Last weekend, rookie news anchor A.J. Clemente debuted in his very first live broadcast at Bismarck, North Dakota's own KFYR-TV.
In case you didn't watch the video, A.J. manages to completely destroy his career in the first three seconds of the broadcast, which has to be some kind of record. Thanks to the Internet, which preserves every horrible mistake we make like a hateful eternal library, we are able to examine the meteoric downfall of A.J. Clemente one glorious step at a time.
The day began for A.J. much like any other -- with cautious optimism and a devastating lack of self-awareness:
"Awkward Turtle" is a North Dakotan expression for "so nervous I'm about to poop myself."
Presumably he was cleared for anchoring, because he showed up on TV a few hours later, wearing what we hope was his lucky green tie, because there is no other conceivable reason for an adult human male to willingly dangle that color pattern from his neck in view of other people.
"I bought it to repel mountain panthers."
The 5 o'clock news begins, and before the NBC logo has a chance to fade off the screen (and before we even see his face), A.J. spits out the word "gay," followed immediately by the phrase "fucking shit" the moment the studio comes into view:
"... pluck and spit!"
Yes, North Dakota News' loyal evening audience has just tuned in to hear a scathing blast of curse-laden homophobia before any rational voice has even had a chance to speak, and when the anchoring team appears on screen, it is obvious which one of them was responsible.
Despite the fact that lead anchor Van Tieu is stumbling through the intro to the program, A.J. seems totally unaware that there are even cameras in the room. He stares fixedly down at the desk and continues muttering to himself like a lunatic for 10 more seconds. Meanwhile, Van appears terrified to move, lest she wander into A.J.'s rapidly expanding aura of failure. Only when A.J. hears his name does he snap out of his trance to cast a horrified stare toward his self-destructing future in broadcast journalism:
"Welp, there's always the Huffington Post."
He remains frozen until Van finally prompts him to introduce himself, even though she knows full well that his fate is now completely beyond his control.
That's the smile of a woman who knows the office parking lot is about to have an extra space.
Now that he has his audience's complete attention, A.J. begins to speak:
"I'm used to ... you know ... from being ... from the in- East Coast."
"We're terrible people."
A.J. sputters out what may or may not be a half-remembered pre-written speech where he points out his East Coast roots for reasons that cannot be explained. It's not pretty, but we're impressed he didn't just do that elevator thing where you bend your knees slowly and disappear behind the desk.
Keep in mind, we are still in the opening 20 seconds of the broadcast. A.J. hasn't even been on TV for a full minute. Like a man trying to walk off a gunshot wound, he goes directly into reading the news, as if his desk isn't already being cleaned out for him.
"Prooooobably shouldn't have leased that Jeep."
A.J. confided in Twitter after his catastrophic debut:
Once the clip hit the Internet, he even tried to clear up that he wasn't actually saying "gay," but apparently trying to pronounce the name Tsegaye Kebede, a London marathon winner. However, he offers no explanation for his schizophrenic mumbling:
"We were doing a story on Tsegaye's legendary love of ducklings."
Finally, A.J. was let go.
Does any country have televised news but no Internet access? North Korea! That's where he should look for work.
In what was possibly the saddest series of tweets yet to be recorded, we watched A.J. Clemente's day go from nervous and hopeful to arguably the worst 24 hours of his entire life. We wish him luck in finding another job, where hopefully he can make it past the 10-second mark without swearing like he's on Xbox Live.