Hello, my friends, and welcome to Fire Me Please, which the teaser commercial has declared “the funniest new reality show” out there. Hmmm. I don’t know, folks. I don’t like to deal in such absolutes. Let’s agree on “the funniest new reality show with a laugh track,” and we can move on happily. (Geez, the ethical and philosophical implications that arise from setting your VCR a few minutes early.)
To open the curtain on the show, let’s meet our host, Mr. Dave Holmes. No, I don’t know who he is, either . . . thank goodness there’s a thread about him. But no matter if you don’t recognize Dave; he’s charming and can recite those cheesy host lines with the best of them. Watch out, JD Roberto, you’ve got competition.
After a brief introduction featuring some hip, boppin’ little soundtrack (which sounds like Steely Dan, except fronted by the tiny silhouette clarinet dude from the Zatarain’s instant red beans & rice commercials), we get the rundown on the show. Essentially, it’s like a cross between Candid Camera and the game of blackjack—two employees will start two new jobs at the same time, and the person who gets fired closest to three o’clock without going over will win a cool $25,000. So it’s all about timing and strategy, as you want to be annoying, but not too over-the-top that you’ll get fired too early. Also, there are three cardinal rules:
• You cannot break the law.
• You cannot ask to be fired.
• You cannot say that you’re on a TV show. Seriously . . . you cheaters.
The best part of it all? We get to join Dave Holmes from his Mobile Command Center (now we know where our tax dollars go) and watch all the ensuing hilarity and mayhem! Yay!
With that, let’s go to our first competitors of the evening: Kurt versus Katie.
Diabolus Ex Machina
Meet Kurt Basa. He’s a teacher from Dallas, Texas, and today he’ll be working at “Awakenings,” a coffee shop in Cincinnati. His co-workers are Molly, Grant, and John, and his boss is Janice. Janice hates workers who are unmotivated, disobedient, and “know-it-alls.” Don’t we all, don’t we all.
As Kurt walks in, he whispers “They’re gonna hate me!” I’m glad to see that he’s got the proper attitude. The odd thing is that the laugh track kicks in right after that little line. What the. . . !? That’s the easiest freakin’ canned audience I’ve ever seen! (I surely hope they’re reading this recap.)
Kurt meets all his co-workers, and Janice pulls out his official work T-shirt for him to put on. He requests an XL, and when Janice tosses it to him, he cheerfully exclaims “touchdown!” and spikes the shirt onto the floor in a jubilant manner. Janice visibly cringes at seeing the shirt tragically plop onto the dirty floor, and we know it’s going to be a long day for her.
Next, Kurt sets to work filling out his W-4 form and sheepishly admits to never reading one of these before. “All employees have to fill them out,” says Janice, to which Kurt replies, “Oh, oh. I’ve filled out millions of them! I’ve just never read them.” He then hopes aloud that he’ll have the aptitude to fill it out with excellence. However, Kurt is quickly distracted by a comely female patron and walks over to introduce himself. “Hi, my name’s Kurt, but you can call me T-Bone,” he says. Then, turning to the woman’s fellow coffee-drinker: “Hi, my name’s Jim, but you can call me Pedro.” Janice is already wearily shaking her head.
Now it’s time for Kurt’s training. Not yet is he a Jedi. Janice walks him through getting the hot water, which Kurt deems to be the “devil machine,” as steam begins billowing out when the tap is pressed. On his first attempt, he cautiously fills a cup up, only to cry, “TOO HOT!” He also discovers that he can dispense the sweet, sweet foam with great rhythm. Janice enters a trance-like state, repeating “I can’t train him, I can’t train him,” again and again.
Here’s what gives Kurt away as a teacher, my friends. It’s his resonant voice. He calls out orders, right in their face, mind you, in his best “projecting” voice. “CAFÉ MOCHA!” Janice sighs and tells him that he’s going to scare all the customers away.
Later, Kurt sets his sights on his co-workers, beginning with Grant:
Kurt: “So, you play in a rock & roll band, right?”
Grant: “That’s right.”
Kurt: “You know, some people think that’s the devil’s music.”
