“Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, ‘Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says, ‘But doctor … I am Pagliacci.’” —Rorschach, Watchmen
To open this week’s episode of The Masked Singer, our beleaguered host Nick Cannon beamed and declared that the show was “TV’s craziest masquerade fever dream,” a claim with the terrifying implication that there are imitators lurking elsewhere on the airwaves. That’s probably not true—I don’t dare to find out—but the longer The Masked Singer is on the air, the more they’re leaning into the bit that the series caught the public eye not because it’s necessarily good, but because it’s really fucking strange and thus hard to look away from.
That’s their prerogative, but they probably shouldn’t promote Masked Singer drinking games. Cannon came out holding a martini—though he assured the audience that it was just water. (If I were in his shoes, however, I wouldn’t stop drinking.) Meanwhile, the “celebrity” judges panel—Robin Thicke, Ken Jeong, Nicole Scherzinger, and anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy—had little “water” shot glasses of their own. The joke was that they would all have to drink every time someone made a pun relating to a contestant’s costume.
This attempt at a joke didn’t last past the first commercial break, which tracks since this show has the attention span of a goldfish. But let’s assume somebody actually played the game at home with a drink of their choice. With six contestants performing this week—the Flamingo, Leopard, Black Widow, Skeleton, Thingamajig, and Butterfly—and boundless opportunities for cringey wordplay, a Masked Singer drinking game would be liable to send you to the hospital. [Captain Obvious voice] That is not good. And yet, The Masked Singer is only somewhat tolerable when I turn my morning cup of joe into an Irish coffee. Have you tried staring into the haunting, vacant expression of the Thingamajig while sober? But seriously, please drink responsibly—and also, please watch television responsibly. What I mean is: Stop watching The Masked Singer. Please.
Anyway, on to the show! I’ve already written about how this season of The Masked Singer has a disproportionately high number of legitimately good singers, which takes away some of the fun. This week’s episode was a great example, as it was abundantly clear we were looking at five legit singers, and also the Skeleton. The Skeleton probably shouldn’t have survived over the Young Pope Egg back in the season premiere, and his impending elimination was an inevitability before he even went on stage. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some fun to be had, though, because the Thingamajig is setting itself up to be this year’s T-Pain Monster. (Quick recap: T-Pain dressed as an adorable cyclops Monster won The Masked Singer’s first season, but the judges never got close to guessing his identity, presumably because they never watched his Tiny Desk concert.)
I’m willing to put my entire life savings on the Thingamajig being Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo. If you’ve followed Oladipo from his time at Indiana University through his six seasons in the NBA, he knows how to sing, and is rightfully proud of it. But our judges panel, who’ve picked up on clues that Thingamajig is probably an athlete, and specifically a basketball player, are completely stumped because he’s just so good at singing. (In fairness, last season gave the judges Antonio Brown and Terry Bradshaw, who were both bad singers.) Actually, good might be an understatement: Thingamajig’s soulful rendition of Kacey Musgraves’s “Rainbow” left Scherzinger and some members of the audience in ACTUAL TEARS.
I’m judging a little, but also, it was the best performance of the season so far. “I’m looking at Thingamajig, but he sounds like an angel,” Nicole said, which was genuinely wholesome. She also said she’d marry the man sight unseen, and that, “I’ve gone out with a lot of whatchamacallits but I’m gonna go for the Thingamajig now,” a reminder that The Masked Singer can occasionally get quite thirsty. (Last season, Ken Jeong had the hots for the Alien, who ended up being La Toya Jackson.) The panel seems convinced that Thingamajig is a professional singer who just so happens to be very tall, refusing to believe an athlete is capable of having this kind of secondary talent. They’re wrong—there are many clues pointing to this contestant being Oladipo, from talk of “magic” hinting at his playing days in Orlando to being in “rehab” from his latest injury, which is even marked on the costume’s knee—but that would make it all the more satisfying if Oladipo actually came close to winning this thing.
As for the Skeleton, who was justly eliminated, Ken was convinced the contestant was one of his comedy idols, Martin Short. However, as correctly predicted by Robin Thicke and Jenny “please don’t vaccinate your kids” McCarthy, he was revealed to be longtime David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer.
And so wraps another week of Masked Singer madness. I have the same urge to drink my way through the pain, as Nick Cannon surely is, but at least the Thingamajig is my surreal light at the end of the tunnel. Please win this stupid competition, Victor Oladipo.