I joined Mr Keene’s Media Class my senior year (1999-2000): as the “institution” in charge of the morning announcements, this class had generated a legacy for itself over the past three years, mainly due to its weekly Top Ten lists. The lists were hosted by the annually-changing Top Ten Guy, a senior media class student who, as a result of the Top Ten’s popularity, would be the face of the media class for a whole year. They were also very cheesy and safe, as you’d expect from a very mormon school demographic. Around the time my brother Josh and I joined the class, things actually became entertaining: in addition to Top Ten lists, the ’99-’00 media class churned out all kinds of video specials whenever a good idea came to us — like the Top Tens, these specials would be aired immediately after Friday’s morning announcements. Sometimes the other school clubs would even ask us to do ads for school events.
Sometimes this was a terrible idea.
One Friday morning, immensely stuffy representatives of the equally stuffy Dance Club came to the media classroom with a handful of tapes — raw footage they’d filmed themselves in the dance classroom. With this footage, we were to make a week’s worth of ads for next week’s dance show: one unique ad for each day of the week, to be shown after the morning announcements. The show itself was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening, like all Centennial shows.
Unfortunately for Dance Club, there were other school events coming up (like the highly anticipated students-vs-teachers basketball game) that our production groups were much more interested in, so there really weren’t any takers for the Dance Club ad campaign.
Except for me, that is: Mr Keene’s anti-favorite student. Never figured out why, and he certainly never explained — he just wasn’t keen on my work, if you’ll excuse the pun. But apparently even he didn’t think much of the Dance Club’s request, because he okayed me as the Dance Club’s ad man the second I volunteered. So I spent Friday as a freelancer for Dance Club while everyone else busied themselves with bigger, more important productions.
I should also mention that the Dance Club girls were exactly the sort of girls I put up with all through elementary school: the sort of pampered, eye-rolling brats you think only exist in movie or TV stereotypes, wearing their entitlement like a badge of honor and putting the weird boys and girls in their place at every opportunity. This is why, in the adult world, people in Mr. Keene’s position do background checks before hiring employees.
Monday’s Ad. The video opened with the following caption:
“We’ve secretly replaced the Centennial Dance Club floor with a thick layer of greasy cheddar cheese. Lets see if they can tell the difference!”
This was followed by footage of the limber Dance Club girls performing a small part of one of their upcoming dance routines, with the camera in fixed position with full view of the dance class floor — a wooden floor that actually looked the color of cheese. The skinny dancers pranced and leaped and twirled gracefully across the floor in near-perfect synchronization for about a minute, until finally one girl bounded to the center of the room and talked to the camera about the upcoming show.
From beginning to end, every single time a foot came in contact with that floor, I added a cartoony squish, splat, or poot noise from a collection of roughly 100 such sound effects. I had it synched so perfectly you couldn’t help laughing at it, especially when a dancer took tiny, rapid steps reminiscent of a mouse-fart machine gun.
This was the ad that aired right after morning announcements concluded. Less than a minute later, the same two Dance Club reps from the previous week came to talk to Mr Keene in private. The girls spoke briefly, and then left. Mr Keene assembled the class to discuss the day’s work.
“So, ah…Dance Club says Mike can’t make the dance show ads for the rest of the week. So someone else needs to take over that project.”
Kenny, our resident Quinton Tarantino wannabe, eagerly volunteered.
Tuesday’s Ad. A fixed shot of two Dance Club girls as they talked excitedly and stiltedly about the details of their upcoming weekend dance show. However, Kenny and a pal had re-dubbed their dialogue — reciting their lines word for word, but in voices that fell somewhere between “professional wrestler” and “drag queen.” They had the lips synched perfectly. Comedy gold.
Once again, the Dance Club reps paid Mr Keene a visit, talking to him in private very briefly. Then class started.
“Okay, so Dance Club is going to make the rest of the week’s ads themselves. They will be using our facilities during lunch hours, and they will have priority with the machines during that time. Good work, everyone.”
Apparently Dance Club took itself very seriously.