One week from tonight a reality television star will be born. Next Tuesday, June 24th, at 9 o’clock, I Survived A Japanese Game Show premieres on the ABC network. Our man Andy is finally coming to primetime!
But before I introduce you all to the man, the myth, the legend that is Andrew Kelly-Hayes, I would like to take a moment to delve a little deeper into what this reality show is all about. By now, most of y’all have seen the commercials for I Survived A Japanese Game Show or have heard the word of mouth. What is clear from these ads, and the water-cooler talk, is that the major concept behind this latest reality offering involves running 10 young Americans through the gauntlet of bizarre and hysterical challenges that Japanese game shows are famous for. What has not been made all that clear, however, is that the other major hook in this show is how these 10 contestants navigate through a totally foreign land and culture, as they live and compete together. The early buzz on the show is that the “house mother,” Mamasan, is quite the pisser, and has been described as a “pot-stirrer.” This I like. The fact that some of the show will be devoted to the contestants’ day-to-day in Japan, all under one roof, is fantastic; especially because that will allow the force of nature that is Andy’s personality to come shining through the television, regardless of how the show is edited. Speaking of the editing process, I don’t envy the guy who is in charge of that; for I am sure that there will be some priceless gems from Andy that will inevitably end up on the cutting room floor.
So now it is time to properly introduce Andrew Kelly-Hayes to you, my faithful readers. Let me start by telling a little story of how we all met this character who became one of our dearest and most loyal friends. It was in early September and the first weekend of the Fall semester way back in 1998, that we threw a legendary, 12-keg, toga party at our off- campus house on Warren Square. We had people manning the door in order to maintain proper crowd control, as well as enforcing the toga dress code. A few hours into the revelry I noticed that a barrel of a man, toga-clad, and sporting a silver helmet securely strapped to his chin, had taken up a post, checking people at the door. My initial reaction was the same as some of my friends, “Who the fuck is this guy, making himself quite at home?” My next thought was, “And what is up with that fuckin’ helmet?” I never really did figure out the whole deal with the helmet. But by the way that Andy bounds through life, like a runaway freight-train, it is probably a good safety precaution. Years later, when Andy visited me in Connecticut, and we went out one night to Toad’s Place in New Haven, he tried to enter the club with his helmet on. While the bouncer seemed cool enough with the unusual headwear, Andy was rebuffed by the police officer at the door. So Andy did the only thing he could do: he checked his helmet with the coats. You should have seen the look on the coat-check girl’s face. I think her exact words were, “This is a new one.”
Although my first reaction to this crazy freshman was apprehensive at best, in a matter of hours, Andy had ingratiated himself with our crew; and 10 years later we are happy and proud to call him our friend. Andy has that special way about him: upon meeting him, you wonder if you had known one another in a previous life; because when you meet Andy, he acts and treats you like he’s known you for years. Andy doesn’t have time for that getting-to-know-you bullshit. It’s quite refreshing. He’s the consummate “people person;” and he’s always looking to lend a helping hand. Friends of our friends became Andy’s friends, and remain so.
Over the next few years of college, Andy was at the center of some of the funniest stories you will hear. And in the years since, few things bring me and others more joy than to recount these hilarious events over a beer or two or ten. Here are some of the highlights:
Next week will not be the first time Andy has appeared in a reality show. During college, he was a contestant on the MTV program called FEAR, in which 6 people must complete a series of tasks, or “dares,” over the course of two nights at a haunted location. Andy, of course, stole the show. In the first clip, Andy is charged with investigating a bathroom where a man was killed. Notice the way Andy comes flying through the door after he completes his dare, and almost knocks over the dude standing near it.
As Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz, and Peter Venkman will tell you, what Andy meant to say was, “I’ve got my PKE, bitch!” confusing the Psycho Kinetic Energy meter with the more common EKG, which is an acronym for the electrocardiogram that measures the electrical activity of the heart. Close enough; and funny as shit!
And in this second clip from the show, Andy is solely responsible for psyching up his fellow contestant, convincing him to follow through with his spooky task, and thus helping the kid win his share of the prize money. Like I said, Andy is all about helping other people.
When we in Jamaica, on spring break, after swimming naked under the glass-bottomed boats that frequented the little cove surrounded by a few bars and restaurants, Andy proceeded to run naked up the stairs carved into rocky cliffs, and continued his lap through the ‘Pickled Parrot’ establishment as the patrons cheered him on. From my vantage point, from atop a cliff, as Andy ran through the throngs of people, triumphantly swinging his swim-trunks like a Steelers “Terrible Towel,” it looked like they were doing The Wave as he passed them by. The crowd continued to cheer as Andy finished his streaking by leaping off the highest cliff of the cove. The crowd fell silent as he fell the forty or so feet, still swinging his shorts; only to erupt in a roar of cheer when he safely splashed into the clear blue water below. Classic. Absolutely classic.
Andy is also quite renowned for his dancing skills as well. For a big man, he is remarkably light on his feet. We all will never forget that time at Leon’s Bar when Andy climbed atop a pool table to perform the “Buffalo Bill” dance from Silence of the Lambs; and then proceeded to fall flat on his face on the dismount, pants still around his ankles. “And you wanna be my latex salesman?” And then there was our wedding; where Andy was tearing up the dance floor like a whirling dervish right before tearing up his pants after performing an impressive split.
So there you have it. This has been just a small slice of the Andy pie; and the stories above merely scratch the surface. And like the following bios on him regarding the show, while I hope to capture his essence, I know I hardly do him justice:
” Andrew Kelly-Hayes, a 28-year-old radio sales consultant from Boston, MA. With his hilarious stories and off-the-wall energy, this flip flop-wearing funnyman could be a long-lost Belushi brother. Whether he’s schmoozing old ladies at Bingo, harassing strangers while on “Smile Patrol” or joining his college cheerleading team to meet hot girls, Andrew has a reputation for being a nut.”
“Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Andrew Kelly-Hayes is your typical resident funny man. This radio sales consultant has a degree in journalism and communication and is one big ball of energy and humor. He always has a hilarious story up his sleeve to tell an unsuspecting stranger, whether its old ladies at Bingo or hot cheerleaders in college. Indeed, Andrew’s reputation as a nut goes a long way.”
Besides being a really funny, outgoing, fearless guy, he’s also very intelligent, and one of the sweetest, most caring and loyal people you will ever have the pleasure of knowing. So set your TiVos, people, because Andy is coming to primetime. I hope y’all are psyched for the show. And here’s hoping he wins the whole fucking thing, and the 25,965,000 Yen.