Diary of a Mad Recapper
It’s week 3 of I Hate My Job. This week, I made a significant breakthrough. When I first accepted this assignment, I thought I had it made with a show hosted by Al Sharpton. After all, he’s guaranteed comic gold. I was flabbergasted by the lack of material Al provided the first two weeks. Then it hit me. This isn’t the Rev gracing my television screen each week. This is the bad poet from Survivor/Manhunt in disguise. Once I had this insight, it was so obvious: the bad and suspect rhymes, the abundant clichés, and especially, the fairly normal hair. Tomorrow, I will launch the search for the real Rev; the man who is more charisma than caricature. Most importantly, I will search for his outrageous, easily parodied hair. If my quest is unsuccessful, I may be forced to spork myself in the ears or drink every time Fake Al spouts a cliché or rhyme.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
The episode opens with the four guys moving into the house. Josh arrives first and tells us that he hasn’t lived in a house since his mother’s. I’m assuming he’s lived in apartments since then rather than in his car or on his skateboard. Josh finds his name tag in a yellow room and plops his bags down. Frank enters the house next. Frank seems to be a little overwhelmed by the interior paint job, and asks Josh, “What’s going on with this pad, man?” Frank’s room is red. Jim comes in third and locates his room. He exclaims, “Blue! Nice dude.” Finally, Art arrives. Art finds his room and says, “Cool, I like green.” My suspicions that the official language of the I Hate My Job House is Josh Speak are confirmed when all four guys go out onto the balcony and Frank says, “Dude, this is the start of something big.”
Al solemnly informs us that “it’s the first day of the rest of their lives or really the first day of the beginning of a new life.” Al and Stephanie magically appear in the backyard. The guys join them there. Al decides that Week 3 would be a good time to finally let us in on a little secret called the rules. He explains to the guys that every week from here on out each will be given a challenge related to their dream job. If they are successful, they will be given a prize. If not, they will be given a penalty. If a contestant receives two penalties, he will be sent home.
Al then tells the guys what their individual challenges are this week. Jim, the aspiring comedian, is to write some material and get paid for performing it. He has to go to the Venice Beach Boardwalk and earn at least $25. Frank’s challenge is to earn headshots for his career as a male model. He is to do so by serving as an assistant to a professional photographer and earning what he can. The amount Frank earns will determine what kind of head shots he can afford. Al informs Art who wants to own his own chop shop that “there is no chop until you learn the inner workings of the shop.” I glare at the television screen. Al explains to Art that his success will be determined by his ability to perform every single task while serving as a shop hand for a day. Al tells Josh, the event planner wannabe, that “the engine of every party is the bar.” I can’t disagree. Josh will have to “learn how to make the engine hum” by bar backing at a local club. His ability to execute will determine his success.
Al then lets the guys know that their new careers aren’t going to be all cream. In their old jobs, they worked their way up to the top. Now they are going to have to start over in their new careers. I have a hard time understanding how this applies to either Frank or Josh. If reaching the top is being a cow manure processor, what’s the bottom of the ladder? Al warns the guys that they need to be ready for a humbling experience. Once again, we hear about the three Ps, passion, persistence and performance. Why not paranoia, patronization, and pretzels? Al then tells the four guys that he’ll meet them back at the house in the Judgment Room. I wonder what color that room is. Puce?
Stephanie explains very sloooooowly as if the viewing audience’s IQ is south of 80 that a mentor is the most important person for pursuing a dream. Al’s disembodied voice tells us that giving mentors is very important. They will be the guiding spirits for the guys.
Josh’s mentor is named Josh Richman. This won’t be confusing. Josh R. has apparently promoted events at every major venue in L.A. He is also part of something called the Alliance which has nothing to do with the Trilateral Commission. Wannabe Josh appears wearing a bright blue t-shirt with yellow lettering which says, “Your Mutha.” I’m thinking Josh’s mother hates that t-shirt. Josh R. tells Immature Josh that he shouldn’t get the wrong idea. You have to work a long, long time before you begin to make money as a club promoter. A lot of the work isn’t very glamorous. You have to make people like you by being yourself. This may prove a problem for Dude Josh.
Art’s mentor is The Illustrated Man, aka Jerry Farmer. Jerry owns a chop shop cleverly named, “Chop Shop.” Jerry comes complete with a goatee so long he feels the need to rubber band the end and a bald head. Jerry worked for Harley Davidson for 12 years before branching out on his own. Art is quite impressed with his new guru.
