Help me plan out a strange segment in a weekly newspaper.
April 27, 2006 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Help me plan out a strange segment in a weekly newspaper.

I work for a local alternative newsweekly and I'm trying to arrange a regular segment with a local comedian/actor/celebrity. He is too busy to write something on his own and we can't afford to pay him very much anyway, so I suggested a short weekly interview. ...And he is very close to agreeing.

He's known as a bit of a weirdo and his humour is dark, daring and intelligent. I'd like the column to be creative and imaginitive.

What should the interviews be about? How should I go about it?
posted by stokast to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
"Ask the Celebrity" - make up or elicit questions and make it an advice/answer-person column.

Dear Celebrity, how do I find the circumference of a circle?
What time should I get to the airport for a 3pm flight?
What's Paris Hilton really like in person?
posted by FreezBoy at 5:26 AM on April 27, 2006

FreezBoy's answer is a good one.

Another tactic might be to take questions from other pubs, like, say an interview with Lindsey Lohan or Good Charlotte and pose the same questions to him.

What's your favorite color? When is it okay to cry in front of a girl?

Otherwise, what's he into? Strange movies? Comic books? Music? Maybe ask him to comment about that stuff. If you could change one thing about Batman, what would it be?
posted by Atom12 at 6:44 AM on April 27, 2006

I like Atom12's idea of taking questions from another source. But I'd go the route of a faux advice column. Maybe ask him a question from Ann Landers or the equivalent, or a home-improvement Q&A column? Ideally, it would be something that actually appeared the prevous week in your local non-alternative newspaper.
posted by staggernation at 6:56 AM on April 27, 2006

Find out what type of humor is his specialty and then go from there. If he jokes about current events, politics, local events, daily life, etc then start him off in that direction. Every comedian has their specialty. I think an interview format would work otherwise just give him a starting point and let him improvise from that and tape the whole thing to transcribe later.

I get the impression Art Kumbalek's column in the Shepherd Express goes along the improvisation line mostly about local stuff and it can be pretty funny sometimes. He keeps the persona of a Milwaukee old-timer to a good effect.
posted by JJ86 at 8:19 AM on April 27, 2006

Seinfeld did very well taking life's tiny annoyances and exaggerating them out of all proportion. Ask him how to get that piece of stuck dental floss out of your teeth.
He may not answer the question, but he'll take it from there.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:25 AM on April 27, 2006

i would interview him about local and national current events, even - and really especially - if it's not his usual schtick. He'll probably have some interesting and humorous reflections on what's gone on in the area that week. If there's no big news, have him comment on something like those crime/arrest reports the police publish, or the public legal notices, or some other lesser visited part of your publication.

It's something people wouldn't hear if they were to see him perform, etc... and might also let the readership feel they're getting to know him better. they'll feel more connected if he's talking about issues they're familiar with, and get a sense of him as a local guy, someone they can relate to.

depending on his politics and those of your publication, i might steer away from political issues, as those can be devisive and alienate audiences.
posted by ab3 at 10:57 AM on April 27, 2006

I think you should take questions from another source, but constantly change that source and mix it up. For instance, ask a group of third graders what questions they would like to ask the troll in Billy Goat's Gruff and have your celeb answer whatever they want to know. Ask the local bowling league what kinds of questions they would ask the guys from The Big Lebowski and have him answer those. Ask the college student council what questions they would ask the president.

The theme could be, "We couldn't get ____ to answer your questions, but ____ was available!"
posted by haplesschild at 12:26 PM on April 27, 2006

How many words/inches are you hoping to get out of him per week? The best way to get him to agree may be to present a mock-up of the column, showing an excellent use of graphics.

(If, for instance, the faux column is about some celebrity's most recent escapade, dummy in a photo from Getty Images or the like. And make sure you use a good photo of him as well).

If he knows it's low-pressure so that he only has to answer a few easy questions, possibly even via e-mail (the ideas so far have been terrific), and he knows the column will look good and make him look good, he'll be more likely to accept.
posted by brina at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2006

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