Host of Discovery Channel’s DIRTY JOBS
What’s motivated Mike Rowe to complete more than 160 DIRTY JOBS ... and counting?
A deep reverence for dirt, his paternal role models, and the common American, he says.
By serving as an apprentice to the everyday folks who perform these unthinkable occupations, Mike pays tribute to them. From slime eel fisherman, to sewer inspector, to professionals who determine the sex of chickens, DIRTY JOBS offers an illuminating look at what lies beyond the world of 9 to 5, and no one is better suited to the task of good-natured guinea pig than Mike Rowe.
Q&A WITH MIKE ROWE, HOST, DIRTY JOBS
Season Premiere October 7, 2008 at 9pm E/P on Discovery Channel
*Q&A compiled from “You Ask, He Answers” at http://discovery.com/dirtyjobs
Q. Aren't you exhausted? What is your secret? Some special herbal supplement? Lots of caffeine? Magic healing balm? Personal masseuse? Do you ever feel like Stretch Armstrong?
Mike: I remember Stretch all too well, and the memories are somewhat disturbing. You might think that his resiliency and innate survival skill would eventually endear me to Stretch, but it was really the exact opposite. His indefatigable will to live turned my resentment into something darker, and his incredible toughness only served to magnify my own twisted desire to heap more and more indignity upon this wretched, yet indestructible being.
Q. What are the limits of the show?
Mike: The show has certain vague, but non-negotiable limits that are content related and determined by the network. From a production standpoint however, all dirty jobs must incorporate at least some of the following criteria.
1. A "who knew" factor, like Chick Sexing.
2. A "gotta get done" factor, like Road Kill Clean-Up.
3. A great character, like Bill Bretherton from Vexcon.
4. Tons of factual information, like Bat Biologist.
5. A lot of dirt, like Charcoal Maker.
6. Backbreaking manual labor, like indoor demolition.
I can think of no job that would be unsuitable, provided dirt and character were abundant.
Q. If you had to pick one dirty job for everyone to experience and understand, which one would it be?
Mike: Great question. Off the top of my head, I'd say waiter/waitress. If everyone had to spend a few months serving food to paying customers, the species would take a dramatic turn for the better in short order. Things like manners and expectations would improve across the board. Empathy would skyrocket and service would improve. Equally beneficial - garbage collector or sewerage worker. A big part of our collective entitlement lies in the belief that we can throw or flush something "away". A few months in a dump or waste water treatment plant will change the way you look at the world. Should be mandatory for all high school graduates in my opinion.
Q. What influences you artistically? Would you categorize yourself as an actor, a character, journeyman, method, dramatic, scenery chewer, comedic, or are you a little bit of everything?
Mike: I'm not a classically trained actor. I've studied a bit, but find that most approaches to the "craft" are a little too self-important and precious for me. Good acting requires a lot of hard work and discipline, but it's not as noble and important as all that. At base, I believe that a good actor is a good liar. I think I'm influenced by everything I read, everything I hear, and everything I see. Not necessarily inspired, but certainly influenced. I admire Steven King very much.
Q. Do you tend to be a leader or a follower?
Mike: Leadership I think is a state of mind. I find that people who know precisely where they want to go often see themselves as leaders. But aren't those people following something too? Only the leader can say what drives his actions. Likewise, the willingness to follow is also a choice, and does not preclude the ability to lead. In fact, I think the best leaders are those who are happy to follow, but step up when circumstances demand. The courage to lead is admirable - the ambition to lead is not. Sometimes I wonder if it takes more courage to lead or follow.
Q. It’s admirable considering the popularity of Dirty Jobs that you remain approachable and talk with your fans on a consistent basis. What is the best part of being famous, and what is the worst part?
Mike: Let me say first that anybody with their name in the title of a hit show that airs in 128 countries has no business complaining about anything
Regarding humility - I think it's something to aspire to, but like anything else worth having, not that easy to come by, especially in this business. There is a certain amount of ego required to deliberately thrust yourself onto a stage or in front of a camera, which defies a natural humility.
As for fame itself, there's very little about it that's inherently good or bad. The problem with fame of course, is that it doesn't need to be earned - more often than not, it's handed out by the machine, and usually on a temporary basis. Maybe that's why it's so hard to handle.
Q. Where Did You Get Your Sense of Humor? Is your family a particularly funny bunch of folk or are you an anomaly?
Mike: I like the power line theory. There were many running through the woods behind our house. I would climb them as a kid, all the way to the top, and listen to the electricity humming through the wires. I am still contemplating the effects.
Q: Do you have a comfort food that you would want your Mom to cook if you were coming home for a visit?
Mike: My Mom makes an amazing Maryland Crab Soup. That, with homemade bread and a cold beer, is hard to beat.
All Photos: Discovery Channel
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