I shudder to imagine what it must be like to be constantly called on to entertain.
Football players are not known for their humor. And yet, they are regularly expected to strut entertaining touchdown routines.
I hope to someday ask a football player what goes through his mind as he leaps for the ball and feels it fall into his hands, knowing that when his feet touch the ground he will be called on to perform.
Is he sweating bullets as I would be, his mind racing well before his feet meet the ground– all eyes on him, waiting for his big celebratory moment?
I would rather make out with Jonah Hill. The old Jonah Hill.
Never mind the game-winning throw that determines the championship or the pivotal tackle of the other team’s quarterback.
Nah. Those minor details fall very short compared to 20,000 eyes waiting for me to be funny.
Actors know what I’m talking about.
They may be asked to carry a billion-dollar-budget film, but on awards night all that matters is their speech.
No pressure.
I loved Ross on Friends. I’m sure he’s just the same in real life.
These actors stand before us, and how many times do we conclude that we like their character much better than the real them?
And what about those fun little contests that we ordinary people get to participate in at state fairs and festivals where we judge the hottest bods or the knobbiest knees?
I only sat down to eat my turkey leg. And now I have to do what?
I recently got my first taste of public humiliation since high school in this setting. The chatty announcer chose me to stand before the crowd, blindfolded and all.
I felt my shirt instantly wilt under the weight of my sweat. My face turned a nauseous beet-colored shade of crimson. All I could think about was what would they ask me to do and who could I push down to distract them from my escape.
I am not a typical kind of funny. Everyone who knows me knows this.
I don’t sit at the dinner table and broadcast gut-wrenchingly-funny anecdotes about my day or my awkward teenager years.
I think it’s the pressure of the moment that makes me clam up. Or maybe I was simply not endowed with story-telling capabilities.
I prefer, however, to conclude that it’s my audience. I personally find myself hilarious.
And when I tell my mother about something funny that happened to me, she laughs so hard milk comes out her nose.
She also finds humor in a clean knock-knock joke.
I see no reason to question her humor radar.

Oh Oprah

November 5, 2010

Variety is the spice of life. If I don’t vary my writing topics, what kind of journalist would I be?

I know this. And I try. Really, I do.

My rantings about the current landscape of television sludge, the absolute chaos that makes up the celebrity world and our society’s obsession with beanpole women–I try to keep these to a minimum. There’s an enormously vast landscape of information still to uncover, and yet I find my struggle to be somewhat in vain.

I make every effort to look the other way, to ignore the stupidity, to focus on the bigger picture. And then I make one false step. I turn the TV on for five minutes, shielding my eyes (and ears) as I quickly flip to a station airing a “personally approved” show with actual entertainment value. But, alas, it seems I am never quick enough.

Today, it was the Oprah Winfrey Show.

I think this personage tops the list of people in need of a reality check.

Maybe after 24 years on television and with the level of fame she’s received, her reality has become a tad skewed. Because, what viewers, in their right mind, willingly submit to an hour of blatant home videos of Oprah and Gayle what’s-her-name attempting to camp? (Really realistic, might I add. That whole roughing-it, surviving-on-your-own storyline. Yeah, that survival element kinda disapates with the appearance of the camera crew and the invisible assistant who we know is waiting on the sidelines with a bottle of water and a masseuse.)

Does fame make a person that delusional? I guess the difference is that most celebrities, while knowing that people will watch whatever crap they put out on the tube, do not have the easy access to do it. Oprah, however, does in fact rule the world. Her 80 million delirious fans will tell you that.

I keep dreading the inevitable–which is, if I ever want to really understand her appeal, I must do the unthinkable. Watch her show. I have tried before and almost made it through a full hour, but my nausea got the better of me. I fear I will continue to roam the earth without the life-changing understanding of Oprah’s powers.

Fortunately for me, her reign has about ended. But you can bet, before it’s all over, her audience members will traipse off with new homes, Africa will be cured of AIDS and poverty will be a thing of the past.

At least, that’s what her female army expects.

People of influence–be it sports stars, singers, political figures or actors–have over the years built up a permanent residence in a fictitious town filled with carbon copies of themselves: egotistical, self-serving, limelight-loving narcisists. So forgive me if I, once again, am not shocked by the rumors of Josh Duhamel or, much more recently, Tiger Woods cheating on their beautiful, seemingly loving wives.

I can’t help but question what these men were thinking. They use technology like the rest of us–probably more so. They are not dumb. They are not ignorant 12 year olds. Yet, they don’t acknowledge the fact that everything they do can be tracked. Phone calls, e-mails, text messages and not to mention their every move, thanks to the sniveling men who make their livelihood on feeding the growing population that gains sustenance from the daily goings-on of celebrities: what they wore to dinner, their struggle to lose their baby weight, or how they felt when their mother died.

Did it not dawn on 33-year-old Tiger Woods, father of 2, winner of over 12 national titles, that text messages, although able to be erased from a phone, are never truly erased? They are called records for a reason. There are supercomputers that track and permanently record every phone call, every text conversation. And don’t you think that Elin, famous supermodel and wife to arguably one of the most powerful men in sports, can more so than most of us be assured of gaining access to that super-secret data?

Question is, does Hollywood and public figures everywhere assume that they are so powerful, so all-knowing, so god-like that they are immune to the consequences of their actions? That they are so beloved and worshipped that people won’t probe into their private lives, regardless of how juicy or damaging the story may be. They must surely live in a constant dreamlike state that tells them that they and their money rule the world. And, regretfully, previous life experience has taught them that.

But money does not rule all. And loyalties run very shallow in a world looking for the next dollar and the next story. Where people are just waiting for those to fall from their lofty throne.

Tiger Woods is now reaping the rewards of his tumble.