Tony bellowed down the mic. “Steve. For the love of god pull yourself together. We have three more guests to go before we are crucified. Maybe if the rest of the show goes smoothly no one will even notice anything went particularly wrong.”
“They won't notice?” screamed Steve. “For god's sake man, she talked about...”
Tony interrupted. “I know Steve. But remember the saying, all publicity is good publicity.”
“GOOD PUBLICITY? Jesus Christ Tony!”
“Yes, well right now that's all we have to cling onto, our main job now is to make sure it doesn't get any worse.”
“Worse? How could it be worse, unless you plan on brutally slaughtering the other guests in cold blood whilst chanting satanic rituals and masturbating. Maybe that could be Ying's new painting. You have the right setting for it.”
“Steve, get a goddamned whiskey and calm down. I'm back in three...”
“Welcome back to the Tony James Show. As you all know, Ying Chan is at the forefront of conceptual art, unfortunately this sometimes means doing things that many of us find unusual. I hope nobody was offended by the earlier discussion. Up next we have one of the finest Actors this country has ever produced, Alfred Stewart!”
A still bemused audience applauded, perhaps more out of instinct than awareness of what was actually going on. Gradually though, those left in their seats calmed down and got back in to the swing of the rest of the show, which ran like clockwork. No controversial statements, no awkward moments, no vomiting audience members, everything that you would expect a true professional to do following a crisis.
“Well folks, it's been a surprisingly eventful first edition of The Tony James Show. Take care of yourselves and I will see you next Friday. I leave you now with the fantastic new band, The Studio!”
After the band finished their semi-competent mix of the Strokes and Blur, Tony smiled and waved to the camera as the credits rolled. As soon as the final credits had passed, the screen faded to black and Steve announced “We are... off the air. Thank fuck for that.”
Tony continued to smile and wave through a frightened smile as the audience gradually filtered out, discussing the shocking events from less than an hour before. As the last audience member left the studio, Tony walked over to his beautiful Oak desk, kicked it as hard as he could, sat down in his chair and rested his head in his hands.
After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, Tony asked Steve. “Do you think there is much point in me coming back next week?”
Steve was silent.
Tony - “Steve? Should we even bother?”
Steve - “Holy fuck.”
Tony - “What is it Steve?”
Steve - “You won't believe this.”
Tony - “There's been a sudden outbreak of televisual amnesia amongst our 'demographic'?
Steve - “Even bloody better. Someone at Television Control knew all about Ying, and just as the shit hit the fan he pulled the plug and went to a fake breakdown notice for the rest of her segment.”
Tony - “They still have those?”
Steve - “Tony. No one saw it. Apart from the audience in here, NO ONE saw it. We are saved.”
Tony - “Thank god. I though for a while there...”
Steve - “Me too. Me too. Let's catch up tomorrow and work out how to ensure this never happens again.”
On that surprisingly happy note, the crew all went home, shocked but happy that they weren't about to be blacklisted from mainstream TV. Sadly the good news wasn't to last long. On the horizon was the only issue more damaging than offending your entire audience.