by Brick Walters, 11/26/99
Brick: It's high noon, and Sandy Larkin is in the street, being himself ... recording
a segment for his cable TV show ... Sandy Larkin's Latest.
Sandy: (yelling to drivers) One hundred dollars, any takers?
(sfx: car stop)
Driver: Here you go. I'll take your hundred dollars, buddy.
Sandy: But there are conditions.
I give you the hundred, I get your car for the day.
Driver: You get my car?
Sandy: I'm renting it. That's all. It'll be fine when I bring it back.
Driver: How will I get to work?
Sandy: Walk! You're not so fat! It'll be good for you! A hundred dollars!
Driver: Ok, I'll take it!
(sfx: honking horns of cars in line, waiting to get by)
Driver: I gotta get stuff out of the car, like my checkbook and stuff, ok?
Sandy: Checkbook? Leave the checkbook!
Driver: Leave it?
Sandy: Why not? I'm gonna see you later when I return the car. Take a look at
the check number ... What harm could I do, really?
Driver: I dunno ...
Sandy: Another fifty dollars so I can keep it? Just until tonight.
(sfx: street fade)
Brick: (vo) So what were you trying to accomplish with the "hundred dollars
for your car" routine?
Sandy: (vo/interview) I was trying to find out what it would take to get people
out of their cars. And I was trying to find out how stupid this guy was. I mean
... giving me his checkbook? How dumb is that?
Brick: Tell us what you did with the checkbook.
Sandy: I withdrew a hundred and fifty dollars! So I could pay him! (laughs) Another
Brick: (vo) Little jokes ... that's the stock in trade of Sandy Larkin ... the
latest in a wave of bright young comedians to capitalize on the public's insatiable
hunger for outrageous behavior based on the assumption that most people are stupid.
Sandy: I wanna be more outrageous than anyone who came before me.
I wanna be more outrageous than myself, yesterday. I'm my own toughest competition!
Brick: And it works. Sandy Larkin's Latest is one of the most popular programs
on cable's The Crude Channel. Susanne Periwinkle is program director for TCC.
Susanne: What Sandy Larkin represents is ... the explosion of interest in crude,
callous, basically disrespectful behavior. This is what our viewers enjoy. This
is what they imagine themselves doing. This is what we're going to give them.
Brick: But why?
Susanne: We're afraid. We have an audience of twisted, unstable, inconsiderate
people who could turn on us in a moment.
And also, it makes money.
Brick: But not everyone is so supportive. Curt Judge is a spokesman for the National
Decency, Respect and Decorum Committee.
Curt: So, I suppose I'm the token cultural snob for your report, eh?
Brick: I'm not sure what you mean.
Curt: (challenging) You want me to say something critical of Sandy Larkin, so
you name my name and people can hear me say ... "Sandy Larkin represents
the worst of what's in us." Is that it?
Brick: If that's what you think.
Curt: That IS what I think. But here's the problem. You can always find someone
to say the latest trend stinks. And sooner or later the person who says that is
held up as an idiot because things keep getting cruder and what was once scandalous
becomes commonplace and mainstream. Well, I don't want to play the fool in your
little game! Surprised?
Brick: Actually, I am. I ...
Curt: Good! That's what this is all about, isn't it? Surprising people. Even shocking
them? I'm tired of hearing how snotty punks like Sandy Larkin are getting rich
behaving badly and shocking people. Well I'm shocking you now, and I think I LIKE
Brick: (vo) Which leads us to the question ... Is Sandy Larkin setting a bad example?
And why is the public so willing to be subjected to abusive, mean spirited pranks
by cynical wisenheimers who consider themselves entertainers? I put that question
to Sandy Larkin himself.
Sandy: (hurt) Mean spirited? Really?
Brick: It sounds like you despise people.
Sandy: No! I LOVE people. I love their humanness. I'm trying to bring that out,
that moment of confusion when they're at their most foolish. We want to show that
vulnerable side of the person ... the side they struggle to hide from the world
every day, and we want to broadcast it to millions of strangers so they can point
Brick: And that's cruel.
Sandy: No, not cruel. We laugh because ... we see ourselves! And we laugh out
of relief, because it could be us up there all exposed, but thank goodness it's
not. It's this other poor sucker. And that's ... liberating.
I see that as a force for good in our world, don't you?
Brick: When you say it, maybe. But ... I have the feeling I'm being teased.
Sandy: No, no! Even though I'm rude and not very sympathetic in my show ... the
stuff I do in public is an act. I actually hate doing it.
Brick: What about when you shaved all the hair off that lady's dog?
Sandy: (brightly) That? Oh, well ... I DID enjoy that.
Brick: You're being sued, aren't you? By People Against People Against Pets.
Sandy: I can't comment. Other than to say ... I don't know why they're attacking
Brick: Could it be the goldfish thing?
Sandy: (happy) Oh, yeah! That! That was a great segment too.
Brick: Great? You made a woman watch while you killed a goldfish.
Sandy: I held the goldfish by it's tail. Out of the water.
Brick: It was an execution.
Sandy: It was a mockery of capital punishment. The premise was ... it was an execution
and she was my official witness. The goldfish had been bad.
Brick: How can a goldfish be bad?
Sandy: That's not the point. The point was to make this woman uncomfortable ...
to test her limits. How could I know she'd let me murder the thing?
Brick: That's disgusting.
Sandy: It's performance art. I bring out the worst in people so we can all see
it. I didn't know she was bad enough to snuff out a poor innocent goldfish.
Brick: SHE? YOU did it. You selfish little coward. Stop blaming other people.
Sandy: I thought you were supposed to be an impartial journalist.
Brick: You make me sick.
Sandy: I think I'm bringing out the worst in YOU!
Brick: Aw, stuff it!
Sandy: Wow, this is better than the time I got Mike Wallace to hyperventilate!
Brick: (vo) There was a time when performers and comedians struggled to create
artworks of such depth that audiences reacted powerfully.
Now, the audience reaction IS the work of art. The entertainers are mere provocateurs.
And they are spreading like crabgrass in the once orderly lawn of our public discourse.
Sandy: Wow ... I'm more important than I thought!
Brick: Out in the field, I'm Brick Walters.
Dale Connelly Reporting Home