Jim’s mentor is Barry Katz. Al engages in a little hyperbole by describing him as the executive producer of “the hit series” Last Comic Standing. In listening to Barry give Jim advice about potential ice breakers to use with his audience, I realize that Drew Carey and Brett Butler were wrong. The contestants on LCS 2 weren’t chosen because of who they were represented by. Barry simply has little to no sense of what other people find funny. He advises Jim to find the kid in the audience to give the hat to pass around. No one can resist a kid. Foreshadowing anyone?
Stephanie then tells us that mentors are people who are already successful. Fancy that. I would have never guessed. We are then introduced to Frank’s mentor, Tomiko Fraser. Tomiko has appeared in Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Essence. She was also the first African American woman signed to a contract by Maybelline. Tomiko thinks Frank may be shocked by the reality of the modeling world. We see Tomiko in Frank’s bedroom offering to show him her portfolio. Surprisingly, she really means pictures of her modeling. Frank is enthused about seeing her naked photographs. Frank’s wife may not be so enthusiastic about his reaction. He thinks her portfolio is “off the hook.” Tomiko then gives Frank his own empty portfolio to fill up and take to an agency.
Scut Work Before Glory
The next day we are on to the guys’ individual challenges. Jim is shown first. He has three hours to earn his $25 on the Venice Beach Pier. Jim has trouble getting people to stop and listen to him. When he finally attracts an audience, he makes some lame jokes about the pier. One of the jokes centers on the Venice Beach Pier Basketball Courts and the crackheads who frequent them. Jim uses two clearly altered men who are randomly standing next to him to illustrate the joke.
Next, we cut to Frank. Al tells us that he wants Frank to get his feet wet first before getting to experience the glamour end of the modeling business. Frank meets the photographer he will be working with, Adeeb Howrani. Tomiko is impressed by Frank’s enthusiasm and thinks Frank will knock down some walls in a good way. Adeeb instructs Frank on what to do during the shoot in a whirlwind manner guaranteed to ensure he didn’t understand half of what Adeeb said.
Art arrives at Chop Shop to perform his duties as shop hand. Art tells Jerry, “You point, I do.” Jerry is excited about the fact that Art isn’t jaded. As the day goes on, Art seems to lose a little of his enthusiasm. He has a revelation that Jerry is showing him that there is a lot of grunt work that has to happen, some of which is pretty menial and boring. Art shows his first sign of ‘tude, grumbling on his way to the local laundromat that “I’m supposed to be building motorcycles and I’m pushing a cart of dirty rags.” I begin to think that Art thought shedding his wife, high pressure sales job, and large mortgage would mean life would be fun 24 hours a day. Wake up and smell reality Art.
Finally, we see Josh. Al voices over that Josh can’t start as P.T. Barnum or Don King (or Al Sharpton?). Josh is quickly put to work by the bartender stocking the cooler. Josh states that there must have been 160 to 200 beer bottles. I worry about Josh’s counting skills. We see Josh’s ice-soaked hands become clumsy and drop the phone and then a beer. Still, Josh is clearly working hard and taking some initiative in cleaning tables and performing other tasks with out being asked. Josh starts to grow on me as he’s clearly willing to work as hard as necessary. Josh R. shows up and rattles our Josh a little.
We go back to Adeeb giving Frank instructions again. Adeeb specifically tells Frank “pay attention try not to talk to anyone on the set.” Of course, the next things we see is Frank chatting away to a model about his former job as a cow manure processor and continuing to rattle on while sprinting down the beach with a light reflector. Frank goes to set up a shoot. He learns that much of a photo shoot is hurry up and wait. He’s standing at the shoot location by himself surrounded by equipment. We then hear Art saying that “Frank gets to hang out with a bunch of hot women; I have no sympathy for him.”
Jim is coming to the end of a performance on the pier. It turns out that while Barry may have been right that no one can resist a kid, a kid can resist Jim. Jim tries to get a little boy to pass around a box to collect money. Despite his dad urging him to take the box, the little boy refuses to do so. Jim reports “that’s more difficult than originally expected.”
