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Author Topic: 7/7/04 Dianne Austin: Clay Aiken on Kimmel  (Read 3918 times)


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7/7/04 Dianne Austin: Clay Aiken on Kimmel
« on: April 28, 2010, 08:13:53 AM »
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Dianne Austin: Clay Aiken on Kimmel
« on: July 07, 2004, 09:30:27 PM »   

Clay Aiken on Kimmel
By Dianne Austin

I always liked Jimmy Kimmel, aside from, of course, the original comments and jokes he made about Clay Aiken that, just about everyone agreed, were in the poorest of taste. But now I love him. No, no, no, I don't mean I “love” him in the same way one ends up, or even starts out, “loving” Clay. But, all in all, there’s definitely a love thing going on with me for Jimmy now, and it’s really because of his own “Clayversion” which was so especially evident on his show last week.

Yes, I was there in the same room, sharing the same air space with you-know-who, and after an experience like that, you feel like you can go on your merry way with more than just a fond memory of an amusing, informative interview and an excellent musical performance. The feeling is similar to what the battery of your car must feel like after you’ve charged it.

As a human being who lives day to day in this big ol’ (sometimes) nasty world, there are a lot of times when you feel like you’re just running on empty. Your emotional “tank”, so to speak, needs to be filled. You could really use a tune-up. And if you get the opportunity to go see something like the Kimmel Show with Clay Aiken as THE guest, you feel completely revved up and ready to face another round of turkeys out there in the world once again. This occurs because not only did you GET your “Clay fix”, but your whole being feels as if it has been oiled and lubed: the chassis’s been tightened, the body’s been buffed, polished, preened, and your motor is happily humming once again. Yes! Waiting six hours in that line was DEFINITELY worth the wait. We weren’t even tired when we left the studio!

I must admit, I was not enthusiastic over the idea of having to line up for some undetermined amount of time in a long line on Hollywood Blvd., even if it was for the purpose of seeing Clay Aiken live. The prospect of standing in the hot sun with the noise and grime of the city and a few unsavory types possibly taking turns accosting me and my cohorts, was not a choice I would normally make for the way in which I would want to spend my day. But I thought, O.K. I’ll do it. Of course I’ll do it - it’s Clay.

So I drove to mom’s house, then to our friend’s place, then to L.A.—Hollywood and Highland. Queued up in line, camped out with chairs, left the line to go eat, came back and mixed, mingled, shmoozed and connected with the best fans in the world—CLAY AIKEN fans. Left the line again to take a walk, came back and listened to Clay stories up and down the street, watched the line grow, moved up, moved back, moved up again, and then, FINALLY, six hours later, went into the studio.

What this small portion of Mr. Aiken’s fan base experienced in those two rooms is a little hard to describe. Granted, we went into that building feeling excited and a bit “pumped” with a natural “Clay high” goin’ on, but we emerged charged, electrified, and wonderfully renewed. It’s just the way everyone looked—the way everyone felt. It was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. And that is why people follow him and do the things they do, spend the time waiting, in order to be in the room when he reveals just a little more of himself to us in an interview and gives us some of what we ultimately came for - that voice!

Clay is always great in an interview situation. But on this night he shined. I’ve called him a paradox before, and here is an example of what I mean:

He’s so relaxed, and yet there’s always a slight bit of tension going on. Maybe that’s what makes him such a joy to watch and to listen to. You can see it in the way he sits—always with one leg crossed underneath him, as if in a moment’s notice that ankle beneath him might propel him up and out of the chair, if need be, and on his way. When he sat there panning his audience with that beautiful smile, he seemed more laid back than ever. And yet, there it was again: that little bit of tension visible in the way he pulls at his pants at the knee, and the mouth, with the lips closed and the jaw going from side to side, as if coaxing the saliva glands along to keep his tongue from going dry. Someone who isn’t Clay-savvy might say, “Oh dear, he needs to stop those little nervous habits”, but I say, “Please don’t ever stop - it’s just too cute!!” Leave him be—we love all of that.

So, he and Jimmy evaluate what’s going on there that night: this audience is BIG! And it ain’t the size they’re talking about—it’s the intensity! Yeah, O.K., c’mon Clay. Now, you have to admit that L.A. fans are something else. Maybe before, you had some reservations? Maybe before, you thought we were a little scary, perhaps with our priorities not always in the right place? But now, you’ve GOT to admit that you felt the love hit you like a ton of bricks that night. Am I right? You know I am.

Because we were there for Clay Aiken and his every move. When he spoke, when he laughed (even off camera), when he fidgeted, and when we watched (along with him), the absolutely fabulous taped comedy sequence that he did with Jimmy that couldn’t have been more perfect, considering what has gone on between them in the past.

When we saw Clay “beat the crap” out of Jimmy Kimmel, we went wild. It was part of the perfect order of things, and it gave closure to the fact that Clay Aiken reigns supreme, because initially, he was the king of magnanimity, and agreed to appear the first time. And second, he agreed to come on again, as long as he was the focus and the star, and was given his chance to give a little back to Kimmel. Which is what he did. And I say “bravo” to the writers, producers and director of the Jimmy Kimmel Show for what they were able to accomplish. Bottom line—it gave Clay a wonderful opportunity to showcase another one of his talents: his acting ability.

