One of the many perks of living in New York City is all the free tapings of shows you can see. All you have to do is get up before the sun, wait in line for 6 hours with groups of people who think that Katie Couric is a hoot, and follow the instructions from the sadistic warm up comics that train you like baby seals, and you too can have a story you can tell at Golden Corral next Thanksgiving. One day I was feeling pretty good about life and not being used to that feeling, I thought I'd
A man with a clipboard and little tiny laminated dollar bills with our seat numbers came down the line confirming our tickets. When he gave the dog lover hers, she and her...friend? daughter? Prisoner? smiled at each other and pretended they were running off with the money. They laughed and laughed, and I died and died. The line was expanding behind me. An old woman in a white wig with yellow streaks and lipstick on half of her face wanted to know when we could sit. A family from Philadelphia recalled the day they were extras in a scene from Rocky..."and now this!" The woman and her daughter directly behind me were quizzing each other in hopes of getting on the show. They would have nailed it too if all the questions were about lemon bar recipes.
Finally we moved inside. To a holding room. Where we would sit for another 2 hours "warming up" with mock questions from the ABC interns. The first one being a multiple choice whose answer was Anthony Weiner, which delighted the crowd to no end. So much so this
Finally, we were ready. We moved from the basement up a few flight of stairs to the Millionaire set. They had warned us that it may be overwhelming to some people, and sure enough, the majority of the group looked like they were back on the mother ship. They pointed at lights, and took pictures of larger cameras. We were seated and instructed we would be taking a twenty question quiz to see if anyone could stay and audition for a future show. The man next to me was an old retired postal worker and this was his 4th time there. He was very serious and I really sincerely wanted him to do well and make it. The woman to my left was the terrier woman, and I really sincerely wished a cameraman would fall from the catwalk and crush the shit out of her.
We took the quiz. I did not get a passing grade. We move on now.
Enter the warm up comic who asked people where they were from and then named a comedy club in their city he played at. He had some good one liners though, and razzed the crowd well, but plugged his website so much I thought his last name was dot com. He instructed us how to hoot and holler at every thing Cedric said. How to seem shocked at a wrong answer and crazily ecstatic at a right one. The sheep did their job. Terrier woman stood up waved her floppy arms in the air so hard it looked like two flying squirrels made of polyester were racing. Cedric the Entertainer came out and the crowd erupted. He high fived the crowd, and welcomed us and episode one of three had begun. Then stopped. Different cameras were used. Makeup came out and dabbed the sweat off Cedrics face. Special
The next three and a half hours are a blur of stops and starts. After three questions was a commercial break. Then a teaser filmed for the at home games. Then after each episode, pick up shots were filmed. If Cedric stumbled on a line, or a technical difficulty screwed up the computers, those takes were filmed again and edited into the final show. When one questions multiple choice answers were Nietzsche, Kierkegaard,and other philosophers, I knew we were going to be there a while as Cedric, who obviously didn't read the questions ahead of time, looked at the screen like he was trying to make words out of a spilled Scrabble board.
The audience hung in there though. Laughing at horrible jokes, sighing when a contestant got a wrong answer and cheering as someone won $40,00. Memories were made, hearts were broken, and my mailman friend didn't get a chance to audition. Terrier woman and friend? daughter? Prisoner? got up and exclaimed how hungry they were and waddled out of the studio. I knew they would talk about this day until diabetes takes one