Grant: *Begins to sweat*
Kurt: “You know; I play a little bit of organ. I first learned on the accordion, though. Say, maybe you and me should get together sometime, huh?”
Kurt sets up a score of cups in a pyramid and begins throwing crumpled-up pieces of newspaper a la a carnival game. He asks John to join in the fun, and John good-naturedly joins in. Next time Kurt goes to deliver his winning pitch, however, he throws it directly at John, instead, who laughs along with Kurt. All this knocking over of the cups is too much for rock & roll boy Grant.
After claiming on the phone to Molly’s boyfriend (I assume) that Molly has changed her name to “Pistol,” making up some catchy new songs accompanied by a spoon, and claiming to a customer that he’s a graduate student in “ambidextrous science,” time is running out for Kurt. He’s got to start egging Janice on to fire him before 3:00 arrives. He begins arguing with her about her thoroughness in training him, her insistence on only putting one scoop of chocolate in a young girl’s drink, and finally begins trying to snatch up the newspapers from customers and insulting their fashion sense if they refuse.
Finally, Grant threatens to call the police, the police arrive and accuse Kurt of “disorderly conduct,” and Kurt says there’s only one way he’s walking out that door. Janice finally fires him, and Kurt rushes up and gives Janice a hug, says, “I love you,” then turns and runs out the door as fast as he can. Is he resisting arrest or just that happy? Poor Janice is horrified, stating she was afraid Kurt was about to jump her. Kurt’s fired. . . .
The Clean-up Song: An Anthem of Doom and Foreboding
Has Kurt snared himself $25,000? Let’s meet his competition, Katie Wise. Katie is a yoga instructor from L.A., but today she’s working at Julia’s, a small clothing store. My immediate impression of Katie is that she reminds me of one of my old professors. That’s right—I had a college professor who resembles a contestant on a show called Fire Me Please. Think about that one!
Katie’s boss today will be Katherine, who hates messy and/or slow workers, along with people who “just don’t get it.” Her co-workers are Sally and Esther, who are exactly the fun party gals that their names imply. Actually, Sally seems nice enough, but Esther is the old lady who, at the “Seniors’ Friday Night Dance Party,” would try to trip others during the Beer Barrel Polka, leave her false teeth in the punch bowl, and at all times scowl menacingly. The show mentions that Esther is the top seller at Julia’s, which is remarkable considering she is always seen seated in a chair and looking miserable. Another co-worker, Kelly, shows up later.
To start off Katie’s short tenure at Julia’s, Katherine encourages Katie to look around at all the clothing displays and touch ‘em/feel ‘em. Katie takes the advice to the extreme, also smelling and zipping/unzipping everything. Katherine and Sally are already giving her some odd looks. Katie also remarks, while picking up a box, that she likes these because they’re called “Spanx.” Well, really, what’s not to love with a name like “Spanx?” She also shares her dislike for a tacky outfit covered in “animal fur” with a customer.
After her stunning debut, it’s clean-up time at Julia’s. Katie is given a Swiffer, a bottle of Windex, and the task of cleaning the top of a display rack. She takes to the task like a champ, and to really get that fixture shiny, climbs atop it to really scrub it down. Katherine is in disbelief, Esther looks grouchier than usual, and Sally really rather looks like Rasputin when she’s upset—I hope she doesn’t start falling to pieces on us. To make things even more outrageous, Katie decides to sing a nice little “clean-up” ditty while she’s on top of the display, and when she’s done, leans back—musing that she could put a little futon mattress up there and take a nap! You know, just use the paper towels as a little neck pillow. . . .
When her co-worker Kelly arrives, Katie is dealing with problems of bad circulation by using Katherine’s underarms as hand-warmers. She goes on to put on one of the store’s coats, ignores Katherine’s instruction for a better window-washing technique, and puts on a large hair accessory, becoming so enamored of it that she walks into a clothes stand in her deep distraction. Hmm. Maybe that wasn’t even intentional.
Later, Katie decides to make small-talk with Esther, which is quite like talking to a magic 8-ball . . . you get terse and rather insulting answers. “Do you want to see my kitties?” asks Katie.
“No.” Esther immediately replies.
