If ever you had to sit next to a Habs fan at a Vancouver Canucks game, George Stroumboulopoulos would be the best choice. Last night by chance, I sat next to George who's been travelling across Western Canada with Oprah Winfrey for her inspirational speaking tour.
During the third period of the Canucks game, I asked George if he would call into my radio show to tell us what it's been like to interview one of the world most celebrated women. This morning, George called, and I asked him:
How has the progression of shows with Oprah been so far? You've already visited Edmonton and Calgary?
They are a little different for me in that I am building on the relationship each successive night. I didn't know her the first night, I only spent a few minutes talking with her briefly beforehand in rehearsal. Second night, there is a little more of a base, more of a relationship between the two of us. Tonight, there will be even more of a base because she opens to me a bit more, I open up to her a bit more and she understands where I am coming from. I don't ask the same question or have a plan. I re-invent the interview as it goes in the moment. I'm excited because it's been really cool. The other night in Calgary was a blast.
What have you liked about this experience so far?
Every night is not the same experience. Interviewing an interviewer is so much fun especially when you're talking to someone like Oprah. Every now and then, when I'm on stage with her, it dawns on me that she's Oprah Winfrey. It's an interview... a conversation... you're just trying to delve into the person and connect that person to the other people in the audience and it's odd when you realize "Oh wait, you're Oprah — you're enormous, you're like the biggest."
When I saw The Oprah Winfrey Show live in Chicago there was a crazy energy. Do you get the feeling that you're in an Oprah environment when you see her in these big arena?
I assumed it would be a big deal, but when she walked on stage that first night in Edmonton and I saw the crowd — the energy reminded me of being really little when my mom took me to a Billy Graham concert — it was like that. It was like the first time the UFC had a match in Montreal and Georges St-Pierre came out — I thought the roof was going to come off the building. I bet you it was louder in Edmonton that first night then when the Oilers won the [Stanley] Cup. I have never seen that, man — I was like WOW! What a thing.
What's been the highlight so far?
The highlight was not an onstage moment but an offstage moment. We were staying in a hotel in Calgary and the night before the gig there was a really funny moment. Oprah got out of the car, she's walking into the hotel and people were saying hello and she said hello back, and it was really nice. A couple of dudes said hello to her and I'm laughing inside because what no one's realizing is that Oprah is saying hello to the Tragically Hip.
Staying in that same hotel that night, there was members of the San Jose Sharks, Oprah Winfrey and the Tragically Hip. I looked around and thought: right now, in Edmonton, 25 below, all that snow out there — this place is a hot spot.
Are you coming tonight?
Yeah I'm bringing my mom...
That's amazing, there's a lot of them. This place is to moms what an illegal betting service is to The Hells Angels — that's what this is like.
What did you know of Oprah before this event?
I've never been to a taping of her program but she's doing things which can't be understated: this idea of trying to help people have a better life by helping them find their own way is huge. It's incredible how many people feel like she's the one to get them there. It's pretty special.
She's like a prophet for people...
She really is man, it's almost like what it would have been like, for me, if Bob Marley had come on stage. I was really impressed with how serious she was and how unwavering she was. She's talking about some heavy stuff, really really deep stuff for people emotions but she's not being overly nurturing either — she's being so real and it's been so fun to watch... you got to just see.
You can hear excerpts of my conversation with George Stroumboulopoulos on PEAK Mornings here.
Oprah Winfrey visits Vancouver Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 at Rogers Arena.
