Her Sights Set on Late-Night TV, Carrie Keagan Swears With Hollywood's A-List
As if TV personality Carrie Keagan wasn't already enough of a bombshell on her own, she's been known to deploy many an f-bomb -- and c-bomb, and every-other-profane-word-starting-letter-bomb -- in many a celebrity interview.
Hot off of her ended-too-soon stint on the latest edition of "Celebrity Apprentice," Keagan's brand-new book "Everybody Curses, I Swear" just hit the shelves, a deliriously expletive-laced and scatologically important tome chronicling her many encounters with equally enthusiastic foul-mouthed famous people during her tenure at her breakout gig hosting celeb chats for the YouTube sensation NoGoodTV.
While the job led to even higher-profile opportunities -- including hosting VH1's "Big Morning Buzz Live," G4's "Attack of the Show!," movie roles like "Sharknado: The 4th Awakens," and even a momentary stint behind Craig Ferguson's late-night talk show desk -- it's clear that her fondness for swopping swear words with the stars has never dimmed, as she tells Moviefone.
Moviefone: You'd been talking to me about this book for a while. When did the idea kind of pop into your head, like "Oh yeah, I've got years of great material I can turn into a book"?
Carrie Keagan: I was doing the VH1 show, and I was with my business partner, Kourosh [Taj], and we just started reminiscing one day about, "Oh God, you remember that? Do you remember that time with Colin Farrell? Do you remember ... whatever?" We started saying like, 'Oh, that would make a funny chapter in a book," and we titled the chapter. Then we just kept going.
All of a sudden we were like, "You know what? We should go and pitch this book. We should go and try and sell this," and then we did. It was brilliant, honestly. For me, it was a really great way of being able to put all of the things that I can't remember all the time at the drop of a hat in one place.
When you first started to do this, it must have been a little daunting to go out there and try to be as free-wheeling, and edgy, and anything goes, in the system where it's all very polite and buttoned up. So tell me about those early days, trying to do interviews with this style that was so different back then.
I didn't come from a background of doing interviews or anything like that. So just me, myself, trying to get into the headspace of "OK, now I'm going to go in front of the biggest celebrities in the world and I'm going to ask them to do something they probably wouldn't even do in front of their mother -- Oh my God, the pressure!"
Once I got into the rooms, and I just started throwing out F bombs or whatever, I realized that the difference between what I was doing and what everybody else was doing is that I was allowing them to be themselves, and not be this media-treated version of themselves. All it took was me being myself. So the more comfortable I got doing the job, the more comfortable they were just letting their hair down and enjoying the ride. It became what you see now: this Hollywood swear-fest.
Do you remember the first celebrity to really embrace the opportunity that you were giving them and really run with it?
SNL," so he obviously understood that what I was trying to do was not invasive to him, it was actually super-promoting him. And as soon as I told him we were uncensored, he was like, "All right, let's f*cking do it."
And we have had a great relationship ever since. Every time I see him, he's always been really, really, obviously really blue. And whenever he's in the room with another co-star of his, he'll always explain, "This is Keagan. Just wait, just let her do her thing, and you'll understand in a second." So he's always been really supportive. He's always fantastic.
Who's made you blush?
Oh, that's a really good question! Oh God, I don't know -- George Lucas! I got George Lucas to swear. He told me what his favorite curse word was, and it was from "Star Wars." And being a huge "Star Wars" fan, just being able to hear George Lucas spout out profanity was like, "Oh my God, this is amazing!" I freaked out. He was the greatest thing.
When did the success of your style really become a turning point for you? I remember we started out doing this about the same time. I know it was risky for you, but when did you start getting the returns on it?
People embraced it pretty much right away. There were ups and downs, and there were always moments where I would have to explain, like "I promise, if you don't like what I'm doing, I just won't air it," or whatever.
But really, I think the success of what we were doing ended up happening when I got on the cover of "The Hollywood Reporter," and I was sitting on Borat's lap, and they sort of announced that NGTV is this new way of watching your favorite celebrities. I feel like that was probably that moment where all of a sudden people thought that I was legit. That what I was doing wasn't just some weird online obscure thing, it was actually celebrities enjoying themselves, embracing the format, and going all out.
Tell me about what it was like to build your brand off of that. Obviously, you've gone a long way starting there. You've got your octopus tendrils in a lot of stuff!
[Laughs] I've always liked to stay busy. NGTV was very much a launching point for me. After I was doing NGTV, they offered me the morning show on VH1. What an amazing opportunity. So I was able to take all the things that I had learned over the years and finally do them on live TV every day. It was a fantastic opportunity for me. I was doing "Attack of the Show!" which was bringing out all my nerdy side.
Now we're talking about late night. So it's been a stepping stone, but my God, what a great way to cut your teeth with all the biggest celebrities in the world.
Was it hard to reverse course and start to censor yourself for broadcast television?
Yeah, and it's even harder now that I'm trying to promote a book about swearing on network TV that doesn't let me swear. It's very complicated. It's probably more complicated now than it was before. But you know, I know my place, I have to keep my tongue tied sometimes, it's okay. Yeah, I feel myself squirming in my chair more often now than ever before.
You don't have to censor yourself with me, so tell me, what is your all-purpose swear word? Your go-to, the one that you enjoy saying the most?
