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One of the most intriguing, and always highly readable, subreddits is IAmA, which uses Reddit’s conversational UI to conduct informal interviews with interesting people, whether famous, infamous, or just everyday folk.
What follows is a list of the best AMAs conducted to date. Barack Obama, though unarguably the biggest name to have ever agree to appear on IAmA, is missing, simply because his AMA was boring and predictable. Important, clearly, but not worth revisiting. Unlike the following.
David Attenborough, world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster famous for his epic BBC wildlife documentaries, conducted a Reddit AMA in January 2014. Although it was primarily to promote a film, Attenborough answered questions on a range of subjects.
One of the most interesting questions asked was, “What has been your most distressing/upsetting moment in your career?” To which Attenborough replied, “Seeing chimpanzees kill monkeys, they do this to eat them. They chase them, set an ambush, catch them, and tear them apart.” This inspired a discussion all about primates and, in particular, this behavior.
Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who has now retired, but who, while active, spent months aboard the International Space Station and even recorded a cover of Space Oddity by David Bowie, has conducted several Reddit AMAs. The most interesting was the one done while he was orbiting Earth in the ISS.
Among a throng of questions related to science and space were some more offbeat questions. One of which was, “What’s your favourite space food?” To which Hadfield replied, “I have a new one – lemon curd cake. A sin to eat, but we’re short on sin up here, so I think it’s OK.”
Both of the people who are collectively known as the Mythbusters have agreed to Reddit AMAs, and both proved they are as fascinating in real life as they come across on the television.
Adam Savage’s AMA included the question, “If you were stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean, what three items would you want to have?” To which Savage cryptically replied, “Leatherman. Duct tape. A tarp. Baling wire. A spoon. Some rope. Oh, and a trailer and some food.” Which is eight rather than three, proving even these guys suck at math.
Jamie Hyneman’s AMA elicited a lot of great questions with lengthy replies from the man himself. Unfortunately, one of the queries that went unanswered was, “So… How many berets DO you have?” Which is what we all really want to know.
Jerry Seinfeld, stand-up comedian and co-creator of the show self-titled Seinfeld, opened himself up to a Reddit AMA to promote his Web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Thankfully he proved to be quite open and honest about other subjects, which made for a fascinating Q&A session.
The AMA included a rather pointed response to a question that’s dear to my heart for obvious reasons: “How do you deal with writers block?” Judging by his response, Seinfeld hasn’t ever personally suffered from writer’s block, as he suggested, “Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.”
You may not be a fan of 4chan or its content, but there’s no doubting the fact that its founder Christopher Poole, AKA ‘moot’, is a fascinating chap. Not convinced? Then read his lengthy Reddit AMA and get with the program.
Poole is a rare breed who spent hours scouring the AMA in order to answer most of the questions he was asked. This even included the gem, “What do you think of Marmite and Nutella?” To which he replied, “I’ve never had Marmite, but Nutella is quite delicious.”
The Man With Two Penises
It’s not only celebrities and people trying to hawk their wares that agree to Reddit AMAs. Anyone with an interesting story to tell can answer the call, such as the man with two penises, the technical term for which is diphallia.
This AMA is obviously NSFW, but fascinating nonetheless. Those not of a sensitive nature can enjoy such intriguing discussion points as, “Have you ever peed and had both do the forked stream? That’s a catastrophe with just one penis, I can’t imagine how annoying it must be with four streams.” The simple answer to which is, “Yeah it’s happened and is twice as devastating.” I can only imagine. The horror.
Bear Attack Survivor
Another Reddit AMA that shouldn’t be read by those who get squeamish is the one conducted by a woman who survived a bear attack. It’s a fascinating look not only at the dangers of hiking in American woodland, but also the survival instinct we all possess.
The short, and not at all sweet explanation of how it all began sets the tone: “After it [the bear] had gnawed my head awhile, I decided to open my eyes and look at what was killing me. It’s expression was so bland and businesslike it enraged me, so I managed to jab my thumb into its piggy little eye and it let go of my face long enough for me to yell for my dogs. Once the dogs came running, it was diverted long enough for me to get up and try to escape down the creek bed.” I’m already terrified.
While this list consists of a smattering of the best Reddit AMAs ever conducted, there are plenty more worth exploring. Plus, there are new ones being added to the site every day, so I heartily recommend bookmarking the IAmA subreddit and checking back often for more fascinating Q&A sessions.