There’s nothing worse than audience Q&A at public events. The worst strain of Q&A, though, is Q&A with celebrities. I learned this tonight at the Paramount Theater, where the profane, skinny-legged, and utterly likable Anthony Bourdain appeared. I usually make a quick exit whenever an audience Q&A begins, but unfortunately this event was almost nothing but Q&A. After reading a choice anti-vegetarian screed from his new book, Bourdain opened up the floor to the sad and desperate.
As far as I can tell there are three questioner archetypes:
1) The “Please Love Me, I Love You” type: These people are looking for the celebrity to validate some aspect of their lives (e.g., “I’m from New Jersey. What’s your favorite restaurant there?”)
2) The “I Will Prove to You How Much I Love You” type: These people start their awful questions off by quoting to the celebrity something they once said (e.g., “The last time you were in Austin, you said this one thing that I just loved“).
3) The “I’m Not So Different Than You” type: These people make a pathetic attempt to show that they, like the celebrity, have a certain quality. In Bourdain’s case, this involves something outrageous. (e.g., “I know you really like to smoke pot, so I was wondering if you could comment on how awesome that makes a person.”)
It is a testament to Bourdain’s charisma that he was able to be quite entertaining despite the Q&A format. Here are a few of his choice quotes:
When asked about the best meal to cook to get someone into bed: “I say, stick with the classics… Alcohol.”
On people who describe chocolate as “orgasmic”: “I’d really question the quality of the sex you’re having.”
On Cincinnati: “God did not intend for chili to be eaten on top of spaghetti.”
On choosing to leave the Food Network rather than change his show: “One of the first things any television executive learns is that there is no limit to what people will do in order to stay on television. Just look at the Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives.”
On whether smoking affected his pallatte: “That’s why God created salt.”
On food today: “There’s never been a better time to cook in America. There’s never been a better time to eat in America.”