Sunday, November 07, 2004

What Did Ray Do!

Heh. Oh, man. This week was definitely not a repeat of last week's disaster. Let me tell you why.

Did you hear about how a couple of months ago, Oprah gave a brand new Pontiac to every single person in her TV audience? The whole thing was staged as a surprise, where audience members were told that under their seats was a little box, and that one of the boxes had the keys to a new car in it. They all got their boxes and then, on Oprah's cue, they opened them. Every single box had a new car key in it! The place went nuts. Extremely average women were crying, hugging each other, jumping up and down...Oprah had engineered one of the biggest media coups of the year.

I thought, hell, if Oprah can do it, so can Ray. My portfolio has been performing like a stallion this year, and the music royalties have been particularly pleasing. Why not spread the wealth a bit? I'm never gonna use half of it. On that note, I decided to stage an Oprah-type talk show as my party, only instead of seats it would be general admission, so folks could mill around and dance and stuff before I took the stage.

I had the local theater union come and build a proper talk show arena, but with a couple excellent fast food options around the perimeter. We got booths from "Hot Baked Potato, A Concern," "Steam Dog" (a franchise of hot dogs which are cooked using only steam, ensuring a better skin snap), "Aussome Lamb" (grilled Australian lamb by the chop or by the rack), and "The Wurst Men" (excellent German-style sausages cooked and served by guys dressed as famous criminals, such as Al Capone, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein).

Oh, it ain't lost on me that a lot of these shows secretly create crowd enthusiasm by handing out tons of stuff to drink. To get folks most peppy we had a few counters that served Jack and Coke, rum and cola, and vodka with Red Bull. No beer kept them from havin' to go to the bathroom every five minutes and missing any part of the show.

Anyhow, it seems like every time you turn on Maury Povich or Jerry Springer or whatever, they're showcasing some run of the mill white trash problem, like morbidly obese parents who are upset that their estranged daughter is marrying a rash model, so I took my cue from them. The guests on my show were this local East Achewood family that was all pissed because the mechanic dad only made thirty bucks a day but spent twenty bucks a day on smokes. I told them I'd pay them fifty bucks each and they were primed.

You may be asking yourself how a big audience prize giveaway fits into all this. Hold on.

Well, we got the crowd goin’ with some AC/DC and Boston, and before too long they were ravenous for entertainment. We trotted the guests out one by one, announcing who they were, and each one got huge applause and hooting. There was the chubby slut daughter, the fat son who only played video games, the fat mom with the carpal-tunnel wrist things and a foam neck support, and then the dad, who came out smoking and pumping his fists in the air. He looked lean and tough, his shop sleeves rolled up to reveal several tattoos. They took their seats, each one separated by a standing bodyguard.

I had everybody raise the roof for a few and then got down to my intro. This was a family torn by an addiction, I said. “A smoking habit of four packs a day is driving a financial stake into this family’s well-being,” I said. The dad pumped his fists again and the crowd went wild. The slut daughter and the mom folded their arms and glared at him, while the son just sat and looked at his own shoes.

I asked the crowd how they thought the family should deal with its problem. One by one I walked along the front of the stage and took opinions. At first I got the usual stuff, like “he should quit smoking and care about his family!” Real obvious. One guy said that the dad only smoked as a way of dealing with the stress of being a parent, and this got a pretty good round of applause. The mom even started to clap for a second, before she folded her arms again and renewed her glare.

We did a few more audience Q&A and then I knew it was time to let the bomb drop. I was juiced. I had been waiting for this moment all night. We had all the people in the smoking guy’s family stand up, and we asked the audience to be silent while I made a “very special announcement.” Folks hushed real quick and the spotlights danced around the stage, one fixed on me.

I took a pause, and then, in a clear voice, I asked it: “Ladies and Gentlemen, you have a choice tonight. What would you prefer: that this family is sent on a two week intensive family bonding and therapy session, or that one of you gets a grass-fed, sixteen-ounce Omaha steak?” I pointed the microphone at the family, and the crowd went silent. Then I pointed it at the crowd, and they went wild. Back at the family; silent. Back at the crowd; whooping and deafening applause.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” I continued, “Your choice is clear. Each of you received an invisible stamp on the back of your hand when you arrived tonight. ONE of you received a stamp entitling you to the free steak. Variegos, hit the lights.” (Variegos was the union kid who was running the lights.) At this point all the lights cut and a blacklight went on. I asked everyone to look at the invisible stamp they had received on the back of their hand. Just like on Oprah, the crowd went crazy: they ALL had the winning stamp!

The bodyguards escorted the family offstage while a new crew put charcoal Weber grills where they had once sat, and the crowd went to claim their steaks. Soon folks were grillin’ and swillin’ and just all kinds of pumped to have won. It was a great night, and the beautiful scent of charred beef filled the air.