The Difficulty in Interviewing

“It’s treacherous talking with you,” Holdengräber said at one point. Lynch responded with surprising candor. “The words, they’re not really necessary,” he told the crowd…

via Paris Review 'David Lynch, Hiding in Plain Sight' by Dan Piepenbring.

I've spent a lot of my life interviewing people to retrieve some sort of information that an audience might find interesting.

Most of the time I take a single path: If I'm interested in the answer, the audience will be too. I don't like to ask questions I already know the answers to. It feels intellectually dishonest.

I've seen some live interviews absolutely bomb. Thankfully I've either not experienced such a thing or have blocked it from my memory. Most of the time this is the interviewer's fault.

The interviews I've conducted that have bombed (particularly a Regurgitator one from 1995, thankfully lost to the ages and one more recently with some local TV actors) still haunt me, wondering what I could have done to save them. In 1995 I think it's because I was just too inexperienced, like a foal struggling to stand but nowhere near as cute.

The mess that was the interview with the creators of Twentysomething, however, came down to something really rare: Sometimes people just don't get along.

But it's more than that. We didn't get along and I didn't want to put myself in a position where we would get along. I think the failure of that interview was that I didn't like their TV show and I was too proud to pretend, which is what the subjects needed in order to feel comfortable answering questions.

When I read this review of a live interview with David Lynch in Brooklyn I felt for the interviewer. Lynch is, no doubt, an awesome presence and a peculiar communicator and he gives what he is comfortable giving, and he doesn't strike me as a man who is comfortable with much.

That statement, though: "The words, they’re not really necessary." He's lying, of course. He knows the words are necessary. He pays close attention to the words, but they shouldn't be the focus. The interaction is what's important; the being on stage and investigating each other. As Fran Lebowitz put it so succinctly:

The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.

via Goodreads