Like Father, Like Son: Willie and Bill Geist Crack Us Up

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The witty memoir co-written by Bill and Willie Geist may be an obvious choice for a Fathers Day gift, but don’t let that stop you from picking up a copy for yourself, too. Or your mom. Or your friends. The hilarious and often touching father-son interaction in Good Talk, Dad makes this a fun read for anybody.

The stories unfold at an entertaining pace, told as well as you’d expect from a couple of veteran reporters with real writing chops. Bill Geist is the longtime special correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, whose debut Little League Confidential was a New York Times bestseller. Willie Geist is co-host of the 9 o’clock hour of the Today Show and author of the bestselling American Freak Show. They just so happen to be natural comedians, too, and they’re at their best when things get a bit awkward (as in the chapter about the sex talk — that “of which we dare not speak”).

We caught up with the pair in advance of their visit to Nashville this week.

You two really seem to have an ear for what makes people laugh. What makes you laugh? 

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BG: Life.

WG: My dad makes me laugh, for starters. My mom and my sister and my wife and my aunts and uncles and my good friends all make me laugh. My kids make me laugh every day, especially when they misuse words – “Dad, no offense, but unfortunately I basically want a cheese stick.” The Onion, Larry David, Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Norm MacDonald, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and the late night boys – Jimmy, Jimmy, Stephen, Jon, Seth, & Dave – all make me laugh too.

The book is full of great details from the 70s and 80s. Willie, now that you’re 39, is there anything on your gotta-do-before-40 list?

WG: Yes, the clock is ticking to 40. I’ve been telling myself for several years I’m going to learn guitar. Maybe that 40-year deadline is the right time. I probably should come back to Nashville for a proper lesson.

If you could wave a magic wand and go back to your college years here at Vanderbilt, would you?

WG: Although they were wonderful in every way, I wouldn’t go back to my college years. I found the perfect place in Vanderbilt and I love coming back several times a year, but I wouldn’t trade the experience and wisdom of age for another shot at dorm living. Plus, my kids wouldn’t do well in Branscomb Hall.

We love the “Geist Dates in History” sprinkled throughout the book. Are there any Geist dates in history you guys didn’t include but wish you had?

WG: Yes, there were a few that didn’t make the cut. The night, for example, when I ran from a Medieval-themed party wearing a wine-stained burlap sack and tights to high-five my hero New York Knicks, who were boarding their bus across the street at Memorial Gym after playing an exhibition game at Vanderbilt. Charles Oakley was less excited to see me than I had hoped he would be.

Favorite thing about shopping in a real-live bookstore?

BG: Bookstores — chapels of the mind, secular sanctuaries from a cold digital world.

WG: Being in a great bricks-and-mortar bookstore is like being in a great library. There’s a peace to it. There’s no rush. I walk the aisles and scoop up books I never would have thought of as I searched online for a particular title. And my kids love the bookstore.

Last book you read? 

BG: The Goldfinch

WG: I actually just read The Fault In Our Stars before I interviewed the author John Green, and later the cast of the movie. I’m a bit of a D-Day fanatic, so I dove last week back into Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day.

Thank you — and see you soon!

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Meet the Geist guys this Friday, June 13, at 6:30 PM here at the store. For a sample from the book, check out this excerpt, courtesy of the Today Show.

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$27.00
ISBN-13: 9781455547227 Availability: On Our Shelves Now Published: Grand Central Publishing, 5/2014

(For more dad-friendly books, see this list.)