Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and Joan Rivers are just a few of the notables Bill Boggs has interviewed in his storied career. The full list includes presidents, cultural icons, business tycoons, writers, celebrity chefs, athletes and movie stars. Now, Boggs will perform his widely acclaimed play Bill Boggs’ Talk Show Confidential: Confessions of a Talk Show Host at Guild Hall on August 25. It promises to be an evening of hilarious stories and video clips showcasing the most outrageous backstage happenings and inside stories of Boggs’ long tenure on television.
What inspired you to write Confessions of a Talk Show Host?
Necessity—the mother of invention. Several years back I had this show, Bill Boggs’ Corner Table on the Food Network, and one of the chefs was Jacques Pépin, the great French chef, and at the time Jacques Pépin had an affiliation with Crystal Cruises.
I’d never been on a cruise, but I thought, “I have all these funny stories, and I’ll tell some of them and put up some interesting videos and see what happens. I’ll call it Confessions of a Talk Show Host!” So I went on this cruise with my son, who was only 12 years old, and people loved [the show]! It was 40 minutes long.
Now, here’s a part of the key to life: I came back from that experience and started going on with my life, but I couldn’t put away the thought that I had it within me to do more of what I’d just done. I met a man who did theater on Broadway at the John Houseman Theater. He did big productions and experimental productions. I told him about my idea, and he said to me if I could have a complete show—not a 40-minute show—by a certain date, we could try it out. I went back down to Philadelphia, where I grew up, and I sat right at the dining room table where I’ve done some of the great work of my life, and I sketched out a bigger version called Talk Show Confidential.
Can you give us a preview?
There will be stories about being on live television interviewing people, and only finding out as I started the interview that they couldn’t speak a word of English. Or how about the wrong guest? It’s the only theatrical production to take the audience into the world of being a talk show host. You’re going to see some pretty interesting clips of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Springer, Matt Lauer, Martha Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Ferguson, Joy Behar and Itzhak Perlman from the various shows that I’ve done.
You wrote the self-help book Got What It Takes? Successful People Reveal How They Made It to the Top. What’s your advice on how to get to the top?
I think it’s about having a will to prevail by believing in yourself and your talent. That faith in yourself will get you through good times and bad times. I think to be successful you have to follow the path of your passion—that’s really important. I think you have to always be aware of having a good reputation, and the ability to continue to expand your talent. You also have to really be able to reinvent yourself within the sphere of your talent.
What’s one of the best pieces of advice you’ve been given?
My father said, “You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it.” That’s been proven to me over and over again to be true. And David Brenner said to me, “You can live your life two ways: pain of discipline, or the pain of regret.” I want to be able to say I lived a life of discipline.
What do you love about the East End?
I think that the constant and wonderful publicity that’s afforded to the so-called Hamptons and East End, because of celebrities and glamour, should never eclipse the raw beauty of nature out her —the beaches, the potato fields, the trees, the light.
Bill Boggs’ Talk Show Confidential: Confessions of a Talk Show Host will be at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton, on Thursday, August 25 at 8 p.m. For more information visit guildhall.org or call 631-324-0806.