Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Sunday, June 14, 2009

In a Krishnamurti Mood: The Circus Judge I Might Have Been

Top of the heap. Number one. What a Voice! Where is SHE from? Destined to win, assumed the suddenly discovered Scottish Sunday school teacher who claimed never to have been kissed. Far from tabloid pretty. In fact, homely. Just one Susan Boyle, who moved Simon nearly to tears. Across the finish line on a British TV show called "Britain's Got Talent" she flew. Not so fast! Shockingly, a group of kids getting the win stole her spotlight away, driving her over the cliff and into a local nut house for same day repair.

Ego. Ego. Ego. We all have one. Well, I do. Do you?

Last year, I was called and pitched to be a judge for "Celebrity Circus" by a Hollywood casting agent working for NBC. "You are a circus critic," he said, having done some homework. I was impressed.

"This opportunity may never come along again," he said.

My ego lifted off. I saw shooting stars. There I was, issuing pronouncements, Simon Cowell of the Big Top. Overnight, famous face all over the cables. America's suddenly disoovered big top expert.

Hold on. Not so easy. First, I'd have to be test interviewed at my phone while somebody came by and video taped me. In-home screen test. So who was going to do the filming, I wondered.

"You must have a friend with a mini recorder," said the agent.

No I did not. Nor did I jump. One thing life has taught me is not to grovel.

After the initial euphoria, I regained consciousness. Wait a moment. Think this over. Back and forth between here and there six weeks in a row. In front of an audience. Lights in my face. Possibly too nervous to be Simon Cowell. Possibly a crack-up or wimp-out in the making.

And, anyway, if I did get called to serve, would I end up tagged for life as one of the reasons for a big television turkey?

I did not say "no." Neither did I fall onto my knees, ready to do just whatever they wanted. It dawned on me -- "this may never come around again" -- did the Hollywood agent tell that line to a lot of potential game show contestants? Even then, I e-mailed him that I'd be at Union Station passing through L.A. in a couple of weeks if he wanted to give me his K-Mark screen test. No reply. Chance of a lifetime slipping away. By then, his Rolodex was no doubt rolling out of my life, onto other names to call ...

Then I had an epiphany: Yes, I have an ego. A big ego, I suppose. But, no, my ego is only a part of who I am. There are many other parts. The ego started feeling too heavy, too much in control. So much that I feared toppling under the weight of my shrill expectations. Endangering my good health. I'm glad I never heard another word from Hollywood. When I watched a little of Celebrity Circus, however, there was this overly emotional "judge" who raved on over almost everything he saw, leading me to wonder if he was adjudicating on Viagra; how I would have loved pitting my opinions against his. We might have clicked. He Curly, me Moe at the Monte Carlo Second Chance Circus Festival.

That is, had we not been carted off for refusing to play to script. I think I can understand why the rejected Ms. Boyle boyled over.

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