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Interview Your Family Members

Now that everyone can easily record an interview from their smartphone or on Zoom, I would encourage everyone to conduct interviews with loved ones.
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January 6, 2022
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As a podcaster, I’ve interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment: George Carlin, Larry King, Susie Essman, Trevor Noah, Paul Giamatti, Chris Rock and many more. I also get to talk with the world’s leading physicians on the current show I host, The Doctorpedia Podcast. While chatting with high-profile people is certainly interesting and inspiring, my favorite interview I’ve ever done is with my Grandma Alice. 

Three years ago, while visiting Scotland to do a one-man show in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I had the privilege of spending a good amount of time with my grandma, who lives in Glasgow. Because I had my podcast recording equipment with me, I pitched her the idea of doing an interview. 

At first she was very reluctant. She didn’t even like being interviewed by the Shoah Foundation when they sat down with her years ago to recount her story of fleeing Vienna as a girl during the Holocaust. Ultimately, she did agree to my interview, and I’m so glad and grateful to G-d that she did. When we speak on the phone, she tells me how happy she is that we did it too.

My grandma’s story is one of perseverance, bravery and determination. I learned so many things I never knew about her. For instance, I always thought that the Kindertransport had saved her, when in fact, she had actually left Austria on her own with falsified papers under the guise that she was not Jewish. 

Because she had blonde hair and blue eyes, at 13 years old, she was able to board a train filled with Nazis that was bound for London. The trip, as she recounted to me, was terrifying, and a lot of that was because she couldn’t even allow herself to look terrified, or the Nazis may have caught on to her. What a thing for a 13-year-old girl to have to experience on her own. 

Grandma Alice told me many stories, including how she lived with foster families when she arrived in the United Kingdom and worked in a country club. She described the thrill she had of getting to ride on a motorcycle once, and what Vienna was like when she was a child. She also discussed how because her mother worked for The Social Democratic Party of Austria, she was a personal target of Hitler’s not only because she was Jewish, but for political reasons as well (fortunately, her mother also escaped and survived). 

I asked my grandma about how she met my grandfather, Cyril Malcolm, of blessed memory, a proud Scottish Jew, and what my mother was like as a child. These stories are infinitely more valuable to me than anything any famous person or expert in some field could ever share with me. These are the stories of my heritage, and ones that I will cherish having recorded. I look forward to playing them for my daughter, and please G-d, future children and generations to come.

One of my biggest regrets is not having interviewed my other three grandparents before they passed. How I would love to be able to listen to their voices again, or ask them questions to which I never got the answers. 

One of my biggest regrets is not having interviewed my other three grandparents before they passed. How I would love to be able to listen to their voices again, or ask them questions to which I never got the answers. I’m still working on getting my parents to agree to be interviewed. It’s not easy, as they are very private people, but hopefully they will come around in time. 

Now that everyone can easily record an interview from their smartphone or on Zoom, I would encourage everyone to conduct interviews with loved ones. Our elders are the experts from whom we need to be learning. They are the people who are the real celebrities in our lives. 

Of course, no matter who you interview, you probably won’t find anyone as fascinating and wonderful as my Grandma Alice. But hey, I’m totally biased.


Daniel Lobell is a comedian and podcaster living in Los Angeles. He is the author of the Fair Enough comic book series and hosts the Doctorpedia podcast.

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