Look Out, Chappelle, Here Comes Shaq
Wise counsel from that eminently important film Animal
House taught us years ago that fat, drunk and stupid is
no way to go through life. Well, let me say first-hand that short, fat and balding ain’t that great a method,
So, you can only imagine my joy when
someone at a recent industry event asked me
as a favor if I would be interested in interviewing
newly signed Boston Celtics center
Shaquille O’Neal. In person. Standing up.
Yes: Picture the massive, 7’1” O’Neal standing
there, and then pan way, way down and
see a guy so short that when he lied on his
high school basketball team roster about his
height, he still could only get away with listing
himself at 5’9”.
And so there I was, standing face to, um,
belt buckle with Shaq, stretching a recording
device way up in the sky and wondering if
there were any way I could look any more
ridiculous at a Hollywood industry event. I’ve
never had a colonoscopy, but I imagine the
feeling is kind of the same: I closed my eyes
and prayed for it to be over quickly.
I did the Shaq interview for two reasons:
first, as a favor to the person who asked me
to, and second, because I happen to think
that Shaq is hysterical. And I don’t just mean his free-throw shooting.
The guy is seriously funny, and has charisma
to spare. He’s done movies and music,
and has an ABC show called Shaq Vs. in which
he competes against experts in other fields.
He wants to play two more NBA seasons and
then get into TV. And not as a basketball analyst;
he has another idea.
He has long said he wants to work in law
enforcement (seriously), so I asked him if he
might want to put those two things together
and star in a new version of Cops. “Would I
do that? No,” he said. “I don’t like to go out
and do dangerous stuff and put people on TV
who don’t need to be on TV.”
When I asked what he would want to do, he said he has one idea firmly in mind. “Honestly?
I would love to do a Dave Chappelle-type
show,” he said.
Shaq’s very own sketch comedy show. And
he wants to write and act in it. So, network
execs, if you think Shaq can bring the funny,
here’s your chance to go get him.
I had to ask the big fella if—when he decides
what he’s going to do post-hoops—he plans
to make the announcement in the form of an
hour-long special on television, as his former
teammate did. “No,” he said sternly, like he had
just swatted away one of my weak drives to
the lane. When I asked what he thought of The
Decision, he took a minute and clearly chose
his words very cautiously. “Everyone is different
how they handle their stuff,” he said.
If there had been a little word bubble like
they have in cartoons next to his head, showing
what he was really thinking, I’m betting
words like “fool” and “dumbass” would be
battling for position under the basket. Then
again, anyone who saw me stand there and try
to interview a guy about two feet taller was
probably thinking the exact same thing.
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