Last week, I took a break from critiquing Off–Off Broadway plays about naked hip-hop Serbo lesbian forest children struggling with father issues and consumerism to interview actor-comedian Jason Sudeikis, star of Saturday Night Live and the upcoming Horrible Bosses, for a New York Magazine profile. Sudeikis, who had been doing Bosses junkets for a week or so, bouncing between hotel suites and backlot roundtables, wanted to conduct the interview in some interesting location to break up the monotony. He suggested reflexology, the popular homeopathy involving intense, Qi-targeted foot massage and (if you’re the recipient) a lot of yelping. I’m more accustomed to subjects turning down my high-concept interview pitches, so I was happy to come to Chinatown, kick off my Wingtips, and get my arches brutalized in a recliner alongside comedy’s ascendant leading dude.
Over the course of our 40-minute, occasionally pain-dazed interview, we decided to develop this whole side-by-side sole-bruising stunt into a talk-show format, with guests answering boilerplate questions about one’s upcoming film while having their metatarsals systematically pried out of their feet by “specialists.” Sudeikis — Edison to my Tesla, Wordsworth to my Coleridge, Zuckerberg to my Winklevi — promised me crazy royalties on this eminently monetizable notion. I fully expected to quit this job within the week — or before someone made me review Spider-Man again, whichever came first.
Imagine my shock, then, when I saw J-Suds guesting on Conan last night. O’Brien asked him a textbook interview question about what it was like working with Kevin Spacey … all while trained reflexologists worked their toes while both of them giggled like schoolgirls. (Actually, in Conan’s case, it was more shrieking and groaning like a schoolgirl in an Eli Roth movie.)
Imagine my shock! Is my shock difficult to imagine? That’s because there actually was none. Imagine this instead: His publicist very sweetly calling me 48 hours in advance and asking permission for Jason to use the reflexology anecdote during his Conan appearance. Since it was all his idea in the first place, I happily acquiesced. (Honestly, I was surprised and impressed that they even asked. There aren’t many celebrities left who respect the prehistoric concept of “exclusivity.”) On the show, Sudeikis (known far and wide for his personable charm and classy, politic grace) was conscientious enough to name-check me and the mag, and he also did some spot-on impressions of my more agonized facial expressions. “He really got your face just right,” said my fiancée, a little wistfully, I think. The expression on her face has me wondering how often I make those faces, and in what situations. I clearly need to spend at least as much time as Jason Sudeikis has refining impressions of myself.
Totaling up: I’ve yet to see dollar one in royalties. On the other hand, I now join the likes of Joe Biden and Taylor Hicks in the Suds Gallery of impressions, and the world is officially overprepped for my brief Sudeikis profile (on stands next week). In addition, my feet have never felt better, my toes have never looked more uniform, and I can rest easy knowing that Conan O’Brien’s capacity for podial agony is far below mine — information that will surely come in handy in our fast-approaching postapocalyptic torture-based economy. Thank you, Jason Sudeikis.