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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Brian Unger

Aired August 8, 2003 - 19:43   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Want to talk about high school a little bit. Those were the days, bad clothes, bad hair, braces, acne, those painfully awkward high school years. Nothing better. After those formative four years, who comes out on top? A straight "A" student like "Election's" Tracy Flick, or "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" surfer slacker Jeff Spicoli? A comedian, writer and actor Brian Unger is here to give us his take. Thanks very much for joining us.
First of all, there's this study that basically I'm not sure why the set-up piece didn't really explain the study that we're talking about.

BRIAN UNGER, COMEDIAN: Well, that's why you get paid the big bucks, to explain it to people.

COOPER: Basically, the study basically came out to say that the people who exceed in high school don't necessarily go on to exceed in later life. In fact, a lot of them like at age 26 are still living at home and not financially independent. Did this surprise you?

UNGER: Well, first of all, I would like to thank you for calling me when the study came out. I'm very flattered, because I did do quite well in high school and I'm a big screw-up now as an adult. Well, I mean, I think we finally have evidence here that suggests that kids should do poorly in high school, they should just screw you.

COOPER: Oh, that's your advice to kids?

UNGER: Yes, I think the kids who do well will, you know, some day end up on "Cops" and a bad episode, being dragged out of their homes in their underwear. And you know how that goes.

COOPER: We have got a full screen from some of what this study had to say that -- let's just put it on the screen -- 20 percent of high school grads who are successes in high school not meeting their stated or expected goals, 29 percent not financially independent.

UNGER: I want to talk about those two things.

COOPER: OK.

UNGER: OK< first of all, let's talk about the goals. I mean, what goals does a 26-year-old have, really? I mean, they want to do well in Playstation games and they want to get themselves one of them Hilton sisters, you know? And then -- no, really, they want to keep their fridge stocked full of beer (UNINTELLIGIBLE). My dad wanted to provide for the kids and support his wife, but I don't think that's this generation.

COOPER: But at 26 years old, you're not a kid anymore. It's amazing that so many are not -- what I took away from this study, what sort of gave me hope is that the flipside of it showed that the people who were doing badly and who were sort of awkward in high school and not popular, they actually kind of excelled with the freedom that they got after graduating.

UNGER: See, and that's where our tax dollars are going to waste right there to prove that point. The professor at the University of Michigan who basically got funded to do this study to say that kids who aren't so happy in high school actually do quite well after they graduate -- wow.

COOPER: But you know, this actually wasn't news to me, because I actually went to my high school reunion a couple of years back, and the kids who had been sort of like made fun of because they spoke differently or looked differently, they were the ones who were interesting now, and the kids who were popular and everyone thought were great, frankly they're not doing very much.

UNGER: You know what I think it is? It's like if you ask a young person today what they want, what their goals are, what they want to be, they always say I want to be famous, and that's not a class that I took in high school, the I want to get famous class.

COOPER: And yet you've ended up famous.

UNGER: Dude, I have to go bus some tables next door as soon as I'm done here. Come on, this is not all glamour.

COOPER: That's good. I would like a table for four, if you could.

UNGER: It will be ready for you, Mr. Cooper.

COOPER: Thanks very much, Brian Unger, thanks to you, good to talk to you.

UNGER: Thanks.

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