Saturday, June 24, 2006

Talent Shows

Been a while, right? I've been busy with my new pastime, devouring America's latest craze: self-satisfied freaks with ridiculous, pointless talents parading themselves in front of Hollywood has-beens like Hasselhoff, some British guy you've never heard of, Uncle Joey from Full House, and 1977 Superstars competitor/culturally insensitive billfisher Steve Garvey. I guess people are pretty desperate for their fifteen minutes of fame, to the point where people with no talent of their own but lots and lots of free time pimp out their pets doing rather ordinary pet things for Mario Lopez, who you'll recall made us laugh and made us cry but most of all, made us kind of bored with his performance as Slater in Saved By The Bell, Saved By The Bell: The College Years, and Saved By The Bell: Wedding In Las Vegas.

For instance, meet Chalcy, silver-medalist hula-hoop dancing dog who, thanks to Animal Planet's extremely low budget and America's even lower standards, now has a three-episode arc on Darcy's Wild Life. Sara Paxton better watch her ass, cause if you look at that dog's mad walking-through-its-owner's-legs talent, it'll soon be upstaging her and possibly stealing her boyfriend. But I'm not here to make fun of Chalcy, because she's a dog and that would be juvenile. Chalcy probably eats her own poo; she has no idea that her dance routine embarrasses her entire species. I am, however, quite interested in Chalcy's handler, ordering the poor mutt around like maybe Chalcy's a bit more recalcitrant than she wants the cameras to catch.

First of all, how much time did this lady spend training and rehearsing with her dog? Basically, there's no good answer to that question. Either she and Chalcy choreographed this in the hotel room the night before after a few too many tequila slammers, or, more likely, she's devoted her clearly-unemployed life to this asinine performance — she hasn't done her laundry for months and there's two hundred unheard messages on her voice mail and her family's forgotten what she looks like, all for her three minute appearance on a basic cable stupid pet tricks show. And second, take a look at the judges and how in awe they are. I don't get it. Are they high?! It's a dog jumping around, for Christ's sake — stop staring as if the animal just solved a Rubik's Cube and close your damn mouths. Save it for the dogs who find people trapped under buildings when there's an earthquake, none of whom have ever appeared on Animal Planet's Pet Star because apparently they're not talented enough to share the stage with A. C. Slater.

Back to our own homo stultus, it's not that I don't appreciate a good rapping granny or breakdancing cow, but there's a difference between being talented and being desperate for attention, Paris Hilton. Even this guy, Mr. Snaps-a-lot: sure he has a talent, and I bet he impresses everyone down at the, uh, drive-thru wedding chapel where he works. But now that the judges passed him through, what's he gonna do for the next round? Snap some more? Boy, good thing that'll never get old.

The show that really caught my eye, however, was ABC's Masters of Champions, even though I can't figure out what the hell its title actually means. Pretty much all of the other talent shows fall into one of two camps: people performing their hobbies and doing a generally half-assed jobs or creepy children whose parents are vicariously living out their showbiz dreams through them. MoC breaks out of the mold, bringing us ordinary Americans who are way too passionate about incredibly stupid things. If you ever wondered what Ripley's Believe It Or Not would be like if it didn't leave you covered in that dirty Jack Palance film, now you know. The pilot featured an act with some x-treme sports dude jumping around an obstacle course while riding a unicycle, which, okay. I figure if I've only got one wheel to start out with, I'm gonna keep it on the ground, but I can see some crazy Jackass guy wondering if it's possible to hop his unicycle from here to there and finding out that it is. And there was a competition between racecar drivers to see who could grate a cheese wheel with their car (don't ask), and the x-treme trampolining basketball team... and then there's this woman, Princess Elayne. You'll be shocked if I tell you she's in a circus.

So be shocked. Really? In the Moscow State Circus? Because looking at her standing on her hands, shooting a bow and arrow with her feet, while blindfolded: I thought she worked at Bank of America. What I want to know is how one starts a career in blindfolded foot archery — because I took a few archery classes in high school, and it never even occurred to me to try it with my feet or holding the bowstring in my teeth or whatever. Was there a day when she was like, "This is too easy, I keep hitting the bullseye. Well, I could make it harder by moving farther from the target... but that's sort of pedestrian. I know: I'll pretend I've got opposable toes! And just to be extra-safe, I'll close my eyes, too!"