It can really be a blast when you get the chance to interview celebrities. Of course you have to be professional and not gush too much, and for the most part, you get the same professionalism in return.
Doing an interview is not like talking with somebody you really know, because that person is selling himself and is therefore on his best behavior but some nuggets of truth can be found in the answers. Some people, you can just sense they are being totally honest.
This was certainly true when I had the opportunity to review my favorite singer, Bonnie Raitt. It certainly helps when you are a 30-year fan who has every album and can recall favorite album cuts. But the main objective is to not inject yourself into the interview; readers want to hear what the celebrity has to say.
Here is my favorite quote from that 2005 interview:
After that period of mainstream stardom in the early ‘90s, where do you see your career at now?
Really blessed to have the loyalty of my fans these 35 years. The core fans buy the show tickets before anyone else. And then the extra fans that we got, the millions of records I was able to sell after Nick of Time went to No. 1, that’s been an unbelievable bonus. I’m in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, I’ve won all these Grammys — I want to stretch and play something new to keep it fresh for myself, and also for my fans. If I start coasting and just playing the big hits or turning into an oldies act that would be so boring.
In general I’ve found that comedians are ultra serious about their career, while very often, singers are the ones dying to tell a joke. Some of my favorite comic interviews over the years have been with George Carlin, Jackie Mason, Dom Irrerra and Richard Jeni.