That's Jai Rodriguez. He's one of those people who have become minor celebrities on TV without actually acting, singing, dancing, telling jokes or otherwise entertaining us. (Mind you, he has a decent resume of stage work as an actor and singer, but that's not how he became a minor star.)
He first showed up in our living room as one of the Fab Five on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Each of the gay guys had a particular skill they brought to bear on improving some hopeless straight guy.
Ted was great in the kitchen and taught the loser to cook. Carson was an expert on men's fashion and helped the hopeless soul look good for his lady. Thom was an extremely talented interior designer who made over the bachelor pad so the guy's date wouldn't feel she needed to wear latex gloves all night. And Kyan was very knowledgeable about hair, beards and grooming in general. He got the blokes a haircut and then taught them how to take a shower and shave.
By the time those four got done, you might think they had pretty much covered all the bases and there really wasn't much need for a fifth guy. You'd be wrong, of course, because you also needed to teach the straight guy a little culture. Well, that was the premise. The fact that Jai was gay, young and prettier than the other four combined might have had something to do with the producers' decision, also.
Anyhow, Jai's entire skill on the show seemed to be limited to listening to people sympathetically and then suggesting that they do whatever is in their heart - and put it in a nice package with a bow to make it more attractive.
I suspect this wasn't an act, by the way, because Linda and I got to see it in person once. He was on the same flight from San Francisco to New York as we were. Waiting to board, some woman was talking to him. And talking to him. And talking. When we got to New York, he was still listening to her as we waited around the luggage carousel. By then, I would have been tempted to just run away from her and buy new clothes rather than have to listen to one more word. But not Jai. He had totally mastered the ability not to look bored.Which probably does go a ways toward proving that he is in fact a good actor.
Anyhow, this post was prompted by the latest TV incarnation of Jai Rodriguez. He is hosting an Animal Planet reality show (that has already aired in the US) called "Groomer Has It". I know I should be embarrassed to admit that LK and I actually watch it, but it is just the opposite. We watched the first episode out of curiosity to see how Jai would do in a role that didn't involve nodding and looking interested. But now not only are we not embarrassed, we can barely wait for the next episode each week.
The show is a version of American Idol (or Top Model or Top Chef etc etc), but it is for dog groomers. That may sound as awful as a reality show can get, but that is not the case here. The contestants are so over the top and the challenges in which they compete are so stupid that the show really seems more of a clever parody of reality shows than an actual straightforward contest. In fact, each week I ask Linda if she isn't sure that this is some grand Christopher Guest-type mockumentary.
Take for example, the contestant who had been criticized by her fellow groomers for being a dumb blonde. She objected to being stereotyped based on her hair color, and went a long ways to destroying that stereotype when she corrected herself for saying we have seven sense. She had meant to say six senses. And she counted breathing as one of them.
Or how about the challenge where the groomers had to make designer dog biscuits. And Jorge, the flamboyant contestant from South America, said with great confidence, "How hard can it be to make a biscuit a dog will eat? They eat their own poo once in a while."
Throughout it all, Jai smiles, tells the contestants what their challenges are and at the end announces the judges' decisions. And he probably thanks his lucky stars that he got such a break with Queer Eye that he gets to be the host and doesn't have to actually have a conversation with the people who spend their lives clipping doggie toe nails and brushing away the matted fur around their butts.