Inside the Actors Studio: Television Geniuses Keep It Real and Give Back

The always hilarious Dave Chappelle returns to television for the 200th episode of Inside the Actors Studio.  Tables are turned this time, however, as Chappelle interviews the theatrical and often imitated host, James Lipton.  Writer, actor, producer, French knight, and yes-admittedly even the French version of a pimp at one time-Lipton revisits his long, illustrious career in the arts with the help of the witty Chappelle.

The iconic Lipton sits on the well-known studio stage and, like all the actors before him, candidly discusses everything from the difficult relationship with his estranged beatnik poet father, his decision to become an actor instead of a lawyer, the rich, informative interviews of the actors who have graced his stage, and his latest book, Inside Inside.  Amidst Chappelle’s jokes about smoking pot and Lipton’s unique stage presence, the two manage to get serious during the two-hour interview, covering everything from the great teachers of Method Acting in New York, such as Stella Adler, who helped to catapult the careers of many famous actors, the birth of Inside the Actors Studio, and the demands that make acting such a rewarding but intense career.

Luckily for us, the interview is not all tears induced from painful memories and shop talk about serious acting.  Clips from Chris Rock asking Lipton what traumatic childhood memory he used to prepare for his Geico commercial and even the revelation that Lipton’s wife, Kedaki Turner, is the character, Miss Scarlet, on the Clue board game box cover help make the episode very entertaining.  Some mildly surprising moments include Lipton’s recollection about writing and acting for the soap opera Guiding Light and even being recruited by a New York homicide detective, Tom O’Malley, about eight years ago in order to teach interrogation techniques to homicide detectives.  Perhaps one of Lipton’s most triumphant moments was when he agreed to be the last guest on French host, Bernard Pivot’s, talk show.  Pivot’s questionnaire is what Lipton is now so well-known for using with his own guests and his famous Q&A sessions on Inside the Actors Studio have been the satirical topic of such comedians as Will Ferrell.

The episode ends with Chappelle asking Lipton the famous Pivot questions, along with a Q&A session with Lipton and his students.  Lipton candidly talks with his students about studying acting and how techniques such as Method Acting are processes that can be difficult and are not always easy.  In the words of Chappelle, “That shit [acting] is hard.”

But for a few lucky students enrolled at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C., acting will get a little easier.  It was announced at the end of the show that Pace University will participate in an acting program with Dave Chappelle scholarship recipients who are attending the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.  Pace University is, of course, home to Inside the Actors Studio and Lipton’s alma mater, and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts is Chappelle’s alma mater.  In such a cutthroat industry, it is rewarding to know that creative talents such as Lipton and Chappelle are not only able to make it big, but that they never forget their roots.  Be sure to catch the inspiring and informative two-hour episode on Bravo.

Season 15, Episode 2: Dave Chappelle (originally aired November 10, 2008)

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Photographs courtesy of Bravo

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