Werner Herzog gives some of the best interviews in the business. Whether in text or through the immediately familiar tones of his measured, heavy voice, Herzog’s every sentence is a small treasure that brings us greater knowledge about the nature of the world we inhabit or, in the case of a recent interview, important thoughts on Paul F. Tompkins impressions and the joy of cat videos.
These last two points are addressed in a recent interview by Studio 360's Kurt Andersen. During a discussion with Herzog about his most recent film, Meeting Gorbachev, Andersen brings up Tompkins’ The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project/Comedy Bang Bang impression. Herzog, who says he’s heard others “make satires and imitate my voice” before, wasn’t familiar with Tompkins’ take, but, after being played a clip from one of the comedians’ many existentially negative Yelp reviews, he laughs and says “the accent could be better, but it’s a very funny text.”
“That’s good stuff, let’s face it,” he says. Herzog asks for Tompkins’ name once more before offering “my congratulations.”
That he likes the impression isn’t a big shock, especially considering Herzog’s guest appearances on The Simpsons and Rick And Morty and general willingness to poke fun at himself. When asked earlier in the interview about funny moments in his work, Herzog says that people who think he’s all doom and gloom are missing out on the “humor in almost all of my films.”
“I’ve been labeled as a grim, Teutonic, sort of, god knows, warrior who is determined to risk his life and all this kind of nonsense,” he says, just minutes before Andersen plays a clip from Grizzly Man in which Herzog’s narration describes how he’s haunted by footage of bears that show “no kinship, no understanding, no mercy,” but “only the overwhelming indifference of nature.”
The counterbalance above is quintessential Herzog and is only furthered by him ending the interview with further insight into his curiosity about the natural world’s chaos. “Sometimes when I come home and I’m tired and I don’t know how to order my thoughts,” Herzog says. “I switch on crazy cat videos and immediately I’m rejuvenated.”
“There’s something mysterious—there’s something utterly, profoundly mysterious and hilarious about cats,” he adds. “They are just going wild. And I love them for that.”
Listen to the entire interview at PRI for many more Herzog facts and to see a sample of the kind of cat video—one of the “stunning gems” he says “just make your day”—for yourself.
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