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The Edge at 15: A few interview highlights

December 29, 2021
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Among the many joys brought forth by celebrating this kind of anniversary is the opportunity to look back and remember the highlights. And over the course of 15 years, well – there are going to be some highlights.

You’ve already seen a number of these pieces in this edition – music stories, sports stories, author interviews – so what’s one more, right?

Now, some of these others have featured interview stories, but for this list, I wanted to engage with the interviews that I loved and remembered, but that also didn’t quite fit into any of the aforementioned categories.

The list includes an author who wasn’t talking about his books, a few of comedians and an entertainment icon – got some honorable mentions in there as well. It’s fascinating to think about these conversations now, remembering how excited I was to book them, how nervous I was to execute them and how proud I was to write them.

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Stephen King

Might as well lead with the Big Kahuna, eh?

For years, Stephen King – Bangor’s own – was my white whale, the one interview that I wanted but could never quite make happen. That all changed, but not in a way that I ever could have anticipated.

See, this conversation wasn’t about any of his remarkable books, though I’ve certainly reviewed a ton of them over the years (quick aside – when I reviewed his nonfiction book “Hearts in Suspension” and he posted a link to the story via social media, the traffic surge basically broke our website; it remains one of the most-read stories I’ve ever written, but I digress).

This interview involved the concert performance of the musical “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” which King co-wrote with John Mellencamp, that took place at the Collins Center for the Arts back in 2014. I will always find it hilarious that I did an interview with one of the most prolific and popular authors in the history of American fiction and didn’t actually talk about his books.

Still, it was a chance to sit down with the man and officially bring my ongoing quest to a conclusion.

Steve Martin/Martin Short

This one was a real hoot.

Ahead of their appearance at the Cross Insurance Center back in 2019 as part of their “Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t” touring show, I had the opportunity to speak to Steve Martin and Martin Short AT THE SAME TIME. It was a delightful experience, one that entertained me and (I hope) you readers greatly.

These are two smart, funny guys who have known each other for a long time; I like to think that our conversation captured some of that energetic familiarity. They discussed the show, of course, talking about how it came about and the choices that they made in developing it as well. But they also discussed their working relationship and their comedy dynamic, all while finishing one another’s sentences and being as delightfully charming as you might hope.

My personal favorite part was when Short revealed that he was sticking around in Maine for a few days and was so enthusiastic about telling me the where and with who that Martin told him to just share the address (my lips remain sealed).

Comedy icons and personal idols … and I got to talk to them.

Lewis Black

One of the things you learn in this business is that you can never really be sure how people are going to engage with you in an interview. This conversation is part of their job – and not always a welcome one.

But sometimes, they floor you with their generosity.

Lewis Black was one of those interviews. He spoke to me ahead of an appearance at the CCA back in 2015 and it is in the conversation for the best interview I have ever been a part of. He was hilarious and angry and profane, of course – he’s Lewis Black, so of course he was – but there was so much more to it than that.

(It should be noted that during this interview, Lewis Black said the single funniest thing that any interviewee has ever said to me, a beautifully unprintable joke that I couldn’t include in that initial story and can’t include here. I have never laughed as hard on the job, reduced to fits of unprofessional snorting.)

We talked Pixar and “The Daily Show” and the state of the world, all of it couched in his unique perspective. A phenomenal conversation that I feel lucky to have had.

Mandy Patinkin

This is a perfect example of “I can’t believe this is my life” in action – I spent an hour chatting with Inigo Montoya.

Now, of course, it was actually Mandy Patinkin I spoke to, in advance of his performance at Bar Harbor’s Criterion Theatre back in the fall of 2019. It was a wonderful conversation, talking to him about the musical project that inspired the tour and the experience of putting it all together – his brilliance as an actor is matched by his talents as a vocalist, to be sure.

He also spoke at length about other things. He talked about finishing his run on Showtime’s “Homeland,” but he reserved his most impassioned energy for his work with the International Rescue Committee, an organization devoted to bringing attention and awareness to the refugee crisis. It’s important work that he felt very strongly about.

(And yes, I did get in a question or two about “The Princess Bride,” because come on – like I’m not going to ask.)

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This list could have just kept going, honestly. The brilliant space archaeologist (and Bangor product) Dr. Sarah Parcak chatted with me about her book and more. Maine native John Cariani spoke to me as his run in “Something Rotten” on Broadway was coming to a close. Comedians Bill Engvall Howie Mandel were both charming interviews. Character actor Stephen Tobolowsky is an absolute legend, a raconteur par excellence. And I sat down with improv comedy icon T.J. Jagodowski at Bar Harbor’s ImprovAcadia to chat about the art form and more.

It has been a real honor sharing these conversations with you over the years. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I did having them.

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 December 2021 13:25

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