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By Village Voice staff
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"You need to learn some empathy," Goddard interjected.
"'Empathy'? What's that word mean?" Tarr asked, knowing exactly what it means.
Tarr's next bite came from the Judge Joe Brown show. He made up a story that he was a Gypsy clown named Zozo who showed up two hours late and drunk to a kid's birthday party—then trashed the bathroom, causing $15,000 in damages.
Tarr pulled fake pictures of a damaged bathroom off the Internet and produced a bogus bill for "pigeon wrangling, snake charming, and an operetta" to back up his claims. J.B., an extra he met on the set of the TNT cop drama Rizzoli and Isles, played the ,aggrieved parent. They agreed to split their take no matter who won.
J.B. claimed that Tarr's clown outfit consisted of a fedora and a Greek tragedy mask much too scary for a kid's party. Nor was the clown in any state to entertain. "He's covered in water, he had vomit on his shirt, the toilet was overflowing, there was a vodka bottle in the toilet," J.B. told the judge. "He says 'I'm sorry, I'm stoned.'"
Tarr attempted to excuse away his tardiness. "I am color-blind and it was an ethnically diverse area," he told Brown. "So I started entertaining the wrong group of people. . . . Not every star can shine every night."
The audience seemed confused about whether to laugh or nod sympathetically.
As the judge listed the damages, Tarr donned his scary clown outfit. "Take that thing off!" Brown barked, before ruling in J.B.'s favor and awarding him the show's maximum, $5,000.
"We're conditioned to believe," says Skaggs. "We are raised on fantasies, from the tooth fairy to Santa Claus to miracles, and it's sad. I tell people who watch these shows, 'You know, this is all bullshit,' and they always say, 'I don't care.'"
Nor do the producers themselves seem to care. Not a single show hoaxed by Tarr responded to interview requests for this story.
Tarr had taken several shots at The Bill Cunningham Show. He finally scored with a gold-digger character called "K.T.," who was living off of his rich girlfriend and cheating on the side. Through Facebook, he found comedian Cynthia Rudd to play his girlfriend. High school buddy J.C. Bates would play his sales manager, with whom Cynthia was cheating.
Cunningham is a 65-year-old radio host from Cincinnati. According to the Nielsen ratings company, nearly 800,000 people watch his program daily. The show's promo claims it has "made a difference in the lives of viewers, helping them to resolve conflicts and mend relationships, while making viewers laugh and giving them hope."
Cunningham tapes at Penn Studios, a once-grand ballroom in the down-at-the-heels Hotel Pennsylvania on 34th Street. Audience members gathered at 8:30 a.m. in a grimy hallway on the backside of the hotel. Most were tourists, but there were also regulars, walking in as if arriving for work.
The audience was shuttled upstairs to a large, gloomy waiting area, where stale doughnuts and bad coffee sat morosely in a corner. Highlights of the show played on an endless loop.
After the usual crowd-exhorting and a lavish intro for Cunningham, Tarr, his hair moussed to a rooster's comb, sprawled on a chair next to Rudd, who wore a lavender blouse trimmed with fake fur.
In his phony Southern accent, Tarr made one ridiculous statement after another. He claimed that he ran whale-watching charters while also operating an escort service. "I'm a Hungarian Magyar Gypsy," he told Cunningham. "I'm the one who teaches people how to do horse archery." The host showed no sign of skepticism.
He talked about his "caravan's" rules concerning infidelity: Men can cheat; women can't. Worse, Cynthia wasn't accepting of Gypsy culture. "I don't see her dancing around bonfires," Cunningham conceded.
In the second segment, a young, naive couple from Chicago emerged from the wings. The woman suspected that her fiancé was cheating on her and somehow convinced him to fly to New York and take a lie detector test. He failed.
Devastated, she jumped to her feet and sprinted out of the studio, screaming, then collapsed in a wrecked heap in a back hallway. As the young woman sobbed convulsively, Cunningham left the stage and knelt reverently beside her, trailed by cameramen. A producer admonished the crowd in hushed tones. "Be respectful. She's having a hard time."
During the third act, designed as the therapeutic segment, an in-house psychologist attempted to advise both couples on their relationships. Tarr promptly hit on her. "You look good," he cooed. "You look good."
"I am a happily married woman, sir," she responded tartly. "I have a wonderful husband who meets all of my needs."
Finally, it was over. The audience gnawed at wan-looking pizza in the waiting room, then crawled outside as if they were leaving a Rust Belt strip club. The episode aired May 13.
Tarr, Rudd, and J.C. were each given $200 in cash and ushered to separate cars, which immediately took them to the airport.
"The producers typically want to get rid of guests as fast as they can," Tarr says. "They are your best friends, then they treat you like a whore when you are done."
But on this day, it was clear, the roles were reversed.
Your concept is awesome. Love it.
"Of, by, and for idiots" programming should be mocked at every turn.
Count my ass in if you ever need a player.
Keep it up as much as you can, now that the word's out
Wish I'd seen the blue-faced clown one on Judge Joe Brown, looks hilarious--seeing these shows get pranked would be only reason to watch them now, they are so done.
These shows want to present outrageous characters and situations, and that is what this guy gives them. He isn't hoaxing the shows so much as just appearing on them. It's like professional wrestling. If some "hoaxer" went on the wrestling circuit how would anyone know? Why would anyone care.
Kenny Tarr is just an actor taking crappy acting jobs for small sums of money. A hoax requires someone to take you seriously. If he got the New York Times to cover one of his shenanigans as hard news that would be a hoax. Nobody takes any of the stuff he is doing seriously in the first place, so it isn't really a hoax.
