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    Colbert eats whole apple pies

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | March 5, 2008

    I did an interview on The Colbert Report yesterday, which ran last night (Tuesday).

    It’s actually a nervewracking experience. Other interviews are more like “So tell me about your book” and you talk and talk and talk (NPR is great for this). But The Colbert Report is a delicate dance where you have to allow him to be funny while at the same time getting your points in, and being flexible enough to get sidetracked when he improvs a line in and rolling with it.

    The instructions: keep talking and making your points (you’re trying to educate him), don’t try to be funny (that’s his job), don’t try to pander (talk about ‘truthiness’ or whatever).

    So you have to understand it’s an improv act in part and one of the cardinal rules of improv is “Never deny.” You must roll with it.

    It also helps if you can anticipate which points he might jump on, and give him soft balls over the plate and practice transitions. My friend Alexis actually anticipated how he would jump in about about my line about the Americanness of Chinese food vs. apple pie (He said “I eat a whole apple pie every day” or something like that), and had help me craft a transition back  to my point — which I actually had to use last night.

    Two things I did not anticipate: being asked to speak in Mandarin and seguing from the 8 into the names of my siblings (Jennifer, Frances, Kenneth — JFK, the airport that my parents joke they landed at when they first came to America).

    Anyway, guests can bring four friends in the audience: two sitting and two standing. So I invited Alexis, Adam, and two Tims (one of them now goes by Sibley, but I will always call him Tim).

    And my friend Tomoko (who had come from Tokyo) stayed in the Green Room with me, along with the publicist, Cary, who (as Tomoko reports) got really excited when they showed the full-frame shot of the orange cover of my book.

    They are very attentive to you in a studio setting. The woman who did the hair and makeup had done Sex and the City (the TV show and the movie), and spent a lot of time crafting my very boring hair. And the wardrobe stylist helped pick out one of the three blue shirts that Tomoko and I bought to wear for TV. Apparently it is a bad idea to wear black, red or white on television — which is 90 percent of my wardrobe — so we had to rush out and buy bright solid tops which are “not too distracting”.

    I actually know I did fine when Adam came down to the Green Room after the show and told me I did great, because Adam can’t lie very well.

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