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Lingo

Recruiting a Bigot as My Plus One

By Chris ZPublished 4 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
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"While I can explain away his antisemitic sounding remark, I can’t explain why..."

Nineteen years ago, I secured an audition for the Gameshow Network’s family-friendly program “Lingo.” As the game was played by teams of two, the PA with whom I spoke instructed me to procure a partner. Having been in LA all of a year, I could hold hands with every member of my social circle at the same time. What’s more, the audition was held on a weekday, during regular business hours, making finding a partner who wasn’t a showbiz aspirant that much harder.

I met Don working functions for the Universal City Hilton. He was square jawed, handsome, and intense, the kind of guy for whom one-night stands are a matter of course. His chiseled physique helped, as did the fact that he strummed a guitar with gusto. In a department comprised of 90% midlife Mexicans, it was only natural for two twenty-something jueros to pair bond. However, at the end of the day, I knew nothing more about him than his name when I made my pitch.

The studio was located on Sunset, a few blocks south of the CNN building. Don and I ascended stairs into a spacious rectangular room furnished only with neatly aligned picnic tables. We were the last two-person pair to arrive. A production assistant preemptively answered FAQs, before a casting director emerged from a door stamped “private.”

Teams were summoned to centerstage, one at a time, where they were subjected to a short, perfunctory interview. They then did their best to solve a quasi-crossword puzzle before a buzzer keened.

Don and I began by giving our names, hometowns, and mutual employer. The casting director asked what, specifically, we did for work. I explained that Don and I were tuxedoed banquet servers, our hotel’s formal event staff. The interview had been going well, until the CD asked what we disliked most about our job. Don reflexively replied, “Jewish weddings.” What he meant was “Orthodox Jewish weddings,” because they require over par hours of preparation, and their requisite use of 3rd-party Kosher caterers made for a shallow gratuity pool. What came across, however, was, “The worst thing about our job is working for Jews.” Before I could open my suddenly desertified mouth to clarify, Don added, “They’re a real pain in the ass.” While I can explain away his antisemitic-sounding remark, I can’t explain why he punctuated it with an expletive. Bad vibes, palpable as stage smog, filled the room. The daggers I stared at Don from his flank escaped his forward-oriented focus. And, just when I thought the worst was over, Don huffed, “And they never tip.”

Our previously rambunctious fellow auditioners now sat still and silent as Rodin's "Thinker." The CD soldiered on, but her tone and disposition affirmed that she'd found Don's display as off-putting as, well, everyone else. I mimicked Lot’s wife until what was left of our time had elapsed. Outside the studio, I bid Don an abrupt adieu and Usain bolted back to my car. I dialed the Lingo hotline like I was disarming a ticking time bomb. Likely, owing to it being late evening, no one picked up. I left a fervent, protracted apology for having recruited a bigot as my plus one, albeit unwittingly. Not surprisingly, I never heard back from Lingo’s production staff. Less surprisingly, neither did Don.

StandupSarcasmGeneralComedyWritingComedians
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About the Creator

Chris Z

My opinion column garnered more reader responses than any other contributor in the paper's 40-year run. As a stand-up comic, I performed in 16 countries & 26 states. I've written 2 one-man shows, umpteen poems, songs, essays & chronologies.

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