Unemployment is getting weird. You all know how hard I’ve been avoiding daytime television, right? Well I lost my battle, kind of. Thanks to an ad on craigslist, I actually participated in it as an audience member. I’m not going to name names, but there’s a man out there who is basically the conservative poor man’s Maury and I saw three of his shows being taped. If you already know whom I’m talking about, especially if you watch his show, I’d like you to stop reading, we can’t be friends anymore.
Though this experience left me feeling unwashed and uncomfortable, there is one good thing that has come from it all: this piece of writing. If any of you are thinking about get suckered into doing what I have done, please read this and heed my warnings.
The show is taped at an impressively dingy hotel in midtown NYC. We entered through the side entrance and went upstairs to a holding area that must have once been a nice ballroom. There is still a fancy chandelier hanging from the ceiling, but the room is now cut in half by new walls that don’t reach the ceiling. Talk about trying to preserve a luxurious past and absolutely failing. What’s more depressing: a dingy room where you wait to watch other peoples’ paternity tests read on national television or waiting in a dingy room with a huge, beautiful chandelier you can only half see where you wait to watch other peoples’ paternity tests? A touch of class only reminds people of what’s missing.
Anyway, if you go to this place, be warned that you will have to walk through a metal detector. Some geniuses handed their bags over, went through the metal detector, and just kept walking. Make sure you get your bag back before you walk away—you don’t want to be the newb in New York who forgets their valuables everywhere.
Also, if you’re not the type to leave your bag unattended, know that these are the types of people you’re going to have to spend the day with. Evaluate who’s around you and avoid them. Avoid them all. Be an island, it’s safer that way.
After some donut holes and what I can only assume is awful coffee (I brought my own), they lead you out to the first taping. It’s cold and loud out there. I’m talking today’s hits on high decibels and super AC.
Once you’re placed in your seat, there’s still a long time before the show gets started. So much time, in fact, that the staff encourages the audience members to get on stage and dance. That sounds festive, right? Depends. Over the course of the day I saw a lot of things I can’t unsee. Two spiffy old women in leather skirts and fur coats taught other dancers how to “Dougie.” One of those old women later participated in a twerking contest. A chick who had been talking about the day drinking she was accomplishing backstage struck a zen pose on stage while a couple who have apparently been to almost all of the 500 show tapings reenacted cunnilingus with their dance moves to “My Neck, My Back…” They did it for an uncomfortable amount of time and everyone in the audience who was not me loved it.
After the dancing is over, a warm-up comic came out and told jokes that relied heavily on her religious upbringing and breasts. When she introduced the host, he came out and tapped her on the bum before starting the show. This is real life. I don’t have any advice on how to deal with it, except clear your mind and tell yourself that it will be over eventually.
The first show I saw was about cheating partners and lie detector tests. The next two tapings had that stuff, but with some fun paternity tests thrown in for good measure. I had a couple authentic gasps during the whole thing. One time in particular when a threesome was mentioned out of nowhere—some of the guests aren’t great at telling a story, they’re inconsistent and leave out all sorts of details.
The staff held up cue cards for the guests too, which was fun to watch. My favorites: “stop smiling on camera” for a woman who was supposed to be getting tragic news and “stop cursing” for everyone.
You get bad pizza and swag during the breaks. I’m not mad at the beer koozie and pen I got, but a couple of liters of coca cola wouldn’t have broken the budget. I’m just saying BYOB, because these people don’t know how to put together a complete eating experience.
The host was the worst part of the whole thing. He has a weak chin and beady eyes. His body movements are exaggerated and awkward. He says “god fearing” and “American” often, but not as much as “baby mama.” He liked saying “baby mama” so much that he accidentally called the child the baby mama. To be fair, he often mixed up the facts of stories and names of guests. He also has a catchphrase that doesn’t mean anything.
Again, if this very vague description is enough for you to know whom I’m talking about, our relationship is over.