by Kylie Harrington
HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. — Jaws clenched, fists tightened and brows furrowed, fans of Fox’s hit singing show The Masked Singer were on the edges of their seats late Wednesday night, hoping, praying that the smooth-voiced celebrity about to be unmasked was not R&B singer and noted sexual abuser and pedophile R. Kelly.
“Oh please no, God no, please,” said Laurel Hersh, biting her lip as onscreen host Nick Cannon reached for the mask on a contestant’s fuzzy fox costume. “I really liked this guy’s voice, but the signs were all there: he said that he had controversies in his past, but that could just mean that he got a parking ticket or something. But he sang Young Girl by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap last week, that’s weird, right?”
The in-studio audience chanted “Take it off! Take it off!” in a bloodthirsty fervor and the fox dramatically started to loosen their mask. Robin Thicke gloated from behind the judge’s table. The tension was palpable.
“I can’t do this,” said Hersh, leaving the couch and pacing through her kitchen. “What if it is R. Kelly? Does that mean I’m an R. Kelly fan? Am I supporting R. Kelly by supporting the fox? I love the fox’s smooth voice and his impish little grin, but not enough to excuse any sex crimes! I hate this show.”
But Hersh couldn’t bear to not know who was behind the mask. She returned to the couch, wiping her sweaty palms on a nearby cushion. “Not R. Kelly, not R. Kelly,” she mumbled to herself as the mask came off. When the camera revealed the smiling face of former Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Leinart under the fox mask, Hersh breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank god, it’s one of those NFL nobodies again. They never hurt anyone,” she said, applying a cold compress to her forehead.
UPDATE: Hersh fainted early this morning in her home upon the realization that 8 more singers have yet to be unmasked, and that any of them could be R. Kelly, Kevin Spacey or — worst of all — Woody Allen.