Best of Etiquette 2013

We look back at our etiquette segment, in which terrific people dole out (generally) terrible advice. Here are four of our favorite 2013 moments, featuring Tim Gunn, Lars Ulrich, Celia Rivenbark, and Dick Cavett.

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Tim Gunn and the Case of the Missing Pants

Rico Gagliano: Let me ask you: is there an item of clothing that you feel was your biggest mistake?

Brendan Francis Newnam: He’s not going to admit it.

Tim Gunn: I will. This is how much I love you guys. I have never told anyone this: I once bought a pair of leather jeans. Black leather jeans.

Rico Gagliano: If you’re not in a band, that is not allowed.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s amazing. Tim Gunn, you could rock that right now. You could do it. Not many people could.

Tim Gunn: Oh, no, no. Grandpa would go into the fashion insane asylum.

Rico Gagliano: What was the impetus for that?

Tim Gunn: I just thought… there’s an inherent sexiness to them? And I thought there aren’t any real age barriers.

I will also confide in you this factor which makes it all the more sad and pathetic —

Brendan Francis Newnam: They were leather capri pants?

Tim Gunn: Yes.  They were leather cargo capri pants. No, I’m kidding.

But I could never wear them out of my apartment. I couldn’t do it!

Brendan Francis Newnam: It just wasn’t you. It wasn’t Tim Gunn.

Tim Gunn: No. And it was only recently I took them to Goodwill.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I picture you waking up one morning, putting them in a bag in the back of your car, driving four hundred miles outside of New York and dropping them off.

Tim Gunn: That is where the Goodwill was. Columbus, Ohio!

I’ve really never told anyone that.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, we’re honored, and shaken.

Rico Gagliano: We have to reassess everything about you, but thank you for telling our audience how to behave.

Tim Gunn: Thank you! I’d love to come back.


Lunchtime with Lars Ulrich

Rico Gagliano: I think this leads well to this question. You’re kind of known as standard bearers of that kind of intense metal.

Lars Ulrich: God help us all.

Rico Gagliano: We want to know-

Brendan Francis Newnam: Is that the name of your next album?

Lars Ulrich: It is now.

Rico Gagliano: We should note that you’re eating right now, part of your diet. You’re eating some scrambled eggs right now.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s right.

Lars Ulrich: And please note, those are egg whites.

Rico Gagliano: Oh my gosh. Pure protein.

Brendan Francis Newnam: He wasn’t kidding folks.

Rico Gagliano: So here’s the question. What is hiding in your iPod that would surprise people? Like, we’re looking for Yanni-level surprise here.

Brendan Francis Newnam: What do you listen to when you go to bed after a concert at 9:15, post-cocoa?

Lars Ulrich: I really don’t listen to music other than in the car. Usually my iPod mercilessly gets unplugged by one of the kids, and they put their iPhones in, and then I’m listening to whatever they want to listen to. Thankfully, since I reared them on fairly steady doses of AC/DC to Deep Purple to Guns and Roses when they were kids, they’re now listening to stuff like the Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age and the Arctic Monkeys and so on, which is pretty cool.

Rico Gagliano: It’s not One Direction.

Lars Ulrich: It’s not One Direction, no. In the deeper, darker corners of my iPod, I’ve got a lot of jazz. I grew up in a jazz household. Even the occasional Sade, if you must know.

Rico Gagliano: Wow.

Brendan Francis Newnam: There we go.

Rico Gagliano: There’s the mother lode.


Southern Sass and Invisible Rats, Courtesy of Humorist Celia Rivenbark

Rico Gagliano: All right, so we have a question. This one comes from Jack in Santa Monica. Jack asks, “Should I warn my guests that I recently saw a mouse in my kitchen? It’s been gone for a few days, but I don’t know where it is.”

Celia Rivenbark: You know what? Of course you should. And Jack, you should also be sure and tell everybody about any extramarital affairs you’re having, or how your toe fungus is progressing, because while you’re sharing, don’t leave anything out.