Frank is still standing around waiting. At first, it looks like he’s started practicing modeling poses. It turns out that he has a need to relieve himself. He finally can’t wait any longer, grabs the camera bag but leaves the rest of Adeeb’s equipment at the shoot location, and sprints for the bathroom. Frank proudly informs us that he was looking out a peephole while taking care of business and was ready to run out if someone started taking things. As a result of this scene, I have that annoying, “got to go, got to go, got to go right now” commercial running through my brain. Sorry, I had to share.
Jim has managed to attract an audience. He thinks his performance went better. We then hear a woman who watched part of his performance saying, “If I had to go to a club for a beer and he was free, I’d listen to him.” Ouch. Later, Jim starts to get desperate. He hasn’t been allowed to count his money and really wants to earn another $10.
Josh is put to work cutting lemons and limes. Josh R. who was apparently sitting inconspicuously at the bar right in front of Wannabe Josh, startles Unobservant Josh by kidding him about needing gloves. Dude Josh is in his element. He laughs at himself when the bartender shows him that he’s been using the beer opener wrong. He revels in the noise, the flaming shots, the bell, and the bunch of characters at the bar.
Jerry sends Art to Channel City Engineering to get some cylinders which are being bored out for a project Jerry is working on. Art has read about this process but has never seen it. His eyes light up and he really enjoys his experience at Channel City. Adeeb is barking instructions at Frank and showing him what to do. Frank admits to a couple of minor bloopers before Tomiko shows up. Jim has lost his spot on the pier to some dude in a black cape. Jim is becoming desperate and starting to doubt what he’s doing. Art returns from Channel City on a high pushing his laundry cart filled with the dingy rags he washed. Unfortunately, he returns without either of the cylinders. One of the cylinders wasn’t done so he didn’t bring either back. Jerry is less than pleased.
Adeeb then gives Frank his toughest task yet. He has to hold the towel while a model changes on the beach and shield her from view while making her comfortable. The wind is whipping 100 miles per hour. Adeeb instructs Frank to look away. Jim explains his next step stating some people may “call it panhandling, call it begging, I like to call it charming.” He offers to tell small groups a joke for a dollar. Art whines again about being forced to fold t-shirts instead of working on bikes. He quickly changes his tune when three hot women show up to shop. All three try on Chop Shop tank tops. They decide the shirts aren’t short enough so Art is given a pair of dull scissors and cuts off the bottoms of the shirts while the women are still wearing them. Art says to Jerry that he loves working on bikes. Jim manages to get a guy to give him $5. Frank suddenly starts to get it and Adeeb heaps some praise on him.
The challenges are at an end. Barry and Jim discuss how Jim did. Barry tells him that no matter how much money he made, Jim took an important step. He powered through and didn’t become discouraged. Adeeb lectures Frank about his trip to the restroom but says that Frank blew him away by how earnest he was and how hard he was trying. Adeeb decides to pay Frank $250 and Frank is quite pleased. Frank then goes to get his head shots taken. Frank poses in a sweater, shorts, and shirtless in a pair of jeans and boxers. At the end of the shoot, Tomiko looks over the shots with the photographer and remarks that Frank looks good, “he just needs to tighten up his tummy.” Josh is convinced his biggest strength is his personality. He demonstrates that it isn’t his grammar by telling us he did a “good job conversating.”
The Truth Hurts
The guys and their mentors enter the Judgment Room where Al and Stephanie are already seated. As it turns out, it’s the color purple. Al tells us that it’s time to assess who stepped up and performed and to see how well they take criticism.
Jim is up first. Barry says that he did great. Barry was a little discouraged though by Jim deciding to panhandle at the end. Stephanie gives Jim feedback as well. She thought that all of his jokes were off color and that if he had adapted to his audience, he could have drawn the crowd in instead of alienating them. Jim defends his panhandling decision saying that he was connecting with people even then one on one and that he didn’t make anymore than $3 that way. Jim then delivers a line that draws glares from Frank and the Rev stating that “I don’t think I’d make a good homeless person.”
Al asks Josh to take the hot seat next. Josh R. tells the Rev that Josh’s persistence and passion are always going to be there. However, Josh R. feels that it ironically kind of worked against him this time. Instead of remaining in the background, the customers were chanting Josh’s name by the end of the night. The bartender liked Josh and thought Josh was diligent although a little clumsy. Josh is then asked if he got tipped out by the bartender. The answer turns out to be “no.” Josh R. tells Josh that any job you take, no matter how menial, you have to strike a deal up front. Al jokes that maybe the lack of tip sharing is why the bartender liked Josh. Josh R. finally states that most importantly, it looked like Josh belonged there. Josh, never afraid to promote himself, says that I owned that job. By the end of the night, the bartender didn’t have to tell him anything. The times he was talking, there wasn’t anything else to do. Stephanie nods in agreement.
