Monday was a long day for singer, entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte, 84, who fell asleep while waiting to give an interview on a local news program in Bakersfield, California, where he was promoting his new book, My Song.

The news anchor, Layla Santiago, visited Belafonte via satellite, only to find that he was sitting, facing the camera with his arms crossed and his eyes closed. After registering a moment of shock and appearing a bit uncomfortable, Santiago tried to see if she could rouse the music legend by repeating, “Wake up, wake up,” a few times. “This is your wake-up call,” she announced, but Belafonte remained asleep.

The satellite was dropped and the panel discussed the incident for a few moments, between bursts of laughter. “The daylight hasn’t come,” said another anchor, referring to Belafonte’s famous “Banana Boat Song,” sometimes more commonly called “Day-O.”

“The way this works is, they do a lot of interviews all one day, early morning,” a third reporter pointed out. Santiago seemed disappointed to miss the opportunity to chat with Belafonte. “It’s just such a bummer because I was reading his book last night. Great book … I highly recommend.”

Belafonte had a more successful interview on The Colbert Report, where he was able to discuss his memoir in more detail and even explain the meaning behind “The Banana Boat Song.” The lyrics, he said, have “an awful lot to do with the events of the day. “It’s a work song, a song about people doing grueling work on a plantation.” Host Stephen Colbert ended the interview by encouraging Belafonte to join him in an impromptu duet of “Jamaica Farewell.”

Watch the two interviews here:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Harry Belafonte
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Read more about: