Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio/Natale Peeples

For the past couple of years, The A.V. Club has used its 11 Questions feature to ask celebrities about their first concerts and most embarrassing phases. Part of that feature—the 12th question—also asked the interviewee to come up with a question for the next interview subject without generally knowing who they were. Those 12th questions have been weird, smart, and fun, and it seemed a shame to end 2018 without putting them together all in one piece. Thus, the following, which puts together the daisy chain of randomness known as “the 12th questions.”


Karen Kilgariff asked:

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Let’s see. This might be too common, but: “What’s the most effective piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?” Not conceptually the best advice, but the most effective piece of advice that got you where you wanted to be.

Margo Martindale answered:

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Take the job. Take the job. Take the job.

AVC: Do you recall who gave you that advice?

I think it was Josh Mostel, Zero Mostel’s son

And then she asked:

What advice would you give a young kid coming up to you on the street and asking, “How do you get into show business?”

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Aparna Nancherla answered:

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That’s a doozy that she gave me. I think I would say, pick something that you’re interested in or you like that fits into the entertainment genre. Don’t worry about exposure. Just work on getting good at it—not the attention aspect [of show business], but just getting good and figuring out if you like it or if you like something close to it. And then later worry about people seeing you, or knowing who you are. I do think there is an emphasis these days on getting attention first and then figuring out what you’re doing, but I still adhere to the model that it’s worth getting good at it or finding your feet first before having all the eyeballs on you.

And then she asked:

It’s something I’m always too scared to do, but—if you went to a psychic, what question would you ask them?

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Scott Thompson answered:

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I would ask them to let me communicate with my brother. I’d want to know if my brother was—I wouldn’t say all right, because he’s dead.

And the question would be, “Does he still have his hair?” He had a good head of hair, so I imagine he would. Because I’m the brother who still has his hair, too, and I thought, “If he still has his hair…”

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And then he asked:

What’s your favorite bird, and why?

Reggie Watts answered:

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Favorite bird and why... Hmm... Favorite bird and why. Well, I guess I’ve always been partial to the peregrine falcon.

AVC: Why?

Because it’s the most falcon-y? No. Because they approach terminal velocity, and it’s amazing how fast they can go and they can dive in a split second at that rate.

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And then he asked:

Would you ever eat lab-grown meat and, if so or if not, why?

Andie McDowell answered:

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No, no. I don’t think it’s going to be necessary. I don’t think that’s something I’m ever going to have to worry about. Maybe somebody in the future will have to worry about it, but I’m going to say no. That’s just not going to happen.

And then she asked:

I’m looking at these really crazy, crazy looking flowers, so I’ll ask “Who do they think came up with the idea that we should have flowers?” Where did that idea come from? Where do they think flowers came from? Who came up with flowers? Did God come up with flowers? I don’t know. Where do they think flowers came from?

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Travis McElroy answered:

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Well, I think it’s an evolutionary development, because I took a botany class in college. And as I understand it, the thing about flowers is they are like landing pads for insects and other creatures so that they will carry the pollen and help pollinate the flowers. So the brighter and more attractive the landing pad, the more likely that it will be spotted by pollinating insects and animals. So I think that flowers must have developed over time as a way to say like, “Hey, I’ve got the goods. Come here are check it out. We’re going to work together, you and I, bee. And I’ll give you honey, and you help me spread more of my flowers.” So I would have to think it’s evolutionary.

But what’s interesting about it is that it didn’t have to mean they were pretty, and yet so many of them are. What’s interesting to me it resulted in a very beautiful thing out of necessity, and I think that is a lot of—not just [about] evolution, but just kind of the world in general, is it’s amazing how many things you can find beauty in that were not pre-planned, and [it] was just a way that something worked out. I mean, think about a butterfly. A butterfly could have looked like anything, and instead it looks beautiful to communicate that it is poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten or whatever. I just think that that is amazing. But to answer Andie MacDowell’s question, I think it’s evolution.

