Okay, I’m so irritated that I’m writing a whole post about this.
I just finished hate-listening to part 1 of Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations interview with Julia Roberts. I love Oprah, right, but damn did she interrupt Julia so much in this interview! Countless times Julia would be in the middle of an answer that Oprah asked for!!!! And Oprah would just interrupt her with her view on it. So frustrating!
The worst part of this interview is at 39:23 when Julia is saying something about her husband Danny and Oprah interrupts her and Julia stops talking then Oprah goes, “Oh, you go ahead,” as if she’s surprised that Julia Roberts has stopped talking after getting interrupted for the gazillionth time, and Julia goes, “No, you go ahead.” And what follows is an awkward 2-second silence and Oprah going, “Errrr, you were mentioning Danny Moder so I have to stop at Danny Moder.” And Julia goes on to make the point she was trying to make, which I don’t care for anymore at this point because ERMAHGERD. I mean, I’ve known this about Oprah forever but never has her interrupty-ness bothered me as much as in this interview. You ask her a question? Now let the woman answer you!
God, there’s nothing I hate more than being interrupted while I’m talking. I might do it to you if I’m nervous, but I’m usually self-aware and stop after the second time. Don’t other people realise they’re being interrupty? I read somewhere long ago that people gotta stop saying, “Me too!” every time someone is telling a story about themselves, and I don’t think I did that much to begin with but I still made sure I stay aware and never do that. You can say “me too” when they’re done, but while they’re talking you let them finish. Is it really that hard?
There’s a podcast called Terrible, Thanks For Asking and it’s about people who have had terrible things befall them (e.g. illness, miscarriage, rape, murder, stuff like that). I have great interest in hearing others discuss the complexity of grief because of my own experience with it. But what I do not enjoy is the host Nora McInerny always bringing it back to herself. Her first husband died of brain cancer, which is her inspiration for starting the podcast. So anytime someone says something similar to her experience, she will talk about how it happened to her too and how she dealt with it. At least she doesn’t interrupt them mid-sentence; she typically edits a voiceover into it after. But still!
What bothers me too, is that she’s overly chirpy (in her voiceovers) in a podcast talking about devastating stuff. I don’t expect her to weep, but tone down the chirpiness, man. There’s nothing cheery about what your guest just said. Match their tone!
She also makes a lot of truly awful jokes that are simply NOT funny, it really makes you wonder wtf she’s smoking. One time in an episode long ago, I’ll never forget it because I got so angry. Haha. At the end of the episode when she’s reading the end credits (PSA: The end credits are the bulk of where her dumbass jokes are…just stop the episode right there) and she’s inviting her listeners to send her an email if they have stories or comments to share, she goes (paraphrasing), “You know, e…mail. Electronic mail. E-lec-tro-nic mail. Non-paper mail.” Or something like that. And she just laughed and laughed like it was the funniest thing ever. That’s her thing: she laughs at her own unfunny jokes. It’s so painful to listen to.
If not for the genuinely captivating stories on her show, I’d have abandoned it long ago because the host is so tone-deaf and annoying af. Some humour is fine, but actual funny humour, not you explaining email in 2017 (when the episode aired). If you’re not funny just be serious. It’s okay. It’s a podcast discussing dark and heavy topics. I’m not really expecting to laugh here.
Some examples of podcasts with hosts who don’t share their own perspectives so much and actually let their guests talk are:
Death, Sex and Money
Criminal and Strangers are more narrative interspersed with some questions, but DSM uses a 100% interview format and the host Anna Sale is such a fantastic interviewer and listener, I actually began to emulate her style when speaking to others. When you let people finish, you get true honesty from them and that is the entire point of an interview or a conversation. If you, the asker, are constantly interrupting and sharing your thoughts, how can the other person tell you their truth?
Having said that, one of the most heartrending stories I’ve ever heard is an episode called The Truth on the Strangers podcast from two years ago. No synopsis. Just listen. It bothered me for ages. Lea Thau was perfect for this story because she offered no perspectives until the very end (if that). Too bad Lea Thau had a breakdown of some kind and stopped making the podcast. I hope she makes a comeback because she’s great.
If anyone’s reading this, feel free to share your favourite podcasts in the comments or post about it on your blog! Jenny? Christina? Anyone? If not, I at least enjoyed writing this post and I feel much better now after talking about my feelings!