Graham Norton has a great show. If you haven’t seen the wily Irishman interview celebrities, you are missing out. He is a comedian by trade and about half of what he says is innuendo, the kind you need to be able to play on loop because you are not sure you actually heard him say something so borderline daring.
The set of the show is pretty cool and all Austin Powers looking, with velvet couches and settees in reds and purples and oranges. Guests recline on the pillowy surfaces, openly enjoying cocktails. There are no Oprah induced tears, fake or otherwise, during filming; it is all side-splitting humor, pop culture references, and dishing on movie co-stars and spouses.
I really want to be on the Graham Norton show.
The funfest airs on the BBC, but I first got hooked by watching little clips that came up on my social media feeds. One of the first times I watched, Minnie Driver was a guest. She was just coming off the Will and Grace tv series, where she played Lorraine Finster, a sinewy albeit skanky mistress, a character I just loved.
After some small talk with Driver and the other guests, Norton talked her into reading horse names that the British Racing Commission had denied, due to the names having hidden meaning or innuendo. Most of the names are ones not fit for print, but when Driver read the name ‘Hoof Hearted’ in her British accent, and Norton about fell out of his chair laughing, I was hooked.
Apparently Hoof Hearted actually got past the commission, as Norton next played a clip of a race in which Hoof Hearted came on in the last lengths to win the race. Driver was nearly hysterical as the track announcer called the end of the race, saying, “Pretty Lady leads down the stretch by a neck, with Summer’s Passion close behind. But… here comes a horse on the outside. Oh, this is a close one, folks. Wait. Hoof Hearted! Hoof Hearted!”
When Cher was on his show, Norton told her he was so scared she couldn’t make it to the filming. She pretended at first she didn’t know what he was talking about but finally broke.
“Oh, you mean because people thought I was dead?” Turns out that when Margaret Thatcher died, the hashtag #nowthatchersdead was trending in Britain, but Americans assumed it read ‘now that Cher’s dead’ and Twitter went into a frenzy of RIP’s and memories of the star.
For my appearance, I don’t need to be paired with Helen Mirren, who appeared with Paul Rudd and demonstrated a kiss to mock a former co-star, or Tom Hanks, who shared a really great Clint Eastwood impression. I am willing to appear with Academy Award runner ups, faded pop stars, just anybody whose name someone might recognize.
I would wear all black and probably have my hair styled to look effortlessly beautiful for my debut. I am sure they have makeup artists, and I would provide them a canvas in need of repair. I would likely color my water or use tea in my highball glass to appear to share in the Happy Hour atmosphere but would be too scared to have a drop that might loosen my tongue.
I am guessing Graham might start with a better known celebrity, not realizing I was once the Lexington, Kentucky 12 year old city tennis champion and that I am successfully able to wash and fold up to eleven loads of laundry a week.
When the attention finally shifts to me, Graham asks me about my weekly errand day, where I cram a week’s worth of everything my family needs done into the eight free hours I have from Sunday to Sunday. He says, ”Well, I hear you have been running errands,” and I nod and smile broadly, ready to tell a little ditty about a mishap at the dry cleaners.
But then he continues, “When I hear someone say they are running errands, I assume they ran one errand then went to get a coffee and walk around Target,” he jokes. And I freeze. How does he know?
He is lightning fast and moves on to another topic from my survey card. “I understand you are starting a stationery company,” he says. Despite the carefully curated camera angle, the audience can tell I am confused.
“I don’t understand,” I say. My fifteen minutes of fame is rapidly shrinking to be about 15 seconds.
“It says right here on my cue card stationery company,” he probes, hoping to save the whole segment.
“Ohhhhhh! No, I told them I like to just be stationary unless I have company coming over,” I explain. The audience groans. Graham segues into commercial, “Well as an Irishman myself, I love a good couch potato. We’ll be right back to talk with our favorite C-list celebrity, Elizabeth Olsen, sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley, who has a new clothing line for you guessed it—TWINS!”
As we cut to break, Graham smiles at me and offers a little more tea. “Well,” I think. “It was a good try. Maybe I should have stuck with Oprah and just used Visine for fake tears.”
Cathy is a retired public school English teacher and Public Information Officer.