Here’s Tom Cruise on the subject of self-parody:

Traditionally, self-parody has required self-awareness. But recent advances in celebrity brain-scrambling technology have rendered self-awareness obsolete. Here’s how it works, in five easy steps:

1. You are Tom Cruise, in dire need of a public appearance with your kinderbetrothed after recent, hotly denied reports of a break-up.

2. Terry Semel, former head of Warner Bros. Studios, now of Yahoo, gives you just such an opportunity, inviting you to take part in the company’s annual Influential Speakers event. You are, after all, an influential speaker, because your speech routinely causes the whole world to laugh at you.

3. On the advice of your legal counsel, publicist, acupuncturist, astrotherapist, OPEC, and the frozen head of L. Ron Hubbard, you decide to go the self-parody route. Your plan: Reenact a notorious incident of furniture abuse from last summer’s War of the Worlds press push. “Look at me! Wasn’t I silly back then? That was a silly time! A silly, silly time! But rest assured, I know it was silly! BECAUSE HERE I AM DOING IT AGAIN!”

4. Lead out your pregnant squeeze, State Fair-style, to show the cameras what you gone and done inseminated, all by yourself, with no help.

5. Drinks and high-fives afterwards with Isaac Hayes.