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On hosting a talk show, celebrity guests and more

Fast Confession – talk show host and journalist Honza Dědek: I’ve had Klepl expose

Karolína Lišková
28.Feb 2021
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10 minutes

Journalist Honza Dědek always arrives perfectly prepared for both his interviewees and interviewers. And since he loves asking questions, he started his own talk show "7 pádů Honzy Dědka" (7 cases for Honza Dědek) a decade ago, running it with his own money for many years. Upon noticing its high viewing figures, TV Prima offered to take over the production, allowing Dědek to finally start earning some money from his hobby and getting him on the radar of fellow journalists. In his interview, Honza talks about his talk show guests, his beginnings, including inviting his role model Jan Kraus to his show, as well as about the fame he has acquired or his personal life.

Honza Dědek s Janem Krausem.
Honza Dědek se svými hosty.
Honza Dědek s herečkou Terezou Kostkovou

Give me all 7 Czech cases. Can you still do that?

Kdo co, koho čeho, komu čemu, koho co, the fifth case is to address and call upon, then o kom o čem, s kým s čím. During my studies at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University they wanted us to know them in Latin, and it’s always been really hard for me. Those I don’t remember anymore. There’s the nominative case, the genitive case, the dative case...

That’s enough, I just wanted to hear them in Czech, to check whether you know them, since you named your show like that. Why that name?

It came to me early in the morning one day, that’s the time of day I get the best ideas. It occurred to me that when you do an interview, very often the questions start with those interrogative pronouns associated with cases. Who was there, what did you deal with, who did you talk about, whom with and such. And I thought to myself, Czech language has 7 cases, that’s a nice, "magical" number. Seven, as in the Seven dwarves, the Magnificent Seven – it just works. And I didn’t want it to be called "so-and-so Show", as that’s already been taken by others. Moreover, I didn’t want the name to be partially English, „Late night“ and such, it just feels weird to me. Of course, there’s been jokes about "the cases I’ve been involved in" and stuff like that. So that’s the origin story, and I hope the name has already grown on people.

You often say that you wanted to start a show, because you liked "Show Jana Krause" (The Jan Kraus Show). Is that still true?

I admit that I saw almost all the episodes, I even went through the stuff that was not on TV. I also bought a DVD with outtakes, back when the internet wasn’t that much of a thing yet. However, I don't have that much time for it lately, so I mostly only watch episodes with the guests we share. If I know that someone was in his show two months ago, I don’t want to interview him the exact same way in mine.

Prodej rodinného domu, Praha 10 Záběhlice
Prodej rodinného domu, Praha 10 Záběhlice, Praha 10

That’s not what I was asking, though. Do you still enjoy his show, after all those years of having your own?

I’d say we each have our own way of doing things. But I’ll never stop admiring his quick wit, that’s incredible.

I don’t know if you’d agree, but I feel like he’s quite self-centred in his interviews.

I don’t mind that in a talk show, although I do mind it with printed media journalists. If half of the question is about the reporter, I don’t like that. This show bears his name, he’s the one inviting people, he’s the host. So I don’t mind it there. And overall, I shall always keep admiring his quick wit.

The two of you are actually colleagues now...

We don’t actually know each other. Everyone keeps asking me what kind of relationship we have, but we've really only seen each other three times. One time I interviewed him for the Reflex magazine. The second time was when I invited him to my show, that was in June 2011 I guess, and I still remember he was there with Matěj Ruppert and Kateřina Klasnová, at that time a member of the political party "Věci veřejné" (Public Affairs). And then we met once or twice at an opening night in Studio Two, but really only for the after-party. That's all, there's no relationship.

Will you invite him again sometime? In an interview, you said having him was harder than high school finals.

It didn’t go well. I made all the mistakes I possibly could. Back then, if you did a talk show, everyone would be all over your case for copying Jan Kraus. Over the span of 9 months, I have invited not only Mr. Kraus, but Mr. Šíp as well, however inviting Mr.Kraus came very early in my beginnings, in the fifth episode or so. And I even made the mistake of inviting him as the first guest, so he had to sit there through the other two interviews, being, understandably, pretty bored. I felt like I should be asking him, whether I was doing well enough. Everything went wrong. He made me feel positively paranoid there.

I probably won’t invite him again, I already crossed that out of my bucket list. I wonder, if I actually did it, whether he’d accept. However, the viewers might not enjoy the evening that much. I feel like a lot of them would expect us to compete in some way.

You’re both a bit old to be competing with each other or comparing…anything, for that matter.

