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18 Feb 2009 06:00
I don’t even remember his name.
All I know is that the boy was from Ceres in the Western Cape, had no front teeth and worked as a “waitron”.
He was obviously poor: his clothes were old and uncool and he spoke bad English in a strong Plattelandse accent. He was never going to make it past the first round of the Idols audition in Cape Town.
He started to sing some jazz number about love.
Don’t ask me the name—the only words I could make out were “love” and “tonight”, frequently in sequence.
My partner and I chuckled away as we eagerly drank our red wine in anticipation of another session of hilarious reality TV.
The last time M-Net broadcast the first-round auditions of Idols we were on holiday in a showery KwaZulu-Natal and we spent most of our time glued to channel 198.
Although I find the judging panel quite boring, there have been times when Randall Abrahams or Gareth Cliff had me in stitches with their uncouth remarks.
Not this time.
The boy from Ceres was stopped and the panel, specifically Abrahams and Dave Thompson, decided to put him in his place in a manner that reminded me of two old apartheid generals.
Abrahams started the assault: “I want you to promise me one thing today, my boy, you must promise me this thing — that you will never ever again, not when a song enters your head, you must promise me that you will never again open your mouth to sing.”
The boy looked bewildered and shaken. Abrahams, in an even more aggressive and threatening tone, continued: “Do you understand me? Do you promise me that you will never ever sing again?”
Pathetic and powerless, the boy nodded and waited to hear what the rest of the generals had to say. Cliff disapproved briefly and Mara Louw was unconvincing with her attempt to tell the boy in polite language to fuck off.
But it was Thompson who saved the worst for last. “No, go back and ask people if they want fries with their food. Okay? That’s what you must do. You must ask people whether they want fries with their food.”
At that moment the boy couldn’t take the battering any longer and walked out of the studio.
My partner and I felt traumatised. We wanted to moer fat Thompson and console the boy before he caught the train or taxi or bakkie back to Ceres.
What kind of person casually abuses a defenceless, pathetic child who has possibly done the bravest thing in his life? Why crush the spirit of someone clearly incapable of appreciating your wicked sense of “humour”?
I don’t know. What I do know is that we won’t be tuning into channel 198 any time soon.
Read more from Adriaan Basson
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