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And then he asked:

This is one of my favorite hypotheticals to ask people, and it’s the question: Based on your own personality and what you know about yourself, what superpowers do you think you would actually have?

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Amber Nash answered:

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Oh, that’s a good one. I think my superpower would be that, if people were in my presence, they would be incapable of being rude.

AVC: Ooh, can you expand on that?

It would just be this barrier that would—see, people would just end up in this bubble that kept them from being a jerk, where they’d be like, “Oh, let me get the door for somebody.” I’m Southern, I grew up in the South—there’s things that I see in other places when I travel that I’m really mad about, like people who don’t thank you if you let them over in traffic, or they don’t thank you if you hold the door for them, or they don’t hold the door for you, or people that laugh at people that trip, or just being shitty. I think my superpower would be if they were in the orb of my presence, they’d be in this bubble where they had to act nice.

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AVC: What would be the range on that bubble? Would it be just the room or the building you were in?

I feel like it’d be pretty small, actually. It’d probably only be the room, maybe 20 feet around me, 20 feet radius, yeah.

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And then she asked:

If you were a fancy dinner, what would you be and why? What about that meal represents who you are as a person?

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Kat Dennings answered:

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Ugh, as long as I’m not served in a restaurant, I think we’ll be fine. [Laughs.] I’d be something real marbled. I’d probably be like a—it’s so gross to think about—I’d be like a fatty piece of albacore. No! Albacore is not fatty. I do see a fatty piece of raw fish. How about that?

Oh! I know. I’d just be a big, fat piece of toro. With extra fat just dripping off. [Laughs.] You know? Just take it or leave it, you know what I mean?

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And then she asked:

Okay, okay. I want to know: If you could choose, would you either be fluent in a language, or a genius at one instrument?

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David Sedaris answered:

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What throws me there is the word “genius.” But if you were a genius at one instrument, it doesn’t mean that you love playing it. It just means that you’re good at playing it. And I think that without having the drive, the genius is no good. So I’d rather be fluent in another language.

AVC: Are you fluent in French at this point?

Fluent to me is a special word. My boyfriend, Hugh, is fluent. I can say whatever I have to, but it’s like, “Oh fuck, now I have to say this.” There’s no joy in it for me.

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This French guy came up to me at a book signing last week, and his wife was American and she started speaking in French to me. And I hate that. And so I answer in English. And then her husband, who was French, said, “You’ve made enough money off my language, the least you could do is speak it.” I wanted to tell him, “You know, I’ll tell you when I’ve made enough money off your language.”

And then he asked:

Do you think you’ll have an abortion this summer?

Robert Webb answered:

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I have no current plans for an abortion.

And the he asked:

Oooh, okay. [Laughs.] “Why are you what you’re like?”

Nathan Fillion answered:

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I would say strong family ties and being brought up in a safe, nurturing, loving environment.

AVC: Oh, that’s a very sweet answer. That’s nice.

And it’s absolutely true, because I feel like the foundations of everybody’s “who you are” is how the world was presented to you as you grow up in. I had a safe, cool, supportive environment growing up. I feel pretty confident in the world knowing that I have all that behind me.

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And then he asked:

My question to the next person is, what modern convenience could you absolutely not live without?

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Jason Segel answered:

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You know what, honestly? I get really, really frustrated when my air conditioner is broken. I would have to say my air conditioner. I live in a town that gets to be about 105 degrees for about three months in the summer, and the air conditioner is what keeps everyone in a fairly decent mood.

And then he asked:

“What is more diverse, or what offers more options: sandwiches or burritos?”

Karen Kilgariff answered:

In terms of variety, I feel like you’re pretty hamstrung with the burrito model. Even if you get super creative with the ingredients, it’s still going to end up as a warm tube of food. Sandwiches, on the other hand, are all over the map in terms of size, shape and temperature. You can do whatever. An open faced sandwich is basically a full dinner covered in gravy with two slices of bread hidden underneath. It’s chaos. Neither is better. We’re all so alone.

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