Japan Gets a Bad Rap

I’m afraid it looks like America is headed for troubled waters, international trade-wise, because a U.S. company is producing a music show for Japanese TV that features mostly rap music. As though Hiroshima wasn’t enough.The good news is, I have performed my first public rap.

The show, which is called “Rap Tap,” claims to be a showcase for all kinds of American popular music, so the Japanese can get a good idea of what Americans listen to, but if the first show is any indication, the Japanese are going to think that Americans really, really, really like rap music, which of course they don’t. Not the smart ones, anyway.

The reason I know about this show is that I am an observant columnist with a nose for news who always has his eyes open for an interesting development in American culture who happened to go to the taping of the first show with his summer school drama class. (I would like to point out, by the way, that I am taking summer school drama because I want to, not because I failed it. Failing drama would be like failing health, which my friend Ryan did TWICE, by the way.)

Anyway, our bus was met by a KTLA page named, quote, “Raoul,” which interested me because I had previously thought that the only people named Raoul were the fictitious characters in my Spanish book. He led us inside, where we were met by the zany and kooky warm-up guy, Mark, who told us that during the breaks in the show, when they weren’t taping, we could win “Rap Tap” T-shirts (!) by performing some kind of talent.

The first display of talent came from Garaghty (pronounced “Garaghty”) Kramer, who played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” in May. After much coercing from Mark, she was finally convinced to belch really loud to the tune of “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” Then Nick Sandoval (a friend of mine; you don’t know him) won a T-shirt for making fun of the rapper who had just performed. Seeing that two of my friends had just won T-shirts, I felt I should. So I rapped.

Some of you are thinking, “Hey! He couldn’t have done a serious rap song! He’s a Trained Humor Professional! Furthermore, he’s a white Trained Humor Professional!” Those of you who are thinking that are, quite frankly, morons. I would have to have a lot of gall to get up in front of professional rappers and make fun of rap music. My rap was entirely serious. Here’s a passage:

“All the ladies dig my Mercedes
Women are cool ’cause they have babies
Chicks are rad, but some are illin’
I hate Pat Sajak; I’d like to kill him”

As you can see, this is at least as good as anything Vanilla Ice could write. He would never think of “illin'” and “kill him.” (Come to think of it, neither would I. I stole it from “Weird Al” Yankovic.)

One of the best things about hanging out with theater people in high school was that we occasionally went to TV tapings. We saw a game show, and a few sitcoms. We even saw a taping of "Full House!" If you can imagine. Those Olsen twins are even cuter in real life, let me tell you. And I remember the boy playing DJ's boyfriend at that time was Scott Weinger, who was then the most famous thing in the world because he was Aladdin's speaking (but not singing) voice in Disney's "Aladdin." He was a handsome, studly teenage boy, just as you'd imagine Aladdin to be, but man was he ever a jerk. During the scenes he wasn't in, he sat in a corner of the studio and sulked and growled if anyone came near him. But I hear Robin Williams is the same way.

Which "Weird Al" Yankovic song did I get the "illin'/kill him" rhyme from? "Isle Thing," from the "UHF Original Movie Soundtrack and Other Stuff" album. A great album, but lesser known in the vast pantheon of "Weird Al" Yankovic triumphs.

In publication, the fact that my friend Ryan had failed health class twice was omitted. I guess my editor didn't want to embarrass my friend Ryan. Trust me, though, Ryan wouldn't have cared. How can someone who fails health twice care about anything? The man obviously had no pride.