Whatever your opinion of writer and performer Ruby Wax, watching her 2005 interview with US businessman Donald Trump is likely to evoke empathy from the harshest of critics. The uncomfortable exchange sees Wax accompany the controversial Republican on his private jet as part of her BBC TV series Ruby’s American Pie. The pair do not gel.
Despite Trump’s dismissive responses to her questioning (at one point he refuses to continue the interview), Wax persists, following him to his Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City where he demands she waits at the door.
“It’s like a comedy routine,” Trump tells Wax. “You are looking for laughs and want to make me look as bad as possible. You are so obnoxious.”
Reflecting on the experience 11 years on, Wax recognises her behaviour was manic (“my eyes were like a wild animal’s”) and admits that it was, in part, her own fear of the situation which prompted Trump’s reactions.
“I let it show that I loathed him and was judging him the whole time,” she says. “He smelled what I was doing pretty quickly. I didn’t know what I was doing. If I’d just been curious about him as a phenomenon, I could have let him hang himself.”
Since then, Wax’s career has taken a different path. No longer defined by brash stand-up comedy and TV interviews with celebrities (Wax also interviewed Madonna, Imelda Marcos and Liza Minnelli – all with similar results), she has turned attention to her lifelong fascination with psychology and how the brain works, devoting her time to talking about mental health, mindfulness and their impact on everyday living.