TERRY GROSS INTERVIEWS BERNIE MAC By Josh Perilo INT. FRESH AIR RECORDING STUDIO TERRY GROSS (Josh) is seated across from BERNIE MAC (Griffin). TERRY Hi, I’m Terry Gross, and this is Fresh Air. When the words “Influential Dead Black Comedian” are put together in a sentence, in that order, several names may come to mind. For me, Bernie Mac is at the top of that list of names. Bernie Mac, welcome to Fresh Air. BERNIE Thank you, Terry. TERRY I’m going to start by playing a clip from your act. Do you want to set this up? BERNIE No. TERRY Ok. Let’s play the clip. An audio clip plays of Bernie Mac from “Def Comedy Jam Allstars.” BERNIE MAC (V.O.) You don’t understand! I ain’t scared of you motherfuckers! The clip cuts off abruptly. TERRY So... In your act you begin many of your sections BERNIE I call them movements. My team and I call them movements. TERRY You begin many of your movements by repeating the line “You don’t understand.” My first question is, what don’t they understand? BERNIE “What they don’t understand” is really a metaphor that relates to the audience/performer dynamic in my stage shows. TERRY Much like a Greek chorus interjection or Negro spiritual call and response? BERNIE Precisely. TERRY Hmm. I see. (Pause) That’s very funny, then. BERNIE Thank you. TERRY My second question is, why are the audience members motherfuckers? Why not father or brother fuckers? Did you have an issue with you mother, women, or the mythic idea of mothers in general? BERNIE First of all I'd like to say that's an excellent question... TERRY I know. I’m an amazing radio host. BERNIE Yes, I hate my mother. TERRY Of course. Would you like a ham sandwich? BERNIE I would. Terry pulls out two ham sandwiches. Bernie's is half eaten. BERNIE Did someone already eat some of this? TERRY Yes. Let’s play another clip. An audio clip plays of Bernie Mac. BERNIE MAC (V.O) I’m in a bar, mindin’ my business, just coolin’ out, just bein’ cool... like I am. Chillin’. Woman come to me, think she can ask me any goddamn thing she wanna. She’s says “Mac?” I says “Yes m’lady?” She says “Can I ask you a question?” I say “Yeah.” She says “Does pussy taste like pumpkin pie?” Made me mad as hell! I said “Don’t ask me no damn question like that... I ain’t never had no pumpkin pie!” Kick it! The clip cuts off abruptly. TERRY I find that piece extremely humorous. BERNIE Thank you. TERRY Just to explain for those listening at home, Bernie Mac is addressing an audience and relaying an anecdote about an encounter with a woman... BERNIE At a bar. TERRY At a bar. The woman asks Bernie a question about how a female’s vagina might taste, specifically: if he would compare it to the flavor of a pumpkin pie. BERNIE In an earlier draft it was sweet potato. TERRY Oh, that’s interesting. BERNIE I also went through a phase where I toyed with the idea of carrot cake... TERRY (Cutting Bernie off) So he responds to the woman... and this is the humorous part... by telling her that he can’t answer the question. And the reason he can’t answer isn’t because he hasn’t tasted a woman’s vagina... BERNIE Which I have. Many times. TERRY ...But because he hasn’t tasted pumpkin pie. It is really a very clever turnabout that comments, in a colorful way, on your sexual prowess. (Pause) That is a very, very funny joke. BERNIE Thanks. TERRY So, what’s next for Bernie Mac? BERNIE Career wise? TERRY Well... I'm dead. TERRY That is so true. Thank you Bernie Mac... BERNIE You're welcome, Terry. TERRY Let me finish. Thank you so much Bernie Mac for being here today on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. It's been an honor. (Pause) You can say something now. BERNIE Oh, I can speak now. TERRY Yes. BERNIE Thank you Terry. It's been an honor. Can I take the rest of the sandwich. TERRY No. Bernie gets up angrily and starts to exit. TERRY Wrong way. BERNIE Which way is it? TERRY The exit's over by the sign that says Exit. BERNIE Is there a bathroom I can use Terry drops her head in disgust. BERNIE You know what. Never mind. Bernie exits.