This job, like pretty much any other, can be a royal pain in the neck sometimes. But I’m not going to waste this space complaining. Instead, I’m going to talk about one of the genuine benefits.
Any reporter who stays in the business long enough winds up with some pretty good stories. You meet interesting people. Some famous, some not. Sometimes it’s not even a meeting, but a phone conversation.
That was this week, when I spent some time talking with Steve Smith. You probably know him better as Red Green. I first caught his show back in the 1990s, when I was in high school. To be honest, I didn’t mean to do it.
I was looking for “Red Dwarf,” a British sci-fi sitcom that may be one of the most ludicrously bizarre shows ever to make it to air. How weird? Well, one of the characters is dead. Has been for a few million years. Another evolved from cats over the course of the previously mentioned centuries.
It was strange, occasionally rude and often hilarious. I loved it.
Then the PBS station changed their schedule without much notification. Instead of “Red Dwarf,” I found “The Red Green Show.” It took me a little bit to warm up to the newcomer, but I’m glad I gave it the chance.
There never really seemed to be a point to the show. I suspect that worked in its favor. If you want to watch characters frantically rushing from one crisis to another, there are plenty of chances to do that. Programs in which the actors are clearly having fun, in which you can almost hear them asking each other, “Can you believe we’re getting paid to do this?” are rarer.
The conversation I had with Smith was a genuinely enjoyable interview. Some people, especially those who have been doing press bits for longer than I’ve been around, have their canned comments and don’t engage too much beyond the basics. You can tell they’re not all that interested anymore. Those interviews are a slog.
This was the opposite. Smith was warm and engaging from the start. I made sure to tell him southeast Iowa appreciated Canada’s generosity in sharing its winter weather, but that it wasn’t quite the right fit. He laughed.
Smith talked about working with Graham Greene, an actor I’ve admired since seeing him in “Dances With Wolves.” He talked about how well the cast worked together. His comments about Red Green were the kind you’d hear from someone talking about an old friend.
Because they didn’t often get into current events, the show aged reasonably well. That’s in large part because of who Red Green is. “He may be aware of what’s going on, but he doesn’t change his course,” Smith said.
This is Smith’s second, and likely final, trip to Ottumwa. He’ll be at Bridge View on April 16. I’ll try to make this lodge meeting.