That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. No, of course you don’t tell them! Of course you do not tell them, because the heart of good etiquette, if you’re hosting you don’t want to make your guests uncomfortable.

Rico Gagliano: Oh that’s true, but what if-

Celia Rivenbark: It’s crazy.

Rico Gagliano: And if the mouse shows up you’re like, “Oh my gosh, where did that come from?”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Exactly, play it off.

Celia Rivenbark: Quite right.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You play it off like oh my goodness.

Rico Gagliano: First time ever.

Celia Rivenbark: Oh yeah. I had a little dinner party, oh a while back, and I heard an awful sound and I knew what it was. Just as I was opening the door for the first guest, and it was my husband, and he was using his shoe- his size 13 shoe to kill a water bug the size of Kansas.

I mean, we call ’em water bug, it’s cockroaches but in the south we don’t like that word so, it was a water bug. But you know, I’m not gonna say, “Oh my God, that noise, that’s him killing water bugs in the kitchen. Come on in, we’re having soufflé.” No!

Rico Gagliano: What did you say it was?

Celia Rivenbark: I just said, “Oh, he’s hammering something.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, you just ignore it. Like, did you bring your own ketchup? Welcome.

Rico Gagliano: All right Jack, there’s your answer.


Dick Cavett: To Leave or Not to Leave

Rico Gagliano: Here’s JR in Los Angeles.

JR writes, “Is it okay to leave during a live theatrical performance you are not enjoying? I feel,” says JR, “like it is a total slap in the face to the actors or the orchestra and other real life people that you’re watching, versus say a film where you’re not sharing their presence. But I’m a non-confrontation person on the other hand. To leave or not to leave?”

Dick Cavett: I think it is awful for the actors who are probably doing their best.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Probably.

Dick Cavett: But then you and the audience are doing your best too and you don’t deserve to be bored stiff.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Can they see you? I mean it’s dark. You were an actor…

Dick Cavett: I would die rather than drop a name, but I went to a play this past year. James Gandolfini was in it.

Went back to see him afterwards and he said, “I saw you all through the first act.” I was sitting in the front row and the light spill, as we call it in the theater. I was as well lighted as Gandolfini and the other actors were.

Rico Gagliano: Also starring Dick Cavett.

Dick Cavett: Yeah, people got an extra…

Brendan Francis Newnam: So that’s a good strategy for JR. Maybe to get a seat in the back where it’s dark.

Dick Cavett: Sit near the back, or sit with a friend and start talking to the friend in full voice. Chattering about things like, “is John McCain getting even weirder?” And “that Cardinal Mahoney certainly won’t be the next Pope,” to annoy people around you.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh, I like this. Get kicked out.

Dick Cavett: Yeah. So it’s not on your head so to speak.

Rico Gagliano: So, wait a minute, the polite thing to do is talk loudly about weird things?

Brendan Francis Newnam: And get thrown out and that way…

Dick Cavett: So you don’t have to feel guilty one bit. Oh, Miss Hepburn. Katharine Hepburn. Stratford, Connecticut, summer of ’57, Merchant of Venice. She’s starring as Portia. I’m an extra on stage.

She made her entrance sliding down from upstage on a piece of scenery in a beautiful costume and, as she opened her mouth to speak, “Ah Nerissa, my little body is aweary of,” BANG! A flash bulb.

Rico Gagliano: From the audience?

Dick Cavett: Yeah.

Rico Gagliano: And?

Dick Cavett: Miss Hepburn stopped and raised her right hand and said, “we’ll pause now,” and looking at an individual in the fifth row, “while one selfish woman gets all the God [censored] pictures she wants.” I promise you it was more dramatic than anything in the play.

Rico Gagliano: So JR, talk annoyingly and get thrown out but do not take a picture, whatever you do. Dick Cavett, that’s all the time we have. Thank you for telling our audience how to behave.

Dick Cavett: When do we go on the air?