Clay Aiken debuts in Spamalot Friday

Clay Aiken joins other American Idol alumni on Broadway this Friday when he debuts as Sir Robin in Spamalot. He’ll appear through May 4. In an announcement last fall, director Mike Nichols said “Clay Aiken is amazing beyond that glorious voice. Turns out he is an excellent comic actor and a master of character. … This guy is not only a star, he is a lot more.”

Still, he needs to work on his PR. In an interview with Newsweek, he gives attitude that may have at times been an attempt at humor, but that didn’t work, especially not in print. And then he got unnecessarily and aggressively defensive; even if the questions weren’t what he expected or what he thought were inappropriate, the way to address them isn’t to be evasive, it’s to use his good humor.

First, discussing why he’s doing Spamalot, he disses it, and then his fans (again, he could be kidding, but it comes off as flat in print). “A lot of people saw it as a good match–I’m starting to realize maybe it wasn’t–and I always had something else to do. I think the thing that attracted me to this show is how different it was and anti-Broadway it is,” he said. He also says that “[t]he first time I saw [Spamalot] I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever seen in my entire life.” And of his fans, he says, “They’ll be there in full force. I hope they behave.” And then came the truly awkward exchange:

How did you get into a fight with that lady on a plane?
I’m not going to talk about it.

I was just curious because you’ve never talked about it.
I did talk about it.

What about the Kelly Ripa thing?
I’m not going to discuss it.

Did you think it was homophobic?
I’m not going to discuss it.

What do you want to talk about?
I think we’re done.

Can we talk about something fun?
No, we’re done. I thought NEWSWEEK would be more reputable. I’m surprised.

But I think people are curious about it.
It was a year ago. This is NEWSWEEK. It’s not the National Enquirer. I’d hate to have a job where I had to be rude to people.

Clay explained his response to Newsweek in an interview with OK! Magazine, saying, “There are so many other things in this world that are more important. Newsweek usually does hard news. I think it’s the press that cares about dirt, so that’s what they print.” Of course, they were interviewing him so he could promote a play he’s in, which isn’t exactly hard news. And is asking what happened on a national morning talk show really tabloid-level?

Anyway, in that interview, he also said that he doesn’t watch American Idol any more. “I haven’t watched American Idol in three years now. It stresses me out so much. I compare it to high school. I needed college to understand and know what I know now. Most people wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for their education. I see Idol in the same way and I wouldn’t be where I am without it, but I don’t still go to my high school football games,” he said.

‘Spamalot’ Has Feat of Clay [New York Post]
Achin’ Aiken [Newsweek]
Clay Aiken Speaks Out [OK! Magazine]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.