Frank is the third to go. Tomiko says that Frank is very, very, very passionate. On the plus side, he hustled like Tomiko had never seen before. On the negative side, Frank’s vibrant personality means he has a lot to say. Tomiko wants him to take it back a bit. Tomiko then brings up a sensitive topic. She says that Frank carries where he is from on his sleeve (for anyone who hasn’t watched the show that would be Compton). While his background is going to be what gets him through the tough times, a model has to be a chameleon. Al asks Frank if he wants to be the Mayor of Compton. Stephanie reinforces Tomiko’s last point saying that this is an issue which seems to keep coming up. She wonders if he’s going to be able to achieve his goal of being a supermodel if he’s not able to separate himself from Compton somewhat. Frank says that he thinks he did extremely well for his first time out. Frank then demonstrates that he is in denial by stating that he doesn’t know where the Compton thing is coming from because it’s not coming from him. Perhaps it’s coming from the fact that Frank mentions where he is from constantly? Frank then defends his chattiness by saying that questions are meant to be asked if you don’t know something. Talking about your former job is apparently asking a question in Frank’s mind.
Art is the last to receive feedback. Jerry says that his passion is excellent and that he shows a child like exuberance which is important in talking to customers. Every task Jerry asked him to do, he did with no question. Jerry obviously didn’t see the footage before offering that statement. The only criticism Jerry offers centers on the cylinder debacle. Jerry tells Art that he should have called him so Jerry could call the customer rather than returning empty-handed. Stephanie informs the Rev that Art was a little disgruntled about having to fold t-shirts. The Rev asks Art about this. Art tries to avoid answering to which the Rev sternly responds “Is that true?” The Rev and Art then have an exchange which pretty much confirms that the lesson Art learned in therapy was that finding yourself means being selfish.
At the end of each of the guy’s turns, the Rev has delivered a somewhat ominous message about receiving feedback from him soon. Al tells us that he intended this to be hard. It must be a life changing experience for the guys to succeed in their dream jobs.
Prize Me Up
Al faces the guys. He informs them that what troubled him the most was that all of the guys seemed so defensive. You cannot correct a mistake until you admit it.
He tells Jim that he earned $35 and that he is going to give him a prize. Jim’s prize is dinner at a comedy club with his sister and two friends. He wants Jim to watch professionals and see how they do it. The Rev tells Josh that his task was not to become the party. However, Josh worked hard, so he deserves a prize. Josh is going to the next Maxim party. The Rev wants Josh to dress appropriately and not embarrass him. Josh can bring one of the other guys to the party. Al tells Frank that he has got to get beyond where he came from. He should never deny it, but he needs to focus on where he’s going. Frank also gets a prize. His prize is a personal trainer and work out equipment to make sure that he is in body what he sees himself as in his mind. Tomiko claps gleefully. Art is last. Al informs him that he admittedly lost focus at times, but he still deserves a prize. His prize is a riding trip in the mountains with Jerry’s riding group to get better acquainted with his target customers. Al then gives another cliché riddled speech. The guys have to “deal with bumps on the road,” yadda, yadda, yadda. He finishes by delivering what appears to be his new tag line, “I’ll catch you on the rebound.” It’s no “the tribe has spoken.”
Finally, we see each of the guys comment. Jim is surprised everyone got a prize given some of the criticism by the mentors and Stephanie. Art tells us that he felt he deserved a prize. Josh says he would have been pissed off if he didn’t get a prize. Frank tells us he’s pretty much speechless at how the challenge turned out. While doing so, Frank is leafing through his new portfolio.
It’s Not All Milk And Honey
Next Tuesday, at least one guy gets a penalty. Josh attempts to procure Humvee limos and monkeys. In keeping with the big baby he’s turning out to be, Art throws a monumental temper tantrum flinging stuff everywhere. Frank dresses up like he’s playing a cowboy at a little boy’s birthday party. Jim appears to bomb, telling someone backstage, “I’m not bleeding so I suppose I owe you a thank you.”
Know where to find Al’s hair? firstname.lastname@example.org