Katie doesn’t seem too put off by this, though, and simply begins loudly slurping her orange juice. “Ahh, hits the spot!” she sighs.
“Yup,” replies Esther, her anger now reaching a level of near-apoplexy.
When Katie steps out to the restroom, Katherine and the co-workers do an “eenie-meanie” to determine who gets the honors of firing her. Sally is the tiger caught by the toe, and very nicely tells Katie, “Sweetie, we really don’t need another person on this shift.” However, Katie says she was dropped off, and doesn’t know where her ride is. Katherine asks Katie to call her ride, which Katie of course does not, but claims that “no one was there” when she was questioned again. *gasp* We have a LIAR in the vicinity! Security Breach! Code Red! Code Red!
Finally, after demonstrating some gymnastics to Esther (who meets them with disapproval, much like many other things, I imagine) and making a mess of tissue paper all over the store, Katie is finally pulled aside by Katherine. Katie is confronted about her lack of honesty, and finally fired. Katie responds by giving Katherine a big hug . . . one final assault on Katherine’s shattered nerves.
The Best of the Worst
Kurt and Katie meet back with host Dave, and it’s time to find out who can brag about being the “best worst employee.” I’m sure their real bosses will be ecstatic to hear the news. Katie’s timing was excellent, getting sacked at 2:56, but Kurt managed an amazing firing just 64 seconds before 3:00. Kurt has taken on Lucifer’s hot water machine and emerged victorious! That sounds like excellent fodder for a country-blues album. “Oh, I played my spoon at the devil’s coffeehouse . . . my boss fired me ‘cause I’m a louse!” *furious fiddle music*
There’s Something Wrong With Me . . . I’m a Cuckoo
But wait, my friends! The show’s not over just yet—we have another employee-from-Hades match-up to offer.
This time, we are introduced to Rachel Stolte. Usually she’s at work as a makeup artist in LA, but today she’s in the East Coast and will be “working” at a feminine boutique, “Girlfriends.” I don’t know what a “feminine boutique” is, and I don’t think I particularly want to find out, either. Rachel’s boss will be Caryn, who hates people who don’t follow instructions, re-do her displays, and annoying behavior in general drives her up the wall. I bet Caryn spends a lot of her time angry at the general public. Rachel’s co-workers are Lori and Jodie.
As Rachel walks into Girlfriends, she reminds me just a bit of Audrey Tautou with her outfit and demeanor. However, rather than using her charm and quirky ways in a quest to help mankind, Rachel will use them to drive her co-workers insane and make a few quick bucks. She’s like a reverse Amélie.
Upon meeting Caryn, Rachel greets her warmly with a hug, which we later learn that Caryn was “very uncomfortable with.” Ah, off to a good start. Caryn advises Rachel to spend her first day to “watch and learn.”
Rachel must be a hands-on learner, as she goes about fiddling with everything in the store, spraying and smelling all the girly stuff and immediately choking and loudly rustling her hand in a basket of crinkly, wrapper-bound items simply because she likes the sound. Are they candies? I don’t know what they are, and I’m not sure that I should know, since this is a “feminine boutique.”
When she’s not rummaging through things, Rachel enjoys audibly clomping her heels while pacing around in the store—which is not a large building at all—and whistling. Unfortunately for her co-workers, Rachel whistles a lot like Bob Dylan sings, and there are no poetic lyrics to save her apparent scorn at the notion of “pitch.” Caryn’s face is actually twitching. When Jodi pulls Rachel aside and tells her not to whistle, Rachel replies with a puzzled look, “Whistling? I was whistling?”
Rachel continues her borderline psychotic behavior as the afternoon goes on, while the other ladies clearly exhibit symptoms of generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Girlfriends is an analyst’s field day! Rachel plays with an Aim & Flame, moves a horribly squeaking display shutter back and forth, and *gasp* rearranges one of the displays! When Jodi arrives to offer some constructive criticism, Rachel brushes her off, asking her to wait until the new arrangement is complete. One of the customers at Girlfriends says that Rachel is a “cuckoo” behind her back.
