Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What it's like to be in a studio audience

About two months ago I was checking my email and I got a notice from my regular airline saying I had until June to redeem my frequent flyer miles. Turns out that after some searching, I figured out I had sufficient miles to go practically anywhere in the good old USA as long as I was real flexible about dates and times. Well, trigger warning, I decided to go to L-A. I've always wanted to see Groman's Chinese theatre and thought it would be fun to warm up after all the New Jersey winter warning. After more Internet browsing I thought, "maybe I could see a tv show". Soon I was signed up to see the Maggie Waggie show. I was real excited now.

Truth to be told, I did see a tv show once in the sixties. I was walking with my mother on Broadway one school holiday after seeing a Radio City movie with the Rockettes. Out of the blue, this man came up to my mother and said, "Would you like to watch the Merv Griffin show? We are starting in a few minutes." The next thing I knew we were in the Little Theatre and Arthur Treacher walked out onto the stage and told a few jokes and explained that the laugh sign meant you had permission to laugh if you thought the joke merited a chuckle or too. Soon Merv came out. I seem to remember Tony Randall was the guest.

Forward forty eight years and I was going to see a real tv show from L-A. It was very specific about what I could wear. Dark clothes, "casual hip" I think it said. No hats. No writing on your tees.

On the big day I got there early, having checked out of the hotel. It was quite hot out and I was a bit worried about the no hats rule. Luckily when I got to the Maggie Waggie wait line there were nice benches, awning to protect us from the sun and a fan blowing into our faces. I guess they didn't want an audience that had heat prostration. A few very tall and beautiful damsels talked to us we were marched to the door and told to go to the bathroom.

After a long wait, (there were a lot of long waits that day) the doors opened and literally where you would expect a lobby to be was the set of the show. There were lights and loud pop music and we were directed to our seats. After a while I realized the pretty people had been separated from the older, fat grumpy looking people. I did not sit with the pretty, young women and their boyfriends. For another very long wait the set was decorated with shamrocks and pots of gold. Apparently there were three consultants whose job was "set dressing" (I've become so L-A) and they put coins around the stage. Then somebody took a picture and walked backstage. After a few minutes (I suspect Maggie Waggie had some suggestions) they re-dressed the set and put gold coins on the stage floor. I guess they had trouble filling seats because people kept strolling into the audience well past the allotted time. Apparently due to this shortage of bodies the dress code was rather lax. Well it was St. Patrick's Day.

Finally the audience pumper came to motivate us into laughing our heads off and applauding like we were on Benzedrine.   Apparently TV show directors have never heard the expression, "I'll laugh when I hear something funny".

Finally, the show began. I noticed there were no speakers in the studio so you had to listen to the show real closely. The audience all laughed and applauded shamelessly. I almost had a sore throat as  I had laughed so hard during audience rehearsal. Now I know why jokes that aren't that funny get such a great response from studio audiences. After the show they did some promotions. One bit was funnier than the show had been.

Well that was about it. Having a plane to catch I missed the meet and greet with Fernando but that's life.

Editor's note: When they blip a word on tv it's the one you imagine it is.

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