"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

George Shea ain't half bad (but he does sweat a lot)

One final note about the Nathan's contest . . .before tomorrow, when I post my report on the alleged Koby reversal moment.

I have to admit, going into the contest I wasn't sure what to expect from George Shea, co-founder of the IFOCE and Nathan's emcee extrodinaire (him at left with Sonya Thomas, thanks Steakbellie). All I knew from occasional sound bites and quotes was that he's prone to exaggeration, moderately manic, and more than a little overly dramatic.

Turns out, he was all of those things, but he's also the man responsible for making a 12-minute hot dog contest something worth cheering for when you can't really see more than three of the eaters.

Damn, I wish I had taken a tape recorder to capture some of this tirades and one-liners that day. At least wish I had transcribed his "Teenage Wasteland" monologue that he practiced three times before the contest (that was the three or four minute ramble that accompanied Koby and Joey's trips skyward in those pedestal things during the eater intros). He tried so hard to time it to coincide with the end of the song and admited each time when he missed it by a second or two. He didn't get it right during the contest either, but it didn't really matter.

He's probably part of the reason I was still so "in the moment" when, 20 minutes after the contest ended, I was scrambling to get a picture of Kobayashi like a 12-year-old girl who's just spotted Donnie Wahlberg after a New Kids on the Block concert (sorry, I'm kind of old). Hell, Shea's emcee work would probably make me clamour for a better look at the winner of a local father/son three-legged sack race as they piled into their Ford Explorer after taking a post-contest spin on the Tilt-a-Whirl.


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