4 Embarrassing Moments From the Worst New Year's Countdown
You know that cheesy, often embarrassing, and sometimes stupid spectacle of a New Year's Eve countdown show you watched to ring in the New Year last week? It could have been worse. A lot worse. It could have been the live, on-air drunken train wreck that was the KDOC First Night 2013 New Year's countdown, hosted by Jamie Kennedy.
On Dec. 31, 2012, KDOC, an independent TV station in Los Angeles, tried their hand at a New Year's countdown show. There really isn't just one word to describe how much of a mistake every moment of this show was, from beginning to end. Everything that could have gone wrong on live TV did. Even the things they could have controlled, like pretaped segments, were such grand failures it feels like everyone involved worked harder than you've ever worked in your life to make the worst New Year's Eve countdown show ever aired.
Don't believe something as benign as a New Year's Eve countdown show could have been such a monumental spectacle of failure? Well, let's lay out all the evidence I've collected:
Chaos and Confusion
One of the few videos of the event available on the Internet begins with the broadcast appearing to return from a commercial break and no one, including Jamie Kennedy, the goddamned host of the show, was told they were live. Kennedy stands on stage alone and lost, like a kid separated from his mother in a Walmart. And the kid is drunk.
The live microphones pick up random people dropping F-bombs in the midst of their titanic confusion as to what in the holy hell is going on. The camera wanders on a crane, as if searching for some purpose to be on. There are cameras in that same city filming incredible movies and shows, but these cameras are stuck filming this catastrophe and they can't muster the enthusiasm to give a shit.
After that, a simple cut-away from Jamie to his co-host, Stu (who looks and sounds like he could be Damon Lindelof's little brother, the one whose calls Damon always screens), for an interview with Shannon Elizabeth proves to be the most difficult task the director of the broadcast has ever performed since the time he had to put on pants earlier that day. The shot lingers uncomfortably long on the disheveled, confused face of Jamie Kennedy as he tries to make eye contact with anyone who might know what's going on. (Spoiler: He never finds those eyes).
All of this is happening while the audio of the Shannon Elizabeth interview is heard but not seen, presumably because the director of the live broadcast left the booth to piss in a spot someone could slip on so he could give his cameras something entertaining to shoot.
This wonderful, simple moment sets the stage for the shitshow to come.
The Across-the-Board Failure of Sponsor Tie-In Segments
The three most prominent sponsors of the show were Carl's Jr., the Commerce Casino and Hotel, and the general concept of being environmentally conscious, which, karmically speaking, is like shooting a guy, stealing his wallet, then going to church to balance it all out. Each of the sponsors was given some form of on-air promotional tie-in segment, and each was a tragedy in its own way, like their brand of failure was personalized and handcrafted by a highly skilled failure artisan.
And a job well done, sir.
"Going green" was one of the show's running themes, along with mediocrity and incomprehensible stupidity. I'm sure Energy Upgrade California is a group of well-intentioned people with the modest goal of saving the world and every living soul on it through minor home energy-saving tips. They somehow got conned into sponsoring this travesty of an event, and they were given a small segment in which a highly overdressed spokes-supermodel woman blandly recited tips for saving money on home energy bills with all the off-the-cuff looseness of an automated voice dial system. What would have been an otherwise dull, overly rehearsed speech turns fun when a random audience member behind co-host Stu starts mouthing all of Stu's lines off the cue card a fraction of a second before he can read them.
Any well-meaning message of environmentalism, which could have been the only non-ironically positive thing to come from a terrible live broadcast, is shot to hell by a random lady in the background reading cue cards in a trolling mimic.
Fast food chain Carl's Jr. had their faces covered with a chloroform rag and woke up to find that they, too, were sponsors of First Night 2013. I couldn't find footage of their on-air tie-in segment, but it's probably better that way. From the descriptions I've read, it sounds like the footage could permanently ruin both burgers and sex for all who watch. I'm sure that Bridget Marquardt, former member of Hugh Hefner's blonde harem, did not need much convincing when producers asked her to eat a Carl's Jr. turkey burger like she wanted to fuck it and give birth to sliders.
To be fair, as far as turkey burgers go, this is a pretty bangable pile of sandwich slop.
And so she did. By all accounts, she made eating a shriveled, pale lump of meat look convincingly sexy, if not a bit disturbing. Then again, she was with Hugh Hefner for years, so she had plenty of experience in such matters.
And then there were the Commerce Hotel and Casino sketch tie-ins starring Jamie Kennedy, and most likely written by him too -- though I can't confirm that, but c'mon, you know? There are three of them. In terms of quality, they start at bad:
And scale down from there:
Until they reach previously unexplored depths of racial insensitivity:
If you didn't watch the video, all you need to know is this: Jamie Kennedy and a gaggle of white people dress as Native Americans in an attempt to play Mayans trolling a casino for cash after their prediction of a 2012 apocalypse failed to pan out. To be fair, this probably just wasn't the right venue for that kind of comedy. It would have killed if this were the Klan's New Year's RocKKKin' Eve, though.
