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Gene Wilder in Conversation with Wendy Wasserstein at the 92nd Street Y

Length: 1 hr and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (76 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Gene Wilder, one of the great comic actors of our time, discusses the art of acting, the search for love, the experience of marrying Gilda Radner, and other personal events that have shaped who he is today. Wendy Wasserstein is a playwright and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony award for best play for The Heidi Chronicles.

This event took place on March 22, 2005.

Want more? Listen to titles from Gene Wilder.

Also, check out Wendy Wasserstein's Heidi Chronicles.

©2005 92 nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association (P)2005 92 nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Danger Must Be Growing

Despite some glaring flaws (which fortunately do not mar the other interviews in this otherwise excellent 92nd Street Y series), this is a worthwhile listen. Gene Wilder speaks very slowly and deliberately, in a way that causes the listener to realize that he is mostly unintentionally funny, that he's right when he insists "I am not a comedian," and that every beloved character he'll be remembered for is essentially himself. The stories he tells are fascinating and memorable. I won't soon forget his mother's doctor's warning to Gene when he was a little boy; what he learned about comedy from watching early comic actors; his encounter with Cary Grant; his first few meetings with Mel Brooks; his reminiscences re: working with the great Madeline Kahn; and why he ended up moving in with Gilda Radner, even though she made him feel claustrophobic and trapped.

The only drawbacks: Wendy Wasserstein's obvious speech impediment (I looked her up on YouTube to verify my initial diagnosis: Yep, tongue thrust resulting in interdental production of bilabial consonants), and her INCREDIBLY poor performance as the emcee, interviewer, and conductor of the ridiculously ill-considered and ill-planned Q & A in the final 30 minutes of the session. Believe it or not (and I found it so hard to believe that at first I thought it must be some sort of poorly executed joke), Wasserstein actually reads aloud what must have been HAND-WRITTEN QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE--questions which she had apparently never seen before, and which she STRUGGLES, OFTEN UNSUCCESSFULLY, TO DECIPHER AND MAKE COHERENT--and then Gene Wilder (clearly becoming as impatient and bored as the listener after awhile) struggles to answer these incoherent rambling questions. Eventually his answers become terse and far briefer than the questions themselves. For example, in the most obvious sign of interviewee fatigue I've ever heard, in answer to a question about whether he feels that many contemporary comedians lack subtlety, he responds simply, "Yes." Then, in the penultimate question, on a topic that clearly interests him (How do you know when you're really in love?), he himself, probably from sheer exhaustion, becomes rambling and nearly incoherent in his painfully unlistenable response.

My rating: Three and a half stars. If you listen, be sure to STOP WHEN THE Q & A STARTS.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • M
  • 11-18-06

Wilder at His Best !!

Being an advid fan of just about anything Gene Wilder says should potentially disqualify me as a critic with any objectivity. However, quite the contrary. Having listened to everything I possibly can actually puts me in a very good position to make comparisons and I can honestly state this conversation with Wendy Wasserstein is pure gold! Wendy's questions are the perfect catalyst to bring out the quintessential GW. His wit and style takes you through much of his life from the brilliant karma he and Richard Pryor stumbled upon in Silver Streak to the intensely wonderful love he shared with Gilda Radnor. You laugh and cry and feel good doing both. You simply do not want it to end.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful

Excellent information about acting and life by means of a pre-recorded live audience interview. I found Gene to be charming, funny and wise. I am very glad I purchased this. If you are studying acting, you will find helpful tidbits of information in this audiobook.

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  • DM
  • 04-29-17

read the book!

this was a nice follow-up to the book and told lot of the same stories. Although I did enjoy the surprising questions from time to time, the interviewers laugh was sometimes distracting.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Wow...

Difficult to get through. Just listened to a fantastic interview of Wilder on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and then tried this.
Wasserstein's intro was cringeworthy (e.g. - incapable of calling her guest anything but both names "Gene Wilder.". Her interview did not improve on this. Love Gene. Won't ever listen to Wendy again.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Nice Eavesdropping

I've heard Gene Wilder interviewed before; so his low key, somewhat serious manner didn't surprise me. As a matter of fact, I enjoy it. I adore and have revisited so many of Gene Wilder's performances, and I find his natural speaking voice soothing.

It was nice to listen in on this conversation. Wilder and Wasserstein seemed to be actual friends, and there was genuine affection in some of her questions. No, she wasn't a professional voice actor or interviewer; but I liked that.

Some wonderful behind the scenes and, also, personal, stories here. Some funny, some serious. I thoroughly enjoyed it all. This is one I'll listen to again.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great interview by a beloved actor

The whole interview was very good they gave insights I didn't know exist and added more depth to him

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Candor from a Comic Actor

Gene Wilder has been a beloved actor in movies I've been exposed to in childhood and later. To hear him speak with candor about his weakness for Gilda, his joys working with Mel Brooks, and his discernment of where his true talent lies was a joy.

If you buy this, don't buy the other one with the same picture: the only difference is a minor detail and the presenting intro.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for MR M P GOULDER
  • MR M P GOULDER
  • 01-23-18

Brief and interesting insight of a legendary actor

Gene tells it how it is and answers some interesting questions!!!! Thanks for the memories. Enjoy!