Vital ‘Idol’

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Of course, giving a plug for American Idol is like rooting for the Yankees while chipping in for Warren Buffett’s eighth vacation home. But has there been more laugh out loud (LOL, as the kids say) moments on any show than were in last night’s Idol? Funniest was the tragicomic pairing of the fat dork and the tiny dork with bug eyes, who struck up a lonely-hearts friendship as they prepared to be humiliated by the Idol jury in Seattle.

Poking fun at the hapless hopefuls was mean, but producers stopped just short of being too mean. After the little guy with the bug eyes did his artless Backstreet Boys routine, Simon chastised him for being a horrible dancer, an appalling singer, and most stingingly, for resembling one of those creatures who lives in the forest. He then clarified which creature he was referring to: the bush baby that dwells in East Africa.

We looked up the bush baby in an encyclopedia. The kid did sort of look like one.

Then, after a woefully ill-at-ease software programmer from Utah committed unspeakable crimes with “Unchained Melody”, Seacrest took an awkward moment—a clumsy interview with the shell-shocked “singer”—and upped the awkwardness by a million by simply staring at the guy without speaking. The silent awkwardness went on for several brutal seconds, before the kid mumbled something about finding his lost sweatshirt. You wanted to laugh and cry. But mostly laugh.

By Michael Malone