When we meet someone new we desperately want that person to keep up with what we are saying. Tell me joke if I tell you a joke. Tell me you know the news like I know the news. Field a strange question. Are we equals? Do we have a chance together?
In this remarkable interview, the artfully obstinate and challenging Charles Grodin takes his comedically deadpan style against the master of interviewing, Johnny Carson.
It is a long video but it demonstrates how two equally talented people keep up with each other and how each challenges the other to go even further. Grodin doesn’t smile much but I am sure he is in awe of some of Carson’s comebacks. Grodin has a unique schtick but Carson benefits from having seen thousands of other schticks.
This used to be called one-upmanship but I doubt that idiomatic term is used anymore. My Dad was on the debating team at Michigan. If someone quoted a famous writer then Dad might make up a quote saying the opposite by that writer. There was no time in the debate to check the authenticity of Dad’s quote, but it worked to undermine and disprove the know it all on the other side of the podium.
A remarkable public tête-à-tête.