I hope you enjoy them.
Without question, my most enjoyable form of blog writing is "The Conversation" - two or three characters simply talking to each other, like regular people, only they're made up, or at least their dialogue is made up, and occasionally, they're animals.
One of the earliest incarnations of these conversation is my "Interview With A Giraffe" I first performed a version this piece on a Canadian television variety show back in the mid-seventies. I played the giraffe. Without costume, and without makeup. When I was asked where my spots were, I replied, "I'm on my day off."
Before "Madagascar" and its sequels, I portrayed an animal who was terrified of the "wild."
The following is his only recorded interview.
Imagine a radio station where they interview human beings, but sometimes they don’t. The following is an interview conducted at that station.
INTERVIEWER: Today, as a change of pace from interviewing human beings, I have as my guest a giraffe, direct from the wildest plains of Africa. Mr. Giraffe, welcome.
GIRAFFE: Hello, hi. It’s good to be here. And you can forget the ‘Mister.’ We animals don’t stand on ceremony. Except for lions. You know lions. They got a mane, they think it’s a crown. On the other hand, horses have manes and they’re fine, so go figure.
GIRAFFE: Am I jabbering? I’m jabbering, aren’t I?
INTERVIEWER: That’s all right.
GIRAFFE: It’s just so good to open up. In the wild, we’re not allowed to talk.
INTERVIEWER: For safety reasons, I suppose.
GIRAFFE: A lot of good that does us. Okay, so we’re quiet giraffes. The predators can’t hear us. But, please, we’re twenty feet tall. They can SEE US! Being quiet only protects us from blind predators. Like they’re a big problem.
INTERVIEWER: Well, you can relax. You’re quite safe here.
GIRAFFE: Yes, I can sense that. Speaking of ‘safe’, can you get me into a zoo?
INTERVIEWER: You want to live in a zoo?
GIRAFFE: I’d prefer it greatly, yes.
INTERVIEWER: That’s kind of surprising. A lot of people think animals shouldn’t be in zoos.
GIRAFFE: Has anyone asked the animals? Let’s see. Zoos. They feed you, they clean up your ‘habitat’, you get first class medical care, including dental, and you’re completely protected from predators who want to rip you to pieces and eat you. Oh, yeah. Zoos are the worst. The Circle of Life, that’s good. It’s good in Disney movies!
INTERVIEWER: You wouldn’t miss your freedom?
GIRAFFE: In the wilds of Africa, we have this saying: “Freedom’s just another word for running for your life.” Which reminds me, do we have time for a quick story?
GIRAFFE: This goes way back. I’m a baby, six, maybe, seven feet tall. I’m standing in the river with a bunch of other giraffes and we’re slaking our thirst, which is a fancy way of saying we’re drinking some water. Suddenly, giraffe ears prick up, noses start to twitch – something’s going on.
INTERVIEWER: Something dangerous.
GIRAFFE: No, the ice cream truck is coming. Of course, dangerous.
INTERVIEWER: What’s the strategy in these situations?
GIRAFFE: Our strategy is you run like crazy and, I know this isn’t nice, but you hope that they catch a different giraffe.
INTERVIEWER: So you ran.
GIRAFFE: They ran. The other giraffes. I was young and thirsty and I missed the signals. I look up, everyone’s gone.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, dear.
GIRAFFE: ‘Oh dear’ is right. ‘What’s going on?’, I’m thinking. Then I look around, and there he is. A lion. It was the first one I’d ever seen, but you know, just looking at him, you know it’s not good.
INTERVIEWER: You must have been terrified.
GIRAFFE: To put it delicately, a lot of water went back into the river.
INTERVIEWER: What did you do?
GIRAFFE: Okay. At this point, I have to reveal a confidence. A secret no animal has ever revealed on the radio or anywhere else. Are you interested in a ‘scoop’?
INTERVIEWER: Of course.
GIRAFFE: You got it. And I’m hoping – no quid pro quo, or anything – but, you know, if you want to be nice, in exchange for the ‘scoop’, that maybe you can help me…
INTERVIEWER: …get into a zoo.
GIRAFFE: Enough said – wink-wink. Okay, here’s the ‘scoop,’ the fact that animals have kept to themselves since the beginning of time. Are you ready?
INTERVIEWER: I’m all ears.
GIRAFFE: Okay. In the jungle, every animal has, secreted, somewhere on his or her person, a book.
INTERVIEWER: A book.
GIRAFFE: It’s very small. We have excellent eyesight.
INTERVIEWER: I’ve never heard this before.
GIRAFFE: Of course not, it’s a secret! Were you not listening?
INTERVIEWER: I’m sorry. How have you kept it a secret so long?
GIRAFFE: Animals are extremely disciplined. Also, just before they die, animals are instructed to swallow the book. Look in their mouths. Tiny pages.
INTERVIEWER: Does the book have a name?
GIRAFFE: Yes. The book is called Who Eats Who? It’s a picture book, because, you know…
INTERVIEWER: Animals can’t read.
GIRAFFE: And don’t think it hasn’t held us back. Here’s how it works. You’re in the wild, and you spot an animal skulking in your proximity. Strange animal, you’ve never seen it before. Right away, you pull out your Who Eats Who? and you locate the picture in the book that matches the animal you’re looking at. Now, underneath that picture, below the identifying name, you will find one of two arrows – an arrow pointing toward the animal, which means you run after him and eat him; or an arrow pointing away from the animal, which means, ‘Get the heck out of there before he eats you.’
INTERVIEWER: Sounds like a very important book.
GIRAFFE: It’s essential! You lose that book, and before you know it, you’re a sandwich without the bread. Okay, back to the story. The lion starts heading my way. I don’t know what he is, so I whip out my Who Eats Who?, I match him with the picture.
INTERVIEWER: And you run away.
GIRAFFE: That’s what I should have done. But at that moment, I was so nervous, I misread the arrow and I thought that we ate them.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, no. So you…
GIRAFFE: I a\ttacked the lion. Was he surprised! I mean, I get there and I start chewing on his leg with my leaf-eating teeth, and he’s just standing there. Staring at me. I mean, the guy couldn’t believe his eyes. A giraffe is eating a lion.
GIRAFFE: ‘Whoa’ is right! The guy’s standing there in shock. And before you know it, I ate him all up!
GIRAFFE: But true. I’ll never forget the last thing he said just before I ate his mouth.
INTERVIEWER: What did he say?
GIRAFFE: ‘We eat you!’
INTERVIEWER: Well. That is truly an unforgettable story.
GIRAFFE: Isn’t it?
INTERVIEWER: Thank you for telling it.
GIRAFFE: My absolute pleasure. So you’ll get me into a zoo?
INTERVIEWER: I’m sorry, I can’t.
GIRAFFE: But we had an agreement.
INTERVIEWER: I don’t believe we did.
GIRAFFE: There was an unspoken assumption. I’m certain of it.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you for being with us.
GIRAFFE: This is so unfair!
INTERVIEWER: Our guest today has been a giraffe, who will now go back where he came from.
GIRAFFE: I have joint problems. I’m not going to last.