We asked Forum's producers to pick their favorite arts shows from 2013. Here is Senior Producer Dan Zoll's pick:
It's a tough call, but I think my favorite was the interview with Bay Area prankster, broadcast personality, and musician Mal Sharpe as part of our 'First Person' series. I must confess I was already a fan of his work as part of the 1960s comedy duo Coyle and Sharpe and his band Big Money in Jazz. When doing research for the segment, we came across a hilarious TV segment featuring Sharpe 'covering' the 1985 Democratic Convention in San Francisco the night when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated as vice-presidential candidate. To their surprise, Sharpe asked all the gathered delegates and luminaries the same question: 'What is your favorite fish?' The responses were priceless.
On Playing Pranks on People:
"It always did make me a little uncomfortable. [Jim] Coyle was into it a little bit more than me, he lived to put people on... I kind of got into this because I knew how to turn a tape recorder on and off and I loved the imagination of it and the surrealism and the stories, and I loved meeting the people... But we did get criticism on that level and frankly I can understand it... When the sequence was over, we always had to let them know it was a joke and get a release from them and I would say 99 percent of the time they kind of suddenly, because they had been through this improvisational trip on the street, they didn't mind it. Every once in a while there was someone who was bugged with us."
On the Nietzsche Connection:
"When you're young -- I'll tell you, kind of behind it all, you want to have a one-up on grown-ups. You want to pull the wool over people's eyes because you want to feel superior. Coyle was a big reader of [Friedrich] Nietzsche and [Arthur] Schopenhauer and he had this whole thing about dominating people in some strange way with his words."
On How He Ended Up in San Francisco:
"It was just a whim. I went to graduate school at Michigan State University... I finished the year and I had a few months before I went in the Army... it was right after Korea. And I think I saw an album cover of a Turk Murphy record and there were these really exotic people on the cover with him, bohemians I guess, and I just said 'I don't know... I'll go out to San Francisco' and I just flew out here. I had no idea what the city was like."
On His First Few Weeks in San Francisco:
"I got a job at Macy's after a day or so. After I was here two weeks this girl that worked at Macy's said 'I have a place to live. I think you'll find it interesting,' and I got on the cable car with her and I went up on Powell Street and we got to the top of Nob Hill... She took me to her pad in North Beach where she had a mattress and an orange crate. She lived with a guy she wasn't having sex with, he just slept in the other room, and I just thought 'This is so cool, this is so cool.'"
On Learning Not to Laugh:
"When you have a chance to make money, you keep a straight face. When you're desperate to get some good sequence, you don't laugh."
On How His Work Differed From Candid Camera:
"There was Candid Camera and Steve Allen would go out in front of the Ranch Market in Hollywood and interview people. We were much more surrealistic. We were much more interested in painting the scene of bizarre terror and challenges to the people on the streets of San Francisco. We walked around with a hidden tape recorder for two years before anybody hired us -- in and out of mortuaries and stores, so it was much more of a heady thing I like to think."