Mr. Notre Dame is, outside of the 8th Grade Day pep rally, usually the best assembly of the year. It is obviously necessary to have some sort of familiarity with the contestants, but it is fun and entertaining to watch across the board.
But it could be better. Way better.
Notre Dame looks often to distinguish itself from its public-education counterparts, but a couple of the public institutions have something we need to take a closer look at: male beauty pageants that are not just good, they are lights-out, full-throttle, all-out displays of school spirit and school-wide support.
With that in mind, Mr. NDP has serious potential to be something really cool. Here are some things to consider that will give our display of masculinity the ability to run with the rest of them.
1. Ditch the assembly format.
You want the hour off of classes before you head out to a debatably-long field day? Get over it and think about this next tidbit of information. Mr. Horizon, considered by many to be the summit of pageantry (almost said pinnacle of pageantry . . . near miss there), sets aside a Saturday night, opens up its massive auditorium to anyone and everyone who wants to come, and puts on a two(plus)-hour marathon of sheer craziness. Anyone can go, even non-Horizon students. It is nothing short of a production. You can look up last year's pageant on Youtube even . . . in twelve parts. Think we can do better than a pre-field day assembly? Me too.
If you ask me, the biggest thing that holds back Mr. NDP is time. Eight or so guys have roughly an hour to do runway, swimsuit, talent, and final questions. If it sounds cramped, that is because it is. Mr. NDP talents are definitely fun, but less of a time constraint would give people more options and more flexibility. This also allows more general room for creativity with everything from the hosts to the judges to the format of the pageant itself.
So put Mr. NDP on a Saturday night and open the gym up to anyone who wants to come see their friends do something stupid. It would be totally awesome, and I think it is worth having a few more minutes per class before field day.
2. More advertising.
The clash of the titans. King of the hill. Rage in the cage. Rumble in the jungle.
This (boom boom) . . .
Is (boom boom) . . .
Mister N . . . D . . . P!!!!!!!! (can you picture the roaring crowd yet?)
This pageant decides the face of the school, as it claims, so it should be big. You know what is not big? A couple after-school announcements. Bush league, alright? Promo videos should be running all over the place, campaign ads should be going by each contestant even though it would mean nothing. Even hint at the acts to come (Just imagine: This Friday, witness the spectacle as Andrew “Corndog” Cogliani really puts his nickname to the test! Be there.) Are you with me? Are you there? I am there. If you build it up, the people will come. Shove ‘em in, Corny.
3. Better Audition Format
Here is the problem with this: not many folks try out to begin with. But with the absolute 180 that the Dog Pound has done this year, it is hard to picture anything but an increase in the number of senior guys vying for a spot in the shenanigans. Consider that Mr. Horizon (across all four classes, but even so) had more or less one-hundred and fifty gentlemen fill out a packet to try and win the title. NDP last year? Nine. All you had to do was show up and you were in.
Of course, part of this relies on the students, but if activity increases in the participation department, some sort of audition format should be considered. Creative survey questions should be involved, and maybe even some sort of awesome tiebreaker where the last two contestants looking to make it in have to duke it out with Nerf guns and foam swords. Except it is live with a feed to the Smartboards in every classroom. Yes please.
4. Have the hosts actually host.
I really like the idea of having a couple MCs come out and play the mic for a little while to keep things lively in between the portions of the competition, but the issue with Mr. NDP is that they are not really hosting the thing. They kind of just stand there and try to stay busy. Here is how we can spice it up for these guys.
Two words: intro video. You know the award shows always have something funny at the beginning where the hosts are trying to fight their way to the venue, so give our MCs something similar. In the past they have not even been mentioned with the contestants, so I say do them justice and give them their own little dose of fanfare.
Also, these guys just need more to do. They should be there to transition from act to act, and not to simply be time-fillers while things slow down. They should feel like they belong there, and I believe that overall their roles could use more structure. It would make for a smoother pageant.
Something along these lines, perhaps.
5. Finally, give everyone a stage.
Walk into another school’s auditorium one day and just gape. It is huge. It is fantastic. NDP may not have that kind of venue, but our gym is like the Flubber of venues, because it can be just about anything you want it to be. Making some sort of stage would not be the toughest thing that has ever happened in there, and our runway system that we have now is already more than adequate. The point is, people wait for four years to watch their class do Mr. NDP. I like how our pageant is senior-only, and I think it should stay that way, but I also think that once you are up on the stage or in the crowd, the experience should be totally worth waiting the four years.
Bottom line: the last hoorah needs to be a pretty darn good one.
I am psyched for Mr. NDP. I will be honest, I want to know who will do it and what talents they will dream up and what kind of spectacle will be put on this year. But with these thoughts put out there, I grow even more excited. We could have something really awesome here. Mr. NDP right now is a budding contest just poking its head out from underneath the soil, and it has the ability to grow into something that really makes someone feel proud to be representing our school.
And after all, that is what this whole thing is about anyway.
By the way, if you now fully expect Mr. Cogliani to go for Mr. NDP, join the club.
This moment was sweet. But add in lights and a stage and replace all of the freshmen with people who actually know you, and you have Mr. NDP gold, my friend.