04 October 2007

Can You Handel the Reality?

Real enough for you?

RYAN SENESINO: And we're back with tonight's edition of Handelian Idol. Here's our first contestant, Harry O'Dante. How's the show coming along, Harry?

HARRY: It's great, it's really great. I've never played a role closer to me than this one.

RYAN: But you're playing a man.

HARRY: That's right.

RYAN: And you're a woman.

HARRY: Well, naturally. My full name is Harriet O'Dante, but everybody calls me Harry. And I wear pants quite often. So I feel I can bring a lot to the part.

RYAN: That's pretty much what your fellow contestant Polly Nesso said, yet the viewers voted her off the show last week.

HARRY: Look, I feel bad for Polly, but what can you expect when you're so unsympathetic? All that moustache-twirling and nyah-nyah-nyah: what was that about? The judges may like it, but the viewers want somebody they can root for. And that's me! (Performs cartwheel) Shout-out to the folks back home! 'Specially my baby sister, Florrie! Hi, Florrie! Wheee! (Performs another cartwheel)

RYAN: What happens if you're not brought back for next week?

HARRY: I can't tell you how mad I'm gonna be. Gimme an M! Gimme an A! Gimme a D!!! (Performs three backflips, the last of which takes her through an open window)

RYAN: Here's our next contestant, Buff Studley. Buff, there's no role for a baritone in this opera, but the viewers keep voting you back.

BUFF: That's right. Hey, ladies.

RYAN: How have you prepared this week?

BUFF: Well, I've been working my pecs, of course, but I've been paying a lot of extra attention to my glutes this week, and I know you will, too. It's all about the booty. Hey, ladies.

RYAN: Now for a recap of last week's show. Sword-fighting is an important part of any Handel opera, and our contestants need to learn how to do it. What we didn't tell them was that they were using real swords.

LOU CARNIO [On tape]: AAAAGGGHH! My arm! My arm!

LINDA DA: Maybe we should call a doctor?

LOU: For God's sake, somebody help me look for my arm!

RYAN [Live]: Now let's take a look at the latest update from the design department. These set designs are terrific, Lotte. When do we see them in color?

LOTTE NONSAENZ: Those are the color. The color are black and white.

RYAN: That's gonna look kinda boring on television!

LOTTE: Is only way to be true to this opera, called "Oreo-dante." Only pig would use color in this opera. I schpitt upon your color. (Spits on Ryan's collar)

RYAN: Uh, speaking of that — how are the costumes coming along?

LOTTE: Costumes? No costumes. Contestants will wear street clothes. Then remove them. Is contestant-eliminating-segment we call "All in No Pantie."

RYAN: Fabulous! Our ratings will go through the roof!

LOTTE: Have you seen these people?

BUFF: Hey, ladies.

LOU: My arm!!

RYAN: In tonight's rehearsal, the cast are undergoing painful oral surgery. What's the point of that? Here's the show's director, Otto Bahnsnot.

OTTO: Well, Ryan, the point is a sharp surgical instrument inserted between the gums and teeth. For me, this opera is about pain. Why else are they screaming all the time? This is reality, and in reality, we scream when we're in pain. I want the contestants to really get into that pain, to use the pain, to feel the pain, and to make the viewers feel it, too — in a rehearsal segment I call "Periodonte."

RYAN: Our camera crews followed the contestants this week as they prepared for the grueling "Periodonte" round. Let's take a look!

Cut to
JENNY EVRA [On tape]: Hi, everybody! Today I'm practicing my screams. AAAAGGHHHH!!!! How was that?

COACH: Not bad, but I'm looking for something with more of a Mariah Carey flavor. Can you give me that?


COACH: Fabulous! That's much more like it!

Cut to
RYAN [Live]: And coming up — there hasn't been a real castrato in opera for a century — until now! You won't believe our next elimination round!

BUFF: Hey! What are you doing? Hey — let me go! Don't touch —

RYAN: Which of our contestants will make it? You decide! Opera-operators are standing by to take your votes, America! And we'll get back to reality — after this commercial break!

[Note: I gratefully acknowledge that two of the parody titles sprang from the minds of others: "Oreo-dante" is from Beverly Sills, and "Periodonte" from John W. Freeman. "Ariodante" belongs to the ages. The rest, alas, is all mine.]