In Depth

In Their Own Words: Kelly Ripa

Co-host of “Live With Regis and Kelly”

I think I’ve learned far more from him than he could ever possibly learn from me. He has taught me so much about being an engaged storyteller. There are people who tell stories and about halfway through you sort of drift off. Regis takes you on a journey with him and tells you the minutes of the story to the point where you’re so included in what he’s talking about, you feel like you were there. Not many people can do that.

I’m not by any means suggesting I could even come close to having that ability, but he’s taught me the value of being able to take people with you on the ride of your life. If you were to say, “Regis, explain how you do that,” he would say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He’s so modest that this whole thing is like what’s the big deal.

Of course being honored means so much to him, and in my opinion he should win this tribute every year. But at its base, he’d say, “I’m just doing my job.” [Don] Rickles should roast him and call it a day. A roast. An actual roast.

I think we have a great working relationship. I love seeing him every morning and I feel that he feels the same way. It’s a great moment when we walk out there. If he has learned anything from me, maybe it’s a renewed enthusiasm? I don’t know. It’s his show. He’s paying attention to so many things that maybe sometimes it’s easy to forget how great it is.

For me, our relationship is so lopsided, what he’s given me versus what I’ve given him. He’s very kind to me. Even when he does his shtick, his routine, I know that it’s just his shtick. I know that he’s not assaulting me. I know that we’re in it together, that we’re partners. Maybe that’s what he learned from me, that we’re partners. We’re not adversaries. It’s him and me against the Nielsen box.

I always feel like his mother. I do not feel like he is the senior of us. You would know that if you ever traveled through an airport with us. I’m like, “No, no, no, honey. This way. Come here. Grab your bag. Come on. Let’s go.” It’s like having one more kid. [The age difference] was a big topic of discussion when we first started working together. A lot of media talked about the age difference. I was like, “Age difference. Is there an age difference?” I knew that he was older than me, but I don’t really see an age difference. He’s so young and so fun and so current and so on top of what’s going on. The reason we get these big huge hip-hop acts is not me. They want to see Regis. They like hanging out with Regis. This is the reality.

When you do a job for so long, so effortlessly, beautifully, flawlessly, you entertain the masses, people think it’s easy. He makes it look easy. It’s just who he is. I remember [the day Kathie Lee Gifford announced she was leaving “Live” in 2000], my breath gets sucked away. I turn to [husband Mark Consuelos] and I said, “I feel sorry for the poor SOB who has to fill those shoes.” Never in my wildest hallucinogenic fantasy would I imagine that I would be the poor SOB.

So there you are. You have this great opportunity to work with one of the greatest entertainers of all times, yet you have to fill these huge shoes. It’s like a nightmare. I woke up in a cold sweat every day for a year. At the end of the day Mark snapped me into reality. He goes, “Calm down. It’s not about you. The man has had a huge audience for like 40 years. You’re not going to make or break him.” Then I was actually able to do the job like a person instead of like a fan.
Seven years later, I pinch myself. I cannot believe it. I feel like the luckiest person alive.