Ian Hislop vs… Tom Waits?!

You learn something new every day… there I was last night watching Have I Got a Bit More News for You and nearly falling asleep when the show ended and the announcer announced that Mark Lawson was now interviewing Ian Hislop on BBC4. This woke me up – I’ve long been a fan of Hislop in his role as editor of Private Eye and HIGNFY stalwart, but Lawson’s interviews are always worth watching (with the possible exception of the one with Phil Collins, which I think sent me to sleep). The next hour was great fun, Hislop chatting affably about his childhood, how he got started in comedy and satire, his run-ins with the legal system and his now some 20 years on HIGNFY. Best of all though they showed a clip from his first ever TV appearance in the early 80s, which I’d never seen before – no less an interview with Tom Waits, another of my all-time favourite people. The pairing in fact seemed so unlikely that I had to check I wasn’t mis-hearing when Hislop uttered Waits’s name – I thought surely he’ll correct himself in a moment and say it was some other Tom (not that I can think of any other Toms right now, but even so), but he didn’t. Here is that fateful encounter:

It’s not great quality but basically Waits is plugging his new album (not sure of the date, possibly Rain Dogs?) in his trademark mumble-slur, and Hislop tries to get him to speak up. ‘Plug it a bit louder,’ says Hislop. Waits looks round to check he heard him right, realises silently that he did, and growls ‘I’ll plug it in my own damn way!’ Hislop gets no help from the audience or his other guests (rightly so), and in the Lawson interview concedes he thought Waits might thump him…

All excellent stuff. In the meantime the Lawson – Hislop interview can still be seen on iPlayer.

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