Brace yourself, ladies and gentlemen. I am about to reveal some ridiculous news. Even for me.
First, a little background.
My uncle hails from the great land of Topeka. (jealous? I know...) By day, he works at Hallmark. By night, he is a taxi driver. I'm not sure why he chose to pick up this as a part-time gig, but his interactions with the Topeka night life has certainly spiced up our family Thanksgiving dinners. Let's just say that taking taxis in T-town is a little more than sketch.
Anyway, I was home visiting a few weeks ago and my dad mentions offhand that Uncle Jay has been asked to be in a German documentary. As you can imagine, this strikes me as quite unusual since a) Topeka doesn't exactly seem like a logical filming location for such an endeavor and b) my uncle (though German) isn't who I would consider a prime source for said documentary. Needless to say, I was quite intrigued.
A week or so passed and over Easter break, I again was home. As we're sitting around the living room, my dad tells me he has quite the update with Uncle Jay. I snapped to attention immediately. And I was not disappointed.
It seems that Uncle Jay had been in the lobby of the cab business when a woman walked in looking lost. My uncle offered his assistance and she proceeded to tell him she was looking for someone to be in the aforementioned German documentary and that, in fact, he would be a perfect candidate. My uncle wasn't initially thrilled with this idea, but after a bit of persuasion, he agreed to the interview.
Originally, the interview was scheduled for T-town. But some bug hit the film crew which caused them to reschedule and before he knew it, my uncle was headed to KCI Airport to meet the elusive documentary crew. In a parking lot. By himself. (apparently he missed out on McGruff growing up)
So, he's waiting...and waiting...and waiting. And the parking lot is pretty much deserted and he's kind of getting ticked because time is going by...when suddenly, two 15 passenger vans arrive out of thin air and a flurry of activity follows as people are jumping out of vans, setting up cameras, mic-ing my uncle (is that a word? mic-ing?), mic-ing each other...it is all Uncle Jay can do to keep his head from spinning. Within a few minutes, he finds himself in his taxi with a European man in the passenger seat who appears to be the interviewer, a European gentleman hunkered down in the backseat with a camera and another European tech guy who tells him to drive slow and follow the van ahead of them so they can get it all on film. And so the adventure began.
As they're driving along, my uncle grew increasingly frazzled. His German passenger would pepper him with questions then break into rather heated German exchanges (or what my uncle thought was German) with the rest of the crew, leaving my uncle almost constantly bewildered.
To make matters worse, his strict orders to drive slow was not exactly winning him friends on the road. As he found himself going 45 mph on the highway and causing a snaking line of angry travelers behind him, he tried desperately to distract himself. Being a big fan of pretty much anything with an engine, he called out at one point, "Oh, check out that '53 Chevy!" to which the entire carload of German passengers erupted in almost sheer panic. "THE PAPARAZZI! IT'S THE PAPARAZZI!" the interviewer shouted, ducking down frantically. Completely caught off guard, my uncle paused as he tried to explain that the paparazzi certainly wasn't common in the middle of Kansas, and furthermore, there was no evidence that anyone in the Chevy was paying any attention to the Topeka taxi. But the Germans were quite convinced, shouting again, "THE PAPARAZZI! THEY ARE ALWAYS AFTER US! QUICK! YOU MUST TURN HERE!" The camera man, now curled into a ball in the backseat frantically tapped Uncle Jay's shoulder and insisted he take his next left. Realizing he was in the company of completely irrational though albeit very passionate strangers, he finally obliged.
Headed back towards the airport, Uncle Jay struggled to remain civil. His nerves were ragged. His patience was wearing thin. And to make it worse, his interviewer kept referring to his clothing and what famous German designer he was wearing. To which my uncle most certainly had nothing to say as he clenched his jaw and continued to drive.
As he pulled into the parking lot, he had the most maddening exchange with his feisty passenger yet.
Crazy Interviewer: Now I'm sure you don't know this, but I am actually famous in my country.
Uncle Jay: Oh, really? That's nice.
CI: Yes, I make movies. And I am famous...but I am sure this does not interest you.
UJ (absentmindedly): Mmhhmm. Wow. That's great.
CI: In fact, I have won many big awards for my performances. But you probably do not care.
UJ: Yeah...Oh, no, I mean, that's cool. Congratulations.
CI: I actually have these awards here. Today. In the trunk. But I am sure you do not wish to see them.
UJ: What? Oh. Um...sure. I mean, yeah. I guess I'll look at them. (trying to mask his annoyance at such leading questions)
The trunk was opened and lo and behold, several large, impressive looking awards are sitting there bubble-wrapped. Uncle Jay is not only expected to "oooh!" and "aaah!" but is also asked to take several pictures with said awards as his passengers continue their German exchanges.
Finally, Uncle Jay reached his breaking point.
"Look fellas," he said, "I am cold. I am tired. And it is getting late. Can we just wrap this up so I can get the hell out of here?"
Within minutes, the party is over and my uncle headed home, head spinning, as he tried to make sense of the madness he just experienced.
The next day at work, Uncle Jay is relaying this surreal experience to his co-worker, who, for reasons still unknown to me, gets an idea.
"Wait a minute," his co-worker said. "This sounds like something straight from Borat."
My uncle gives him a blank stare.
"You have seen Borat, right?" his co-worker asks.
My uncle shakes his head no.
They jump on a computer to google and pull up photos of Borat and his alter-egos, including Bruno, a gay Austrian fashion show presenter (at least according to Wikipedia. I am no Sacha Baron Cohen connoisseur).
Suddenly, my uncle gasps.
"That's him! That's the guy!" he says, pointing at the photo of Bruno. "That is the German passenger that interviewed me!"
Yep, that's right...as it turns out, Sacha Baron Cohen is following the success of his 2006 hit Borat with a similar film using--you guessed it--his Bruno character. So the interview Uncle Jay had for a "German documentary" was actually footage for the upcoming Bruno. And the pesky "German" interviewer was actually Cohen himself.
Which means, my friends, that in a few short months my uncle may be hitting the big screen (the movie is currently slotted to debut in October 2008).
Uncle Jay is currently racking his brain to remember exactly what he said. My brother is currently the coolest person in his frat house. And I am currently holding my breath and praying that Uncle Jay's big debut is not completely mortifying.
I couldn't make this up if I tried.