WEST HOLLYWOOD, UNITED STATES: US talk show host Oprah Winfrey arrives at the Vanity Fair dinner and post-party celebrating the seventy-fourth Academy Awards, 24 March 2002, at Mortons in West Hollywood, CA. AFP PHOTO/RICH SCHMITT (Photo credit should read RICH SCHMITT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: Talk show host Oprah Winfrey attends the 46th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner November 13, 2002 at Chelsea Piers in New York City. (Photo by John Falls/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 27: (UK NEWSPAPERS OUT) Actress and talk show host Oprah Winfrey attends the Thanksgiving Dinner prior to the 46664 concert on November 27, 2003 in Cape Town, South Africa. The concert will take place on November 29th and will benefit the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the fight against AIDS in Africa. Artists performing will include Bono, Queen, Peter Gabriel, The Eurythmics, Beyonce, Youssou N'Dour, and may other internations and African musicians. It will be one of the biggest rock events ever staged in Africa and will also be the most widely distributed media event in history with a potential audience of more than 2 billion people in 166 countries. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 11: Television Star Oprah Winfrey poses backstage during the 30th Annual People's Choice Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium January 11, 2004 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 29: Talk show host Oprah Winfrey attends the 76th Annual Academy Awards on February 29, 2004 at the Kodak Theater, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 11: Oprah Winfrey arrives to the 2005 Matrix Awards outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on April 11, 2005 in New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
SANTA BARBARA, CA - MAY 14: (L - R) Host Oprah Winfrey and US Vogue's Editor at Large Andre Leon Talley attend the Legends Ball at the Bacara Resort and Spa on May 14, 2005 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 11: Television personality Oprah Winfrey attends the 60th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall June 11, 2006 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: Television journalist Barabra Walters poses with honoree Oprah Winfrey at The New York Public Library's Annual Library Lions Gala at The New York Public Library on November 13, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 25: Television personality Oprah Winfrey arrives at the 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Mortons on February 25, 2007 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 04: Oprah Winfrey attends the 25th Anniversary of the Annual CFDA Fashion Awards held at the New York Public Library on June 4, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images for CFDA)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: TV personality Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 03: Oprah Winfrey attends the opening night performance celebrating Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 50th anniversary at the New York City Center on December 3, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 13: Executive producer Oprah Winfrey walks onstage at the 'Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire' screening introduction during the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival held at Roy Thomson Hall on September 13, 2009 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by C.J. LaFrance/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 18: TV personality Oprah Winfrey hosts The Oprah Winfrey Show: Fridays Live From New York at Rumsey Playfield on September 18, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 07: Oprah Winfrey presents onstage during the 82nd Annual Academy Awards held at Kodak Theatre on March 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 03: Designer Oscar de la Renta and Oprah attend the Costume Institute Gala Benefit to celebrate the opening of the 'American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity' exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 3, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 10: Actress Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey in the audience during the 38th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Mike Nichols held at Sony Pictures Studios on June 10, 2010 in Culver City, California. The AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to Mike Nichols will premiere on TV Land on Saturday, June 25 at 9PM ET/PST. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for AFI)
LONG BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 26: Oprah Winfrey is honored with Minerva Award at Maria Shriver Women's Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center on October 26, 2010 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 4: (AFP OUT) Oprah Winfrey, one of the 2010 Kennedy Center honorees, arrives with Stedman Graham for the formal artist's dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors at the United States Department of State December 4, 2010 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 14: Oprah Winfrey gestures during the first taping of the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' at the Sydney Opera House on December 14, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. 12,000 audience members were selected from 350,000 applicants to participate in two tapings of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' at the Sydney Opera House. Oprah descended on Australia last week with 302 super fans from the US, Canada and Jamaica to produce four shows for the 25th and final season of the program. the shows will air in the US and Australia in January 2011. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06: Oprah Winfrey arrives at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network's 2011 TCA Winter Press Tour Cocktail Party at the Horseshoe Gardens at the Langham Hotel on January 6, 2011 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Presenter Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17: Oprah attends Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular at the United Center on May 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Ralph Lauren and Oprah Winfrey attend an evening with Ralph Lauren hosted by Oprah Winfrey and presented at Lincoln Center on October 24, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Ralph Lauren)
MEYERTON, HENLEY ON KLIP - JANUARY 14: Oprah Winfrey with the Graduates at the inaugural graduation of the class of 2011 at Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls on January 14, 2012 in Henley on Klip, South Africa. (Photo by Michelly Rall/Getty Images)
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