INTERVIEW: Carrie Keagan: "I've been hired and fired because of my boobs"
Carrie Keagan isn't your typical talk-show host. The former front woman of VH1's Big Morning Buzz — and, arguably, the woman who generated the buzz needed to launch the network's first daily live — Keagan is a unique trifecta of blond, bubbly and brash.
And we mean brash in the best sense of the word, i.e. "highly spirited, especially in an irreverent way."
On women in late night
Basically, this chick is ballsy. So we weren't entirely surprised when she called out late-night TV for being stuck in the '70s and unable to pull its own head out of its a** long enough to hire a female lead.
We were, in turn, both impressed and — to be honest — ever so slightly malcontent, because Keagan's observation is spot-on. Late-night TV absolutely needs more women who aren't afraid to speak up. And it needs it, like, yesterday.
"It's this crusade of the obvious that's happening, where it should just be a natural progression," she stressed. "Women should naturally be in these positions. We're ready — we've been ready for a long time. We've had a lot of things to say and, for some reason, the Man keeps trying to keep us down."
Still, there's hope for women in late night, thanks to women like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler simply "being as awesome as they are and getting up there and showing everybody it's not a man's world anymore."
With Fey and Poehler moving women in comedy into new frontiers, it certainly seems realistic that Keagan — who, between Big Morning Buzz and No Good TV, has over 7,000 interviews to her credit — could become the next face of women in late-night TV.
On her own late-night show
"I've dreamed of that a lot," she admitted. "I've always wanted my show to be very sort of live and in the moment. I look up to people like Graham Norton and Ellen DeGeneres and Chelsea Handler, especially. Those kinds of shows I think are incredibly entertaining, and they're hosted by people who are funny and have strong opinions."
She'd love to have live music and to be an open door for emerging talent but, mostly, she'd want the real Carrie Keagan to come across.
"I want my show to be irreverent and edgy and saying things that don't really have a place right now," she emphasized, pointing out that late-night TV has gotten "a little stale" save Jimmy Fallon and her good friend Craig Ferguson.
Judging by Keagan's, ahem, candid body of work, we're positive "stale" would never be a descriptor for her show — there's virtually nothing this woman won't talk about. She's broached topics that would make most men blush.
"I don't have an embarrassment meter," she laughed. "I've found out over the years. And I think it's really important to have honesty and be part of an open dialogue with people."
On getting guests to share their dirty little secrets
Her approach to interviewing people is simple but brilliant. "I want to know who you are as a person. I've always just gone into my interviews feeling like I just want to know what it feels like to sit down and have a beer with you," she explained.
For some guests, easing into the conversation by way of a few beers might be a prerequisite to get through tackling certain topics in public. Sex, for example, which Keagan has no qualms bringing up.
"Ithink it's really, really sad that we live in a country where violence is OK, but sex is not," she lamented. "It's something that is just in our nature. It's a mandatory thing — it actually keeps people sane when they can do it! Why can't we talk about it? I don't get it."
The more we talk about it and other traditionally taboo topics, she says, the more we can learn from each other. "It's nice to know that, when you open up that dialogue, you're not alone — you think you have a kink, but you probably don't because it's probably somebody else's as well," she laughed.
On issues affecting women
Such is the heady type of stuff we imagine Keagan would address as host of her own late-night gig. And since we don't take no for an answer and she's such a good sport, Keagan let us grill her about a few hot-button issues facing women at the moment.
On the subject of the recent Hobby Lobby court ruling about employees' rights in regard to birth control, Keagan is decidedly passionate.
"Employers need to take care of their employers, period. The health of them is going to keep them alive and keep them employed, so that needs to happen," she said, segueing into the abortion debate.
"It's a conversation that will go on forever and ever, and I don't think that there will be a final agreement with anybody," she weighed in. "But yes, I absolutely think there needs to be a discussion. It's part of our lives now, and I absolutely believe in a woman's choice."
Of course, there's the age-old issue of whether or not a beautiful woman in a position of power can ever truly be taken seriously for her merits. Does Keagan feel as though there's potential her looks could get in the way of her career?
"I've been hired and fired because of my boobs, and it's something I have absolutely no choice in," she confessed.
"I didn't ask for these, my mom gave them to me," she laughed. "And I've debated on many occasions getting rid of them, and then I think, 'Well, why the f*** do I have to do that?' I think we have to learn how to work with our power."
Keagan considers for a moment more before capping off what has been an incredibly rad conversation, and hopefully a precursor to her own late-night forum.
"I think it's really nice that people think I'm pretty," she told us. "But I think it's f***ing cool when people think I'm smart."