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Taika Waititi Is an Uncomfortable Talk-Show Interviewee

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity | August 12, 2021 |

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrity | August 12, 2021 |


Growing up in a white trash household, the Rowles family used a lot of humor to deal with our often dire situation. When we’d get a lot of people together, we could spend hours trying to outdo each other with bad-luck stories. This is how we bonded. We would laugh at the awful, because what else are you going to do? It became my go-to strategy for relating to people, and it worked for a long time, in part because even in college and law school, I gravitated toward white trash and white trash-adjacent people (hi, Seth!).

I continued to employ this strategy well into adulthood until I met my now-wife and began to interact with a lot of people who did not come from similar class backgrounds. I would tell stories about growing up, meant to elicit laughs but that were often met with, “Oh, I’m so sorry that happened!” which was not the intended response. I had to learn how to interact with people from different classes, and I learned the hard way that it’s not a good idea to divulge family traumas to strangers. You save those anecdotes until you see them a second time. Also, that story about my friend, Phillip, who would often yell out of his trailer door to everyone within earshot in his trailer park, “I’m a son of a bitch!” or “Please, Mom! Stop beating me!” in an effort to get a rise out of his mother was not as cute as I thought it was at the time.

It may be that Taika Waititi — who is almost certainly beloved by friends and co-workers — has not yet figured out how to interact in some other settings like, say, a talk-show appearance. I have heard tale of Waititi on the interview circuit, and I don’t think he’s a favorite among journalists, if only because he doesn’t seem that interested in the promotional side of his job. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily: DeNiro, for instance, is a notoriously bad interview, but a great actor.

Taika Waititi might also fall under the category of massively talented director (and actor), but not a particularly good interview. To wit: Taika Waititi appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night with guest host Sarah Silverman, and let’s just call it what it is: Awkward.

Waititi doesn’t seem particularly interested in being there, and some of the stories that he clearly prepared during the preshow don’t go over like he thought they might. There’s a story about his daughter running around his quarantine hotel room naked, destroying the room, and yelling, “We’re sorry, Daddy, please don’t hit us anymore!” while Taika was on a Zoom call. It might have come off charming or endearing from a seasoned talk-show pro, but as a viewer, I want to say to Taika what my wife used to say to me, “Please stop telling that story in public.”

And yes, Silverman brought up the threesome photo, and yes, it’s more uncomfortable than funny.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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