Rachel’s pacing and whistling becomes faster, more agitated, and she even begins throwing some rhythmic variations into her step. Fancy! Her co-workers, clearly not clogging enthusiasts, now have faces of sheer terror. Finally, Caryn, who looks like ripe stroke material by now, takes Rachel into the back room and suggests that she “chill out” a bit. Rachel replies that they’re overreacting—heck, they accused her of whistling when she wasn’t even doing it! Rachel goes on, claiming that it’s just a store, and a ridiculous and overpriced one at that. Oh, flawless! Caryn has had quite enough and says the Trump line. Mission complete for Rachel!
Rachel had a fine turn as the quiet psycho, but we have one more new friend to meet before all this madness comes to an end.
Our next contestant is Cherise Bangs from Walnut Creek, California. Apparently that is her real name . . . “Che Bangs, Che Bangs!" Cherise is very pretty, very blonde, and a
model/actresssaleswoman by trade. Today she will be causing mayhem in a hat store, Jeannie’s Dream, alongside co-worker Dani and supervisor Nancy, who has a pronounced New Yawk accent and wears her glasses very low on her nose so she can give you dirty looks from over the top. Nancy hates workers who challenge her all-powerful authority, try on hats in the store, or come to work “in improper attire.”
At the beginning of the day, Nancy explains all the hat rack placement to Cherise and hopes aloud for Cherise’s stillettoed sake that she brought some different shoes. Cherise replies aloud that she did not—she’s a model and wearing these shoes helps her train for the runway.
It’s clear that Cherise’s mind is on zee catwalk when the first customers arrive and she suggests a tiara for them. When they politely refuse, Cherise puts it on and remarks, “I’m like Miss America!” She proceeds to robotically walk about the store, waving and blowing kisses. Nancy clearly fails to see the humor in the situation, retreating to the back room with Dani, who calls Cherise “freakin’ weird!”
In no time at all, Cherise complains that her feet hurt and asks if she can take her shoes off. She can, and does, leaving them in the middle of the floor. Oddly enough, she continues to walk on her toes, obviously intent on developing a “fierce” walk, but says she feels “freeeeeeee” without her shoes.
As the day wears on, Nancy is in utter disbelief as Cherise tries on every hat in the store and twirls a baton-like thing in the store while customers are present. The latter apparently stuns a rather corpulent shopper, who stares, mouth agape, at Cherise’s color guard skillz. It’s not all fun at Jeannie’s Dream, however, as Nancy explains the “dirty work” that they have to do, which essentially involves tidying up and dusting. Dusting! Cherise is appalled to hear the “D” word, and declares that she may have to get a doctor’s note to avoid the task, as dust “like, really bothers her.” Dani tries, with great effort, to not double up in silent laughter, while Nancy brusquely responds with “If I dust, you dust.”
The day wears on, and Cherise wears out Nancy and Kathy by sitting down in the middle of the floor in front of customers, putting on a pink shawl, and asking Nancy if they do random drug testing here. Maybe they should, now. . . . On top of this, Cherise is incessantly asking the exasperated Nancy about her hours. Nancy tires to avoid conflict for as long as possible, stating that they’ll discuss it with Jeannie tomorrow, but Cherise won’t have that ruin her plans, and finally simply bothers Nancy into submission, and Cherise is fired after walking in on Nancy while she is on the phone. She’s received the boot, but will it be in time to beat Rachel?
The Best of the Worst, Part Deux and Epilogue
Once again, host Dave meets our contestants back at the urban warfare spy-mobile to find out the results. Rachel, you were fired at 2:48 (which is really amazing that she lasted that long around the distraught Caryn). Cherise, you were fired only seven minutes . . . after 3:00. Rachel is the winner!
So there you have it, folks. We’ve watched the hilarious results of four people bringing a different brand of overachievement into the workplace, and Kurt and Rachel are now $25,000 richer for it. As the credits roll, we get to see the four contestants walk back into their respective businesses and explain the whole rouse, and there is laughter and hilarity all around. Except with Janice, who tells Kurt that she’s about to kick his @$$. Ah, good times! Thanks for watching, everyone! Now I’m off to see if John will fire me.
All in a day’s work. Mantenna@fansofreality.com