Mike stood onstage, awaiting judgment. He had a bad feeling about what was going to go down.
Then, they were back from commercial break. The lights came up and the studio audience was prompted to cheer and generally act like idiots, then, just as quickly, they were silenced when the spotlight hit Mike and Vance Jennings. Mike’s opponent remained in shadow for now.
“OK, we are BACK, and…it’s JUDGMENT TIME”, Vance said, putting his arm around Mike. “Niles, let’s start with you. You said last night that Mike was, and I quote, “unimpressive”. Do you stand by that?”
“I do. It was my first instinct, and I think it was spot on, to be honest.”
A few scattered, rehearsed-sounding boos came from the audience. Vance made a big show of motioning for them to calm down.
“Valerie, you had a lot of nice things to say about Mike. Any final thoughts?”
“Yes…Mike, you are magical in that you represent the people out there who need a time to shine and you were shining for them and no matter what happens, you keep on shining.”
There was some confused applause.
“OK…last but not least: Roger. Thoughts?”
“Mike, you know I’m down with you, right?”
“I mean, I dig your vibe, with the polo shirt and khakis and Rockports–that’s classic. And that’s YOU, man. But I’m sorry, dude. I gotta say, your opponent knocked it out the park last night with the rings and the bark. Sorry, my man.”
Some boos mixed with applause.
“OK, Mike–you’ve heard the judges’ final thoughts. America has voted, and…” Vance held up his blue card. “…and, I’m sorry, Mike: You are NOT More Interesting Than A Tree Stump.”
The spotlight came up on Barky the stump as Vance shook Mike’s hand and thanked him for being on the show.
Mike shrugged and smiled and generally was a good sport. It wasn’t all bad–they’d paid him well to be on the show, and he had a TON of Rice-A-Roni coming his way.
But he was pretty much devastated. He could see the headline of his obituary now: MIKE HARDY, MAN VOTED LESS INTERESTING THAN TREE STUMP, DEAD AT AGE WHATEVER OF, I DON’T KNOW, SOMETHING BORING.
Which made it even worse when Vance forced him into doing an embarrassing jig to the show’s theme song amidst mocking confetti as the credits rolled.