Monday, May 24, 2010


We humans are notorious for forming preconceived opinions about others based on limited knowledge. Those we see briefly across a crowded room to those who grace the news. It is hard not to, even when life shows us time and again that we should know better.

Sometimes we are dead on, other times we are disappointed and the pleasant times we are amazed by their being so much more. I am guilty as charged of prejudging celebrities from their original press and am often so off the mark when the real person stands up.

Bill Clinton whom I loved as a president, disappointed me greatly as a family figure with zipper problems. Jimmy Carter who had a rather dismal presidency, stands very tall as a man of fine example. These are but two samplings of persons whom I had to alter my preconceived opinions radically as the facts became known.

I am a recent fan of Craig Ferguson who is a late night talk show host. This man is rather different from the usual fare in the dark of night. He is not scripted, does not use writers and relies on cheeky, stream-of-consciousness that is sometimes silly but is often brilliantly funny. He comes on very late for an old lady so I record him.

When I heard he had won the prestigious Peabody Award, I was a bit stunned. Craig?? All I had seen of him was his entertaining but ribald, quick witted sense of humor and bleeped out profanity delivered with an impish grin and a marvelous Scottish accent. Oh, I do love a Scottish accent. I learned he was given the award for his interview of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. HUH??

That he had Desmond Tutu on his show was a surprise in itself. Normally Leno and David get the big names while the later into the night the shows garner the lower ranked, lesser known guests. Most often,I have never heard of Craig's guests.

I had missed the show so I felt I would never know why he deserved this prestigious award and was a bit dubious that he actually did. Then Dianne, at the delightful blog, "Forks off the Moment," told us that particular show was being re-aired so I set my recorder and waited. Thanks Dianne. It was not to be missed.

The Desmond Tutu that I saw on Craig Ferguson was not what I imagined. I held him pretty much in the category of Mother Theresa or the Pope. I saw him only as the deeply religious world figure who had done so much to end apartheid in South Africa. That is entirely true. This Anglican priest helped to bring down a dreadful human rights policy that was almost eclipsed by our own nation's history of slave ownership.

I was prepared for an informative and sober night from a man I greatly admired. He and Craig talked about everything from race, forgiveness, God, good and evil, to nagging wives. Yes wives. As an Episcopal priest he can marry and has been since 1955.

Where I expected a very serious, deeply convicted man, I was completely surprised with this great man's sense of humor. Right off the bat, Craig said something that sent Mr. Tutu into spasms of giggles. Yes giggles. Prolonged, totally infectious giggles.

This is a tiny man, possibly from birth but most likely age has helped. He is not impressive in height but his stature in the world community is enormous. To see this world figure collapse into delightful giggles was wonderfully unexpected.

Much of the conversation was serious but the twinkle was always there, ready to be set free. This is a man who has won the Noble Peace Prize, who helped to bring down a bloody regime in South Africa, who galvanized world leaders to join in the effort to end apartheid and is a name recognized around the world. He is also a man who loves a good joke.

At the end of his show, Craig does a wrap up of the nights show. He said of Tutu, that he "is the single most impressive human being I have ever met." Have to agree with Craigy.

So where was I off the mark in my preconception of the man? I learned that while Desmond Tutu is truly an amazing world figure, he was not the stuffy, dogmatic man I had envisioned. I was correct in that he is an amazing human being who has used his life and abilities incredibly wisely. What I would never have guessed is that he is also a delightful person that I would love to spend a day with and I would do most anything to hear that giggle.

Have you ever been off the mark?


  1. Yes, I have been off the mark, and it was brought home to me recently when I saw a public figure on Oprah, whom I had judged to be average in intelligence and a rather inconsequential musician. After seeing his interview, I was impressed by his compassion and the love and gratitude he showed his family.

    One thing I wasn't off the mark on from the beginning is your ability to write!! Well done, Patti.

  2. This was wonderful! I love Craig's accent and his humor on clips aired on other shows, but have never actually seen his. Sometimes I've heard him say things that made me realize he wasn't just a shell, speaking writer-ese.

    I would love to have seen this one. I like to hear the Archbishop speak, too... just the two accents on the same show must have been priceless!

    Do I ever misjudge people? Let's start with John Edwards...!

  3. Yes, I've been off the mark so many times I can't count them. More often than not it is a public religious or political figure, but it also boils down to causal introductions.

    Television often creates our false impressions because it is instant and edited, but likewise, it also can change our impression as it did for you.

    Desmond Tutu has headed my list of great reformers in world society.

