The second to next best thing
The other day I auditioned for a new reality show. I can't tell you the name of the show but I will tell you the premise.
It's a competition a la American Idol, except the talent in this competition is impersonation. You might say the producers aren't looking for real celebrities but instead are looking for "the next best thing."
Now when I first heard about the show, I assumed it was all about impressions. I couldn't have been more wrong.
See, a friend of mine is one of the writers and when I called in for information he said he could get me an audition appointment so I wouldn't have to wait in line, but there is a catch. All auditioners had to show up at the same time so the producers of the show and every entertainment news show could get footage of all of us. This is where it turned bad.
As I walked to the line, my eyes beheld the biggest collection of freaks this side of Mardi Gras. Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Marilyn Manson and even Fonzie were just a few of the characters who had come to audition. At this point, I felt I had made a mistake. It was clear to me that this show was less about actual impressions and more about looking like the person you were impersonating. The most ludicrous part was the cameraman who was getting individual shots of each contestant. This guy was a giant douche. At one point he asked a Minnie Pearl impersonator, "What is Hee Haw?" Later he asked the Fonz himself, "Who is the Fonz?" How do you work in television and not know who the Fonz is? That guy was "uncoolamundo." After about an hour of this sideshow I sneaked away and started to reconsider coming back the next day for my audition.
When I got back home I called my friend and asked him if I should shave my goatee to look more like Shatner. He responded, "It depends on what you want to get out of this competition." To which I replied, "We both know that what I want and what I'm going to get are two different things." I decided that if they asked me to shave I would, but I wasn't going to do it just for the audition.
Cut to the next day. I showed up for my audition and hung out with Ralph Kramden & Ed Norton, Little Richard and a woman who looked vaguely like Maya Angelou. When the time came for my audition, I walked into the sound stage and was met with the smiling faces of Lisa Ann Walter, Elon Gold and Jeffrey Ross. I introduced myself as Will "Young" Shatner, the country's premiere Shatner impersonator. As expected, they immediately informed me that I didn't really look like Shatner. This gave me the opportunity to defend my talent as an impressionist and talk a little smack about all the lookalikes whose only talent is the ability to buy a costume. Then I busted out with my impression.
Due to legal hassles, I was unable to sing Rocket Man, but they were able to clear How Insensitive from Shatner's album, The Transformed Man. Quite frankly, I rocked it. When finished, Lisa couldn't hide her amazement, she admitted that although I didn't look like Shatner, she could see the transformation (pun intended) during the song. Jeff Ross, however, couldn't help but comment that I had let myself "boldly go." Then my day went from bad to worse.
I told Jeff How funny I thought that line was when he used it at the Shatner Roast a few months ago. He didn't appreciate that at all and told me to beam myself out. At this point, my only chance was to get a yes vote from Elon. After a very long winded attempt at humor, Elon voted no and made it clear that had I not had a goatee he might have voted differently. To which I replied, "It's not even real, it's a merkin."
Overall, it was a fairly enjoyable experience and I will probably make it on one of the audition episodes. So watch and judge for yourself.