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People, pets vie for shot at TV

Monday, April 25, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:15 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

KANSAS CITY — The cameras were rolling as Willy the wiener dog stopped his trick for a blissful restroom break center stage.

Nearby, Quarter Pounder, a 650-pound miniature bull from Olathe, Kan., decided he had waited long enough for his shot at stardom. With a flick of one horn, he convinced his master — and any other humans standing too close — that it was time to leave. Now.

Then there was Aspen the German shepherd, who, perfectly on cue, raised his 110-pound self upright to croon a howling canine karaoke to a recording of country singer George Strait. He was only slightly out of tune. (Strait, that is, not the dog.)

Some tricks were planned. Others were, well, unexpected performance pieces.

From morning to mid-afternoon Saturday at Broome Chevrolet, at least 45 acts auditioned for a shot at appearing on the Stupid Pet Tricks or Stupid Human Tricks segments on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Each artist tried to entertain the crowd the way he or she had done so many times before, recreating those magical moments spawned in homes across the Kansas City area.

Louis Laugesen, 64, of Kansas City, stood fearlessly in front of the cameras. His electronic piano played a prerecorded meringue rhythm while he flicked his hands in a little dance, palms up, then palms down.

“I usually do this with my cat,” Laugesen said afterward. “But I couldn’t catch it today, so I improvised. My cat really makes this better.”

Cassidy Cooper, 10, of Tonganoxie, Kan., frightened a few spectators when Sylvester, her 2-year-old cockatiel, walked inside her mouth to get a cracker wedged between her back molars. For a second, all you could see was half of the bird’s tiny body and a flange of gray feathers arcing in a swoop out of the girl’s smiling lips.

Sylvester usually climbs all the way in Cassidy’s mouth, but Cassidy’s mother asked her daughter to refrain from “going all the way” because Sylvester sometimes pecks on Cassidy’s uvula, that thing that hangs down the back of the throat.

Keely Bailey, a 25-year-old newlywed from Olathe, Kan., stunned the camera crew by flapping her double-jointed elbows, knocking them together in front of and behind her body, all to the tune of “The Chicken Dance.”

Bailey’s husband bragged that she did it at their wedding, too.

“I think I’m missing a rotator cuff or something,” Keely Bailey said of her double-jointedness.

There was Tim Anzalone, 36, of Independence, who beckoned the boom microphone to come closer to his face. His talent was squeaking his ears, squeaks that sounded darn close to the sound of gym shoes on a newly waxed floor.

Chase, an English springer spaniel from Shawnee, Kan., lived up to his name, pursuing soap bubbles ferociously, leaping and spinning to snap and lick every luminescent sphere that floated his way.

Nate the Great, aka Nate Snyder, 11, of Kansas City, set up his magic show, complete with a little folding table and three silver cups.

“With my lovely assistant, Mother, I will move these red balls before your eyes,” he said.

Then an unfortunately timed spring gust nearly blew his table away.

“Um, can somebody break the wind?” Nate pleaded before continuing his act. The slightly puzzled look on his face communicated that he had no idea why the audience was roaring with laughter.

Afterward Nate, who has been performing since he was 6, asked hiss mother: “Does that mean something, ‘breaking wind’?”

Then it was time for Max, a blue heeler/Australian shepherd mix, who wowed everyone when he climbed a ladder effortlessly and then came down, chasing a toy. Owner Rick McLendon of Excelsior Springs was as proud as a papa watching Max.

McLendon owns a guttering company. Max often accompanies him to jobs, climbing the ladders just to see the world from a roof.

Perhaps Max will see the world from a New York stage, too.


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