It’s safe to say that singer-cum-actor Will Smith, who recently pulled off a six-minute chat show entrance, has got this whole ‘being a TV guest’ thing nailed. In fact, if one were looking for a cardboard cut out of a chat show guest, Smith would be it.
So many seem to find the whole thing tiresome. They – first world problems alert – don’t want to give a synopsis of their new film twenty times over or discuss just how deeply they felt connected to their on-screen character. If they could just say when it’s out/ or where to buy whatever it is they’re promoting (film, book, show, brand of tissues…) and go home, most would.
But not Will Smith.
Smith brings his A-game to chat shows. Remember in 2013 when he did the entire Fresh Prince theme with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Carlton (Alfonso Riberio) on The Graham Norton Show? It broke iPlayer records with 36.9 million requests to watch it. It took two years for it to be beaten by Adele impersonating herself and that only just tipped the balance with just over 37 million. On YouTube, the Smith/Norton clip has been viewed more than 42 million times. And that was the second time he’d performed the track on the show.
Sure, one could argue there’s an agenda. His ‘entrance’ gag on Jimmy Fallon, which saw him do increasingly more outrageous arrivals before finally riding out on a white horse, has been viewed more than three million times. That’s an awful lot of people hearing the name of his latest film, Suicide Squad, than if he’d just sat down and said, ‘yeah I’m doing a film about some bad guys fighting evil’.
But it seems, at least in my opinion, more off the cuff than that. During an ad break on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this week the house band started playing his track Summertime. Smith could have sat back and cooled his heels, waiting to get back into ‘promo mode’. But he hopped up and joined in. The band themselves appear openly shocked to have had an impromptu jam sesh with Smith, while he just seems to have been having a good time.
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Even if this is all about getting more eyeballs on and more ears wrapped around upcoming projects, I’m all for it if it’s done the Smith way: more excitement, more comedy and more of an awareness that this grown-up world of playing make believe is all a bit of a laugh, isn’t it?