Yes, but most of all I believe we really each have our own way. I think my show is based on all the preliminary work, that I’m more of a host (or journalist), whereas he’s an actor. He’s able to improvise, act the situations out using his tone and body language. I, on the other hand, am pretty introverted actually.

You are a journalist, you’re quite familiar with this profession. Thanks to being featured on Prima, you give a lot of interviews now. How does it feel to be on the other end?

You don’t have to do any homework. On the other hand, it’s not as fun as asking questions. My life feels boring to me, I don’t enjoy discussing it, as there’s not much to talk about anyway.

Why is that?

I've never climbed Mount Everest, swam across the La Manche or saved a child’s life. I feel like I've spent all my life sitting in a café and talking to people. That’s my whole life, that’s what I enjoy.

You don’t feel famous, then?

I don’t.

Don’t people recognize you in the streets?

Sometimes they do, although I have the advantage of my show being aired during the COVID crisis, that is, during the time of wearing face masks.

If you weren't interesting, I wouldn't be here with you right now. If nothing else, you are interesting for being surrounded by famous people very often. How long did it take to win their trust, step by step, to build a name for yourself and your show? That doesn’t happen overnight.

As you asked me before, it was only after thirty years of doing journalism that I realized it would be good for journalists to undertake some workshops or training, where they would take turns in being interviewed. Only then you’ll start to realize what the interviewees must be feeling when they have to answer the same question for the 80th time in a row. They always say they've talked about it elsewhere and you say "I know, let's recall it for our readers." Only then will you realize that.

I think that upon starting "Cases", I had the advantage of having known most of my guests from doing newspaper interviews with them before.

Luxusní byt na prodej, Praha 5 - 232m
Luxusní byt na prodej, Praha 5 - 232m, Praha 5

Yes, but knowing someone and having a good relationship with him, that’s not the same thing. Surely it can’t be enough to casually mention "hey, do you remember me from doing that interview years ago, come to my show."

Nevertheless, that’s what I did. Some asked what show it was, what I wanted from them, asked me to send them a link and such. It’s exactly what happened with a certain actress, this was her reaction. A year later she told me I must be kidding for inviting everyone but her. So I told her, come on, I did invite you, and she was like "Well, back then I didn’t know what it was." This really happened. But I can say for one that people appreciated getting enough space to talk.

A lot of people really open up and talk about topics they would never discuss with, for example, a tabloid journalist.

There’s this quote I have stuck in my head from some Western movie, I think it was "A Fistful of Dollars": "The best way to make people talk is to make them comfortable." And I believe that’s true. Make people feel safe, show them you’re not interrogating them, but having a casual chat. Many people told me afterwards that they'd completely forgotten about all the cameras around. The show takes place in a small, cosy space with a friendly atmosphere. The audience sits about a meter away from you with a drink in their hand. Surely you know this as a journalist. You meet people on opening nights, hear a lot of gossip, have a drink together, then they confess they’re having a divorce or something... This way you get plenty of information the audience would love, but if you pulled it out in the studio, you would make the guest feel awfully uncomfortable.

That’s not nice.

I always ask everyone whether there’s anything they don’t want to talk about, and I adhere to that. However, most of them say "I’ll answer whatever you want." Surprisingly, only a few say they want to stay away from relationships, I’m more likely to hear we should avoid politics. A few times, maybe twice I heard from someone that they were getting a divorce, live separated from their spouse and have a young child they don’t want to expose to media articles about the divorce. In such a situation you obviously agree and don't touch the subject. Even though it would have been a doozy to pick it up. That person would never come back to your show.

If we’re talking actors and other, say, comedy-related people who love having an audience, talk shows have one great advantage with them. If you do a standard magazine interview, you’re alone with them, perhaps talking some more private stuff that they might leave in the interview upon authorizing. They embrace the intimate atmosphere of only two people chatting, the mutual trust. However, during a show, they’ll often tell stories just to capture and entertain the audience even more. If the audience responds well and laughs, they might even add more and more stories, often telling me afterwards that they hadn't actually wanted to share all that, but the atmosphere, the setting swayed them.

Take, for example, the episode with Bob Klepl talking about some "alternative" uses for a vacuum cleaner hose. Another guest that evening was Ondřej Trojan, a renowned sexologist, who said that he once had a patient come to him with that hose still attached and complaining he couldn't get it off. So Bob interrupted him and said he'd tried that, too, just to turn the vacuum cleaner off again quickly. This is the kind of stuff that’s funny in front of a live audience, but doesn’t come across as well in print. A magazine interview and a talk show are two very different things... I also had a beautiful moment with Tomáš Klus, who in 2011 received from the other guest, adult film actress Tarra White, a silicone cast of her... how to put this... tool of trade. I wonder if he still has it.