I read this article on the L train and literally laughed out loud. Kenny Tarr's "hoaxes" are brilliant social commentaries. He's smart, he's funny and he's hot. If I were younger, I'd stalk him.
Much respect and appreciation for the opinions and comments and for reading Graham Rayman's article about me. All the links to my work are included except for the Oprah hoax which is viewable at radiotitans.com/shows/the-kenny-tarr-show it may also be updated and linked to the article.
Enjoy the summer and thanks a lot!
I act and perform stories that I create. That is what I did and that is what I will continue to do in many different forms of mediums. A "He's no different than all the other people that TV uses"-type opinion is interesting to me as I don't see it that way and perhaps I can clarify elements of my story that you seem to be confused on. To be able to live off of my imagination is what I do as do many other people that create movies and television. No one else has done what I have in this way so I don't think it is possible to group me into other categories or bins of thought.
Carl I think you are mistaken but thanks for reading the article. Watch some of the TV shows through the links provided in the article if you would like. I am Kenny Tarr and I appreciate what you have to say but I am not sure that you have seen my work. I am not too clear on what you mean by "television is smarter than it appears and that it absorbs all criticism". I enjoy hoaxing the reality of many mediums and have hoaxed over 1,000 radio shows and all forms of actual social organizations and various facets of life. Television is something that I enjoy and I always have. To have become part of television history is nice. I am also not sure what you mean by being the people that are on TV because that is essentially a fait accompli by what I have done.
It's a cliche, but it's true: you are what you pretend to be. Ken Tarr might be hoaxing the reality tv set, but the real hoax is on him, because he is going to become what he thinks he's making fun of. Television, as a medium, is smarter than it appears. It absorbs all attempts at criticism. That is Television's particular genius. Ken Tarr may have come up with a unique and fresh way to become moderately famous, but he's still used Television to become moderately famous. He's no better or worse than any of the other people desperate for attention.
@pennyharper68 Cool follow me on twitter or write at firstname.lastname@example.org the game is just starting!
@warrenmart Haha! Thanks...the link to the Judge Joe Brown one is below.
Hi thanks! all the links to the shows are embedded in the article text on line. if u want to jump right too the JJB link, here it is: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xx089b_zozo-the-clown-s-adventure-in-working-with-people-outside-of-his-gypsy-caravan_shortfilms?search_algo=2#.UbbcQfbwIZI
@marina They do take the stories seriously. The producers were hoaxed. I have hoaxed a lot beyond the shows, Marina. You will read that in the NY Times eventually and thanks for the reading and following what I do.
The fact is...the shows I went on want real stories and they get them. I am not real and yet I was on those. They want real stories and do a lot to make sure they are. They believe I am real. By definition, a hoax. I do understand your point though and wanted to clarify some fine points...as the assumption is everyone is fake on TV and the stories are all 100% fake....nothing could be further from the truth and I have files and files and documents and documents of proof. Thanks!
@mizzcarol ditto! maybe we can stage a brawl over him on some show.
@mizzcarol Thanks again!
@mizzcarol Thanks email me at email@example.com if you want. Thanks for the compliment. It is interesting to hear from people that have heard or seen my ideas come to life.
You're using the medium of television to become famous. You're not different than all the other people who have done the same thing. That's what I'm saying. That shouldn't be so hard to understand. I'm saying don't think you're somehow above the fray because your means of becoming famous seem to be slightly different. The article presents you as some kind of performance artist who is using the medium in such a way that it is also a critique of the medium and I'm basically calling bullshit on that. You're Puck from the Real World. You're the guy from Survivor who lied about his grandma being dead in order to score sympathy and stay on the island. You're Omorosa. Not to mention you seem to be smug as fuck. What are you so smug about? Because you tricked a bunch of people who work for television and radio? Didn't Howard Stern have some guy on his show who used to do that all the time? Call up Larry King and pretend to be someone else and then break out with the Baba-booey. You're that guy writ slightly larger. Congratulations. I'm sure you'll get a book deal and you're own reality show and then someone can hoax you and the whole cycle can continue on. Jerk begets jerk begets jerk.
@CarlSuntoro Nah. Just because you said it doesn't mean it's so.
@pennyharper68 or facebook or whatever....i will have a standard website with products and all the footage and stories soon and more tv shows and movies to discuss soon enough
@warrenmart or above I guess
@abby.normal @mizzcarol If anyone wants more information on my work, how the shows are executed or anything else, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org As no one has done what I have before, there isn't any precedent for my work so it takes a lot of work and explanation and it is not easy to wrap the head around completely. I travel to LA and NY a lot and though I understand some of the negativity and reactions to my story, I appreciate immensely the well-wishes and interest as well. Feel free to spread the word - I am not very active online or on twitter.
@CarlSuntoro Cool, write an article about me and express your opinions. You are entitled to them and you seem to be all-knowing and wise.
No one has done the same thing as me, with all due respect. That is not a claim or me being smug that is just the reality. Hoaxing TV shows is not what Omarosa or Puck did, they participated and were selected as contestants or "to live in a house".
I call and hoax shows out of thin air. Enjoy the Summer, Carl! Get out there and take on the world, amigo!
@yobar23 where is the newsletter?
I heard about you thanks to Joey Skaggs' newsletter. Good job scamming the TV scammers!
Enjoy your 15 minutes. It's going to go by quicker than most. Savor it, Ken. Savor it like the last cronut in the world.