Roy Moore was surprised to find out he won this year's "You Are So Nashville If..." competition, mainly because he thought a co-worker submitted a funnier entry. "His was about the homeless guy getting your Social Security number for Christmas," says the 29-year-old by phone. "That made me laugh."
We laughed, too, but we laughed louder at Moore's pithy skewering of state representative and world-class fuck-up Rob Briley. Moore, a health care journalist, aimed his crosshairs at the infamous nose-diver and last year's cringe-inducing D.U.I. arrest, whose video can be found in two parts online with more than 18,000 views.
He has his fiancée to thank for the tip. "[She's] a huge YouTube fan," he says. "And then all this [Briley scandal] came up and of course I was scanning YouTube for it. And I was like, 'Dear God.' It's so sad and yet so hilarious at the same time, and it really had gotten five stars. And I thought, that is the most wonderful video I have ever seen of someone's arrest."
Pretty salacious stuff for a guy who covers such a tedious subject for a living—currently for online medical portal HealthLeaders InterStudy. "Exciting stuff, right?" Moore says of his job. "If you have any questions about HMOs or PPOs, I'm your man."
Actually, we're more interested in Moore's craftsmanship of the line that got our vote for its intersection of wit and topicality. Not only can Moore boast winning our annual Nashville summer-upper contest, but he just broke the stride of previous winner Mike Williams, who held court for two years of wins with his riffs on gay cowboys. But with Moore's journalistic background, it's no surprise it didn't take him long to craft the winner. The MTSU grad says he spent less than a minute ("maybe 45 seconds?") coming up with the entry. And even though he knows guys who submit 100 entries at a time to the competition (Williams sent us four pages last year), Moore submitted only one other entry this year, with a similar theme about the Fords adopting Briley. It didn't make the cut. Moore knew he risked submitting an entry that might be a little too obscure. After all, of some 1,000 entries submitted, Briley-related zingers made up only 1 percent of the total.
He chose to keep the winning entry short enough that it didn't even include Briley's name. Considering those disengaged from local politics, that was a tough call to make, but Moore erred on the side of the succinct, and even followed his reportorial instincts by putting feelers out among friends.
"I wondered about it being too inside-baseball myself, but felt people would get it even if they didn't know about Briley and local politics," Moore says. "Or at least, I hoped so. I asked a few people after I sent it and they said they got it. I didn't put Briley's name because really this could happen to lots of people. I doubt Rob Briley will be the last person we see making a fool of himself in an arrest video so I wanted the entry to be more timeless.... Besides, it would've ruined the flow—'your legislator's DUI arrest gets a five-star rating on YouTube.' "
He's happy to be among the winners, and still remembers his favorite over the years.
"I follow the ones that win," he says. "But not to make mine like theirs, just for entertainment. One of my favorites, of course, is the Hank Williams Jr. one." He's referring to 1992's winner: "You go to a Hank Williams Jr. concert at Starwood and pass out before Hank does," by Ted W. Davis III.
But hasn't Briley's fall from grace been muckraked enough? We didn't think so, and neither did Moore.
"I had thought about whether to write one [about Briley], but when he started lecturing people on professional responsibility—I'm a journalist, and that just made me angry," Moore says. "Dude, you're a drunk and you're a philanderer—you're not gonna lecture us on anything. So I was gonna write that, but I thought it would just be too bitter. So I decided to just be lighthearted."
We can only wonder what Briley will think about the dubious honor. Maybe he'll be flattered. "I sincerely doubt it," Moore says, laughing. "I don't know if he can take a joke or not. I guess we'll find out. I just hope he stays off my street."
Too bad recent YouTube searches for the pitiful arrest video have recently dropped its popularity to 4.5 stars. "I'm disappointed by the downgrade," Moore says. "It's obviously a conspiracy on the part of the Chocolate Rain singer to prevent Briley from taking his place as the king of YouTube."
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