Fincher, aka Mr. Doubletalk, is a corporate comedian, linguist and public speaker who addressed the Buckhead Business Association Thursday. The Midtown resident showed videos of him posing as a TV reporter asking questions that make no sense to get laughs out of celebrities, professional athletes and others.
“I don’t have anything to say so you don’t have to worry,” he said at the association’s weekly breakfast meeting at City club of Buckhead.
Fincher said he was given the nickname “Mr. Doubletalk” in 1980 or ’81 by Allen Funt, the creator and original host of the “Candid Camera” TV show who hosted auditions for the show in downtown Atlanta at the Wyndham hotel. Fincher was one of the last of 400 tryouts. He said Funt was reading the newspaper and not paying attention to the people auditioning when he walked in the room.
“I said, ‘Mr. Funt, may I ask you something before we get started?’ He said “yes.” One of two things was going to happen. I was going to get kicked out of the room or capture his attention.”
After Fincher asked him a question with mumbled, garbled speech, Funt said, “Sure,” and his secretary chuckled.
“She had that look that said, ‘He got you,’” Fincher said. “Allen Funt had a decision to make because his ego was burned. … I got the role.”
Fincher, who taught phonetics at Hardaway High School in Columbus and at Westminster in Buckhead before becoming a public speaker, worked for IBM from 1985 through today.
“When you had the backing of IBM and ‘Candid Camera,’ that was huge then,” he said of the late ’80s and early ’90s. “I did 200 or more shows a year and made $10,000 to $12,000 a show then. I don’t think I was worth that much because I don’t say anything.”
Since then Fincher has appeared on shows such as NBC’s “Today” and “Live with Regis and Kathy Lee.” More recently he has used the alias Dr. Robert Payne in going on shows such as Fox News’ “Huckabee,” hosted by 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, where he posed as a fake Congressional candidate from Texas.
He said his health was in jeopardy when he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes “10 to 12 years ago.”
“That day, I weighed 322 pounds,” he said. “Now I weigh 185. I turned 65 two weeks ago. I’m not retiring because I get paid to make no sense. Boy, there’s a market for that today.”
When asked what advice he gives businesspeople most, Fincher said, “Don’t take it so seriously. It’s just money and most of it’s not yours anymore. … It’s taken on a new meaning now.”
Association president Catherine Cattles has seen hime speak three times now.
“I think what I heard members say as they were leaving is he has a great story in his career. … He said, ‘I don’t have anything to lose. I’m going to go for it,’ she said of Thursday’s speech. “In what could have been a pretty intimidating situation [the audition], he put his best foot forward and built his career around that. That was encouraging to a lot of business owners.”