Date of lunch:
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Jian Ghomeshi is the host and co-creator of Q on CBC Radio One. The show is also shown on public radio in the US and around the world. He interviews celebrities, artists, musicians, athletes, cultural figures and more, and hosts debates on topical issues – some serious and some fun – like whether there are one or two spaces after a period. I say one. Also, back in the nineties he was the lead singer of Moxy Fruvous.
We ate at Hey Lucy on King Street West. They have booths! This was ideal for a lunch conversation and something I really look for in restaurants. A lot of places only have booths for groups of four. I stuck to my tried and true, grilled vegetable and chicken wrap (with goat’s cheese) and a side salad. Jian commented that anything with goat’s cheese is delicious. I agree. Jian had the same thing, as well as the daily soup – tomato vegetable. The sandwich was good but not what I would call a wrap. It seemed to be wrapped in bread – a bit thick for a wrap. I had a diet Pepsi and we both drank water as well. Total bill was $29 with tax.
The lunch lesson:
Jian talked about how he dislikes junkets. These are pre-set up interviews that, for example, an actor might do when promoting a movie. Every media outlet is brought in and given a very short amount of time. You see these types of interviews on entertainment TV shows all the time with actors sitting in front of their movie posters. But it’s hard to ask tough questions or really have a meaningful conversation in five or less minutes. This is why he likes Q’s style of long-form interviews when nothing is off limits and he and the guest really get a chance to discuss things at length. I had never really put it into these words before but I think that’s why I have found that lunch is such a great venue to meet and get to know someone (and learn) because you get the chance to go beyond the superficial and into some pretty interesting stuff.
I asked Jian how he got his start and whether he always imagined himself working as an interviewer. Jian began his career as a Canadian celebrity as the lead singer of Moxy Fruvous, which went on to become the house band for Peter Gzowski’s “Morningside” show on CBC radio. This was his first involvement with the CBC. He’s been a political junkie, interested in pop culture and obviously a big fan of music and the show was a natural evolvement for him of these interests, after hosting the CBC program Play and hosting numerous TV documentaries.
Jian said when he speaks to broadcast students, he always tells them that you can’t know where your career will be in ten years because careers aren’t linear anymore. Looking at my job history, I totally agree. But you can see a link or common theme throughout his jobs, so it seems the important thing for people entering the workforce to identify for themselves are themes or areas that interest them and see how their career can grow from there. And from my experience, with each job you’ll find stuff you like and stuff you don’t like so when looking for your next job, you try to find more of what you like and less of what you don’t.
If you listen to Q, Jian has a great interview style and it is something he consciously works on. One of my favourite parts about his style is how he doesn’t let people get away with stuff. This ties back to the lunch lesson and how many interviews are short and don’t have the opportunity to go in depth. This allows people to say stuff that perhaps never gets questioned. Well not on Q. If you say something ridiculous or, these are my words, pompous, Jian will question it. I talked to him about a specific interview when I noticed him do this and he remembered it well. He said that he remembers saying “What are you talking about?” Love. Sometimes you just got to ask and I wish more people would do it.
I asked Jian who his favourite interview has been and he said, after some thought, Leonard Cohen. I was a bit of a weird kid and I remember in grade four, my favourite album was I’m your man by Leonard Cohen and to listen to his poetry, I am not surprised that he would be fascinating to speak with. Leonard Cohen also does not do interviews so an hour-long in-depth interview, which was a world-exclusive, is a pretty amazing and unique experience for a broadcaster.
Continuing on the thought of great interviews, Jian told me that his dream interview (what I would call a dream lunch) is David Bowie. But he told me that he doesn’t really know what he’d do if he ever did that interview because then what… He said the ideal would be to do the interview on his death bed and that would be the end. I often think of that when I imagine my lunch with Paul Krugman. If I do ever have this lunch, the entire reason I started this blog in the first place, is that the end of Lunch with Mary?