Monday, December 06, 2004

Here's a mini-diary of the debacle that was Friday night's Stars, Stripes, and Skates 2004:

6:19: Somehow make it from the TRL post-mortem meeting, which ended at 6:05, to Penn Station in time to buy a ticket to Hicksville and board the train. I even got a seat. Sweet! Unfortunately it's right by the bathroom and smells a little funky. Not sweet!

7:13: Arrive to find about a thousand people waiting in the cold to enter Cantiague Park, 17 minutes before the show is set to start. I go inside and get my All Access pass, which says "Cantiague Pak." I can tell things won't go well.

7:16: Head backstage to find Nancy Kerrigan, the host of the evening's festivities. Even though we worked together last year, she has no recollection of me. I tell her I'm the writer and ask her if she has any questions about anything. "Oh, well we changed a bunch of stuff during rehearsal.: Uh-oh!

7:32: I'm asked to "guard the Zamboni." I have no idea where the Zamboni is, so I wander around the arena searching. After finally locating it in a backstage area partitioned off by a black curtain, I stand guard for a few minutes, then decide nobody would mess with it and abandon my post.

7:58: The lights dim and the show starts, 28 minutes late.

8:06: Nancy heads onto the ice and begins her introduction. Unfortunately, her mic doesn't work. I can hear a technician yelling, "She grabbed the wrong mic!" When she finally gets a working mic, she stutters over words and laughs over jokes. Not a good start.

8:08: During the first skating routine, the music cuts off too soon. The pair skate around the ice for several moments until the A/V guy restarts the music. I hear one of the other skaters backstage yell, "Stupid!" Still not good.

8:11: Apparently when Nancy said that changes had been made, she meant that she cut out punchlines while leaving in the set-ups. For example, in introducing the next skater, the introduction is now, "I think we should turn down the temperature in here for our next skater. Please welcome Nick LaRoche!" Gone is the line, "He's so hot, he might just melt the ice."* Small change, big difference.
*Note - I know that's a shitty line, but the show is for kids...

8:16: 11-year-old Rebecca Farrell skates in honor of her father, a firefighter who died at WTC. She is adorable and talented and gets the biggest round of applause so far.

8:18: A ten-year-old from the audience introduces the next skaters, Galit Chait and Sergie Sakhnovsky. I can't pronounce their names, but she nails it. Maybe she should replace Nancy for the rest of the show.

8:21: Time for a children's group number, the first of four displaying kids chosen in talent searches across the tri-state area. It's cute and surprisingly coordinated. One of the girls is standing on the stage dancing in place... apparently she hurt her ankle and can't skate. Too bad they didn't shine a light on her... nobody in the audience even knew she was there.

8:29: Olympic Bronze Medalist Philippe Candeloro, the biggest name of the night, does an incredible routine. Since he has to return to France and can't stay until the end of the show, Nancy asks him to extend his routine a bit. Philippe agrees, then immediately crashes into the audience during a spin move. He should've quit while he was ahead.

8:34: Paul D'Amato, a bit player in the film Slap Shot, introduces the NYPD/FDNY hockey relay for the 2nd year in a row. Afterwards we talk briefly about my writing for TRL. He gives me his card and says I should e-mail him and maybe we can write something together. Maybe I have a Hollywood "in" now... unfortunately his card is for a skate-shop he works for, so I probably shouldn't get my hopes up.

8:43: Intermission. I head over to the silent auction area to see how my donated items are doing. The TRL VIP pass is at $125, while the collection of autographed CD's (Kid Rock, P.O.D., Kelly Rowland, and Stacie Oricco) have, surprisingly, not gotten a bid yet.

9:13: The producer of the show heads onstage to give a brief remark. And I mean brief: two lines. Unfortunately she flubs them. Afterwards she sighs, "How could I blow two lines?"

9:18: Miss New York Christina Ellington sings "I Believe in America." She sounds like a goose in heat. I assume she must look damn hot in a swimsuit.

9:33: Local New York band Housewives on Prozac (whose name is the least bit ironic) sing "Skatin' Mama Blues," a song from the upcoming on-ice Broadway musical Cold as Ice. It's their second performance of the night, the first being their original song, "I Broke My Arm X-mas Shopping at the Mall." Looking at this entry, nothing I just wrote makes any sense.

9:44: The Original Tokens (as I've been informed they must be introduced as) perform their hit "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." During the song, two five-year-olds skate around dressed in lion costumes. One of them falls several times. The tenor for the Tokens (er, Original Tokens) can no longer hit the high "eeeeeeeee" during the "a-weema-weh" section. Yes, the producers have pulled out all the stops for this show. Oh, and the guitar player is 16-years-old, leading me to believe they aren't really that "original" after all.

9:58: After all of the skaters (of the ones who bothered to skip around, which I'd put at 60%) return to the ice, the show ends. I figure I'm free to head over to the party tent, my work being done. But I am mistaken. I am asked to haul the Housewives' amps to their van, remove heavy scenery from the stage, and do other manual labor that I didn't realize was part of my job as Writer.

10:19: I check the silent auction table. The TRL VIP pass is up to $210. As for the CD collection, somebody has crossed out the minimum bid of $50 and written in $30. Oh well, every little bit helps, I guess. I bid $200 on a framed autographed photo of Hideki Matsui and piece of the first home run ball he ever hit as a Yankee (a grand slam, by the way). Hope I win.

10:22: I finally get to the party tent to find that all the food is gone. Fortunately the wine is still flowing.

10:33: The skaters crowd onto a small bus to be taken... wherever they're going. These are some of the top skaters in all of North America, crammed into this piece-of-crap bus. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode, "Bart the Lover," in which, after an assembly that wows the students, a troupe of yo-yo performers is herded into the van while their manager yells, "Get your worthless butts in the van! We got three more schools to do!''

10:58: I head inside to ask one of the arena staffers where I can find a cab or bus to get me to the train station. I'm told that they don't come to the arena, but I can walk... it's about a mile down the street. My train leaves at 11:21. I leave without saying goodbye to anyone.

11:20: Make it to the train station and catch my train back to Manhattan. On the train I get to think about the show. Honestly, it was a success... they raised money for a good cause and the audience had fun. I'm glad I helped out again. But this may be my last year...


Tommy Himself said...

Hilarious, Brian.

9:58:30 is the exact moment I would have bellowed a mighty "Fuck YOU," grabbed my crotch and said, "guard THIS Zamboni!" Then I'd have kicked out a handful of ol' Nance's horse teeth and been drunk in my seat on the 10:12 train out of Hicksville.


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