There's a few, but the one that I enjoy saying the most is "c*ck-juggling thunderc*nt." And it can be used in many different forms. It was actually a phrase that I learned from "Blade: Trinity." David S. Goyer actually wrote that. It wasn't me who created it. So I'm going to give him credit where credit is due. It was pretty much one of the most creative swear words I've ever heard in my life, and I decided to make it my own.
But as far as everyday use, I say "f*ck" all the time. I think it's a great word. The thing for me, swearing has always been a thing of love. I don't swear out of hate. I swear out of love and out of fun. I think that's a really important distinction to make. People mostly put swearing into a context of bad things. But really, swear words are just words. It's all about the intent, and I intend to make people happy.
Do you have a few favorite celebrity swearers? Like, Ian McShane -- it's just a delight to listen to him cursing. Did you have some interviews that were just like, "I just love hearing you say swear words"?
Yeah. I love cussing it up with Emma Stone. She's just a wonderful human being. I feel like we're cut from the same cloth. So, whenever I walk into the room, she's always like, Keagan! What the f*ck?! I love that.
I got a real kick out of hearing some of the legends, like Robin Williams, when he goes off on a tangent. You know him, he can talk for days, and when he would go off on a swearing fest. I had an entire interview with him once where it was literally about the word f*ck, and he said it in every single language, in every context, in every form you could possibly think of. Guilty pleasure all over the place.
Was it hard to do you style with somebody like Betty White?
No. Betty White is wonderful. Actually, in that sort of genre, Shirley MacLaine is one of the best swearers I've ever met. That woman can throw down like nobody's business. She's a delight to talk to. She does not mess around. If she does not like the way an interview is going, she will tell you. She had a lot of fun with me.
What's it been like to have that transition from the interviewer to being a celebrity interviewee in your own right?
It's funny, I don't really think about it like that. Even being on "Celebrity Apprentice," I was just really excited to be there with everybody. I still think of myself as being on the other side. I'm still just a fan first. That's why I maybe have had any success is that I still really like what I do. I love hosting, I love talking to people, I love meeting people, I loved writing the book. This whole thing has just been a really fun ride for me.
Tell me about your fans, because there's definitely this huge community that's been following you from project to project, and the times that you get to interact with them and kind of see why they love what you do and the way you do it.
I nicknamed my fans Keagles. Lady Gaga can have her Little Monsters, I have my Keagles. And they've been amazing, honestly. I've had such support from my fans on social media, and even just randomly. I don't think of myself, like I said, as a celebrity. So when people stop me on the street and say, "Oh my God, I saw you on 'Attack of the Show!' I loved that show." Or, "Oh my God, I used to watch 'Big Morning Buzz' all the time." It warms my heart, and it gives me a reason to do this.
Sometimes when you have a hard day, you forget why you're going to work every day. But then I'll get a really nice Tweet saying, "Oh my God, that interview you did with Heath Ledger, it just changed my entire vision of who I thought he was." OK, that's why I do this, because it's not just about me. It's about everybody being able to enjoy this moment that I'm having with a celebrity.
How was that "Celebrity Apprentice" experience, as short-lived as it was? Did you have a good time?
It's reality TV, so it was a fun ride. I don't know that I took it super seriously, because I knew it was reality TV. But I took raising money for my charity, the Humane Society of the United States, very seriously. So I was bummed that I wasn't able to raise money for them. But other than that, it was cool hanging out with the celebrities. It was cool getting to be friends with them now.
It was cool being able to get to know Arnold Schwarzenegger. He invited the whole cast up to his house while we were shooting, and he was like, listen, "I have to fire one of you every week. I want to get to know you as people before I have to do this thing as a boss on a show." That was amazing. Who gets to do that?
Had you interviewed Arnold a number of times before doing the show?
I had interviewed him once or twice, not many times. He was always a cool dude, but he was the governor. So he was a bit media-treated with me, but he was always really fun.
What's on the next rung of the ladder for you? What are the things that are in immediate striking distance that you're hoping to do?
There's a couple of things on the burner, so you'll be hearing some announcements, I'm sure, soon, but right now I'm focused on the book. There's a couple of movies that are still not released, so those are coming out. Hopefully some big announcements, actually.
I would love to do late night. That's been my goal since the beginning. I think it's time that a woman is on late night TV. So perhaps you'll hear about that soon.
You've been vocal about that -- and you're not the only one who's been vocal about that. How close do you think we are to seeing this shift and not the same-old, same-old anymore?
That's a really good question. I'm not sure. I've been in the rooms with networks, and they haven't moved on it yet. In fact, the one time that they had the opportunity to move on was when Craig Ferguson left. I was on Craig's show when he announced that he was going to be moving on. He said to me, "You've done this before, you want to be in late night. Do you want to audition right here, right now?" I said, "Absolutely!" And he put me behind the desk and it was the first time that's ever happened.
What did CBS do? They turned around and hired another white dude. So it's disappointing. I feel like the world is ready. I feel like the networks maybe are still just living in the '70s and they haven't quite figured out that the rest of the world is ready for a female voice in that position. Maybe everybody just needs to keep telling them and we can change something.
We'll close out on a very serious subject: What's the swear word that you need to use more in your life?
Oh! There's one that I learned. It's a weird one, but it's "d*ck of the cat." And I plan on putting that into my regular rotation as quickly as I can. D*ck of the cat. It doesn't sound like a very big swear word, but it's pretty fabulous.