From Our “How Do I Feel About This?” Department

A tweet from the inestimable Mikey J alerted me to the YouTubery below, a clip from American Inventor. The show was kinda like American Idol with slide rules, and even more self delusion. Inventors pitch their brainchildren to a panel of judges, who either greenlight them or send them on their merry way.

The sad, unspoken truth is that most inventing these days is done in corporate labs. The era of the hobbyist inventor–some guy who, in Jean Shepherd’s words, would spend years in his basment trying to come up with automatic Venetian blinds–are deader than vaudeville disco. And yet, there are still some people who think they can beat the odds and come up with The New Thing that will captivate America.

People like Marc Griffin, who says he has invented a sport that will appeal to all ages, genders, races, and creeds. He has been developing this game for 26 years, and is now ready to reveal it to the world.

Not only will it succeed, says Marc, but one day it will be an Olympic sport! Hey, confidence is good! Confidence breeds success! Confidence can also make you sell everything you own–including your wife’s wedding ring and your house–and pour it into your tabletop game, which is what Marc did. Yikes.

Needless to say, the judges find themselves in an awkward position. Even more so when Marc demonstrates his game and it seems kind of confusing and not too fun. It certainly doesn’t look like something someone spent parts of three decades working on. And the fact that Marc has poured much time and money into this makes the judges seriously question his sanity and wonder if he should seek help.

This results in some of the most awkward television ever produced–including The Magic Hour–and what Cracked deemed The Most Glorious Failure in TV Talent Show Audition History.

On the one hand, this is heartbreaking. Imagine you have a dream that you’ve been pursuing for almost 30 years, and in five minutes it is destroyed–on national TV, no less. I think any writer can sympathize. I’ve spent years on various pieces of fiction that will probably never see the light of day. And after writing two unsold novels, I’ve been working on a third, off and on, for five years. I love the idea behind it, but even if I do ever finish it, will it just wind up on a slush pile somewhere?

Jesus, now I’m depressed.

On the other hand, this man hasn’t just spent an enormous amount of time on this invention. He’s recklessly endangered his family by flushing cash down the toilet. And for what? An Ikea table with bumpers. If you’re selling your house to buy anything less than a kidney, you’re probably insane.

On the tragicomic scale, I give this clip nine Royal Tenenbaums.