Read this killer interview of Tina Fey by David Letterman.

The interview’s layered with zippy dialog among equals, leading to a recommendation to read it from someone who doesn’t much care for celebrity interviews (or celebrity culture).

Fey even broaches the subject of Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, leading to this (sadly) timely exchange about the role of artists:

Fey She grew up in Germany. She was in many ways a brilliant pioneer. She pioneered sports photography as we know it. She’s the one who had the idea to dig a trench next to the track for the Olympics and put a camera on a dolly. But she also rolled with the punches and said, “Well, he’s the fuhrer. He’s my president. I’ll make films for him.” She did some terrible, terrible things. And I remember reading [her book] 20 years ago, thinking, “This is a real lesson, to be an artist who doesn’t roll with what your leader is doing just because he’s your leader.”

Letterman My impression of this woman is that she was the sister of Satan.

Fey: She was in many ways. But what she claimed in the book was, “He was the president, so what was I supposed to do?” And I feel a lot of people are going to start rolling that way.

(See? SmartĀ people talking. And art in the service of the powerful isn’t properly art all. It’s marketing. Or worse.)

I’ve done enough interviews with “powerful” people to know they’re hard. You want to be respectful, but you can’t go total powder puff.

And not everyone loves being challenged, even a teensy bit.

Like writer John Gierach told me after a sometimes cranky interview, “I get it. People want to know stuff.”

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.