You can hire a family. The Tokyo agency Hagemashi-tai, meaning ‘We Want to Cheer You Up,’ is one of ten outfits in Japan that supply clients with adult actors willing to impersonate any blood relation you require—a loving dad to pick up your kids from school; reputable parents to vouch for you at a matchmaking party; noncomplaining, huggable grandchildren to spend the day with you; a trial husband who leaves towels on your bathroom floor to help you practice for your upcoming marriage.
Scott Rosenbaum, a thirty-one-year-old former Internet marketer who lives in New Jersey, read a newspaper article about this phenomenon and founded Rent-a-Friend, in October, 2009. The company has a database of more than three hundred thousand members around the world who can be employed, by paying subscribers, for platonic companionship. … Occasionally, Rosenbaum said, the client’s request is more unorthodox. When a college student was caught drinking on campus, he hired surrogate parents from Rent-a-Friend to accompany him to the disciplinary meeting with a dean. A friend in need is a friend in deed, indeed.
Obviously the story is bizarre, that’s why I made a film about it, but I’m still shocked by the level of skepticism. I guess I have to accept that people think I’m full of shit. But I’m not clever enough to have invented Mr. Brainwash, even the most casual on-line research confirms that.
Besides, if the movie was a carefully scripted prank you can be sure I would’ve given myself some better lines. I would’ve meticulously planned my spontaneous off-the-cuff remarks. I love that famous Jack Benny come-back to a heckler—’You wouldn’t say that if my writers were here.’ But I’ve always wondered—did his writers tell him to say that?
Conan listened to Gaspin, still with a faraway look in his eye. Finally he did have something he really wanted to say, something that was all but burning a hole in his chest. ‘What does Jay have on you?’ Conan asked, his voice still low, his tone still even. ‘What does this guy have on you people? What the hell is it about Jay?’
Neither of the NBC executives had an answer and cast their heads down. Conan thought they were working at looking sympathetic, following some lesson that had been taught at corporate school.