‘The Masked Singer’s Rhino Reveals His ‘Bad Habit’ & ‘Most Shocking Moment’ of Season 3
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for “A Day in the Mask: The Semi Finals” of The Masked Singer Season 3.]
The Rhino took charge for most of the season, but he couldn’t stomp the competition in the semifinals.
Four contestants remained in the last week before The Masked Singer Season 3 finale, and while he wowed everyone with a performance of Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” the Rhino was eliminated and unmasked as former MLB pitcher and musician Barry Zito.
Like every other contestant, he had to deny it was him when people, including his former teammates, reached out asking. But he actually took it a step further than just saying it wasn’t. “I would be like, ‘Oh, that’s so funny, somebody just texted me that,'” he told TV Insider. “‘I’ve never heard of that show. I gotta start watching that. Is it a good show?'”
Here, Zito reflects on his time on The Masked Singer, opens up about what made the timing of it “stressful,” and laughs about Ken Jeong’s love for JAG.
What was your initial reaction to doing The Masked Singer?
Barry Zito: “This sounds scary and like something I would never want to do. Sing and dance on stage in a costume, I don’t know how I would ever be able to do that well.” So my initial reaction was no, but when I sat and thought about it, thanks to Tim Ferriss and The 4-Hour Workweek, I’ve learned if something is scary, you have to run towards it, not away from it.
You’re used to having all eyes on you in front of a big crowd, and you’re a musician, so what were the biggest challenges for you besides performing in the costume?
The biggest challenge for me was learning choreography and singing and trying to sing well while hitting different marks on stage and a stage that I couldn’t really see. Just a whirlwind. You just go into the zone when you have to do things you’re so unprepared for.
Let’s talk about the Rhino costume. What about it appealed to you?
They gave me a couple of options on costumes, but I grew up a musician, and even though I had some success on the baseball field, I was never the typical jock, as you would say. I always wanted to be more of a typical jock. I always wanted to be the big, strong, confident guy and so the Rhino represented that for me. It represented the side of me that wants to just go out there and just own the stage, own the field, and I never really felt like I could do that in my career. The Rhino gave me that opportunity to be that guy.
What was the biggest challenge of performing in that costume?
The costume was very front-heavy. When I was just trying to stand there and sing, the mask was so heavy because it was this huge rhino snout, and so I ended up singing and holding up the front of the mask with my microphone. which nobody knows this. The mask, when I wouldn’t have my microphone holding it, would fall forward and I would look down and I couldn’t see at all anyways, and so I got into this bad habit, and then on my fourth song, when I really had to dance and move around, I got very discombobulated out there and I felt like that was my worst performance because of that.
What were the other options?
They threw the Taco out there as well, which, I grew up in San Diego, love Mexican food, but I just instantly connected with the Rhino.
What were your plans and goals when it came to each performance?
My goal was a lot similar to my goals in baseball. I found out that I would always get bit in the rear end when my goal in baseball was to go out and win or to pitch “well,” to do things that I couldn’t really control, and so when I was taking the stage in the Rhino costume, I just wanted to be authentic and just connect to the lyric and really give everything I could. I could control that, and so when I did that, things went well. And there were times when I wanted to be good and when I did that, things didn’t go well, and so I really learned that I had to keep my goals process-oriented.
Did you have any specific songs in mind you wish you’d had the chance to perform?
For me, it was the pop stuff. I released music previously that is stripped down acoustic, country-ish, but I grew up in a musical family and in a jazz background and pop, so I was really pushing hard to sing pop songs. I got to sing a couple, and I had the best time ever singing a Niall Horan song and a Jonas Brothers song and then I sang a Righteous Brothers song, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” and so I did get to sing some of those songs I really loved.
What’d you think of the panelists’ guesses? Jenny said you, and Ken got to JAG but was wrong with his guess until tonight’s episode.
Yeah, I thought I had everyone thrown off the trail. And then I want to say after my fourth or fifth performance, Jenny threw out my name and stood up and confidently was like, “There was a state of Missouri with a crown, and his wife was Miss Missouri.” I guess she’s a big baseball fan, and so she’s like, “He married Amber Seyer,” and I was just in the mask going, “You gotta be kidding me. How is she pulling this off right now? I wonder if there’s a Google involved here because this is mind-blowing.”
Then the fact that Ken was connecting the dots. I was on an old episode of JAG, years and years ago, playing a pitcher for the Navy, and Ken went off on this rant and just being funny, and I think he ended up backing into it in the right way. It was mind-blowing. When he was saying that stuff about JAG, I guess he’s a JAG superfan, which is just hilarious, I think he’s seen every episode and that show was on forever, so that was probably my most shocking moment in the entire season.
And you don’t expect to hear a JAG rant in the middle of a singing competition show.
[Laughs] Yeah, they brought out this Navy hat, and then Ken just starts connecting the dots. At first he guessed David James Elliott, which is a good guess because that guy’s pretty tall too, but I was just shocked when Ken did that. Then when I got unmasked, Ken ran out on stage, gave me a big hug. I think Ken’s a Bay Area guy, so his family are Giants fans. It was a really great moment.
You said something monumental in your life is happening now, but couldn’t reveal it until after your mask comes off.
We had a baby that was due at the end of March — this came across in December — and what happened after I agreed to do this is my wife ended up having complications in the pregnancy, and they told us the baby was going to come five to eight weeks early, and I knew that I was going to be in LA shooting at that point. It was a pretty rigorous situation for me personally, my family, flying to LA for three days, flying back for a day and a half, getting up at 5am, flying back to LA, and all the while my wife’s going to her OB appointments hoping that she wouldn’t go into labor.
We ended up having the baby five weeks early, and I actually had to fly back after I sang “You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling'” that night, got into Nashville at 3am, and we had our baby the next morning. Then I missed my rehearsals and flew back for my final episode after the baby was two days old. My wife left the hospital by herself. It was a pretty stressful situation.
What are you going to take away from the overall experience?
The biggest takeaway is keep doing things that scare me, keep doing things that make myself uncomfortable. I’m a man of faith, and I feel like when I go into situations where I’m uncomfortable, I’ve gotta lean on God a little more, a little harder. In general, we’re just going through life and we’re not challenging ourselves. There’s no need to rely on anything besides ourselves and our own strength, so it’s in those chances when you say yes to things that scare you that you gotta lean a little harder.
The Masked Singer, Season 3 Finale, Wednesday, May 20, 8/7c, Fox