I barely have time to write this down, let alone edit it for clarity or easy reading. It’s a dream. You know what you’re getting into if you start reading a description of someone’s dream. No refunds.
I am contacted by someone producing the Oscars the day before the telecast asking if I’d like to perform as a guest co-host. I am thrilled by the prospect and certain I’ll do great, especially without preparation, because I’m so charming when I don’t know what I’m doing.
I show up at the Oscars just as the telecast starts, and I take the stage before I’m supposed to, which I think will be charming and hilarious. I start improvising an opening monologue.
The audience watches me in silence, because, of course, I am a stranger to them, I am a random guy hijacking the stage and stammering about how he shouldn’t be there and how he’s doing a bad job, as if that’s entertaining to them, when it’s the unremarkable, embarrassing truth. Much as you sometimes realize in a dream that you aren’t wearing any clothes, I suddenly realize I’m hosting the Oscars and I have no qualifications to do so and no material and no knowledge of any of the nominated films or artists and everyone just wants me off the stage.
There is no end to the monologue, so eventually, I am “cut off” by the producers having three microphones placed on stage and announcing that Destiny’s Child is going to sing a song. I decide to stay out there and start singing with them, as a joke. Destiny’s Child is not pleased. The audience is not pleased. I figure I’ll help them “get it” a little more clearly by singing more badly and loudly. Everyone grimaces. I laugh and bail, saying, “just kidding, just kidding, you can start over, sorry.” They start the song over while I run off stage.
And this is a really painful detail, the manner in which I run off stage. I do this very dishonest “I know what I’m doing” run. Like a baseball player getting a walk to first base, like I’m “stoked” to play my part in a larger game. I am not. I am in way over my head and I’m not supposed to be there and I am the reason the show sucks and it is only beginning. I am leaving the stage after doing everything in my power to get approval, and failing, I am leaving the stage a quintessential failure, but making the decision to “trot” off with an athletic gait, like, “okay, cool, all systems go.” Not in a Will Ferrelish playing-a-character-that-thinks-all-systems-are-go way. In a Tom Cruisey all-systems-are-actually-go-regardless-of-actuality way. And in the dream, I am conscious of this decision, and conscious of its futility - I’m not fooling anyone - and I’m not only lying to more people at once than at any previous moment of my life, I’m not only doing so pointlessly and ineffectively, but, most importantly, I’m doing it with my run. I’m lying with every bone in my skeleton. I’m literally lying with every fiber of my being. Badly.
I go to the back of the theatre and ask myself, how can I dig myself out of this. Not for me, mind you, I mean, fuck me at this point, but for the sake of the show, for the world, for everyone but me, what can I do to mitigate the pain? Should I walk away? No, that might screw the show over even more. Should I just play the rest of the show straight, perfunctoral, get on and off as quickly as possible, no more bullshit? Well, in a weird way, that might make people feel my pain too much. I have to stay the clown but I have to be a god damned professional clown, I’ve got to bring the goods. I am giving these people too much Franco, they’re entitled to more Crystal. I will swing for the bleachers to earn back their trust. What would Billy do.
Ah. He’d sing a medley about tonight’s nominees for best picture. Okay, I can do that. I mean, I don’t have time to write lyrics, but I can “hang a lantern” on the effort to entertain; I’ll go up with a legal pad with the names of the nominated pitcures on it, and I’ll improvise a medley, and if it’s bad, that’ll be part of the bit, it’ll be me saying, “sorry about earlier, this isn’t about me, I’m just an idiot, this is about these movies.”
Then I realize, I don’t know the names of any of this year’s nominees. I try googling with my phone to write them down but there’s no coverage. I’m running out of time. I get a copy of Variety and find a page that has the nominated movies listed. Dreamers note: there were six nominees for Best Picture, each with one word titles, but I only remember two. One was “India,” another was “Grantland.” Grantland is the name of the magazine that published an article about me on tour that a lot of people read, “India” I don’t know the significance of. I try to transcribe the titles, but my pen doesn’t work.
