When Larry King stopped ageing.
Larry King, love him or hate, is the most wonderful television personality and undoubtedly the greatest interviewer; in my humble opinion.
He’s not afraid to poke fun at himself, and has the courage to maintain his integrity throughout the years as he made the transition from mainstream networks to cable television.
Yet the King never slowed down, nor did he change — he carried on with his pursuit, at the age of 85 he shows no signs of giving up his pursuit of what he enjoys the most; listening to people.
Listening, not wanting to be heard — is what makes Larry King the most likeable person on television.
He doesn’t attempt to sound smart, he doesn’t patronise, but most important of all he does not come off as judgemental to his subjects.
He puts himself in the audience’s shoes, whilst most interviewers rely on pre-interviews, approved questions and subjects, planned gags / skits, and a research team; the King likes to avoid those at all costs.
The most memorable example being when Jerry Seinfeld took a trip down ego-explosion when he misunderstood Larry King’s question as to why “Seinfeld” (The Sitcom Show — not the miserable comedian) was off the air.
Undoubtedly, one of the most “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” moments ever televised.
Notice how Larry pursues the question, simply asking to establish a precedent as to set-up the followup question; yet Seinfeld, showing no sign of patience, loses it and attempts to play it off as his attempt at comedy to mask his ego — whilst the King remains calm and even apologies knowing full-well; his ego remained intact.
This is a quality which is lacking in interviewers, and rather most television personalities — too often they attempt to sound “smart” and “well-informed” (Ahem…Bill Maher) rather than listening to the subject.
In this pursuit of establishing superiority and treat the guest as just another “subject”, the essence of the interview is lost — the subject falls victim to regurgitating the same answers they’ve given to countless other interviewers before, and it becomes more of a scripted act rather than a genuine conversation flowing naturally.
Asked about the exchange years later, this is what the King had to say —
Larry King, likes to view his subjects as though he doesn’t know of them — he doesn’t do research.
He establishes simple questions, allowing the subject to narrate the story rather than him guiding them through.
You might remember this viral-moment, as a great example of why celebrities often repeat the same answers during promotions (It’s futile and frustrating);
Great Interviewers have a lot in common with Great Writers,
To be a great writer, you must be a great observer.
To be a great interviewer, you must be a patient listener.
Both qualities intertwine to form great interpreters and story tellers.
Writers, must like quality interviewers, have the ability to “listen” and seek beyond the visible layer to uncover what hides underneath — what makes someone tick.
To be able to observe, you must have the humbleness to remain calm and observe silence even when you feel the urge to voice your “opinion”.
In writing, you have the most delightful of gifts that is working for you “time” and not against you.
There is no time-limit or retirement date for writers; you continue on the journey as long as it satisfies your thirst for it.
In essence, making time work for you allows the ability to unpack the observations you’ve made through experience and illustrated them through vocabulary in giving a shape to the stories you’ve captured.
There’s no doubt that writing is largely autobiographical, whether it be fiction or non-fiction — our personality, our experiences, our vision of life, always seeps through to the reader.
The reader then interprets it through the looking glass as to what it means to them.
The most pleasurable wonder of writing is that it transcends the barriers that exist otherwise — there’s no person in front you narrating it, and there’s no limit to your imagination.
The writer simply pens down their experiences, for the reader to interpret into a world of their own creation.
Also drinking too much caffeine left me with haemorrhages, hence the failed colonoscopy.