Sunday, May 31, 2009

Separated At Birth: Susan Boyle and Crazy Guggenheim?

I was in London for a few days, just in time to catch the British press turning on poor Susan Boyle, who was dubbed the Hairy Angel.

Boyle, it seems, lost her carefully propped-up composure in the last week, on several occasions shouting obscenities in public.

A story in today's New York Times about Boyle losing the finale of a British TV amateur talent show last night mentions the essential cruelty of the program and quotes a British psychologist who has worked for reality TV: "The more tears, humiliation, conflict and embarrassment, the more the public loves it."

Thank God that sorry spectacle is over.

(UPDATE, 10 PM: Unfortunately, it seems, the spectacle is not over. Boyle is now in a psychiatric clinic, according to British news reports tonight.)

How did it become dogma that this sadly deluded woman has a beautiful voice? In fact, though she has a passable karaoke singing talent (after the fourth round of drinks, let's say), she is decidedly off-key singing those execrable show-tune anthems.

Still, was I the only one who saw at least some connection between Boyle and that buggy character Crazy Guggenheim on the old Jackie Gleason TV show from the 50s and early 60s? Crazy Guggenheim would turn up at the bar in the weekly "Joe the Bartender" skit, and after baffling and infuriating Gleason's Joe the Bartender with goofy, inane banter, Crazy (played by Frank Fontaine) would then sing a ballad, and sing it beautifully.

Only differences are: Frank Fontaine was a professional entertainer, in on the joke; he had a fine baritone voice and he hit the notes. Susan Boyle hit the clams, and how has hit the bricks, having served a TV program's vile and cynical purposes, poor soul.

More observations from London a bit later.


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