January 22, 2006

"Come on, prompt... Do your business. Humor us."

This is the sort of cultural package about which I have no choice. I am forced to buy it.
The first of these [episodes of "The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder: Punk & New Wave,"], a roundtable discussion whose participants include an 18-year-old Paul Weller and a baby-faced Joan Jett, does not bode well - Mr.Snyder is noticeably dismissive of the emerging new-wave scene and condescending to his young guests. Yet for reasons known only to Old Tom himself, he continues to invite the punks back to "Tomorrow," to provide them with a venue to perform music he clearly doesn't grasp, and to interview such emerging artists as Elvis Costello and Patti Smith no differently than if they were James A. Michener or Frank Capra. In his questioning, Mr. Snyder can come across as out-of-touch ("Is that a part of this punk thing, people hitting each other?"), overly intellectual ("How do you make certain that you don't become a member of what you now call the establishment?"), or superficial (to Iggy Pop: "Why are you bleeding?"), but he is never fawning or self-conscious, and his curiosity is sincere....

On his June 25, 1980, broadcast, Mr. Snyder spends half his program attempting to converse with the former Sex Pistols lead singer Johnny Rotten, who was then fronting the band Public Image Limited under his given name, John Lydon. Four years earlier, Mr. Lydon had helped to bring down the British television presenter Bill Grundy with an especially raucous interview, and he seems to be spoiling for a rematch with Snyder: "Come on, prompt," the characteristically crabby singer goads his American host. "Do your business. Humor us."

But Mr. Snyder is either too professional to be flustered, or too naïve to know he's being insulted, because he keeps jabbing back at Mr. Lydon with simple, honest questions-"Is it a band? Is it a public relations firm?" "Let me try this: What do you like?" - before landing this unexpected uppercut on the ex-Pistol's chin: "It's unfortunate that we are all out of step except for you."
There's a clip of the Snyder/Lydon interview at the link. Quite hilarious. There is something about Snyder's face. I love the reaction shot of him at the end of the clip.

10 comments:

Patrick Martin said...

Surreal is the only word for that clip.

I suspect there is a gold mine buried in the Tom Snyder archives. He was big enough to get good guests, but small enough that he didn't have to be pure vanilla.

me said...

He did a great interview with Charles Manson.

Troy said...

I love Tom Snyder. That guy was a great interviewer though I'm not quite sure why. Great combination of wit, naivete, cheese, intellect, and niceness (at least in his last incarnation on CNBC).

XWL said...

But are they including any of Dan Aykroyd's parodies of Tom Snyder? He really mastered the laugh.

Elizabeth said...

My favorite Snyder interview was Fred Rogers, which took place in the studio where Rogers directed the first in-color television program on NBC, back before his change in career. The history of Rogers' career was interesting, but the best part was, by the end, Rogers was in Mr. Rogers mode, wearing the little tiger handpuppet, in character, forcing Snyder to interview the puppet. I still remember Snyder obediently scratching the puppet where it asked, "on that stripe, right there, please."

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I liked that Tom Snyder took questions from phone callers. I got on his show telephonically to ask Tom Selleck a question a few years back.

Does any talk show do that anymore?

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: Larry King!

Bruce Hayden said...

My favorite Tom Snyder interview was that of a couple of batttered guys. It was then spoofed on SNL, where Dan Aykroyd (playing Snyder) essentially gives away who the battered guys are.

The point of the interview still sticks with me decades later. When women are battered, much of society gives them support. But when it is the guys who get beat up by their women, there is no support for them from anyone. After all, how unmanly to let your woman beat you up. Must be something wrong with them.

I was reminded of the interview last week when talking with a clerk at the grocery store in Dillon, CO. She was talking about how her mother would just whale on her father, sometimes sending him to the hospital, and he never hit back. She is nearing 60, and to this day, is much closer to him than her.

Pissed Off Hillbilly said...

I remember the show where Wendy O Williams came on and I think cut up sonething with a chainsaw (a TV?) and then actually blew up a car.

Tomorrow was a really great show.

knoxgirl said...

OMG I about busted a gut watching that clip. An untintentional masterpiece of editing...