They Messed Up the Countdown
Time cannot be controlled. It marches on, unrestrained and unstoppable. That is a lesson the cast and crew of First Night 2013 learned firsthand as midnight approached and the very concept of time itself seemed to slither from the grasp of every single person at the event.
If you lose track of when midnight strikes on New Year's Eve -- which, by the way, is an idea so preposterous that if you wrote it into a movie the studio would make you change it because it makes the characters look too stupid -- you lose track of the molten core that drives New Year's Eve. And yet, somehow, some way, everyone involved with First Night 2013 reached deep within themselves and yanked out every last fiber of incompetence to accomplish a previously unimaginable feat of stupidity: their countdown was 10 seconds late.
Macy Gray's career didn't pan out too well, so she found herself inebriated and performing to a dull, uninterested crowd during the First Night 2013 countdown, wrapping her set three minutes before midnight. Jamie Kennedy and his co-hosts took the stage and hyped the bored crowd for the remaining time, periodically telling the audience how much time was left. Viewers at home had an on-screen clock to go by, but, as Jamie Kennedy points out at the 1:30 mark of the video above, the hosts have no clock to reference. Somehow, they managed to keep track of time until well into the final minute, when Jamie Kennedy delivered a gay joke so devastatingly bad everyone became unstuck from time for 10 seconds and woke up thinking no time had passed. With 12 seconds to go, Jamie Kennedy says, in reference to kissing someone at midnight:
"I'm going to kiss Stuart ... even though that's not legal yet." Apparently, that was a joke, and I know that because Jamie Kennedy immediately shouts, "That was a joke!" to clear up any misunderstanding of what just happened, kind of like how he shouts, "That was sex!" after sex.
After that, time goes awry. With six seconds to go, Stu announced that there were 15 seconds to go. So they waited five seconds. When the clock struck midnight, their countdown began:
When it ended, they were the absolute last people in Pacific Time to have rung in the New Year. With the power to freeze time for 10 seconds after telling a piss-poor gay joke, Jamie Kennedy would be the worst member of the X-Men, for a variety of obvious reasons.
It All Ended With a Fistfight
At some point during the show, Jamie Kennedy brought to the stage two classy ladies who appear to be riding high on an array of potent cocktails. These women are black. This matters because Jamie Kennedy used their blackness to put a twist on the old "Once you go black ..." line by quipping, "You should go white because it'll keep your vagina very tight," implying that black penises will ruin these women if they're not careful. Before that, the other girl told the crowd that one of her resolutions is to get rid of all her haters, most of whom were no doubt fuming when they saw her being interviewed on such a prestigious program when she was in a state of peak lucidity. So, again, this is all very classy.
The class jumped up several thousand notches when the woman who wished to shed herself of the encumbrance of her haters immediately went to work on her resolution by getting into a fistfight with a bald white guy, on stage, live on TV, seconds before the end credits rolled:
It's like the mischievous spirit in charge of making this show a calamity needed one more fuck-up to meet a quota, so he made a fat black lady and a guy who looks like a state trooper whale on each other under credits and complete silence. He then kicked his feet up, lit a cigar, and felt satisfied for the remainder of eternity.
When the fight broke out, Jamie Kennedy said, "There's a fight! It's ending with a fight!" and then jumped off stage and presumably picked a direction and ran at it like he was going to tackle a bear thousands of miles away. I mean, that's what I would have done. Why stick around? What can possibly be said to the crew after all that shit? "Don't feel bad! We'll nail it next year!"? Hell no. The only thing being nailed was the coffins on everyone's careers. The post-show meeting must have been like a Scared Straight special, but I can't imagine who would have been doing the screaming. To produce a show this spectacularly bad takes the collective incompetence of everyone involved. It's a team effort. Everyone has to be firing on no cylinders, must have zero chemistry, and must be operating at -110 percent of their potential.
So next year, when you're snuggled on the couch and being tormented by a bounty of awful New Year's countdown shows, just think back to everything you've seen here and take solace in the fact that at least you're not watching KDOC's First Night 2013 hosted by Jamie Kennedy. Or you can hate yourself not watching it. Whatever helps ring in your New Year.
Luis told a gay joke so powerful that he won't be ringing in 2015 until March 7, 2023. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
For more from Luis, check out 5 Ways Your Favorite Holidays Change as You Get Older and 4 Absurdly Expensive Versions of Products for Filthy Jobs.
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