If there’s a drinking word for this week, it’s “SXSW,” according to the drinking word expert, Bravo development exec and Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen (pictured above at the 2012 festival). Of course, if you drank every time someone here in Austin said “South By,” you’d really be in trouble. For the first time, Bravo is taking its hit late night show on the road and will be broadcasting live from Austin next week, with guests including Sarah Silverman, Jenny Slate, Catfish creator Nev Shulman, and more.
Cohen, who arrived to his panel late due to a transportation mishap (“I have bad Austin car karma,” he said, “Last year I got in a car accident”), was on hand to answer audience (ahem, fan) questions about the show and his career, alongside executive producer Michael Davies.
The first striking thing about the panel was the ratio of women to men. Austin in mid-March is overrun by men – mostly glasses-wearing ones with some form of facial hair – in other words, the nerd stereotype is, despite more and more women being in tech, still in full effect, at least at the Interactive panels. Not so at the Watch What Happens Live panel – every woman in Austin seemingly piled in to the Long Performing Arts Center for Cohen’s talk. For the record, I am fully in support of more women AND more Bravo panels at SXSW (maybe next year we can have Rachel Zoe on creating a new form of slang? I die).
Cohen hosts the only live show on late night TV, and Watch What Happens Live has grown from a one-off experiment back in 2009 to a five-night-a-week extravaganza that’s had everyone from the Real Housewives to Meryl Streep in the studio. Cohen shared some of his favorite moments from the past four years hosting the show and a few tidbits about what’s to come:
++Hosting the Hurricane Sandy episode – in his pajamas. Bethenny [Frankel] was supposed to be on the night of the storm. I did the show alone talking to the cameras by myself. I tweeted for questions. I did a shotsky with my crew.
++The odd celebrity pairings are (sometimes) by design. We wanted Jenna Jameson on and we needed someone opposite her, so we put her with Clay Aiken. We had John Mayer on with Dan Rather and it’s one of the top five shows we’ve ever done.
++His dream guest is Connie Britton. If Connie Britton came in the club house, Cohen said, that would be the ultimate. “I love every Friday Night Lights person.”
++Bravo loves Downton Abbey as much as we do. As Watch What Happens Live grows, Cohen said he hopes to do more themed episodes. The dream? Downton Abbey. “I am going to take O’Brien down!”