When Maurice Sendak sat down with Stephen Colbert for a two-part interview segment, even the Colbert Report host may not have been expecting some of the answers that came out of the Where the Wild Things Are author's mouth.
In the two-part interview, the 83-year-old author and illustrator went on the show to discuss his new book Bumble-ardy. Instead, he dove into the complexity of children, the painful simplicity of Newt Gingrich, and the joys of huffing Magic Markers.
'I really don't like adults at all'
I didn't set out to make children happy or make life better for them, or easier for them, Sendak said. I like them as few and far between as I do adults.
Maybe a bit more, he conceded. Because I really don't like adults at all.
Before the interview really got started, however, Sendak felt compelled to make an important distinction for Colbert: He is not a children's author. He's a writer.
I don't write for children, he said. I write, and somebody says, 'That's for children.' He thinks book signings are dreadful, and isn't that enamored of his fans, either.
This is not to say that the lovable curmudgeon doesn't have some strong opinions about how children's literature should be written.
Everything by Seuss is good, said Sendak, perhaps influenced by the fact that Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) was quite an ornery old man himself.
Curious George, he adds, was also excellent. But otherwise, Most books for children are very bad.
What does he think of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?
You should open the door and say, get the hell out of my house! Sendak said. There is something in this country that is so opposed to the understanding the complexity of children.
It was when Stephen Colbert tried to sell his own yet-to-be-written book, I Am Pole (and So Can You), however, that Sendak had the first of many great moments in the two-part interview.
The sad thing is, Sendak told Colbert, I like it.
Wild Times with 'The Wild Things'
When the conversation turned to Maurice Sendak's own work, Colbert tried to get the author to spill on his inspiration for Where the Wild Things Are, and to sell him on an idea for a sequel to In the Night Kitchen.
Sendak revealed to an unabashedly amused Colbert that the wild rumpus in Wild Things is exactly what Colbert thinks it is: a euphemism for sex.
But Sendak has never shied away from sex or nakedness in his books. In the Night Kitchen has been banned for its drawings of a naked boy who falls into a costume made out of dough in a pastry-decked dreamscape.
Colbert had the solution to Sendak's problem: Plug the story full of endorsements. What about a sequel to In the Night Kitchen featuring Vin Diesel and Burger King tie-ins?
[Sounds like] the most boring idea imaginable, Sendak noted. He endorsed the project anyway. But it's got to be as bad as that looks like it is.
'Newt Gingrich is an idiot of great renown'
As a reluctant children's book author, Sendak was at his crotchety best.
F-k them, I hate those e-books, he said. They cannot be the future. They may well be, I will be dead, I don't give a s-t.
But books weren't the only thing on Sendak and Colbert's minds.
About halfway through, the Colbert Report host couldn't resist adding some political jabs to the conversation.
Newt Gingrich said it: Children don't have a work ethic, he said.
Newt Gingrich is an idiot of great renown, Sendak said. There is something so hopelessly gross and vile about him, that it's hard to take him seriously.
'You ever sniff a marker?'
Later on, the author took Colbert to his studio and tried to teach him to draw. Instead, the comedian began to huff Magic Markers ... and within minutes, Maurice Sendak was in on the action, too.
You ever sniff a marker? Colbert asked.
No, Sendak responded, sniffing it gingerly. Is that a good thing?
It's a cheap high, Colbert responded.
Which may help explain why the beloved author, by the interview's end, was singing this: I remember Pearl Harbor ... yadda-da-da-da-da.
Watch Stephen Colbert's full interview with Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak below.
Sendak on The Colbert Report, Part One:
Sendak on The Colbert Report, Part Two: