"Hello, My son, this is TELEVISION . . . I AM the UHF and the VHF . . . I AM All the Channels, Digital and Analog . . . I AM Broadcast, Cable, and Satellite, Network and Syndicated . . . Television. Thank you for believing in Me. As a reward, I authorize one of My minions to invite you to participate in a humiliating and degrading application process right here in Baltimore, U.S.A., where, if you are worthy, you might set yourself on The Path to an actual Television Appearance for your own self."
The guy on the phone said the audition was at noon at the Hyatt down on Light Street, but when I asked him what time I should really show up, he says 8 a.m. Swell. I gotta get up early on a Saturday to maybe get on teevee. I overslept a little but I was late mostly because I was driving around the Inner fucking Harbor looking for a parking place. I almost never go to the goddamn Inner Harbor. How the hell am I supposed to know where you can park all day? The lot near the hotel was $20 maximum. No fucking way was I gonna blow 20 bucks to park for a day most likely culminating in rejection, so I parked all the way up Calvert Street by the courthouse and walked over to the hotel.
There were about a hundred people there already, hanging out in the room and the hallway to the room where the little lobby electronic sign-thing said the auditions were, but there were actually two different rooms, so already I'm freaking out. Is this some kind of Weakest Link test? Should I go in the little room or the big room? Is someone watching me right now? Is this really some other teevee program where they trick you into auditioning for a teevee program and subject you to all kinds of subtle mind games? Is this whole fucking thing a lie? I think way too much, especially where Television is involved.
Three or four hours later, they handed out numbers to everyone and we got tested, about 150 at a time. I had to wait about two hours for my number to be called, so I went up to the bar to chill out. While at the bar, I enjoyed two large glasses of, uh, ginger ale, because later on when I filled out my application, I had to sign a thing about not having any alcohol in the last 24 hours or anything else to impair my ability to participate in the testing for the game. Ginger ale actually enhances my ability to participate in teevee game shows, so that's what I had, OK? It was really dark, bitter ginger ale, but now my Weakest Link test-taking muscles were all warmed up.
When they called my number-range, we had to file into the room in numerical order and sit down at a row of tables, in numerical order. Then we got the talking-to from the teevee-chick who was running the test. "Speak loud, be interesting, we're casting a TV show, we're looking for personalities, etc." Great. They're looking for personality. I am so fucked. We each had to stand up at our seat and say our name, age, occupation, and where we were from. I still don't remember what I said, but I was definitely loud. I missed two questions on the test; "Which continents are orangutans on?" and "What did Ho Chi Minh City used to be called?" A Jeopardy! contestant would eat those questions for breakfast.
Either I was surrounded by idiots or the ugly shirt I was wearing clouded someone's mind, because I got picked for the truly humiliating part of the audition, which was to play a pretend game and get videotaped for the producers to look at later. I had to say something Interesting about myself in addition to the name, age, occupation, and where-I'm-from crap, so I told the guy who was pretending to be the Mean Hostess that I once met Jermaine Jackson. Which is a true fact, but I don't think I could have offered a more uninteresting Interesting Fact, because he went right past me without asking me any more questions, so I think I'm out of the running. Shit.
I'm not bitter or anything, but my only problem with the whole Weakest Link thing is that it's not the Millionaire thing. On the Millionaire, there's nothing between you and the Big Dough except your own Stupidity. I've never gotten past the phone-quiz part of the Millionaire, so I was totally jacked for the Link audition and I hope I get on, but so far the people I've seen on the Link don't know how to fucking play the game. They don't understand that you gotta let the cash build up in the pile before you bank. Of course, you gotta get the questions right for that strategy to work, which brings up another fundamental weakness in the Link. The people they get on there are mostly dummies. They need to get smarter people. Jeopardy!-level people. I'd be happy to get on and take a shot at the cash with a bunch of dummies, me included, but how much cash are we gonna be talking about? There was one show where they only built up 20 grand, which is nice, but jeez, we're talking 20 grand out of a possible million bucks. And then they do stupid Survivor-type voting strategies to vote each other off, like "right-to-left" or "boys vs. girls." The only logical strategy is vote off the dummies, the actual weakest links, until the very end, and then vote off the brainiac so you've got a shot at the cash. And I'm no brainiac. In fact, right now I'm weaker-than-the-weakest-Weakest-Link.
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