Current mood:artistic"Hey Aug, you're funny. Are you gonna be on Last Comic Standing?"
Good question, I'm glad you asked. Many of you I'm sure are under the impression that if I wanted on a show, I just have a member of Team Aug get on the blower to one of the suits that decide what kind of entertainment America will be digesting this ratings period. And that within a few hours the NBC jet is backed up to Aug Comedy headquarters to spirit me away to an awaiting microphone. Unfortunately it is a bit more complicated than that.
My audition took place at Zanie's in Nashville on a hot and sultry Tuesday. When I arrived at the club the parking lot was filled with prospective LCSers, some of whom I knew. What struck me about the people I didn't know, was their choice of wardrobe. Where I was wearing a newly purchased sport coat, most of them were under the impression that they were trying out for the circus. I was surrounded by women in fat suits and bouffant wigs, men in black unitards and straightjackets, and one guy in an Abraham Lincoln costume. It was like doing comedy in a commercial for a prescription sleep-aid. As I stood in a sea of juggling pins and facial prosthetics, I began to reevaluate my entire approach to comedy. I mean all I have are words and punch lines, these guys had makeup crews.
The audition process was threefold. At 10:30am I would do two minutes for the producers, and if that went well then you do an afternoon set for the celebrity judges. And if that went well, you do a night show in front of an actual audience. Then after all that, the same two producers that you did the first show for decide whether you make the next round in Las Vegas. I would like to state for the record that it never occurred to me that I would not make the night show.
Before the 10:30 am show, five of us were herded into the hot greenroom of the club to be taken one by one on stage. Who was right in front of me, but our sixteenth president, Abe Lincoln. To his credit, the man would not break character. I looked at his black wool suit and stovepipe hat in the 80 degree heat and say:
"Man you gotta be hot in that thing."
And he says in what I can only assume to be a perfect Abraham Lincoln impression:
"I got used to the heat during the Civil War."
He was rejected, if not authentic. Later, comic Mike MaCrea saw Honest Abe on the streets of Nashville, still in costume with the illusion only slightly shattered by the fact that he was behind the wheel of a Datsun B210 pickup.
I took the stage just before 11am in a club inhabited only by two producers and the broken dreams of the 50 or so performers that had gone before me. No big deal, I've played smaller rooms. At the end of my two minutes my critique was "we would like to see some different material for the celebrity judges." No problem. The afternoon set was also two minutes and I had a slam dunk for that, especially when I found out the aforementioned judges were Norm and Cliff. That's right, America's favorite alcoholic and America's favorite enabler. Now a lot of people might have a problem having their art judged by two character actors that have never done standup. But not Aug. After all, the preponderance of my material deals with drinking and other excesses. This seemed to be a perfect fit! So there I stood at 4pm in a comedy club that had been the scene of some of my greatest triumphs. A club that in the past had been packed with people chanting my name, pledging loyalty to my comedy, collecting my semen to start an army of SuperAuggies when they get the cloning right. And now it was just me, the cameras, and the Lucy and Ethel of the Eighties.
The bit I chose to do was one I had been doing for many years. I comment about our bar laws and how unnecessary they are. I delivered it flawlessly and came in at a minute fifty-three. Perfect. I stood onstage basking in the glow of my achievement, eagerly awaiting the praise of the Itchy and Scratchy of the Beer Set. Norm seemed to be amused, and commented
"If they could, they would make it illegal to cross the street!"
"I agree, good point Norm."
Then Cliff piped up: "You know, a lot of this is a states rights issue. I think that if the Civil war had gone a different way, we wouldn't be seeing a lot of these laws."
I then interjected, "So let's get this straight. You, John Ratzenberger, wish the South had won the Civil War?"
Claven backtracked: "No I just mean from a state's rights....."
I interjected again: "No we have it on tape, I can play it back for you!"
I left the stage thinking "Wow, that went well. I delivered my material perfectly and had a funny back and forth with the judges." Now I stood in the greenroom where a bearded man in headset was to inform me of my fate. "What's to inform? Just tell me what time to be here?" I thought.
Then he said: "Unfortunately, we're going to pass."
What do you mean pass? You don't get it Craigslist Headset Intern, this is my destiny! A chance to do sets on TV every week for two months, showcase my talent to a country desperately in need of the power, truth and raw unbridled sexuality that is the Auggie Smith experience. And just when this wave of shock and disappointment was washing over me, some NYU film-school douchebag puts a camera in my face and says "Auggie, What happened?" "What happened?"
What happened was I put the fate of my career in the hands of Fat Sam from Fletch and a closeted segregationist. What happened was I don't wear a polka-dot suit or speak through a puppet. What happened was I thought it was Last Comic Standing, and not Last Sideshow Freak Playing to the Crippled Attention Spans of a Perpetually Distracted Generation Standing.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't sour grapes, I'm not disappointed for me. I'm disappointed for you America! I'm disappointed that the selection of TV-clean five minute sets that I 've prepared in my head will not be seen this viewing cycle. Because this weekend I'll be doing what I do every weekend, pouring my soul out to an audience of the actual beer drinking every-man archetype that those two Hollywood Wine Spritzer-sipping-Hybrid Waxing-Botox Shooting-Spray Tanning- Flavor Flaving-TMZ Baiting-Laker Front Seat Having-Kabala Bracelet Sporting-Huge Sunglass Wearing-Obama Fundraiser Hosting-Tiny Dog Carrying- African Baby Adopting-Dalai Lama Loving-Grotto Frolicking-Velvet Rope Hopping-Bosley Hair Plugging pansies labored to reproduce against the backdrop of Trickle Down Economics.