Anderson Cooper loosens his newsroom tie for a speaking tour with longtime friend and late-night host Andy Cohen. Next stop: The Warner Theatre.
“We try to push each other to see how far each will go in telling various stories,” says Anderson Cooper (right), seen here with Andy Cohen on a tour stop in Miami. “I love nothing more than trying to embarrass him onstage.”
On paper it seems like a union of opposites: Andy Cohen, the ebullient, pop culture–obsessed host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and the mastermind behind that network’s addicting Real Housewives franchise, and Anderson Cooper, the poised, serious-minded host of a very different kind of program, the weeknight news broadcast Anderson Cooper 360. But the two are close friends, and after Cooper scored lots of laughs (and a couple of digs) while helping Cohen promote his second book at a speaking event in New York last year, they decided to take their show on the road for a limited run. AC2: An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen—Deep Talk and Shallow Talesplays the Warner Theatre on October 17, and Capitol File caught up with Cooper to get the scoop...
Tell us a little bit about the format of the show. It’s defnitely evolved a lot [since the event at New York’s 92nd Street Y]. It’s an unscripted, unpredictable night with Andy and me. It’s like hanging out with Andy in his clubhouse, basically. Andy interviews me; I interview him. But it’s not so formal. It’s very much a back-and-forth conversation. We usually try to surprise each other with different videos that we’ve made about the other. I’ve put together video clips of Andy’s crazy reunion episodes. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the worlds of pop culture and global events. We call it Deep Talk and Shallow Tales, and I leave it up to the audience to decide who’s the deep talk and who’s the shallow tales. The overall thing is just to have people have a really fun night out.
What’s the demographic? We get a lot of Andy fans, a lot of Bravo fans, a lot of women having a ladies’ night out, women dragging their husbands, obviously a lot of guys coming, too. It’s just kind of…. People are drinking a lot.
Cohen and Cooper shooting the breeze with Ellen Barkin in the Bravo Clubhouse while taping Watch What Happens Live.
During the event?! Oh my God, yes. Yes. The theater itself serves drinks. Andy drinks during the show—Fresca and tequila. “Fresquila” he calls it. I think he wants to offer those as specialty cocktails for the audience. We’ve done some shows that have just been crazy rowdy. We did a sold-out show in Chicago. I think a lot of women had been drinking. I think they had a lot of Pinot Grigio over dinner. It was quite a fun crowd.
Is the idea that people get to know the two of you instead of the subjects you talk about on your shows? Absolutely. It’s nice to show how one really is. Andy and I have been friends for 20-plus years. We vacation all the time together. We know each other very, very well, and we try to push each other to see how far each will go in telling various stories. I love nothing more than trying to embarrass him onstage.
Have you gotten him yet? He’s a little tough to embarrass, I have to say. I’m so willing to go anywhere. I’m much easier to embarrass. He made up a whole bunch of taglines for me [like the ones on] the Housewives. You know how the housewives have taglines?
And what were yours? They’re too embarrassing to even put in print. I honestly can’t. That’s what we like about the show. Things happen with the audience that I wouldn’t really want to put on television. We have this nice compact with the audience. We’ll say to them, “Look, please don’t record this part, or please don’t tweet this out. This is just for us here.” So it’s very intimate, very funny stuff that you would never see us do on television—certainly I would probably never do on television.
Does the audience get really involved? We like a lot of interaction with the audience, so Andy and I talk to each other, and then we open it up to questions from the audience, which everyone told us not to do. But we like the unpredictable interactions.
“It's like hanging out with Andy in his clubhouse, basically. We just want people to have a fun night out." —Anderson Cooper
How did you decide on the cities for the tour? It’s really based on where Andy Cohen wants to go out afterward. That’s how the decisions are made where we do it.
Anything you’re looking forward to doing while you’re in DC? I’m excited to be in Washington. But honestly, I leave it all up to Andy.
In all your work, you walk the line between being personable and professional so effortlessly. Oh, well, thanks. I think it’s important to just be yourself. I learned that long ago: to not pretend to be something you’re not. And not to pretend you know stuff if you don’t know it, and to acknowledge what you know. And to always just tell the truth. That’s certainly what I strive for.
I don’t really take myself seriously, but I take the news very seriously. I feel lucky to be in the position I’m in, and in people’s homes and telling people stories, so I take that very seriously. But it’s nice to be able to poke fun at myself and to have other people poke fun at me. There’s nothing better than that. October 17 at 8 pm. Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW, 202-783-4000