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The Big Questions: ‘How does friendship change?’ with Mark Bazer

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Oak Park’s Mark Bazer, host of “The Interview Show,” stopped by the garage to talk about how friendship changes over time.

In this episode, we explore how friendships form, why some last and why some don’t – and how to break up with friends you’ve outgrown.

Bazer has hosted his Dick Cavett-style talk show for six years at Chicago’s The Hideout. This winter, however, Bazer has been filming a “talk show on wheels” for WTTW. The show, called “My Chicago,” will debut the first of its six shows starting April 25 and will feature WBEZ’s Odette Yousef as a host every other episode.

Below is an excerpt of our talk, but the entire conversation can be downloaded via SoundCloud or streamed on YouTube. “The Big Questions” is part of the Sun-Times Media Local Podcast Network.

 

Q: What is the function of friendship?

Bazer: A lot of life is not enjoyable and friendship is enjoyable. Friendship makes life worth living. I mean, obviously there’s other things: family. That’s what it comes down to.

You can feel great about work. Yes, if you create something great, you should feel good about that, but ... maybe this is to my detriment, but if you said to me, “You could go work on this thing right now and you’re going to accomplish it and it’s going to be great. Or you could go hang out with your high school friends ...” I’d choose my high school friends 95 percent of the time because that’s enjoyable.

 

Q: Earlier, we were talking about how and why we form friendships and you think it has a lot to do with a sense of humor.

Bazer: I do ... but what’s interesting about it is when you’re in high school or you’re in college is that you develop along with your friends, a collective sense of humor.

 

Q: When it doesn’t work out, when you have to break up with a friend, how do you do it? Women are more confrontational: “I think we need to see less of each other.” Dudes don’t do that.

Bazer: I don’t like dealing with that kind of thing. I’ve had a few. I have had a few awkward friendship experiences in my life, in my adulthood. Just thinking about them, just makes me like feel something in my stomach ...

If they did something or I did something, where I thought either there was a misunderstanding or one of us thought the person was doing something selfish – if someone does that to me, I almost feel at this point: don’t bring it up. Just ignore it. It’ll go away. But I used to probably get into more confrontations in life, and now just ... it’s just not worth it.

 

Q: It’s never like a “Three’s Company” episode. It’s never funny ...

Bazer: No, no you just feel terrible. Those kinds of things just stick with you. I don’t know though that I’ve ever, ever broken up with a friend. It’s more of a slow fade. I’ve got other friends. It’s not like getting divorced.

No, I absolutely hear what you’re saying. I got married in 2000 and there are people who were at my wedding, who I’m not in touch with at all any more. So why? Why did that happen?

For whatever reason – there are obviously friends that are location-based. Sometimes they’re people from work that you see every day, but if I moved right now from Oak Park, the reality is that 85 percent of the people that I engage with in Oak Park, I would probably loose contact with.

 

Q: They would be Facebook friends.

Bazer: Some people are really bad at keeping in touch. And they might argue, “We’re fine!” “We’re great!” But you know, I’m like you; I would think, “What? What’s going on? No, we’re not.”

That’s another point about early friendships. They are dictated by location, because they’re where you grew up, often, where you went to school. Obviously we share similarities based on social strata and what our parents might have done.

 

Q: It’s my role in amongst my friends that I’m the person who contacts first. The onus is on me and at a certain point, I’m just kind of tired. I realize I’ve established this is the way we communicate, but I’ve been feeling like, “Would it kill you to pick up the phone or send me an email?”

Bazer: I’ve probably been in that role more than I’ve been in the opposite role. And the best friendships, the friendships that work are the obvious, are the friendships where it both people pick up the phone at the exact same time.

Remember when that used to happen once in a while when you were a kid with a rotary phones and you pick up the phone and “Hey, is somebody else on the line?”

No matter how busy life is, no matter how many things are going on, children, family or whatever, like I want to make sure that doing things with friends and talking to friends happens. That’s a priority.

 

You can find Mark Bazer at his website: www.theinterviewshowchicago.com

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