  4. What a wonderful review on your part. I love the way you turn a phrase. Thanks for the insights.
    Most of the time I am pleassantly surprised when I am off the mark....and then there are the how could I have "gone down the wrong aisle" with that sinking feeling attached with some folks, events, etc. But I dont' have a specific except my soon to be X SIL, I knew the only two people on the planet who believed his lies was my daughter and him, the moment I first met him. Wish I would have been wrong.

  5. I've only seen a few clips of Craig Ferguson's work and I think he's delightfully funny. I hope the interview with Desmond Tutu is on Youtube, I'd love to see it.

    I've been way off the mark a few times in my life. I've come not to expect very much from public figures, and that way I know I'll never be disappointed.

  6. Well as you know me probably better than anyone on here I have to tell the truth the mark for me is yes an understatement and no I am not proud of it.
    I agree with Kenju that I have never been off the mark with you and your gift for writing.
    As always I loved my visit here.

  7. Oh, this is a good post. It happens far too often today. We're exposed to so much through media and sometimes we don't see the best. Good post.

  8. kenju,
    Isn't it great though when the public figure turns out greater than expectations like your man on Oprah?
    Wow, thank you Judy for that lovely compliment.

    Ah, someone else weak for the Scottish accent. It was cool to hear the two together.
    Me too on John Edwards. Such a pretty face that hid a scudzy soul.

    It is hard not to believe all the media hype sometimes.
    I always wonder how someone like Desmond Tutu can come from such humble beginnings and rise to such an influence around the world.
    They must have an extra gene.

    Linda in NM
    Thank you. I too am mostly pleasantly surprised.
    I am sorry about your SIL. The only saving grace was when you said "soon to be X.

    I do hope it makes it to Youtube. So far I have found nothing. I have it on my DVR but that doesn't help you. Sorry.
    I guess if you expect little, you are not disappointed and are often pleasantly surprised. Safe attitude.

    If you are off the mark, you have Ms Pearl to clean up for you. I think I need an alter ego too.
    Thank you also for that generous compliment.

    Thank you. We are media saturated aren't we. Often facts take a back seat to sensationalism. Sometimes it is hard to weed through all the chaff.

  9. I think we all have been off the mark at one time or another. It is so easy to have preconceived notions about people based on the type of person they present themselves to be. Fortunately, with time their true selves are revealed.

  10. I love how you tell stories, Patti. :D
    I guess you never really know someone, you know?

  11. Who of us hasn't been off the mark at some point in time...Lovely post, Pat! And so fascinating to hear more about both men! Terrific! ~Janine XO

  12. Hoc very cute. Quite often we are taken by surprise :) I feel this is not because of what we see, but as cliched as it sounds, what we don't see. But going off the mark - that's the story of my life in brief !! Hee :-D

  13. Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    Yes, and hopefully before we marry them.

    Lynda G
    Thank you. It often takes longer than a lot of people want to put in.

    Sniffles and Smiles,
    Thank you Janine. I just love being pleasantly surprised about people.

    The only consolation about being off the mark about people is that they are often off the mark about us. I always hope they underestimate me so I don't disappoint.

  14. I have just had a great catch up of your wonderful blog.
    I have misjudged those that we view on our screens and in politics but usually the other way round. I adored a particular comedien as a person and comic but then my husband met him and said he was awful ...rude ... and looked down on everyone around him ...I was so upset.
    With regards to music taste is like yours ...if asked what I like I say ...'anything that is performed/played well' .... even some Rap lol... but my least favourite are the old style 'Crooners'who I find a little boring. xx

  15. That was one of the GREAT Interviews, ever! I LOVE Craig Ferg. He is unlike any other person on TV no matter the time of day or night. And I give Letterman GREAT Credit, because he saw Craig's talent and Hired him for this Late Late show, which Letterman Produces....! So, all around, there are surprising and wonderful things, aren't there?
    I agree with you Desmond Tutu's giigles were infectious and wonderfully surprising and disarming. What a Delightful Man, on top of everything else!

  16. Angie,
    Thank you for wading through 2 long posts.
    I know what you mean. I once had dinner with a very famous comic and all I saw was a mean drunk. I hate it when it goes that way, I'd rather be pleasantly surprised.
    I'm not much of a crooner type either.

    Isn't Craig wonderful. All the other comics read off cards, Craig just lets you inside his wonderful mind.
    That giggle was such a marvelous surprise.

  17. comming back yet????? we miss you!

  18. I need an e-mail address for you, if you want to share with me. Mine is on my Blog.


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