Brandon Wetherbee is the host of the talk show You, Me, Them, Everybody. The next show is Friday, May 23 at the Wonderland Ballroom with Jamel Johnson, Michael Saretsky, Rachel Dry, Haywood Turnipseed Jr, Andrew Bucket, Katie McD. and Natalie McGill.
What’s your inspiration?
I was asked that bullshit question not in jest earlier this week. I was about to interview an accomplished author at an arts club and I was taken aback, like grasped my peals and gasped taken aback. What’s my inspiration? What kind of absurd query is that? Who asks that? What?
I responded with something about my family. I had never been asked that and didn’t know how to answer. My family? I’m 31. I have no children. I am not receiving a lifetime achievement award. I do love my family but they’re not the reason I write silly things and ask silly questions and hopefully make people smile (I am Patch Adams.). I do this because it makes me happy. Why the fuck did I say my inspiration is my family? Do I have cancer?
The conversation continued. The very nice lady, somewhere between 60 and 75, was very nice. She was very nice to me and I’m assuming a very nice person to everyone else. She told me about her time sailing around the world and living in Cuba for 3 months in the early 70s and working in Iraq, by choice, for a year in 2006 and what Italy is currently trying to do about Internet privacy and security. I did not ask her about her inspiration.
I interview people. I interview people for my talk show. I interview artists for this site. I interview potential interns for BYT. I have never asked anyone about their inspiration. Maybe I should.
It’s actually not a bad question. I was being an asshole. Asking someone about their inspiration is actually a good question if you care about the person you’re interviewing. Did this nice lady care about me? Yes. She did care about me, or at least what I had to say. She made eye contact. She emoted. She presented stories and ideas that related to our dialogue. What did I do? My best not to laugh at the very appropriate question.
You don’t hear many interviewers ask about inspiration. Very few can pull it off without seeming lazy. Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Bob Boilen on All Songs Considered, late, greats Tom Snyder and Studs Terkel and that may be the only people that consistently can successfully ask that question in a broadcast. That’s sad.
It may come with age and authority. I hope it does. If I’m still making Third Eye Blind references whenever possible and avoiding substance for a cheap joke at 41, please put me out of my misery. If I’m never making Third Eye Blind references, please put me out of my misery. Peanut butter and chocolate. The sacred and the profane. A fully realized life and a semi-charmed kinda life. I want the mixture and I want to do it right.
To everyone that has ever asked about someone’s inspiration earnestly, kudos. I will try harder. I will probably continue to make dick jokes but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.