I go to my Mom’s seat in the theatre and ask her for a pen. She doesn’t have one. I suddenly realize, “this is the bit, this is the show, I’ll bring my Mom up and ask her to help me, it’ll be great.” I take the stage and ask if my Mom’s in the audience. I hear her voice say “yes.” I ask for trumpets to play while she takes the stage. A row of medieval horn players lines up and starts playing. I make a “joke” about how it would be funny if farts came out of the trumpets. Nobody laughs. I’ve already fucked up, but Mommy will save me. I look down and see that my girlfriend, Erin, has come up through the rows of trumpets. I say, “Mom, can you help me remember this year’s nominated films?” Erin looks confused and says “Yes.” I realize why she’s confused and say “wait, you’re not my Mom.” Everyone starts booing. Worse than booing, really, booing brings the audience together, booing is a form of cheering, people boo at wrestling matches. This was that sound an audience makes when a show has become an unrepairable fiasco. Disjointed pleas, genuine expressions of frustration, nothing in unison, people just sincerely asking you, as a crowd of individuals, to please just get the fuck off stage. Forever.
I walk off stage. I don’t run, I don’t trot, I just walk, like an honest failure.
I’m in the parking lot. Erin calls me on the phone. She still loves me, she says. Let’s just watch a movie, she says. It sounds like a good idea.
Time and space break down but the dream stays a dream. Erin and I check into a hotel in Japan. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out the elevators. They’re small, almost coffin like, so we have to take separate elevators to our room. They’re lined with those pads you get with a U-haul to protect your furniture from scratching. I get lost. Every room I visit is in a different house. Each house is outside in a different part of the world - it’s like a dream in a hacky movie about dreams. I struggle to get back to the hotel, back to Erin. I finally do. We watch a movie in our hotel room. I can’t remember what it is.
I realize I may be in trouble for bailing on the Oscars. I want to go back and make sure they’re doing okay. I get back to the parking lot and the ceremony is just ending. People are happy. Nobody’s acknowledging me. Maybe they’re so embarrassed for me they don’t want me to exist, or maybe I actually don’t exist. I watch Jamie Kennedy do a post Oscar interview with Ben Stiller. It’s weird to me how detailed the dialogue is, how much of it I remember in spite of so many other things fading from my memory:
They wanted me to talk to you in a folksy way.
That’s good, I mean, you want to take advantage of the sunny weather.
I have two thousand dollars here to give you.
I’ll take two hundred.
I’m laying down in the parking lot, now. I’m barefoot, and my feet are covered in dirt. Artis, a football player from my high school, helps me to my feet. We walk through the parking lot and talk about what happened. He says I was set up to fail. He says “They should have had you just sit with the talent, like out here in the parking lot. I don’t think they knew who you were. I think they wanted you to be twenty five.”
I go home - home in this case being Fox Mulder’s apartment from the X-Files - and I cautiously surf the internet for the public’s response to my hosting the Oscars. It’s not good. There’s a lot of videos online of my attempt to sing a medley, which I don’t remember doing in the show, but which I’m now watching on the internet. Apparently, my improvised song about “India” got pretty racist. And I sang a song about “Game of Thrones” even though that wasn’t nominated, and isn’t a movie.
Everyone in the entire world hates me except Erin.
I wake up a little sad, then lay there a while, forgiving myself for screwing up the Oscars so bad. It’ll be okay. People make mistakes. This too shall pass.
Then I have that great moment when I gain full consciousness and realize that none of it happened.
I still have a chance to host the Oscars and really nail it.
1. Baby Mentalist 2. Car-Jumper 3. Actress 4. Karate P.I. 5. Cat Lands
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I’m sure it doesn’t hold up with volume but I very much enjoyed watching the mute image of what happens when I’m trying to summon the muse.
Best part is the massive dent that Jesus hasn’t taken care of yet