Exclusive: Joe Buck Discusses New Show 'Joe Buck Live'
June 11th, 2009 12:09pm EDT
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Joe Buck: I'm not really worried about that; I'm worried about just being myself. Whether I've done play-by-play or hosted an event or stood up there at the Emmys or whatever it is, I'm not always trying to win people over and make them love me. The one thing you realize, the older you get, is that not everybody is going to like you. It's unrealistic to think, across the board, everybody is going to love the way you do things. All I can do is throw my best foot forward and there will be some that like it and there will be some that aren't going to like it. That's just the way it is.
I think I've grown up enough -- not only in this business but even prior to getting in this business through the experiences I had with my dad [Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck] being in it --- I don't care who you are or what your name is or how you do it... some people are going to like you and some people aren't. And that's fine. I don't shy away from criticism, I don't run into the corner and cry because somebody doesn't think I'm any good. HBO believes in what we're trying to do with this show; they were excited to get me but probably only half as excited as I was to go there.
Mike: Well, growing up with your father and, to a certain extent, you, broadcasting St. Louis Cardinals games -- even though I write for a primarily television and film website -- I sought this out because with the entertainment aspect of the show I thought, "Yeah, I can fit this in."
Joe Buck: I appreciate that! And I do think it's an opportunity for me to exercise different muscles and to show an audience that isn't familiar with me what I'm capable of doing. I'm sure a lot of people don't have any idea that I've got a sense of humor...
Mike: I think people from our hometown do, where you used to let it go during local games. You may be right about nationally, though.
Joe Buck: Yeah! I mean, St. Louis is kind of it's own world to me. I think people there get me and I think people, for the most part, know what I'm about and know what my intentions are and I don't have to worry about that. Beyond that, whether it's in New York or Boston or Philly or L.A., I think I'm going to be re-introducing myself to people and showing them, maybe, something they didn't expect.
Whether it's Bill Simmons or whoever -- I'm really not aware of who likes me, hates me, whatever... If you're worried about who doesn't like you, you're fighting a losing battle. It's just pointless.
Mike: Are you hoping to expand this beyond four episodes a year?
Joe Buck: My real hope is that HBO says, "We'd like to do more than four a year." That will only come with performance on my end and audience on the other end ... there would need to be a limit, though, these need to feel special. It can't be like somebody's Sunday night sports wrap-up show. You get that through guests; it's tough to book, it's tough to get people. I think if you're shooting for that four times or six times a year, you have a better chance. If you're trying to make it special ten times a year? I don't know if you can do that.
Mike: Comedy wise, it doesn't get much better than the Adam McKay guys...
Joe Buck: Yeah, they know what they're doing. The guy in charge of writing is John Glazer who has a show on Adult Swim called "Delocated" who I met through Paul Rudd.
Mike: Okay, this is kind of putting you on the spot, but let's say 15 years from now, if you could only do one or the other: Would you still want to be a successful broadcaster or would you rather be a successfull comedy/variety television host?
Joe Buck: Well, I got a chance to host "The Late Late Show" for two nights before Craig Ferguson took over. People there were talking to me about those possibilities and it jumped into my mind for a moment. Then, I just realized after the two nights were up, that nothing really beats the thrill of calling a Superbowl or the thrill of calling a World Series or an All-Star Game. I'm smart enough to know I've got the best job in the country. And I'm smart enough to know that if I started to waiver on that idea, there would be 150 people lined up to take that job. If 15 years from now I'm doing what I'm doing right now, I'll be the luckiest guy in the world.
Who knows where the rights go? Who knows if Fox wants me? I'm going deal to deal and weekend to weekend trying to do the best I can to make sure no one jumps up and takes it from me.
Mike: Last thing: And again, I write for a film and television website and I'm not sure how many will care about this question, but, this one is for those of us from St. Louis.
Joe Buck: Sure!
Mike: Your favorite moment involving your father and [current voice of the St. Louis Cardinals] Mike Shannon?
Joe Buck: Are you talking about outside of the booth?
Mike: Anything you want.
Joe Buck: It's a story I've told before but for my 18th birthday here in New York, when my dad was calling the game with Mike, my dad said, "Now to take us to the fifth inning is my son, the birthday boy, Joe Buck." He wanted me to come down and call the inning. When I decided I didn't want to do it, they both got up and walked out of the booth. So the inning started and nobody was calling it so I had to go down there and call the play-by-play.
Mike: Was this at Shea Stadium?
Joe Buck: This was at Shea in 1987 and I was 18. When I was 21 I was the third guy in the booth and I was Mike's partner. I was calling Mike 'Mike' and not 'Mr. Shannon.' And I was thinking of my dad as 'Jack Buck' and not 'dad.' I've learned more from those two guys than anybody else I've ever been around and very little of it has to do with baseball. If those two guys were miserable and if those two guys were worn out and didn't enjoy being in a park and didn't love the life on the road... I wouldn't be doing any of this.
Mike: I like that they left you alone at Shea. Did they say, "Good luck with those flight patterns overhead. You may want to raise your voice when that happens"?
Joe Buck: (Laughs) I know! Thankfully a couple things didn't happen. No planes went overhead and it was a 1-2-3 inning so no home runs and no weird rulings. After, I sat next to our radio engineer, Colin Jarrett, and asked, "Well, how was that?" I was scared to death and wanted to hear him tell me how great it was and his only critique was, "It lacked description." When you're doing radio and the critique of your work is, "It lacked description," that means you have a long way to go.
Mike: Hopefully no one says that about your new show...
Joe Buck: Yeah, not something I want to hear on Tuesday morning.
"Joe Buck Live" premieres Monday night on HBO at 9 pm ET with special guest Brett Favre
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit reader questions for celebrites to Mike on Twitter.
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