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Website misses punchline in former Fairbanks woman's application for Mars mission

Sean Doogan

Lauren Reeves, a Fairbanks-raised, New York-based comedian, actress and video blogger is a funny woman. But she is in the final running for a serious contest. The winners, gleaned from a pool of more than 200,000 initial applicants, will be sent by a private company on a one-way mission to Mars. Reeves' application video, true to her personality, is filled with jokes and character acting.

"Probably the most difficult thing about living on Mars would be the internet connection. Like, what if it's slow?" the 30-year-old Reeves deadpanned in her application video.

"I think the thing that separates me from the other people applying is that I already have a helmet. I wear my helmet everywhere I go and I expect to wear that helmet in space," Reeves continued.

While Reeves said she is deadly serious about her wish to go to Mars, she said that her application video was made to be a joke to get the attention of officials with Mars One, the organization planning the mission to Mars. It worked -- perhaps too well for the people at Business Insider, a news and entertainment website.

That website recently ran a story about Reeves' application video, questioning the wisdom of accepting a seemingly ditzy blonde on a serious scientific venture to the Red Planet. Reeves is one of just 705 people still in the running for the chance to go to Mars.

"Woman Who Claims To Have Seen Aliens Is One Of A Select Few Being Considered For A Trip To Mars," the Business Insider headline blared.

Business Insider went on to say that Reeves' application video was bizarre, claiming that she is an "airheaded beauty" who seemed more normal in a CBS interview done earlier this year.

The article suggests that Reeves is being kept on the list of potential astronaut candidates by Netherlands-based Mars One because of her physical appeal. While the story notes that the entire $6 billion project is going to be funded in part by proceeds from a reality show about the astronauts and their mission to the red planet, its author fails to see why anyone with a sense of humor might be considered for what is expected to be a dangerous and potentially historic adventure.

Mars One is an ambitious, if still far-from-certain project. It would use privately-funded rockets to send people on the mission, but it can't bring them back. Mars One officials said they don't have the technology to retrieve people from the surface of Mars. They hope the astronauts selected for the trip will be able to begin building a base of operations on Mars, which would be expanded by subsequent missions to the planet.

Despite much speculation about the potential success or failure of the Mars One project, it has captured the attention of the world, with applicants from almost every country and walk of life. In addition to Reeves, scientists, federal agents, politicians and adventurers all signed up in hopes of making the cut.

For their part, Mars One officials said they are serious about their project. Mars One is being led by Dr. Norbert Kraft, who has worked with NASA and the Japanese Space Agency. The plan is to begin a 10-year training process and televise the applicants as they learn to live and work together. After the final 16 are selected, groups of four are scheduled to begin leaving for Mars in 2023.

Reeves, who has appeared on episodes of Saturday Night Live, the Tonight Show, and Real Housewives of New York, believes that it is her sense of humor that might take her to Mars.

"They know I do well with media interviews and am entertaining and make going to Mars sound interesting," Reeves said. "I don't talk in scientific terms. I take it with a grain of salt."

But Reeves -- who worked as a reporter for Fairbanks NBC affiliate KTVF before she left Alaska to try her luck as an actress and comedian -- said she is concerned that her application video was so misinterpreted by a Business Insider reporter.

The story has since been picked up by several other websites.

"I opened it (the web story) up and thought why would the reporter not contact me to do this story?" Reeves asked. "It's so lazy and all they did was take quotes from my video and my application and it was pretty obviously a joke."

"I am a professional comedian; this is what I do with my life," Reeves said. "And if they are too lazy to look me up on the internet, then shame on them."

Reach Sean Doogan at sean@alaskadispatch.com.

 


By SEAN DOOGAN
sean@alaskadispatch.com