Not My Job: Singer Clay Aiken Gets Quizzed On Claymation We've invited Aiken, the founder of Clay Nation, to answer three questions about the animation technique that gave us Gumby and Davey and Goliath.
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Not My Job: Singer Clay Aiken Gets Quizzed On Claymation

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Not My Job: Singer Clay Aiken Gets Quizzed On Claymation

Not My Job: Singer Clay Aiken Gets Quizzed On Claymation

Not My Job: Singer Clay Aiken Gets Quizzed On Claymation

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/408753171/409009334" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Singer Clay Aiken speaks onstage at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on March 28, 2009 in New York City.
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Clay Aiken was once a well-behaved, religious kid from Raleigh, N.C., who wanted to work with kids. Then, on a whim, he walked into the auditions for Season 2 of American Idol with his spiky hair and stripey shirt, and got a ticket to Hollywood.

We've invited Aiken, the founder of Clay Nation, to answer three questions about claymation — the animation technique that gave us Gumby and Davey and Goliath and a bunch of other shows we watched as kids because they were the only thing on.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now the game where we put people to the test even though nobody cares if they fail. It's called Not My Job.

So Clay Aiken was a very well behaved, very religious kid who grew up in Raleigh, and he wanted to work with kids. Then on a whim, he walked into the auditions for season two of "American Idol," wearing his little glasses and his spiky hair a stripy shirt, and he got a ticket to Hollywood. He came in second that year, but went on to have a fantastic career. We are so excited to see him compete yet again, this on our show. Clay Aiken, welcome to WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Now what I read is true, that you actually didn't want to audition for "American Idol"? You were going to audition for another reality show?

CLAY AIKEN: Well, I considered it. I don't know if I would've wanted to come in second on that one or not. I was going to go out for "Amazing Race" 'cause I just love that show and I...

SAGAL: Sure.

AIKEN: ...I had not actually watched "American Idol" before.

SAGAL: Now I saw just recently your audition on video for American Idol. Apparently it is very famous. And for those who haven't seen it, can you describe how you look when you walk into that audition?

AIKEN: I feel like I have suppressed that memory, so I'm not sure if I can comment.

SAGAL: Well, I can - so you're this skinny kid. You look about 16 years old.

AIKEN: I had gone to the Guess store at Crabtree Valley Mall, which is in Raleigh.

(APPLAUSE)

AIKEN: And I thought - I mean, I thought I was walking in this high-fashion place and I had no idea how to dress myself. And so I went to one of the people working at the Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh and said, you know fashion. Pick out an outfit for me.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Oh my God. So you have this sort of baggy, stripy shirt and you got these tiny glasses. And describe your hair at that time.

AIKEN: Well, it was self-done. That's all I can say.

SAGAL: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So you walk in...

AIKEN: Suck cut like "Wayne's World."

SAGAL: Exactly. And you walk in...

AIKEN: Use the vacuum...

SAGAL: ...And there's Simon Cowell, the meanest man in show business and Randy Jackson. And they're sitting there. And I have to say, Simon Cowell gives you a look of such disdain. And I believe he says to you something like, what are you doing here? And then you sing, and he's sort of staring at you with kind of suspicious wonder, 'cause he's obviously very impressed.

AIKEN: The way everyone looks at me. That's the way I look at myself.

SAGAL: Really?

ADAM FELBER: With suspicious wonder.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah. And did you feel - do you say to yourself, I showed you, Simon Cowell?

AIKEN: Well, in fact, they tell you if you watch the whole, the raw footage, I believe I actually said - he said do you think you could be the next American Idol? And I said, you had some good talent last year, but I think I could be up there, number one, number two at least. And...

(LAUGHTER)

AIKEN: ...That's the secret for you right there, speak it into existence, and that's exactly what I did. I came in second like I told I would.

SAGAL: Well, you - after you finished "American Idol," you got a record deal and you had a great career. And we heard that your fans are known as Claymates, part of the Claynation. Is that right?

AIKEN: Yeah, but they have called themselves that a few times in the past, and I have trademarked it just in case I want to use it.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Really? You have trademarked the term Claynation?

AIKEN: Yes I have.

SAGAL: OK. Do I have to give you 14 cents now?

AIKEN: Don't want anyone to grab it away from me.

SAGAL: And Claymate? How about Claynadians?

AIKEN: Claymate is trademarked, yeah.

SAGAL: Clay...

FAITH SALIE: They're Claysians too.

SAGAL: Claysians?

SALIE: Yeah. His Asian fans.

SAGAL: Your Asian fans are called Claysians?

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: That's fantastic.

SAGAL: Are people who steal your records called Clayptomaniacs?

(LAUGHTER)

AIKEN: Hey.

SAGAL: Hey.

SALIE: So do you feel comfortable with this America's favorite loser tag? Are you going to run for office again? What's, I mean...

SAGAL: Well, I should say...

AIKEN: Am I ever going to win? Is that what you want to ask?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: For people who don't know, in - I think it was 2012, right? Clay ran for Congress...

AIKEN: 2014, last year.

SAGAL: 2014, excuse me. Of course, yes.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Time goes on. Against...

