May 15th, 2013. 2:30 PM. Los Andes, Chile.
I sat down in the teacher’s lounge for my usual coffee and mid-afternoon break. For some reason, the basic cable TV had been flipped on— the first time I’d seen it turned on all year. It had on a Chilean reality show known as Mundos Opuestos 2. I’d never seen any Chilean reality TV, so it seemed like a good time to watch a bit of the show. This first thing that I noticed was the strangely derivative Real World meets Survivor format— there were two teams full of 20 to early 30 somethings, living together and competing to win a physical challenge each week. The second thing I noticed was the voice of a cast member with an extremely gringo accent. I turned to the janitor sitting next to me, “Who the hell is that? He’s a gringo, right!”
“Yes!” He told me. “Rieeeeeechard!” He laughed to himself. “He’s a comedian from the US! They said he was on a show about geeks there, so they decided to bring him over to be a member of Mundos Opuestos.”
“Interesting.” I thought to myself. “Very Interesting.” Besides Richard’s goofy and eccentric appearances, usually involving him fawning over hot cast members, I found the show to be moderately entertaining. One cast member was voted off every week in a dramatic and drawn out fashion (classic reality!). Every episode had at least one physical challenge, and these challenges were always crazy pipedreams; a cross between a ropes course and a giant hamster cage. I caught 5 minute glances every few days until the show ended. Amazingly, Richard lasted until the the final week! He was energetic, hapless, and totally dorky, but he always found a way to slip to the next round. As the credits of the final show rolled, and confetti rained down upon the victorious Artur, I quickly let Mundos Opuestos 2 leave my brainspace.
July 15th, 2013. 9:30 PM. Santiago, Chile.
I entered the front door of my favorite budget hostal, ready to see if they had a room for me for the night. As I climbed up the steps to the main desk, I looked to my right to see a small statured man sitting on the couch. He was wearing glasses and looked reminiscent. I peered again and noticed that he really looked like the gringo from the show. My heart jumped!
“Excuse me, are you Richard??” I asked.
“Yes.” He looked up from the Dell computer sitting on his lap.
“From the show?!?! Oh my gosh I can’t believe it’s you!!” I was feeling giddy. I gave him the most emphatic head bob I’d given anybody in weeks.
“Nice to meet you…Where are you from?” he asked.
“Pennsylvania! York, Pennsylvania. Birthplace of the peppermint patty! How about you??”
“New Jersey.” He stated.
“Cool, my sister and brother in law live in Red Bank!”
“Not far from me.” He lifted his eyebrows as he smiled.
Alright, that seemed like it was sufficient small talk— I really wanted to get to the show. “So, how was the show!”
“It was fun! I enjoyed it. Basically it was similar to shows I´ve done in the past, except this time in Spanish.”
“Huh! Where else have you done comedy?” I asked.
“Well, I did Beauty and the Geek, I worked in Argentina for a little bit, I´ve done some stuff on cruise ships…I can show you a clip of some of my stuff if you want.”
He smiled as he watched the video; it was obvious there was some material that he still really enjoyed watching.
“Awesome reel! Seriously awesome!” I said. “How was being on Letterman, and Tyra and all those shows?!”
“It was fun…”
“But how were the hosts, what was Kimmel like? Is he kind of a prick?”
“Nah, he was a nice guy, but it’s not like we’re best friends. It was an interview, and when the interview was over, it was over. It’s not like I have these people on speed dial.”
“Interesting, that’s still incredible,” I replied.
“Yeah, it was cool… and that string of gigs eventually led me to Chile of all places.” He grimaced as he took a sip of coffee, “This tastes terrible….Why the hell did I buy this? I don’t even drink coffee.” He puckered his face as he took another sip.
“How do you feel about how you did on the show?”
He put his coffee down and sat up in his chair, “I think I did a pretty good job…. I do. Six months is an arduously long time to be filmed 24/7. Absolutely zero sense of privacy.” He outstretched his fingers and waved his hand as he spoke.
“You know, I´m curious about all this because I’m a comedian, too. I do a mix of things.”
“Do you have any clips? I’d like to check out your material!” he said.
I wasted no time in showing him a 2 minute video of me parodying an abdominal exercise instructor. He chuckled and asked what other videos I had.
I decided to show him the blog post about my adventures with the Colombian girl. This time he laughed out loud. “I love how she keeps everything in her bra… you need to keep going back to that. That’s funny!”
Finally I pulled up “Shameless Dancing,” a video of me imitating the “Peter La Anguila” latin dance song in front of a group of my students. “This is funny!” he told me, “But maybe the clip of you dancing should be edited. It kind of gets boring after about a minute.”
That was certainly sound advice. It was obvious Richard had some comedy wisdom. “Do you want to get a beer or coffee or something?” I asked him.
“I’m exhausted right now, but we can meet tomorrow morning in the lounge and figure out where to go after that.”
“Okay, perfect. Let´s meet at 11.” I shook his hand and bounced into my hostal room. My thoughts spiraled in all directions— how random and strange to see that guy here! As I made faces into the mirror and vigorously brushed my teeth, I wondered how Chileans would treat a reality star fresh off of filming…. I was about to find out.
Thanks for reading! If you use WordPress or Facebook and enjoyed the post, please click “Like.” Everytime you do, a new baby Ruffed Grouse is successfully delivered :D. Part 2 coming soon!