Last night, Oprah Winfrey hosted the first installment of Better Know a Psychopath, with special guest Lance Armstrong.
While the entire interview could be described as one uncomfortable moment that lasted for ninety minutes (with Armstrong never once successfully recreating the look of "remorse" he saw a human make on TV once), there was one exchange that managed to be even more cringe-inducing than all the rest:
The failed fat joke.
In the above clip, Winfrey has just shifted the conversation to Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong's former cycling teammate Frankie, whose family Armstrong "tried to destroy" (her words), after she publicly criticized him for failing to admit he used performance enhancing drugs.
A smirk smeared across his face, Armstrong wistfully recalls how he called Besty "crazy" and "a bitch."
Then, for one horrible moment, you can and watch Lance sit back "read the room."
Time for a little comedy.
"I did call her crazy….I did. I did. I think she'd be okay with me saying this, but…I'm gonna take the liberty to say it. [When we spoke on the phone recently,] I said 'Listen, I called you ‘crazy,' I called you ‘a bitch.' I called you all these things…but I never called you ‘fat.'"
Then, Armstrong pauses for laughter.
He pauses a little longer for laughter.
He waits and waits for the laughter to come, while the camera cuts to a brilliant shot of Oprah blinking at him, her eyelids heavy under the weight of gravitas.
"'Cause…" he begins. Maybe Oprah didn't get the joke? Maybe if he explains the joke it will become funny and he and Oprah will laugh and laugh and she'll scrap the whole interview and take him to OS-TRAIL-YAAAAA instead?
"…She thought I said ‘You are a fat, crazy bitch,'" he flails, reaching out for a lifesaver. Unfortunately Oprah's soul has already left her body; she floats above the room and watches him die.
"…And I said," he repeats "‘Betsy…I never said you were fat.'"
Okay, Oprah's done. She moves on.