Monday, October 22, 2012

Here’s Johnny, Welcoming Us To His Mansion

Like some of you, I spent six minutes and 22 seconds yesterday watching a YouTube video titled “Full House with Johnny Chan.”

On the surface, the video appears to be some sort of promo short designed to drum up interest in a possible television series. It only just appeared on YouTube, and despite advancing a concept that seems nearly a decade too late, apparently was produced quite recently.

The video begins with reference to Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson having each won 10 WSOP bracelets. We briefly see the two pretending to play a heads-up home game against one another. Then Chan is shown walking down a staircase and introducing himself as “the most famous poker player in the world.”

Then Chan stops, holds his arms outward in an inviting pose, and declares “Welcome to my mansion!”

Seriously, what an opening. Harrowing stuff.

From there we are introduced to the show’s scenario. Chan explains how he’s invited five poker pros to live in his house, staking each $200,000 to engage in some sort of poker competition. The explanation of that competition is fairly fuzzy -- something to do with the pros playing nine-handed sit-n-gos with the viewer also somehow able to participate (?).

In any event, the rest of the video introduces us to “Johnny’s Line Up,” i.e., the five “poker pros” who’ll be engaged in the competition. They are presented as though filling certain imagined roles for poker pros -- the Playboy, the Genius, the Bully, the Queen of Hearts, and Chico Loco.

“I don’t consider poker gambling,” says Jay, a.k.a. “The Genius.” That’s Jay Ishimaru, listed at the end as a co-producer along with Javier Prato.

“It’s more like stealing candy from a child,” he continues. “I enjoy the game.”

Hey, who doesn’t enjoy stealing candy from children? It’s so easy, and candy is delicious. Am I right?

The clip is filled with other howlers, amateurish acting, and additional awkwardness filling the spaces between montages of Las Vegas and Chan pushing people into pools. Unsurprisingly, the video has earned a lot of derision on a 2+2 thread devoted to it (a thread likely started by one of the producers). There were also a number of “dislikes” and other negative response on the video until comments were disabled.

The most common response has been to question the “reality” of this apparent attempt at some sort of poker-themed “reality television.” Is it sincere? Are there actual plans (or hopes) to produce such a show? Or is it all a goof? A satirical send-up of both poker stereotypes and reality TV?

Clearly, we need some “immersive” critics to go to work and uncover the true meaning here. You know, like those guys who figured out The Shining is really about how Stanley Kubrick helped fake the moon landing. Like Chan’s signature orange, it’s a mystery in need of unpeeling.

Whatever it is or its intentions, the chance that there will ever be anything more than these six minutes and 22 seconds’ worth of “Full House with Johnny Chan” seems unlikely.

Which means in the end all we’ll be left with will be this short clip, a brief, uncertain postscript to the “golden era” of poker television, a period which ended emphatically at least a year-and-a-half ago, although for many had already jumped the shark much earlier.

And, of course, at least one new, sure-to-endure catch phrase:

“I pay my rent in Euro, baby!”

(EDIT [added 10/23/12]: PocketFives offers more information regarding the video, as well as an interview with one of the co-producers, in an article humorously titled “Johnny Chan Poker Reality Show: It’s Real.”)

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Blogger TripJax said...

What an awkward video. And whenever someone goes out of there way to stake claim to being something (such as the most famous poker player in the world), they probably aren't.

10/22/2012 3:23 PM  

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