How’s filming in the times of COVID crisis?

Difficult. After all, my show is meant to be an entertainment program, and as such it requires an audience, preferably a laughing one. And a full room is always better than only 10 guests, but then again, having 10 guests is clearly way better than having none at all...

All of the guests wear face masks?

My guests, that means people on the stage, are the only ones that don’t have to wear them. They have to be tested, though, same as the whole crew and all the extras, who, in addition to having negative test results, wear respirators as well. We also keep the number of extras at a minimum and watch our distances.

Why the extras?

Because the public isn’t allowed to the studio right now, and this type of show absolutely requires an audience. Getting feedback from only 10 people is still better than getting none at all.

So, you’ve been doing the show for free, or for your own money for a long time. Now you should finally get paid. How does it feel?

It feels nice, for my sake as well as others'.

Because they don’t have to do it for free anymore?

Or for a "special price for a friend." You see them working for you at the expense of their own work they could be doing elsewhere at that time, and you’re glad you can make it up to them. However, I care more about the opportunity than the money from Prima. I've always sad that playing football in your backyard will eventually make you want to try playing at a stadium in England or Italy. Anyone can do a YouTube talk show, you film it with two photo cameras and that’s that, a lot of people do it. There’s a great deal of freedom in it, but sooner or later you start asking yourself, if there could be a different way. If you can share the playground with Šíp and Kraus. That’s what appealed to me the most.

And you still don’t have the answer?

People actually watch the show, so I guess I do.

What else do you do besides the Show?

I’m an employee of the Reflex magazine, a regular editor doing interviews or feature stories. This is actually a hobby (laughs).

COVID changed nothing for you, then?

It did. We used to meet in cafés, now we have to do interviews over Skype.

What do you do outside of work? I heard you got a dog.

That was in August last year, so since then, we've started going for a walk three times a day. In a sense, it’s great for me, as normally you won’t go out at half-past six in the morning, while it’s freezing outside.

I go for a run even if it’s freezing.

Yes, having a dog or morning runs, that works, I guess. Nevertheless, I made a pact with myself that once he grows up a bit, we’ll start running together, too. Last year I used to go jogging regularly, which I can’t do with a puppy, so I'm looking forward to starting again.

Not to be impertinent, but I get you’re 48 and single. Why is that?

It's like the U2 song – "I still haven’t found what I’m looking for."

Is it a lifestyle choice, an image thing?

Definitely not an image. Three years ago I got divorced after 10 years in a relationship, 8 of which were in a marriage. Then there were some more relationships, and now... there are not. Sure it’s not what we imagined in our 20s, that was more along the lines of having kids, maybe even grandchildren and starting our second act, which I don’t mean as searching for side-pieces. I must have missed a step.

What would make you happy? What do miss in your life?

Right now it's probably freedom, a certain return to the previous state. Travelling, the opportunity to get up and go wherever you want.

Do you believe it will come?

I hope so.

Honza, thank you very much for the interview.

Fast confession:

Which famous person do you remember the most?

I am grateful to all who were willing to come to my show.

Which celebrity was the most difficult to interview?

Anyone who uses so much liquid courage that their voice stiffens and you don’t understand a word.

What do you admire about Taylor Swift, besides beauty?

I think she's an excellent musician who was born for the stage, she has great social awareness and she deserves to be the Miss Americana.

Who would you like to interview, but hasn't had the chance yet?

Zdeněk Svěrák.

Who would you like to invite to your show, but unfortunately it is no longer possible?

There are many of them, but one for all – Jan Werich.

Who, on the other hand, would you never want to interview?

I could think of many that I don’t share any values with, for example, those that started a world war or leaders of certain political parties.

Do you take criticism from Jan Kraus personally?


What did the COVID bring you, and what did it take from you?

Regarding my show, it took away our audience, but gave us the chance to film in Malostranská beseda.

Do you want to get vaccinated?

I don't know yet.

What is your favourite activity?

Reading, travelling.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Still on this planet, I hope.

Who do you see as the next Czech president?

I have no idea, but I hope we can be proud of him, as we have been for some.

If you could choose, where in the world would you like to live?

I love Prague; I'm glad that I live here.

Who would you like to be born as in the next life?

I haven't thought that far yet, but I treat beetles, animals and even bollards nicely, just to be sure. You never know where you're going to reincarnate, so I try to play it safe left and right.
The respondent asks the editor:

What do you do, what do you feel when someone gives you awful answers in an interview and you wonder how it will turn out?

I'm looking forward to the editing process.
God be with you.
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