Scott Woods answers 10 questions in the recently departed TV host's honor
James Lipton, host of the highly esteemed and long-running television show “Inside the Actors Studio,” passed away recently and the world is a sorrier place for it. He was one of those singular media icons who didn’t require any flash to gather your attention, like painter and somnambulist diviner Bob Ross. Also like Ross, Lipton sought to enrich the world by deconstructing an art form that seemed otherwise impenetrable to the layman or casual viewer. For the cost of an hour, you could glean not only the more reflective side of your favorite actor, but also pick up a few tips that would make you sound like you spent your summers doing Shakespeare in the Park at dinner parties.
The most notable feature of Lipton’s show was the questionnaire that he would hit guests with, which he credited to French television host Bernard Pivot, but who did not, in fact, invent the activity. A more famous writer and Frenchman is associated with the exercise: Marcel Proust. Proust filled out what was then known as “confession albums” at the age of 14, and again in his early 20s, and his versions of the test are the most famous. Well, until Lipton’s 10-pointer, anyway.
In the TV host’s honor, I’d like to take a shot at a Columbus-centric version of the questionnaire, but in Scott Woods fashion, take my Proustian time with the answers.
1. What is your favorite word?
“Lunch.” For a city that has no cuisine, we will die clutching our hearts trying to create one. There are so many restaurants here that no one knows what the number might be, and if you have just an average palate (which, living in Columbus, you do) most of them will be delicious to you.
2. What is your least favorite word?
“Abatement.” It used to be “taxes,” though you kind of need them to make things like schools and neighborhoods work. But once you realize that companies and residents who aren’t in need of special treatment get it on the backs of under-educated children, it’s hard to think of a more despicable word in this town.
3. What turns you on?
An old-school, down-and-dirty, used bookstore. I’m not talking about some overflow tables at a Barnes & Noble. Half Price Books? Psh… Unless it’s the Lane Avenue location, you can get that weak sauce remainder fluff out of here. I’m talking about a don’t-care, skirt-hiked-up-above-the-shelves kind of joint — a place where you can still be surprised, where you have to literally dig through piles of books. I’m talking about some Karen Wickliff Books (3527 N. High St.) action. There may be no better place in Columbus to experience bibliosmia.
4. What turns you off?
22,000 potentially disease-riddled bodybuilders at the Arnold Classic.
5. What sound or noise do you love?
The silence that accompanies a public shopping experience during an OSU football game. You could hear a chocolate buckeye drop in the North Market during one of those games. It is the sound of solace and speedy, no-limit checkout lanes.
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
Gahanna police sirens. Gahanna is second to none when it comes to pulling over people in even the slightest rush. Black people talk about driving through Gahanna the way we used to talk about driving through Bexley.
7. What is your favorite curse word?
“Gentrification.” If you don’t think it’s a curse word, say it around my mother.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I know I recently “ran” for mayor, but it would be a stretch to say I’d actually like being one. I’m pretty sure our existing mayor doesn’t even like being mayor. I’d LIKE to be a DJ or own the bar in “Cheers,” but since we need to focus on professions that still exist, I’m going to stick with the mayor thing. If by some miracle/grave clerical error I became mayor, I’d probably enjoy taking a whack at it for a single term. The press conferences would be amazing, and I’d write all my own speeches, so you know I’d come up with a way better catchphrase than “neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods.”
9. What profession would you not like to do?
Pothole repair has to be the most hated gig in the city. Everybody can tell when you haven’t done your job. The entire populace is on social media railing about that one spot you refuse to fix unless someone takes the time to call it in, like half the city isn’t banging their rims on it every day. And by the time you do fill it, a new tire-popping hot spot opens up. I imagine it’s really hard to tell people on dates what you do for a living and expect them to return your calls after that.
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“There’s a Ray Ray’s barbecue truck just over that tuft of cloud, and Prince has been waiting for you.”