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These people are good at being stupid

February 06, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Tim Ashburn hopes the route to the Guinness Book of World Records for stuffing 200 soda straws into his mouth Saturday will be to show his feat on David Letterman's "Stupid Human Tricks."

Rugby, a 10-year-old Jack Russell Terrier pup had no such agenda when he jumped three feet off the stage at Valley Mall to catch soap bubbles blown by his mistress. He was just having fun.

People and dogs were lined up at the mall to audition to be on television comic Letterman's zany "Stupid Pet Tricks" and "Stupid Human Tricks."

William Langworthy, 24, who coordinates the segments for Letterman, hosted Saturday's auditions.

Saturday's hopefuls came from around the region.

Ashburn, 23, a truck driver who lives in Baltimore, said the Guinness book lists the offical record number of straws stuffed into a human mouth at 151. He said he knew he could top that.

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His big chance came Saturday. With the help of an assistant who held a mirror in front of him, Ashburn started shoving bunches of plastic straws into his mouth.

"I just shove some in on one side, then jam the rest into the other side," he said. He does no special exercises to stretch his mouth or uses any trick. "I can just do it."

His mouth bleeds from the ordeal, but he said it will be worth if he can get into Guinness.

Jeff Grove and his black lab, Cassie, of Reisterstown, Md., followed Ashburn on the stage. The crowd was amused to see Grove spit ice cubes out of his mouth and into Cassie's, but it couldn't compare to Rugby's dexterity with the bubbles.

Rugby's owner, Ellen Reed of Chevy Chase, Md., said the dog has been jumping for bubbles since he was a pup. "He can jump five feet for them outside on the grass," she said.

Ziggy, a little white poodle from Washington, D.C., bombed out on his attempts to pass a tennis ball back to his owner, Ursula McLeod.

He seemed oblivious to the game.

"He does it all the time at home," McLeod said.

"Maybe I could get Dave to come to your house to see it," Langworthy said.

Two Hagerstown kids also got their shot at fame.

Richard Sprankle, 10, showed his yo-yo skills by "walking the doggie"and "rocking the baby."

He had a few tense moments when the string wouldn't cooperate, but Robert Soto's act went off flawlessly. The nine-year-old Pangborn Elementary student burps in complete sentences.

Langworthy said he didn't know whether any of Saturday's tryouts would make the show. The next "Stupid" segment will run sometime around the end of March, he said.

He said less than 1 percent of those who try, make the show.

"Sometimes, they look good on stage and they really warm up an audience, but they don't come across well on video," he said.

Letterman only runs the segments a couple of dozen times a year, dividing them equally between pets and humans, Langworthy said.

Anyone interested in auditioning can call 1-888-PET-TRIK.

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