Andy Cohen joins best bud Anderson Cooper on stage at the Straz Center for a night of conversation

By : Jeremy Williams
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Andy Cohen is the wide-eyed, energetic host of everything. He executive produces the wildly popular Real Housewives reality television franchise on Bravo, and moderates the explosive reunions of the show’s housewives. He also hosts Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, and is the first openly gay host of an American late-night talk show.

This past summer, Cohen rebooted the ‘80s classic show Love Connection, which he also hosted, and hosts his own SiriusXM radio show called Radio Andy. As if that wasn’t enough to fill the schedules of a dozen people, Cohen also joins his best buddy Anderson Cooper on the road as they tour the U.S. with their show AC2: An Intimate Evening With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, coming to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 7.

Cohen broke away from his busy day to chat with Watermark for a few moments about his upcoming trip to Tampa. The interview took place the morning President Donald Trump tweeted that he would be pursuing a ban of all transgender troops from the U.S. military. Cohen responded to the president’s tweets with a tweet of his own. That’s where the interview began.

Friendly Chats: Andy Cohen (L) and Anderson Cooper take questions from the audience during their stage show, AC2. Photo courtesy The Bohlsen Group.

Watermark: I have a lot I want to chat with you about, but I have to start off with the Trump tweets on banning transgender troops from the military. It is terrifying trying to do your job, especially in the military, and know that your boss doesn’t want you there. You tweeted back to Trump “Are you trying to be an asshole?” which sums up how a lot of people felt when they read that, but I wanted to see if you would elaborate on your feelings when you read those this morning.

Andy Cohen: I think it’s disgusting. I don’t know that the president has the power to make this happen, I could be wrong, but I think he’s just trying to divert from all of the other bullshit that’s going on with him. I think actually people should stay focused on Russia and Mueller and Jeff Sessions.

Clearly he’s trying to divert attention, and he’s done it. He’s rallying his own base and getting everybody else fired up. I don’t know what will come of this but I think the truth is there’s a reason he did this today, and that is to wind up the people who hate him and wind up the people who are really upset about Jeff Sessions and all the other stuff. So I just think it’s a trap.

You’ve gone at him before on Twitter. In a few tweets you say that Trump seems to be stealing ideas from the Real Housewives. Have you ever gotten a response from him?

No, not yet. I’m waiting to be blocked.

Twitter has become this political and social battlefield where no one pulls punches and it seems like anything goes.

Yeah, it’s awful. I hate it. People are always shouting at each other and I’m muting a lot of people. It’s very negative and not fun anymore, and it’s led by Trump’s negativity. It’s terrible. We are all falling into his awful trap.

Kathy Griffin caught hell on Twitter because of that Trump photo. I wanted to ask you if you thought that the reaction to her and the photo was an overreaction from most or do you think it was justified?

I mean everyone is so quick to jump on everything and get offended and it drives people out to boycott. This is the culture we live in now, the culture of being offended and boycotting.

Happy Hour: Andy Cohen (L) and Anderson Cooper enjoy a few cocktails while sharing stories with fans. Photo courtesy The Bohlsen Group.

You and your friend Anderson Cooper are heading to Tampa for a show in October, AC2 An Intimate Evening With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. How did you two meet?

We were set up on a blind date many years ago but we never ended up going. We never really got past the phone call but we became great friends, going on 20-something years now.

Whose idea was it for the two of you to take a show on the road?

He interviewed me about a book, two books ago, and we just have great rapport. We have a lot of shared experiences, a lot of great stories, and we just bring out the best in each other. His agent represents Bill O’Reilly who’s been on tour with Dennis Miller doing a kind of conversation series as well, and his agent was like, “you guys should go on the road.” We thought it would be fun so [Anderson] and I got together a few times and worked it out. We did a test show in Boston that went really, really well and we were off and running.

How would you describe the show, for those who haven’t seen it? Because it’s not really a concert and it isn’t really standup.

What I tell people is it’s like hanging out with friends at a bar hearing their stories, but a little more crafted than that. It’s a night of conversation and we kind of interview each other. It’s really very free flowing. We bring video clips and it’s really funny. In the last half hour or so we open it up to the audience for questions. It’s really just kind of a night of really fun stories and conversation, and a lot of laughs and a great night out.

You both juggle such busy schedules, how often are you able to get together to do these shows?

We’ve got six more left this year. We took the summer off, but we probably do 12 dates a year.

There is a bit of drinking that goes on up on the stage. after a few drinks how much of the show stays scripted and much of it is you two telling stories off the cuff?

I mean it’s kind of set at this point. We know the stories we’re going to tell, but if anything recent has happened we’ll get in there and talk about it. If he’s interviewed someone recently, or he’s been at the White House or done the debate, or I’ve done something interesting. We will definitely talk about it. It is definitely a topical show.

Bosom Buddies: Andy Cohen (L) and Anderson Cooper strike a pose at a meet & greet after the show. Photo courtesy The Bohlsen Group.

Has either of you divulged more information on stage than you intended to?

I think sometimes we leave the stage saying “wow, I can’t believe we talked about that.”

You host Watch What Happens Live on Bravo, and you had the original Evita herself, Patti LuPone, on. She talked about Madonna’s performance in the film version of Evita, calling it “a piece of shit” and calling Madonna a “movie killer.” You looked surprised when she said it. Are there any moments on the show where a celebrity has said something that was so unexpected that you were in shock?

Oh, I’ve got so many; I mean constantly. That’s what I love about the show. I mean you just never know who’s going to say what. You know that Patti LuPone moment was great. Charlize Theron surprised me, she was just going there. So did Jada Pinkett. I asked her what her least favorite movie of Will Smith’s was. She told me. I mean she was really outspoken which I was surprised by. I thought she was kind of going to be closed up.

Is there anybody you have had on that was just too closed off that you wouldn’t have back on?

Yeah, maybe one or two, but I wouldn’t tell you.

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