What Do I Think About Your Question?

I get interviewed a fair bit, and sometimes it’s genuinely interesting – normally when the interviewers are interesting people themselves. But of course, most of the time, it’s interviews of a pretty predictable kind. Professional writers often attempt the kind of provocative, illuminating, searching questions they could ask if they were really good at their jobs, instead of just in it for the money. To achieve this, they glue something they read somewhere to something they have seen on television or in films, and just sort of clash them together in a way which is supposed to be stimulating and creative, but which actually turns out to be rather bizarre and mostly unfunny, except occasionally in retrospect, and not at all in the way they intended.

The truly most bizarre of such questions was once asked by a slightly disconnected but physically stunning young female journalist from Los Angeles, who had obviously read about my interest in psychology, but whose sense of humour was clearly based on puerile scatalogy. She was probably in therapy herself – not a bad idea, everyone should try it at least once – and seemed rather fixated on matters of the body. “Nipples,” I said in context. She giggled. A while later, “fell flat on my bum”. She wriggled and giggled. Anything that could be phallic symbol, was a phallic symbol. In twenty minutes, we veered from Freudian analyses of Python films – were the coconuts in Holy Grail replacements for breasts? – to her laughing insanely, practically falling off her chair, pouting mouth covered by manicured hand, at the fact that I had been the first person to say the word “shit” on British television.

Finally, she girded her loins, leaned forward in a haze of pheremones and Chanel, and purred,

“So, what exactly do you think of when you answer the call of nature?”

It took a few seconds to work out what she meant, and I decided the only fair response was to respond with perfect media- trained skill to which I felt sure she could relate – I answered her question with a question.

“Sitting, or standing?”

At which, she suddenly became confused, blushed, started to stammer, gathered her audio recording device and hurriedly left.

Since then, whenever I commune with mother earth in the smallest room in the mansion, if my mind wanders from more lowly considerations, it thinks of her.

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10 Responses to What Do I Think About Your Question?

  1. Klara says:

    This entry speaks for itself and I had a lot of fun reading your words. Hilarious! Well, I have never meet the lady you are referring to but the situation you have so indulgently described above brought back a few recollections to me. Everyone of us sometimes runs upon one of these never-to-be-forgotten ,pompous,slightly disconnected morons. The real issue is, how to get out of such situations with a dignity and especially without losing one`s temper. I think you have just showed a perfect example and I can only wish I would have at least a tiny bit of your trained skills and promptness.

  2. Wendy says:

    excellent response…ha ha

  3. Wendy says:

    what are you working on at the moment? any new projects coming up?

  4. lemonbaden says:

    I hope my interview was alright! You said it was interesting ‘cos I was asking questions you hadn’t been asked before (about sex) and I am very proud of the tape I have where we discuss the word c*nt- as a nice and friendly word. Ha ha ha!x

  5. Pingback: John Cleese's Cleeseblog - What Do I Think About Your Question?

  6. Weston-super-Amanda says:

    I think it’s a shit question found only in the great bowels of the internet.

    Seriously good lookin, you really kicked arse with that response, especially if your goal was to make stunning women flee with thoughts of you pooing! I DO think it is an interesting question because adults don’t usually talk about it unless iot’s with their small children (eg: the new ‘no shame in talking about poo and wee’ potty training movement in the UK’) Regarding a wee I think it’s just about getting back to other things as soon as possible and as fresh as possible. In a bloke’s case, according to my friend Luke’not splattering oneself’ As for doing a poo? Now I’m thinking of you and her but generally it’s usually a very um intense um ok no I can’t talk about it or I’ll feel my female mystery spiraling down the john after I click submit!

  7. nonstopdesign says:

    Interesting subject … I often think what it would be like to interview some of my favourite artists. I’m listening to Lucinda Williams right now and thinking “wow it would be great to talk to her..”. In a former life I actually got to do that. But I found it a less than satisfying experience. I was too nervous, the artist was too jaded (sometimes, not always – Billy Bragg was a hoot). I don’t do it anymore – work as a journalist. But the feeling remains when you’re listening/thinking/ to/about a work of art: “I would like to speak to this person, they are so much more relevant than anything else going on in my life right at this moment”. And, I guess, that is what art is all about, making a connection.

  8. nonstopdesign says:

    P.S. I read your interview with the Onion AV Club, Mr. Cleese, and thought it was great.

  9. dineshbabu says:

    Excellent answer to the question. I am glad I found your blog, I am a fan of your work and currently watching reruns of Fawlty Towers on our local public television. Loving it!

  10. mde215 says:

    Dear Mr. Cleese,

    I must take great umbrage to the suggestions that the coconuts in Holy Grail were some sort of Freudian representations of breasts. Clearly they were testicles.

    Yours truly,
    Mike Balls

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