For many celebrity buffs, winning the Lottery would be a booby prize compared to a recent contest prize from Barack Obama's presidential campaign: dinner with America's head honcho and his Hollywood home boy, George Clooney, this Thursday night. But after the initial thrill could come panic. What do you talk about with two of the most charming and popular men in the free world?
Long considered taboo table talk, politics and religion are out. And after fawning over your favorite Clooney films ("Dude, you were awesome in "The Descendants"), there could be an awkward lull in the conversation between the shrimp cocktail and lemon macarons.
So what's left to discuss with these professional schmoozers, each of whom could probably turn a nose hair trim into a hilarious anecdote? Here are a few suggestions.
Pets: Everyone likes to talk about their pets, and the POTUS is no exception. He is often depicted with his fluffy Portuguese water dog, Bo, who even hosts his own Facebook page. It could be fun to ask the prez how he hangs with his dog. Does he talk for him in a high-pitched voice, make him beg for doggy treats or ask his opinion on the budget? Steer clear, however, of being clever and saying the coq a vin tastes like dog. It's okay for Barack to joke about eating canine as a youth. You? Not so much.
Clooney is a pet lover, too, most famously devoted to his late pot-bellied pig, Max, who was his porcine companion for 18 years (some say it was George's longest commitment to anyone). You can pretend like you never read the Kentucky-born actor's Esquire piece about adopting his latest pet, a dog named Einstein, whom he fell in love with while watching a video on a rescue website. The animal lover recounted how the woman who answered the phone made it clear the dog would have to reciprocate his affection. So Clooney cleverly rubbed turkey meatballs all over his shoes to get the pooch to like him, and the woman was amazed when he threw himself at the actor's feet. "She says, 'I've never seen him react like that, ever!' And she left him with me on the spot," Clooney wrote.
Practical Jokes: Neither Obama nor Clooney feel the need to save their practical jokes for April Fools' Day. A couple of years ago the White House Flickr feed showed a picture of Obama having fun with a member of his staff who had stepped on a scale in a college locker room. In the photo, the pranking president has snuck up behind his aide and pressed his foot on the scale to fool him into thinking he weighed more than he did.
Clooney is possibly even more of a practical joker than the president. Once, while shooting "Ocean's Eleven" he trapped Julia Roberts in her trailer by blockading her door with potted plants. On another movie set, he made Matt Damon miserable by having a tailor take in his pants every day. "The Informant" actor wondered why he was mysteriously gaining weight.
First Jobs: While it would be tacky to talk about your 30-year-old friend who is still living in his parent's basement because he can't get a job, asking the president and his pal to tell you about their first jobs could be fun. Of the two, Obama wins the tall straw for luck. He scooped ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins in Hawaii. You can ask him what the most popular flavors were and how making hot fudge sundaes prepared him to be president.
But if you really want a funny story, get Clooney to talk about his gig selling women's shoes at a Cincinnati department store when he was 18. On a video segment of a Newsweek magazine roundtable for Oscar nominees, the Georgester had his table mates in stitches describing how he cut holes for foot corns using a Mr. Potato Head-like device and hid from the older women, many of whom had their fourth toe cut off to fit into tight pumps.
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