Kirby: The terrifying interview that led to TV stardom
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I didn't want to do the Shauna Lake "Person 2 Person" interview that aired Sunday on KUTV 2 News. I was forced into it.

My reluctance had nothing to do with the fact that Shauna is a member of the media and might ask me "ambush" questions, edit the footage to make me look foolish or pick me apart for public enjoyment.

Truthfully, I didn't want to do the interview for the simple reason that Shauna is extremely attractive and I'm not. The disparity is so great that whatever got said in the interview was bound to be lost in the shock of our two faces sharing the same screen.

I was right. Within a minute of the interview's conclusion, the text message alert on my phone started going off. All of the texts were from friends.

Sonny: "When did Shauna Lake start interviewing livestock?"

Killer: "You looked like Chumley from 'Tennessee Tuxedo.' "

Boone: "Did she smell nice, too?"

America is obsessed with looks. In our culture, people's value is almost always based on their appearance rather than their minds. It doesn't help that I have really shallow friends.

Although it aired Sunday night, the interview was taped two weeks before. A producer from KUTV called and asked if I would be willing to talk to Shauna on camera.

I was immediately suspicious. Past "Person 2 Person" guests had been Jeopardy genius Ken Jennings, Gov. Gary Herbert, homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson, Rhodes scholar Vivian Lee, news shouter Rod Decker … you know, people of influence, people with something intelligent to say.

And now there was me. What possible benefit could come from interviewing a guy whose job it is to torment people to the point of tears? What kind of questions would you ask someone whose primary accomplishment was that he never grew up?

In preparation for being grilled, I conducted mock interviews with myself. They went something like this:

Shauna: "When did you realize that maturity was always going to elude you?"

Me: "When my children got old enough to point it out."

Shauna: "Are you surprised that you actually get paid for what you do?"

Me: "Little bit."

Shauna: "If hippopotamus fighting was legal, who...?"

Me: "Sonny."

Because these were the toughest questions a guy like me could think up — and I already had answers for them — I figured things would be fine.

I met Shauna and her camera crew at the Grand America where we got right down to business. It went better than I thought. The hardest part was having my face spackled with a nonreflective primer coat.

I answered Shauna's questions without having to lie anymore than I would in court. We talked about Mormons, police work, column writing, The Tribune and provoking people to the point of them breaking down.

Things were fine until we got on the subject of the cancer that nearly killed my wife 10 years ago.

Right there on camera I flashed back to the time when I was my wife's primary caregiver, when her bedroom was right next to my office and those truly dark moments when I would go in and have to touch her face to see if she was still alive.

That was a tough question. I tried to come up with a good answer, but couldn't. I think I got some makeup in my eye.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley. —

Kirby on 'Person 2 Person'

You can watch Robert Kirby's "Person 2 Person" interview at the top of this story, or at

http://kutv.com/news/features/person-2-person/stories/vid_71.shtml