I have been cleaning out my office again…an unpleasant task I don’t do often enough. Even after I accomplish it on some level, the place still remains packed full of stuff I can’t bring myself to throw away because it has been blessed and/or cursed with the title of ‘potential source material.’ By that I mean something I might eventually write about. So some of it ends up on book shelves. Some of it gets crammed in to files that I forget ever existed until the next time I decide to clean out my office.
That is how I came upon the following. I am not exactly sure why I ever wrote this or exactly what year this took place. It contains a Jerry Springer reference, so I guess it was the cusp of the new century. I think I might have been preparing it for a possible stand-up set or reading series because its a lot more elaborately written than a diary entry. (Diary entries distinguish and separate themselves from the pack by the sheer intensity of their whining.) Its also precisely the kind of incident I would not have remembered much about had I not written it down. So here it is, in honor of Halloween: My audition for reality show host.
I was asked to audition this past week to be the new host of a show called The Other Side—which is apparently a Jerry Springer formatted talk show with a twist. All the guests have had an extraordinary, usually paranormal experience like coming back from the dead or being abducted by aliens or foretelling the future (as opposed to the guests on a regular one of these shows, who are floundering blindly in the present or have had sex with their siblings but are still stuck living on this planet.) So the producers sent me tapes of the show to watch since I had never seen it. The shows had topics like “Honey, I love you, but your psychic powers are ruining our relationship!”…which is exactly 180 degrees from any relationship problem I have ever had. I’m far more acquainted with guys who can’t seem to remember that they’ve actually slept with me, let alone foresee the future.
Another show featured an interview with a woman who had died but instead of seeing the white light, she had seen the squealing sucking horrors of hell. That was a nice show idea, I thought. Sure, a lot of us may be afraid of death. But now at last, here is a woman who is out to prove that its going to be much much worse than we thought. Thank you so much for sharing that, madame…nice meeting you and please stay in touch!
So I didn’t know why the producers wanted me for this job… unless they were hoping for a host who would undoubtedly goof around with the undead. Still, I admit I was flattered enough to think that I might as well go to the audition anyway. Just for the life experience and to see what was up. As I understood it, I was going to be asked to do a test interview. My ‘guest’ was going to be a guy whose problem was that he was crippled by anxiety. Apparently he was so anxious that he was unable to use the phone or drive a car. That sounded kind of interesting.To say nothing of a chance to make a cheery new friend!
Next thing I knew, there I was in a studio, on a stage with a small set; mainly a couple of chairs and a plant. The director explained to me that the producers wanted to see if I was going to be able to handle the emotional moments of the show properly. Then he showed me how I might go over to a seated guest, kneel down beside them and hold their hand to offer support. He cautioned me that at the pre-interview, my anxiety ridden guest had become to over wrought that he had broken down in tears just talking about his problem. If that should happen again, said the director, this would be a good time for me to extend a little compassion and comfort.
And through it all I was thinking only one thing: ‘If this guy is so awash in anxiety that he can’t leave his damn house or use his phone, WHAT IS HE DOING GOING ON A TV SHOW ABOUT THE PARANORMAL?” I might have no choice but to shake him by the shoulders and then slap him!
So obviously I didn’t get the job. Which was clearly the best decision for all concerned. But whats weird is that the whole experience ended up making me feel sad and rejected anyway.. despite the fact that I never wanted the job to begin with and would have been too embarrassed to go through with it. It reminded me a little of the time I was asked to go on an audition for a part in a movie and the director said to me “I’m sorry. You did the lines just right but you seem too smart for the part.” And I found myself arguing with him…”No, No…you don’t understand. I’m just as dumb as the next person! I swear!”