Celebrity

Pharrell Williams' Artist TLK: Lessons in How Not To Host a Show

Pharrell Williams recently added another job title to his ever-expanding CV. The rapper/singer/record producer/composer/fashion designer/furniture designer/artist (who can forget his pandering 2009 Murakami collaboration) is now also the talk show host of a new YouTube series. Called Artist TLK (because talk takes too long to say), each episode runs about 20 awkward minutes, during which Williams succeeds in interrupting, talking over, and providing answers for his artsy guests.

Williams says he began the show as a way "to use [his] access to learn things from really smart, genius people," but it's tough to learn anything from his guests when he cuts them off to follow one of his longwinded, nonsensical trains of thought instead.

When asked what makes a good interviewer, Katie Couric said the key is being "a gracious host," but somehow she never needed to cue a naked woman (edgy!) to emerge from behind a slipshod set and pour water on the guests. Here are some of Williams' other less than gracious moments during his Tlk with artists David Salle and Kaws.

Williams describes what it feels like when people don't "get" your art:

"When people can't sort out or make out what it is you're trying to say it's because you're speaking in a different language. It's almost as if you're speaking in English but you're deciding that you want to use the phonetics of a word versus what man's popular place definition on the word is to make your own sentence."

Williams cuts off Kaws after hearing the beginning of a story about trading paintings for airfare and a hotel room:

"Listen—I feel like not a lot of people know that. Like, we should give more light to the bartering aspect. 'Cuz you know what it also does, it promotes, like, fellowship and a sense of community. And you know, I say it all the time, there's strength in numbers. Like, could you imagine if the art community actually loved each other and supported each other? I'm not saying you guys could save the economy, but you could put a nice, interesting spin on it.

Williams chimes in and answers his own question for them:

"What do you guys think about the venture capitalists, the hedge-fund guys that get in the art business? I think it's a good thing because where there's money there's attention."

After Kaws mentions that Jeff Koons came to one of his openings, Williams interrupts the conversation to jerk his elbow back and cry:

"Yessssssssssssss!"

Williams explains how it's reasonable for critics to condemn an unpopular artist's work, but not the work of a popular artist, because:

"There's an entire, like, art world that says completely different."

This prompts Salle to point out that Williams views art as a commodity, "not art as art, not as the painting as a painting, as color and form and shape and beauty," a dig that flies right over Williams' head.

Once he's been sufficiently schooled Williams closes with what's supposed to be his kicker, a trademark he hopes to develop over the course of the series, but the flat, "Well I guess this is what happens when artists talk," is followed by an awkward clinking of water glasses indicative of the show's general lack of energy, enthusiasm, and provocative material.

Perrin Drumm

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