Betsy Borns

Stand-up comedy has become such a staple of American entertainment that we may forget that it was not that long ago that it was a more rarefied profession.

And we may also forget just how hard that profession is.

In the late 1980s, just a few years into the start of the stand up explosion, a young writer producer named Betsy Borns put together a book about stand up comedians and how they work.

Borns called her book Comic Lives.

So here now, from 1987, Betsy Borns.

After Comic Lives Betsy Borns went on to work in TV on Roseanne, Friends, and All of Us, among many other projects.

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Gilbert Gottfried

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One-Minute Interviews

Since 1985, I’ve done over 10,000 interviews, with notable people, not-so-notable folks, some you’ve never heard of, some downright infamous.

In most cases, I had anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes with my interview subject. Time to have a cup of coffee, make some small talk, do the interview, and sign some autographs, and say our goodbyes.

But every now and then, I would have a lot less time for the interview. In some cases, only a minute. So today, some short takes.


How would you prepare, if you were told you could interview Jay Leno, about his new children’s book — but for only exactly 90 seconds? Here’s the entire tape from 2004 — I brought my wife Hillary with me that day.

Photo: Georges Biard

In 2011, another celebrity children’s book author — actress Julianne Moore, at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC.

In 2006, another book, another celebrity — this time, I got 26 seconds with the great former NFL quarterback Warren Moon.

And then, at the 2008 National Book Festival, former NFL running back Tiki Barber.

Also in 2008: legendary CBS newsman Daniel Schorr.

I got almost a minute and a half in 2006 with Apple co-founde Steve Wozniak.

I’ve saved my favorite short-take interview for last.

Photo: Garry Knight from Bromley, Kent, England

It, too, happened at a National Book Festival in Washington in 2008. As I was standing in the Media tent, looking out at the crowds, I spotted a familiar face. Actually, I saw the smile first, and recognized it — and knew I had to try to get a minute with .. Dustin Hoffman.

I hurried over to him, and said the stupidest thing anyone can ever say to a celebrity.

“Are you who I think you are?”

Luckily he was very gracious, very kind. And he agreed to a quick interview, on the condition that I talk to him like just a festival-goer, not a celebrity. That’s why he adopted a bit of a different voice. But here’s my sixty seconds with Dustin Hoffman.