The Amazing Race used to be one of my all-time favorite shows, but I didn’t watch last season and I don’t really intend to watch when this season premieres on Sunday. Why? Because Season 20 (which aired earlier this year) is the season I auditioned for and failed to be cast on, and the wound is too fresh to tune in to Season 21.
I suppose that makes me sound bitter, and I’m fine with that because I totally am. I knew I was destined to make a fool of myself in a televised race around the world for $1 million ever since I saw the first episode of the Amazing Race, so watching other people do it in my place is not what I would call a fun time. In hindsight, however, I can understand why producers might have looked past my audition tape.
In February 2011 my best friend/potential teammate and I noticed that the show was holding an open casting call at a casino in the Poconos, about 100 miles away from our home of New York City. Since the deadline had passed for recording our own video and sending it in, this was our only chance at getting on the show. So we did what anyone would do in that situation — we played hooky for a few days during our last semester of college and convinced our easily swayed friend with a car to drive us to rural Pennsylvania.
On the drive up we mapped out the backstory we were going to win the producers over with: we met the very first day of college and had been best friends ever since, and the race was our way of having one last hurrah before our lives inevitably drifted apart in the messy world of post-grad life. We also thought our vast height difference (I’m 6’3″ and she’s maybe 5’2″) would be a nice visual representation of the “odd couple” rapport that defines our friendship. We really thought this one out.
Confidence in our plan was solidified when we arrived at the casino and scoped out who else was auditioning for the Amazing Race, seeing as the vast majority of our competition was comprised of middle-aged moms wearing matching quilted vests or homemade sweatshirts that said things like “These Hot Mamas R Ready 2 Race!” There were a few teams who looked like they could give us a run for our money, but I am only slightly exaggerating (and self-aggrandizing) when I say that we were the most naturally entertaining and camera-ready duo in that entire place. Scoffing at the other teams, we registered for an audition slot and proceeded to wait.
And then wait some more.
It took about 8 hours for our names to be called into the audition room, and most of that time was spent reviewing our backstory and trying to win money on the Sex and the City slot machines. After I lost about $100 to Miranda, Charlotte, Samantha and Carrie (who are modern, sex-positive women AND dirty thieves, it turns out) it was finally our time to wow producers with our witty banter and charming smiles. Production assistants ushered us into the casino’s nightclub where they had set up three filming stations for the auditions, two of which were tucked in corners so other teams couldn’t watch the process. The one that we were assigned to, however, was on a harshly lit stage in full view of the entire room.
After watching a few other teams talk into the camera we were called onstage and told to talk for three minutes about why we were auditioning for the Amazing Race and why we would make a good team. And this is right around the time that our whole plan fell to pieces.
The stage lights, the rolling camera, and the crowd of onlookers hoping for our failure gave us both such intense stage fright that we simultaneously blacked out and started babbling insane things for the full three minutes. To this day, all we can remember is that I said I would slide tackle my partner if the situation called for it, and that she would be good for the show because she has “nimble hands”.
We left the casino trying to reassure each other that we had got some good talking points in, but we knew that it was over. We would not be getting a call to go to Los Angeles for the second round of casting, and we would not be going on a race around the world.
I can’t say that I blame the people at CBS for not picking us to be the breakout stars of their show, because I’m sure we looked like two schizophrenics who escaped from the local asylum and wandered into the casino for a warm place to hide. But I would be lying if I said I don’t think we’re a hell of a lot more entertaining than some of the people they ended up selecting — I mean, just imagine what we could have done with our slide tackling and nimble hands! Now THAT sounds like good television.
And who knows, we still might be on TV if the Amazing Race ever decides to run a blooper reel.