5 Celebrity Gaffes More Embarrassing Than That One Thing You Did
My apologies for even bringing it up. No matter the time of day you’re reading this, whether it’s the middle of the night when you should be sleeping or a quick peek on the clock (you naughty worker bee, you), it’s not helpful for your brain to dig back through the files for That Thing You Did. Nevertheless, here we are, blowing dust off the slipcover of your worst-of album, ready to spin that thing back in your memory banks. Even though you might have been a teenager when it happened, it’s important to take time once a month or so to really sit with it.
Don’t beat yourself up too much, though, because everybody makes terrible mistakes! Even Jesus, when he decided not to purchase and wear chainmail gloves in case anyone decided to nail his hands to stuff. Speaking of figures of modern worship, celebrities, too, have made gaffes that will make you feel better about your greatest emotional misstep.
Let’s take a look!
Ashlee Simpson’s ‘SNL’ Lip Sync
If on the eve of a huge performance, you’re not confident in your own singing voice… Well, it’s a little weird that you decided to become a singer. Nevertheless, sometimes, to further your career, you’ve got to perform live on one of the world’s biggest stages, and if you don’t think your natural pipes are up to the task, you can turn to lip-syncing.
Of course, what that means is that instead of placing your fate in the hands of your own talent and effort, you are instead putting your professional future in the hands of a tech board. Which backfired spectacularly when Ashlee Simpson’s backing (well, I suppose leading) track kicked in at the wrong time while performing on SNL. She reacted in a way that, for some reason, seems to be seared into our human brains as a response to shame: by doing a weird little dance.
So who cares if you pissed your pants as an adult when the T. rex came out in the 3D dinosaur movie they show at the Natural History Museum?
Kesha ‘Meets’ Seinfeld
They say “never meet your heroes,” but that usually is a reference to how it can be disappointing to see the human flaws of someone you revere — seeing your favorite actor stumbling drunk on the street, or your favorite singer berating a restaurant server. It’s not really meant to mean “never meet your heroes, because the actual meeting is going to be a psychological assault on your ego.”
Anyway, that’s what happened to Kesha when she had a chance to meet Jerry Seinfeld. She ran up to him at a red carpet event and asked for a hug, to which he replied with a simple and curt “no.” Now, it’s a bit of a combo of parasocialism and overfamiliarity to go straight to hug, but the response was still devastating, even more so when he immediately afterward told the camera that he had no idea who Kesha was.
That’s much more embarrassing than that time you were eating a box of donuts in a work bathroom stall and you ate one too many off one side, fucking up the weight distribution, making the box fall down and sending three glazed donuts rolling out of your stall like sad little snails.
Public speaking can be tough! Who can be criticized for a small stumble here and there when they know the world’s eyes are on them? Well, professional actors can. That’s their job, and they should be able to do that. If you’re a long-time A-list celebrity, presenting at the Oscars should be halfway between an honor and a mild annoyance. John Travolta, for example, should be able to handle it.
Handle it he did not! Famously, when he was supposed to announce a performance of Disney song and psychic weapon levied against the world’s parents for years “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel, he instead experienced a moment of true dissociation and panic, to which his brain extended a useless helping hand named “Adele Dazeem.” Luckily, all seems to have been forgiven, but still: you have to hope when you fuck up something, you don’t do it in a way that’s nearly as fun to say.
People still regularly reference it today, unlike that time you tried to hit a soda machine to dislodge a Fanta for your work crush, punched right through the front panel and got a coolant burn on your wrist where you still can’t grow hair.
Fergie Butchers the National Anthem
How incredible performing the National Anthem in front of a big crowd feels is directly proportional to how good you are at performing the National Anthem. First, there’s the baseline of remembering all the words. Then, there is the almost more important question of “does this sound insane and/or horrible?” Singing anything badly in public is horrifying, but because the National Anthem has weird quasi-religious overtones where it feels like you’re disrespecting the troops by messing it up, it’s doubly dreadful to get wrong.
I did not lay all that out to get to this paragraph and explain that Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, nailed it. She is responsible for one of the most infamously bad renditions of the anthem ever heard, at an NBA game no less. Even for celebrities, I feel like you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of pro athletes, because they’re as famous as you, but probably stronger. It is an overlong, wheezing horror that barely drags itself across the finish line, and you should watch it at your own risk.
So sure, that song you wrote for your ex during your “guitar phase” that rhymes “love” with “fits like a glove” is bad, but at least it’s not on YouTube.
Actually, It Is Your Thing
Whoops. Sorry to mislead! I really thought that we’d end up with something else at the top of this list, but we talked to everybody, and it turns out that it actually is that thing you did. That’s the most embarrassing thing ever, and everyone, including celebrities, knows about it because they’re all in an internet forum you’re blocked from. They post about it a lot, and it’s an inside joke there. One that would have gotten old if it wasn’t so funny. Sorry!
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.