Once upon a time, this comedian got a phonecall from a stranger who wanted him to host a TV show he was producing. At the time the comedian was doing standup comedy to support his dream of working in a call centre. Despite the ecstasy of living every waking moment of this dream, he agreed to meetup.
They met in a cafe a few days later. Due to past experiences with TV people, he was very guarded at first, but then the producer bought him breakfast and he instantly decided that the Producer was an okay guy, because he’d bought him breakfast, and just like the breakfast, the comedian was easily bought. He was the kind of open-minded, anything-goes type of guy who if given a slice of cheesecake by a holocaust denier, while he wouldn’t openly agree with them, he would have to admit to himself that they weren’t all bad – of course depending on the quality of cheesecake.
The show idea was that comedians would pretend to be taxi drivers, pick up regular people and then… He couldn’t really remember the rest, he’d stopped listening at that point, too excited about the house special breakfast he’d ordered and how even though he wasn’t hungry (he’d already eaten breakfast), he was still going to eat it anyway (because it was tasty and free(that was the main reason)). The breakfast appeared.
‘So what do you think of the show idea?’ The producer asked. The comedian stared at the slices of fresh sourdough smeared with avocado and butter, the strips of organic bacon, the pork sausages, the scrambled free-range eggs, the home-cooked baked butter beans, the sauteed swiss brown mushrooms, the baked tomatoes and the caramelised onion and wild tamarillo chutney on the plate in front of him.
‘Yeah… Fantastic.’ he mumbled.
‘You think so?’ The producer asked.
He put a forkful of the eggs into his mouth. They were rich, fluffy and delicious. Must of used cream instead of milk in those… He thought to himself.
‘You really think so?’ The producer asked again.
‘Yeah…. Cream… Bacon’s really good too.’
To be honest he didn’t like the idea much. To be honest he didn’t like most ideas much. His usual default position to most things was ‘hate it’. But he had learnt from experience to not say this to someone who was buying him breakfast and waving potential cash in his face, especially when there was no one else buying him breakfast or waving potential cash in his face within a million light year radius.
Also, after eleven years of being immersed in comedy, his tastes had become very particular. What he found funny a lot of people found unfunny and vice versa. He was the guy in the cinema who would laugh loudly at all the wrong bits- say when one of the good guys got his head cut off- only to find out after the movie had ended that it hadn’t even been a comedy to begin with, it had been some kind of horror porn or celebrity snuff film.
He ate his breakfast and watched the producer’s mouth continue to make shapes, not hearing anything. Why did the producer choose him of all people to be the host for this particular show? It seemed incongruous. The comedian looked like suicide cult leader, hadn’t watched TV or read a newspaper in ten years and hardly ever had the money to catch taxis. Yet despite these hurdles and the bits of food visibly cascading down his pubic hair-like beard onto his lap, the producer must of thought,’That’s the guy alright.’ They shook hands and parted, the comedian quickly forgetting what had happened except that he had had a very satisfying second breakfast that day for some reason that had been free for some other reason.
Two months later he recieved a phonecall. The show had been picked up. He was going to be the host of a thing on one of those flashing box things he didn’t own.
‘I’m so excited. I really think this is going to be a great show.’ The producer said.
‘Yeah.’ he said.
‘Aren’t you excited about the show?’ The producer asked again.
He didn’t give a fuck about the show, all he cared about was the 11 grand he’d be getting and how many house special breakfasts that would buy him.
‘So you’re excited?’ Asked the producer once more. Like an obscure religious cult, the TV industry depended on its participants being perpetually excited about something that might not be true.
‘Yeah, yeah… Bacon.’ Said the comedian.
The following week they went to the network headquarters for a meeting with the network heads. The office walls were all covered with gigantic pictures of the people who were on the TV shows the network made. Their giant faces smiled like they’d had a taser shoved into their spine, excited to be on that flashing box thing he didn’t own or watch, their huge grins like collapsing buildings, caving their faces in and crushing anyone within a certain radius.
They were ushered into the board room. The three network heads sat behind a desk, waiting. They all shook hands.
‘We are very excited to have you on board.’ said one.
‘Aren’t you excited to be a part of the show?’ said another.
‘Yeah.’ he said, thinking about 11 grand’s worth of house special breakfasts.
‘I mean where else do you see an ethnic host for a TV show?’ the network head continued.
‘Dunno.’ He replied.
Suddenly the comedian realised why he had been picked to host this show he wasn’t suited for. He was ethnic, and they probably just needed some tokens to appeal to the other tokens of his type. Not that he cared. As a 32 yr old creative autist with no backup option or financial stability, for 11 grand he would gladly tapdance on a beachball in blackface even if they’d never asked him to do so in the first place.
‘It’s so good to have ethnic host.’ The network heads all chanted.
‘I get it, i get it. I’m ethnic. It’s good.’
He hated the term ethnic. Wasn’t everyone ethnic? Wasn’t it all relative? Why was anyone who wasn’t caucasian considered ethnic and what did caucasian people not have that made them not ethnic? He didn’t even know what ethnic was. He didn’t speak the ancestral language or follow the customs. He just looked a certain way and people made assumptions about him. At heart he was just a Western pig in ethnic drag like so many other second generation non-caucasian ethnics. There was no race anymore, only a wider range of more easily accessible international cuisine options. He stood up and shook their outstretched hands.
‘Aren’t you excited?’ One asked again.
‘Yes, I’m excited and ethnic.’ he said.
He was excited to be ethnic for 11 grand.
There really was no business like show business, except for prostitution, which was pretty much the same thing only with less risk of catching a venereal disease.
(To be continued…)