This is a transcript… of Stephen Colbert’s interview with Maurice Sendak, from 2012.
Grim Colberty Tales w Maurice Sendak
Colbert: Mr. Sendak, thank you so much for talking with me today. Sendak: It's a pleasure. Colbert: Now, tell me about children's literature. Don't you think that by writing books for children, you are sending children the message that reading is important? Sendak: Very much so. yes. Let's talk about kids. I don't trust 'em. Is that true? They are just biding their time until we're gone, and then they get our stuff. That's really good. And they take our place. Uh-huh, that's an interesting point of view... Thank you. ...but not interesting to me, particularly. There is something in this country that is so opposed to understanding the complexity of children, it's quite amazing. What do you mean 'the copmlexity of children'? because children have it easy, they get driven everyplace we feed them, we dress them. Newt Gingrich said it: children don't have a work ethic. But Newt Gingrich is an idiot. Of great renown, I'll give him that. He's a historian, you know. Yes but there is something so hopelessly gross and vile about him, that it's hard to take him seriously. so let's not take him seriously. well let's agree to disagree. sure. Why write for children? I don't. write. for children. You don't? No. I write. and somebody says, "that's for children!" I didn't set out to make children happy, or to make life better for them, or easier for them. Do you like them? I like them as few and far between as I do adults. Maybe a bit more, since I really don't like adults, at all, practically. Let me just get that down. Maurice Sendak: "Children: Eh." Alright, didn't know that. New topic: book signings. Dreadful. Really? You must have groupies. Yes, you do -- but they don't mean anything! Hot young moms coming up to you? right? Where the wild MILFs are? That would not affect me because I am a gay man. Sorry, what? I said, "That would not affect me because I am a gay man." I think, I'm sorry, I must be mishearing you, I think you just said you were a gay man. Yeah. Ok... Why are you allowed to write children's books? Why not? You aren't allowed to head boy scout troops. I wouldn't dream of wanting to. But... What does a gay man care about children? They're people, they're people... Gay men can't have children. Of course they can! No they can't. Do you know how it works? They're capable... Sir, excuse me. you are completely misguided if you think that gay men-- You *can* do that! I'm sure you've put some effort into it. But it will not work, sir! (laughs) Let's go on to a new subject. Why not. You've expressed frustration in the media sometimes that all they ever want to talk about is Where The Wild Things Are. True. let's talk about Where The Wild Things Are. (winces in pain) Why not do a sequel to this? It's a natural. Because it is the most boring idea imaginable! "Where the Wild Things Are 2: Still Wildin'!... featuring Vin Diesel" Who's Vin Diesel? Oh, he's incredible. Have you seen Fast and Furious? No or... Too Fast Too Furious? I don't go to the movies. We do this book, we get a tie in with Burger King or Taco Bell, it comes with a Where the Wild Things Are snack pack... It is so bad, that it not only will sell, it will make pots and pots of money for you. Can I get the blessing of your estate? Absolutely. (to the cameraman) You've got that on tape? But it's got to be as bad as that looks like it is. Well listen, let's let the public judge whether it's bad, by whether they buy it. Believe in the free market? No. Ok, well I can't help you there. By the way, in Where the Wild Things Are, "the wild rumpus": is that... is that... It can be! Is rumpus... sex? Sure. "the wild rumpus begin"? Yes! the whole bed going up and down, yes The mother screaming, the father saying "shut up" You know -- making love. Making love. And being happy. Let's talk about In the Night Kitchen for a second. can we? Sure. This one gets banned all over the place. You know why. He's got a dick. He's got a tallywhacker, okay? A tallywhacker? I never heard that. Oh yeah, yeah. a johnson. A johnson? A johnson, you never hear of johnson? A schvantz. (nods in recognition) You've got kiddy schvantz in your book. Why are you printing a smutty book? Because... he's a boy. Yeah, yeah. But you don't have to rub it in our face. Why... Boys wear pants. Not when they're dreaming...! Have you never had a dream, yourself, Where you were totally naked? No. I think you're a man of little imagination. Well I love the book, but I've just made some adjustments to it. I - every copy I have, I've removed all the penises from it. Oh my god, you have!! Yes, so you can see, there's nothing there. I removed the penises, I removed the butt crack over here, okay. I've taken the penis out over here. You don't have to worry about the penis offending anybody. (wiggles finger through cut-out hole) Not at all. Wow. But I keep all the penises, I cut them out and I put them in a little plastic bag. I also cut out all the other penises I see in the books and magazines. I've got a couple hundred here. (holds up bag of penis cut-outs) And there's nothing wrong with you, of course. I come across a lot of penises. I am so impressed. [Flashback to earlier interview] It is a miracle that I have lived this long without having destroyed a person. I still have a little bit of time. To kill someone? To kill someone. Yeah. [/Flashback]
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