Naturally, I’m unassuming and easy going.
I blame my upbringing. Growing up in the 1990’s in a rural area we never had to lock our doors or worry about scheming neighbors. It made for a pleasant youth, but it didn’t prepare me for the trickery and greediness of life outside Mayberry.
But can anything truly prepare you for a hidden camera/practical joke reality show? Being unassuming and easy going helps.
Accustomed to Peculiarity
Before delving into my experience on TruTv’s The Carbonaro Effect, let me explain why I didn’t panic when presented with Magician Michael Carbonaro’s so called Darts of Destiny.
My life has prepared me for the unexpected; seeing people speak in tongues regularly at church as a kid, youthful hijinks during the year I went to school in West Africa, and vast amounts of time I spent in my parent’s gym, S&M Fitness (Hey, their names are Suzanne and Mark, get your minds out of the gutter).
Those experiences always made me feel like an outsider, even though I appear pretty traditional. My freak flag may not fly high in the front yard, but it is folded neatly upon my mantle and occasionally shown to guests.
Hunter S. Thompson said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro,” well, I’m certainly not a pro at anything, but I’m no stranger to the uncanny.
A Warlock’s Veiled Invitation
I had just moved to Chicago after working at a newspaper in Florida. I wanted to pursue the city’s comedy scene, so I took a job working for the Cubs to justify the move.
I soon discovered that city life causes you to bleed money. In need of extra cash I found an online job posting for weekend work in the suburbs, helping a “moving company” prepare a house for an estate sale.
Warning: People will take advantage of you if you’re looking for a quick buck.
A Puzzling Interview
Soon after I received an email requesting an interview downtown. The office was right on Michigan Avenue, a strange place for a moving company to have an office.
When I got there, they gave me an application. Everything about it was standard except for a question at the end about my knowledge of shows currently being filmed in Chicago; Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, The Carbonaro Effect … I checked the obvious ones, with my questions about its relevancy quickly diverted when brought up.
They inquired about my experience with improv comedy, which was highlighted on my resume.
They said they liked to help actors and comedians find extra work to pay the bills. They weren’t necessarily lying, but they sure weren’t telling the truth about how I’d earn the money.
We set a date to meet over the weekend to prepare a house for an estate sale. Lies, lies, lies.
A Psychedelic Saturday
It was late October 2016, a few days before Halloween. I had been working for the Cubs all season. They were on their way to winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years, breaking a decade’s long curse.
I’m not a baseball fan, I had never even been to Major League game before my first day at work there, so it was strange to be along for the ride in the first place.
The city was electric that fall. We were a month away from the strangest Presidential election in American History and life felt like a Black Mirror episode.
And that Saturday, after waking up casually, I took a peaceful train ride out to the suburb, with the leaves on the trees vibrant with the colors of autumn.
I could sense that something was afoot but I never felt in danger. When I arrived on the train a harmless looking guy in a University of Northern Iowa hat picked me up at the station.
He lied to me some more and drove me to the address. The whole thing felt sketchy, but I figured if it came down to fisticuffs, I could handle all the production assistants I met that day.
When we arrived at the address, Carbonaro appeared on the porch. The house looked like the one from Home Alone and he definitely seemed way too energetic and enthused for a dude from a moving company. But I sized him up and thought, what the hell, let’s do this.
We went into the basement to start the job and the rest is best described by watching the video on YouTube linked here.
The Prank’s Aftermath
It was all completely genuine. A lot of people thought it was fake, but YouTube commenters are the scum of the Earth, so who cares what they think!
I don’t watch the show, but I saw it on T.V. once in the waiting room of a Doctor’s office. I have a knack for remembering useless television information, so I knew it immediately when he said who he was.
After he said “I had just been hit by the Carbonaro Effect,” I felt like the dumbest dude in the Tri-State area. Whatever, I got a funny story from it.
They had hidden cameras in the wall and a two way mirror. I signed a release form, got my money, and pretty soon I was back on the train where I started, scratching my head.
What I Gathered
Being laid back and assuming is bitter sweet. It got me into the situation and helped me during. And guess what, I’m still the same and don’t plan on changing anytime soon.
I don’t have many rules I live by, but I never wear shoes I can’t take off in a full-on sprint in, I size up situations, and I take on every seemingly safe situation with “Yes, and …”
Life is absurd! I may still be on the Carbonaro Effect, I don’t know, I’m not really sure about anything.
But that’s life, weird occurrences are the essence of existence. Approach them with a good attitude, examine things and question their validity, and tell you’re crazy stories no matter how embarrassing!
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