I noticed that Yahoo was promoting a clip from Good Morning America bemoaning the fact that New Yorkers were able to identify more American Idol contestants than the presidential hopefuls.
First off, they stacked the deck. Nowhere in the footage did they show a picture of Hillary, for example--a photo I think everyone would recognize. Or Guiliani, for that matter...I think most New Yorkers might recognize that guy.
And also, I'm not sure that it's necessarily that big a deal that the average Joe has more intimacy with Sanjaya than Obama. Let's face it, the presidential season started wayyyyyy too early this time around. I mean, believe me, no one's more anxious than I am to see Bush leave office, but lengthening this horserace isn't going to help...it's only going to make me grow sick of seeing the faces on these cats, that much faster.
Is it really THAT bad that more people recognize LaKisha than Mitt Romney? Frankly, I WANT more people to know LeKisha than Matt Romney. That man scares me. Big time. Is it that big a deal that some teenage girl recognized Melinda, but couldn't name John McCain? The way that guy's self-destructing lately, that's not much of a surprise. "Oh, wait a minute...wasn't that the guy strolling through Baghdad the other day...surrounded by 100 soldiers, four helicopters, three wise men, two uzis and a ninja?"
Then again, perhaps we should take note of this report, and consider conducting our presidential elections the way that American Idol is structured. Ten presidential hopefuls...ten weeks. Week after week, by popular vote, one presidential candidate is eliminated, until we're down to two. Winner gets to sing "A Moment Like This."
And so there I was last night, judging a Middle School One Act play festival. Corb bravely took on the role of single parent, and I drove off to sit in a part-time cafeteria to judge the acting talents of Eldredge's finest. Simon Cowell, eat your heart out.
Pete, my bud from Eldredge Singers, which is the theater I used to direct for, is the theater coach, and invited me to serve as one of the judges. He was very nice during the introductions, too. Even described me as "distinguished." I'm distinguished...I like that. Of course, during the intermission, his mother told me that I looked like I put on weight, and poked me in the belly. That, I didn't like that so much.
The other judges consisted of a substitute teacher that they roped in at the last minute, and the Eldredge high school drama teacher. He was a small, balding man with a gleam in his eye. Little did I know that that gleam in his eye was the spark of the insane.
During the deciding session between judges, I suggested that he should be the one to announce the awards. It would be a nice way for the middle school studnts to get to know him, I thought. I didn't mind handing the awards over to the substitute teacher, who could the hand them over to the students. She made a far more attractive Vanna White than either one of us.
I didn't realize, until it was too late, that I had inadvertently opened up a Pandora's box.
As soon as it was time, drama teacher quickly took center stage. Evidently, he saw announcing the winners of a middle school competition as an opportunity to spread the gospel of Thespus to a roomful of parents and children, who were, it was obvious, far more interested in finding out who won and getting the hell out of there, already. First rule of public speaking: know your audience!
He started his speech off by jumping downstage, putting some distance between me and the substitute substitute. "First off, let me just say that I think that it's a crying shame that they called this a competition," he intoned, richly. "A competition! At the high school, WE call it a festival, because it truly is an opportunity to showcase the festival of the finest talent that our school system can offer. And that's what we have done here tonight, brought together a rich assemblage of talents. If only I could give out twenty-five awards, rather than a mere five. If only I wasn't so limited! Because you all contributed to the success of tonight, each and every on of you, blah blah blah blah..."
Don't get me wrong. The kids were all right. But this guy was acting as though he had been watching Marlon Brando onstage in Streetcar.
"How versatile are some of these performers?" drama coach continued. "Well, let's just say that our Best Actor winner tonight is so talented that he had but one line in one of the plays that he appeared in--playing the simple role of a Frog Prince. All he had to do was say but one word: ribbit. But HOW he said RIBBIT...ah! That's the thing! This amazing young man found a way to say ribbit in several different ways, to express a variety of different emotions...and let's not fail to mention what he was doing when he wasn't saying ribbit! He would catch flies, he would hop about. Truly, this was an...ahem...ribbiting performance."
(Okay, I made the last line up, I confess. I couldn't help it.)
"And what is it that makes for a best play? It is an assemblage of individuals, that from the first moment that they appeared onstage, truly make us BELIEVE that their characters are living, breathing people! And so it is tonight, with our Best Play, I think we all agree. The minute that Sleeping Beauty came onstage, we believed she was truly tired! The minute the Prince came to argue with her, we believed he was Charming!"
Okay, reality check, here: the lead character read her lines from her script, and there was one point where three actors almost knocked down the set, like Kool-Aid bursting from a brick wall. The rest of the cast ran over to prop it up. This aint the Shubert, buddy, it's a frickin' Middle School in Eldredge, USA!
I have to confess, I almost burst out laughing, right there on the stage. It was all I could do to try and maintain a smile that resembled amazement. I think my eyes were popping out, just like a frog's.
I'm not saying acting isn't believing. It certainly is. But there's a fine, fine line between generating enthusiasm for your theater program and going way off the deep end. This guy deserved a Guffman, in my humble opinion.