FELBER: Renee Ellmbers.

SAGAL: ...Renee Ellmers, who we now called Representative Renee Ellmers, so you know what happened. And it was in the second district here in...

AIKEN: That's not all we call her.

SAGAL: Yeah, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: Still running.

SAGAL: Let me ask you a question - given the choice, would you rather go through "American Idol" again or a congressional race? Which was more pleasant?

AIKEN: (Laughter). That's pretty easy. I, you know, I certainly - Idol was certainly more enjoyable.

SAGAL: Yes.

AIKEN: But I think the congressional race was more important.

SAGAL: Right.

AIKEN: So, you know, they both have their benefits and they both have their...

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: What is - we've heard about, you know, having to raise money all the time and giving the same speech all the time. What is like the most annoying thing about running for Congress that we don't know about?

AIKEN: The fact that everywhere you go, people have food for you and it is fried. And if you don't eat it, you're rude. So I gained 30 pounds while I was...

SAGAL: Really?

AIKEN: Seriously. I have since lost it, thank God. But, you know, the district that I ran in, which the people in the audience will know, a lot of the food in those parts of the state is damn good I ate all of it. It is - everything is fried or it's battered or something and it's delicious. And I indulged completely.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Clay, let me ask you - what are the odds that you're going to run again?

AIKEN: I think that I will probably run again for something at some points in North Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Yeah, do you - and I think.

SALIE: He just declared on our show.

SAGAL: And your campaign slogan should be finally, let him win something.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, Clay Aiken, we are delighted to talk to you. We've asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Claynation Meet Claymation.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Since you're the founder of Claynation - registered trademark - we thought we'd ask you about claymation, that's the animation technique that gave us "Gumby" and "Davey and Goliath" and lots of other shows I watched as a kid because they were the only things on. We'll ask you three questions about the wonderful world of claymation. Answer two of them and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Clay Aiken playing for?

KURTIS: Will Walker of Raleigh, N.C.

SAGAL: There you go.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Neighbor, potential voter. So we'll start out with "Gumby," that's the big, green, slant headed character famous in the 60s. Although off the air for decades, his legacy lives on, as when which of these happened? A, the late 90s fad called "Gumby" yoga, in which you trained to bend yourself as if you were entirely made of rubber; B, in 2011, at man tried to rob a San Diego 7-11 dresses as Gumby, but failed when his giant rubber hands kept him from grabbing his gun; Or C, "Gumby" has inspired a hot new fashion trend, which are plastic hair extensions that make you look like your head is flat, a foot high, and slanted to the right.

AIKEN: (Laughter). I'm pretty - I'm going to go with B. That's the kind of stupid thing a criminal would do.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: In fact, that's what happened. We featured it on this show when it did. All right, another famous claymation character was the Noid. He appeared in a lot of Domino's Pizza ads in the '80s. The Noid was a little creature and his mission in life was to ruin Domino's Pizza. But he was suddenly pulled from the ads when what happened? A, Domino's discovered that most people hated their pizza so much they were rooting for the Noid; B, back in '89, a man named Kenneth Noid - upset that the character was making fun of him - took several Domino's employees hostage; Or C, Domino's was successfully sued by exercise guru Richard Simmons for stealing his likeness for the Noid.

(LAUGHTER)

AIKEN: I feel like I've - I feel like I've heard about this guy named Noid, so I'm going to go with B.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It was, in fact, what happened. A guy named Kenneth Noid took patrons hostage, demanded free pizza. They captured him and took him away. So you have one more question. This is a really great bit of claymation trivia. We remember, perhaps, some of the most famous claymation characters - those were the California Raisins. I don't know if you remember this - Priority Records had their first number one hit with a cover of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," get it? The grapevine. What did Priority Records put out next? A, nothing. The head of the label said, I'm sorry what I've done to music, and folded the label; B, they had a failed attempt to capitalize on the claymation character craze - a cover of "I'm Too Sexy," by a claymation group called the Oklahoma Wheat Berries; Or C, NWA's "Straight Outta Compton"?

AIKEN: I feel like C would be the most preposterous and therefore may be the right answer.

SAGAL: Is that the one you're going to go for?

AIKEN: I think I'm going to go with C.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SALIE: Oh my gosh.

SAGAL: Priority Records went right immediately from California raisins to gangster rap. They did NWA's "Straight Outta Compton," they released Ice Cube's record. Snoop Dogg became their creative director.

Bill, how did Clay Aiken do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Finally, Clay...

(LAUGHTER)

KURTIS: You won big. You're a champ.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Does someone have a tiara for the man? Come now.

AIKEN: Please.

SAGAL: Clay Aiken is...

AIKEN: I've got plenty of my own, don't worry.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Clay Aiken is a star who got his start on "American Idol." You can see his documentary about his life and work, "The Runner-Up" on esquiretv.com. Clay Aiken, thank you so much for joining us.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MEASURE OF A MAN")

AIKEN: (Singing) And one day you discover him, broken down he's lost everything.

SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill introduces us to his favorite photographer, Annie Schnauzerwitz. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

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