Clay Aiken finds his true calling as an improv puppeteer after Lisa makes Dayana cry

The Celebrity Apprentice took a break from quasi-business world tasks last night and just let its celebrity performers perform, albeit in a new medium: improvisational puppetry, which was also an ad for Jim Henson’s adults-only Stuffed and Unstrung. And that caused one of its performers to break down.

Also Paul Teutul got fired.

Before the puppet show, Lisa flipped out on Dayana, saying, “How about this? Do whatever you fucking want,” and calling her “a fucking pain the ass.” Lisa said later during an interview that she was “not going home because some bitch can’t stand being behind the camera.”

But the real meltdown came in the boardroom before Lisa learned that her team won. She broke down and said, “I did not get into this business to make girls cry” and, clearly aware of how she’d be portrayed on the TV show, said, “I’m not going to be a villain because I have strong opinions.”

The episode didn’t make her into a villain for that reason, but instead made it seem like Lisa was ignoring Dayana, not giving her any work to do until, reluctantly, Lisa assigned her the task of creating the puppets.

Defending herself, Lisa told Donald Trump, “I say the most crazy things to people and nobody leaves upset,” and she added, “no one ever walks out or feels uncomfortable.” That’s really interesting in light of her recent racial slur directed toward Dayana, which again, wasn’t just off-color humor, it was a targeted attack. (Dear defenders of racist language: I understand that Lisa’s act is all about off-color humor. Whether it’s potty humor or something more serious, I find that kind of stuff hilarious–when it’s in the right context and not coming from a place of anger. Lisa’s feud with Dayana made that remark a clear attack, not a mere joke.)

Clay Aiken, surprisingly, offered a sexist read of these events that rivaled the kind of stuff Donald Trump would say; Clay wrote off Lisa’s anger by suggesting it was because Dayana was more attractive (“screw beautiful–stunning”) than Lisa. Please.

Perhaps more than any other task, this gave a strong advantage to many cast members who have backgrounds in improv or are performers. The others received a crash course in the rules of improv, which Teresa Giudice promptly ignored while operating her puppet, which was like a combination of her and Snooki.

But the big surprise was Clay, who proved himself to be both a good puppeteer and a gifted improvisational comic. He was so funny he caused Lisa to crack up, at least more than she did later:

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Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.