The scent of desperation
Thu Mar 22 2007
If you smelled something strange at the open call for Last Comic Standing, it wasn't ANT's gas. "Hold on," he exclaimed at the top of our interview yesterday. "I gotta fart." Then he did. And added, "Don't worry, it won't smell: I'm gay."
ANT, a former LCS contestant (and, later, host of Celebrity Fit Club), is a judge on the fifth season of the NBC show, for which hundreds of contestants were waiting outside in the cold to audition. Many of them had spent the night. This is called desperation.
According to Alonzo Bodden, another judge who was also a former contestant, comics will do anything to ingratiate themselves to the judges: The gay guys all try to talk to ANT, the women get friendly with Kathleen Madigan (the third judge) and "the black people come in and go, 'Hey, Alonzo! You'll get this: Nigga, nigga, nigga, nigga!'"
They'll also do anything to set themselves apart. "In Montreal," ANT recalls with a laugh, "a man stapled my headshot to his naked hoo-ha—we at least let him finish his two minutes."
Outside, the feeling was less jovial. During the morning shift, the judges had only seen 56 comics. Performers clutching numbers above 100 were obviously distressed and searching official-looking people for signs of hope. When I opened the door to exit Gotham, all eyes turned to me. "Did they finish lunch?" and "How was the lunch break?" came from somewhere inside the throng. The fact that I had a notebook and pen cemented suspicions that I held a position of power. An so began the bits. As I walked down the line, one stand-up after another tried to ever so casually launch into a joke. Some went straight to pleas. "I've been out here since last night," said an older man wearing an American-flag bandanna around his head. "If I don't get in before 2pm... I don't know; my kid's got a dance recital."
If he gets in... If he's one of about 20 who'll advance to the next round... If he gets on the air and continues to advance... Still, the most he has to look forward to is hosting Celebrity Fit Club. And all of that relies on the decision-making process of a man capricious enough to fart on a whim.
So I offered some advice: "Go see your daughter instead."