I recently spent a week house sitting in Los Angeles and my schedule was such, I had the opportunity to be an audience member during the taping of two shows in Hollywood. Unfortunately due to a prior commitment I could not join my wife and daughter on the beaches of Cabo, instead I attended the Conan (O’Brien) and Dr. Phil shows.
If you’ve ever considered getting tickets to be a television audience member – my recommendation would be to go your car wind shield solution changed, or perhaps fly a kite on a wind free day. Free tickets – Haw! I actually am of opinion individuals should be paid to serve as audience members. Instead of being treated as fans or guests of the show; you are likely considered a living prop.
I first attended the Conan show and when you arrive, be prepared to go through a screening process comparable to that of an airport on high alert. The show’s waiting location is approximately a quarter mile away and as you’re waiting; for you convenience why not purchase a Conan souvenir or two from the official vendor on-site. At an undisclosed time (keeping people in the dark is a common thread in Hollywood) in single file you’re led to the actual studio prior to and after the taping. The Conan show is cheap and they proudly attest to this; stating the network is close to bankruptcy. We were offered a Halloween size candy (take only one please) and at random, 5 or 6 t-shirts were tossed into the audience. Someone who attempts to be a comedian/host then instructs audience members to stand and applaud when alerted. So whenever you watch a taping and notice the crowd cheering or laughing; behind the cameras an audience manager is performing their (paid) directives. Now, I expected to applaud and no problem to oblige in participating; but a standing O (ovation) for every guest when they arrived and departed; no brother you have to earn this or I must be paid. Conan has mastered reading a teleprompter; even the ab-lib is rehearsed. Without hesitation the show’s house band “The Basic Cable Band” are some talented musicians; well deserving a genuine applause. Then it’s back to single file line walk back to the point of origination – if you ever wanted to relive those days going on a field trip as 3rd grader this experience is for you.
After this experience and with some reluctance the following day I made it though Hollywood traffic to attend the Dr. Phil Show. Similar to my experience at Conan, staff ushers (reminding me of amateur secret service agents) kept the 250 prisoners I mean audience guests in suspense. I assume its taboo in Hollywood to keep guests informed as these ushers are less animated than the audio-animatronics on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. They do offer coffee and water as you stand on the concrete, high gated (I felt as if I was prison yard scene without the weight area or basketball court). Once inside its back to be mandated to act excited inside a refrigerated set – it is cold, like the frozen walk-in area of a Costco. The Dr Phil Show does toss out a 20 give-aways including two copies of autographed Dr. Phil books which I’ve seen in the clearance aisles of Barnes & Noble. Oh it’s a McGraw family affair as his wife Robin’s cosmetics might be thrown you way,, then audience are treated to watch a video of one of their son’s band performing on the video screen (with emphasis at a sold out Hard Rock Club somewhere in Timbuktu) I wondered if Dr. Phil will ever do a show on nepotism.
The show was informative but after this first taping guests have required to attend a second taping. One taping was enough for me as I asked for early parole to leave. However since guests cellular phones are confiscated I had to wait until everyone is seated for the second taping to retrieve my phone (Dr. Phil must also have trust issues). As I waited I noticed 15 audience members in line were advised that due to the number of guests that would appear for the next taping there would not be seating available and would be dismissed; but good Old Dr Phil would make available a VIP ticket for a future taping – no thanks, I’m good.
Well this experience was not on my “bucket list” so it will only serve as material to write about today. I still like both Dr. Phil and Conan, yet when I hear laughter and cheers in the background I have a whole new perspective in what it is I’m watching –Hurray for Hollywood.