How could it possibly get better from here? Well, it did. Jimmy and Clay went on to banter back and forth during the bulk of the interview, giving Clay center stage. He talked about his trip to London and Ireland, and improvised a little with his “absent minded professor” routine of how he always leaves his important possessions behind. And you know that HE knows that WE know that the interview material has already been discussed, but somehow, Clay still makes it fresh, spontaneous, and seemingly unplanned. He is just a natural in front of that camera!

But then—it got embarrassing. Sorry, Dylan Walsh but what were you doing there? My heart went out to him. He picked the wrong night to be a guest on the show. Because when he came out, we gave him a decent enough welcome. Clay’s fans are not discourteous. We would never be rude. But we just didn’t care. He was like a moot point in the middle of an important discussion. HE didn’t even know what he was doing there. And during his interview, there were things happening off screen between Clay and the audience that Jimmy had to keep commenting on. Walsh kept looking over at Clay. Clay was completely innocent, trying to give him his spotlight, but the audience was comprised of “Aiken’s Angels”, as JK called us, and we kept laughing devilishly while playing off of Clay’s delight with the humor that Jimmy kept batting around the room. And Kimmel kept bringing Clay back into the conversation! Like I said, for Dylan Walsh, it was embarrassing. He just didn’t get what was going on. And we felt a little awkward for him. For those of you who taped the show, watch that segment again, and you’ll see what I mean.

Then, thank goodness, that was over. It was time for Clay to sing. We had to go into another room, where we wound up getting filed into the BACK by security! This couldn’t be happening, I thought. But it was, so we dutifully listened. What were we going to do, get rowdy and storm the stage? No, not with my 80 year old mother in tow. So there we were towards the back of the room, but still with a partial view of the stage. And then, there he was in all his glory, singing “IWCY” and “Kyrie”, and honestly, it didn’t matter where we stood, as long as we caught a glimpse and heard his voice. Because the entire mass of people became one. I could tell we were all feeling the same way, no matter what our age, size, color, stature, or gender. We all felt the same thing. And we were person to person, holding on to each other—smiling, singing, and swaying. Really strange. Definitely a group experience. It was the “collective love affair” I talked about in a previous piece.

And when it was over we looked at each other, strangers that were so familiar; people that had never met but had a definite connection. And we let out a little squeal, smiled towards our standing neighbor and said “Yes!” Now we are ready to go home.

But we did not go home. We were a little too “up” to go home just yet. So we walked down Hollywood Boulevard, drinking in some of the cool night air, basking in the afterglow of Clay and his music, observing the throngs of people lined up to see which celebrities came out of the latest movie premier over at Grauman’s Chinese. No interest there for us. We continued that delicious walk and followed the next street around to the back of the Kimmel studio.

The consensus was, why not try to catch one more glimpse of OMC as he drives away to his L.A. home? We walked down the alley and stood right in front of the stage door where there were only a few people standing. Too good to be true? Yes—we were chastised for being too close and told to stand behind the barrier with everyone else.

I started talking, looked away from the door, glanced back and there he was for one moment with lots of bodies around him, whisking him into the gated parking lot, into the car, and poof! He was gone. Sigh. Oh well, it was worth it just to see the auburn hair sticking out in every direction, which is really all I got to see for the few seconds he appeared.

After he was gone, we approached the door where he had come out, and people in wheelchairs began to emerge.

I did not see Shelley, the woman who gave that beautiful speech about Clay, but I assumed she got to meet him, and the thought warmed my heart. What a wonderfully calm and eloquent spokesperson she was. I had met her in line that day and was thrilled for her when she was chosen to speak about Clay. Shelley was nowhere in sight, but a newfound friend by the name of Robin was wheeling a young lady out the door who I believe was her daughter. I had spoken quite a bit with Robin in line, and had not had a chance to meet her companion, as the girl had joined us later in the day. As soon as Robin saw me she grabbed me, threw her arms around me and said with a voice that exuded joy and elation, “We got to meet him!!” I was beside myself over her happiness, and we stopped to talk about it. I then met Kathy and we connected a moment while she described her meeting with the man that she and so many others hold in their minds and hearts as their hero. I would have loved to have seen the actual meetings of all of these people with Clay, but the closest I got was to hear their stories told. I did get to see some tears of joy, and on that night, it was enough for me.

The day was an example of the “total” Clay Aiken experience. It doesn’t happen that way very often, with all the elements that Clay has to offer given to the audience at one time. Then again, there could be so much more he has to offer still hiding inside. We’ll just have to see what the future holds! But if there’s ever a time when he presents a panoply of his talents all at one venue again, I most definitely want to be there!
Note to Jimmy Kimmel and his staff:
I hope your ratings go up. I hope you never get cancelled. You are a talented group of people, and with the exception of the warm-up comic, I was impressed with most facets of the show. The taped segments are just OK, sometimes pretty funny, but don’t get carried away with the humor that pokes fun at the less fortunate. Irreverent is fine as long as it doesn’t take advantage of people with disabilities or the elderly. Jimmy—you are a very funny guy and you have a relaxed and interesting style for hosting the show.

I’ll be watching the Jimmy Kimmel Show in the future, especially if you decide to have more musical guests like Clay Aiken on it.
Editor: Michelle Arce
E-Mail Dianne @

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