones would I actually think about streaming or binge-watching?  I decided to break it down by decade.  I wrote down the first four shows from each decade that came to mind down.  So, here are the shows that I could easily “binge” watch:

The 1950’s

honeymooners

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twilight

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The 1960’s

TheDickVanDykeShow

trek

mission

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The 1970’s

sanford

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wkrp

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The 1980’s

cheers

dukes

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TNG_head

The 1990’s

friends

raymond

seinfeld

70's

The 2000’s

On_the_next_Arrested_Development

office

30 rock

House

Now it’s your turn.  If you want to Google it – go ahead, but I thought it was more fun to just think of the decades and write down the first ones that came to my head.

What are YOUR “binge worthy” shows??

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“Life is better when you are laughing”

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A comedian’s job is to make people laugh.  Legendary comedian Milton Berle once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”  Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”  Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”  In a nutshell, laughter is an important part of a happy life.

According to a new survey, the average American laughs 8 times a day.  That seems a bit low to me, and I really hope that you are “over average”.  The survey has also compiled a list of answers to the question:  What makes us laugh?  Here are the Top 10 “universally funny things” that make us laugh.

10. Watching people trip or fall.

Let’s face it, this is always funny – unless it is you or me falling.  Pratfalls, slip and falls, etc…have been making people laugh since the silent films of the 1920’s.  Prior to YouTube and the internet, American’s Funniest Home Videos was loaded with people falling!  When people fall – people laugh.

9. Puns.

A pun, by definition, is a joke exploiting the different possible meaning of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings.  When a banana goes to the doctor because it wasn’t peeling well … you have a pun.  I have a group of friends on Facebook who appreciate good puns.  We are forever posting “punny” things on each other’s Facebook page, or sending each other puns.  Often, a good pun is just what I need to start the day.

8. Bad photos of people.

I, for one, always find it funny to look at bad pictures of me.  Go ahead and pick up your high school yearbook and there are no shortage of bad photos that you can snicker at.  There are websites that you can find that offer you hours of entertainment by looking at bad mug shots, bad family photos, and people wearing wacky clothing.  http://www.peopleofwalmart.com is one of those websites.

7. People mispronouncing words.

As a radio guy, this is always funny to me!  I remember one day I had not read through a particular script before having to read it on the air.  Instead of saying “testosterone”, I pronounced it “test-ost-er-own-ee”….. it was like I was talking about some kind of pasta or something!  It was hilarious!  MANY old time radio comedies had people say things wrong on purpose to get laughs.  It was prominent on Amos and Andy, Jack Benny, Fibber McGee and Molly, and Abbott and Costello.  Of course, those were scripted mispronounciations…..the ones that are not planned are even funnier.

6.  Knock Knock Jokes.

I have to admit, I find this interesting.  Outside of elementary school children, I don’t know of many folks telling knock knock jokes.  I guess they are still good enough to be in the Top 10.

5. Dad Jokes.

This can almost be included with number 9, because most dad jokes fall into the “pun” category.  A dad joke is typically a corny or predictable joke that are usually not very funny. As a matter of fact, the more unfunny, the better.  They are often told to get a groan out of the audience.

Example: I hate jokes about German sausages!  They’re the wurst!

4. Reality TV.

The fact that this is high on the list is kind of amazing to me.  Sure, there was a point where I could watch Duck Dynasty, and shows like that and laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of them, but not so much anymore.  Many reality shows are pure garbage today.  I don’t enjoy any of the “talent” shows anymore.  The only reality show I enjoy watching are shows like “Live PD”, which at times can still make me laugh.

3.  Memes and animal videos.

Why these two are lumped together, I don’t know.  Memes are like comic strips.  They can be very funny.  There are even apps that allow you to create your own memes.

Animal videos can be very funny – with or without narration.  There are no shortage of cat videos that will make you bust a gut on the internet.  One of my favorite animal videos is from some British show where they dub in voices for the animals! That’s funny stuff!

2.  Sitcoms on TV.

Here is where I agree and disagree at the same time.  To be fair, there are some very funny sitcoms on TV today, but many are just predictable and unfunny.  Much of the humor is crude and contrived.  There are some newer shows that made me laugh out loud consistently (like 30 Rock, That 70’s Show, The Office, and Arrested Development), but most of the current sitcoms are just not funny to me.  As old as they are, and as many times as I have seen them, shows like The Honeymooners, Sanford and Son,  and WKRP in Cincinnati still make me laugh out loud.

1. Things our kids say.

I couldn’t agree more!  I am actually glad that this tops the list.  My sons have said some of the funniest things (many of which I talked about on the radio).  I love the Facebook memories feed, because many times I am reminded of those things that they’ve said years later.  It doesn’t have to be your own kids, either.  Kids are always saying funny things (which is why there was a hit show called Kids Say the Darndest Things)!  The mind of a child and they way they look at the world and see things will always produce a laugh!

Your Turn

Ok, what makes you laugh?  I want to know.  Have a story to share about one of these ten things?  Was there something that you felt should have been in the Top 10, that wasn’t?  Let me hear about it!  Let’s share the laughter … the world needs lots of it!!