Friday, April 22, 2011

When all else fails, Game Shows

Wednesday morning, I booked audience work for a show I was excited about, Scrabble.  Part of my morning ritual is brewing a cup of coffee (before I shattered the pot) or making a cup of tea, playing Scrabble then walking the girls.

Live Scrabble could be awesome.

It wasn’t.

I picked up coffee, ran to the studio on a rainy morning then ended up waiting outside for an hour.

They keep audience in a line outside the studio until you are shuffled in for the taping. As we waited, a motorcycle drove by and revved his engine, setting off two car alarms in front of us.

He drove off. We had to stand in front of those cars.

I sighed. The boy next to me said, “Did he do that on purpose?”

I said, “They do.”

He said, “Asshole.”

As we moved closer to the studio building, I read the metal plate on the side of the building listing all the movies filmed within this specific studio.
"Gilda" (1946), one of my favorites!!

"Bridge Over the River Kwai." (1957)

"The Monkees" (1966-1968) I fucking HEART the Monkees.

"Six Feet Under" (2001-05)

I thought about how my parents go around the world to visit history they feel to be relevent. It is. However, I get to visit some of the history I feel is relevent too. This particular studio still had wood gates leading into the lot look to be built for horses and crates. The studio itself was constructed in 1924.

We filed into the studio and sat in front of two parent/child combinations paired for a game. The prize for winning was a ticket anywhere in the world.

At the top of the show, the host asks, "Where’s it going to be?"

The first pairing says, “Orlando, Florida.”

The crowd of 50 unemployed artists sitting in the audience started snickering.

“Are you serious?”

“Anywhere in the world?”

Host, “Why Orlando when you could go anywhere in the world?”

The kid says, “Rollercoasters.”

A guy behind me said, "I would go to Australia"

An actress across the stairway said, "Idiots."

On to the next family:

Host, “Where will you go if you win?”

The mother/daughter says, “Alaska.”

More snickering from the crowd.

“Who are these people?”

“Did she say Alaska? Jesus Christ.”

Oh . . . it was a surly crowd this morning.

When the 12 yr-old stumbled on the second challenge, the crowd grew restless.

He tried the following before he ran out of time:

The word: “Hole”  Replace one letter with: “Y” to make a new word.

His guesses:

The crowd muttered.


“This is stupid.”

I even said, “What am I watching? 'Holy', kid. 'HOLY.'”

It wasn’t Scrabble that’s for sure.

During the breaks with technical difficulty and switching contestants, we had a fluffer who pretty much sucked. He would tell us what was going on, as if we didn’t know. Play the top 20 list off his iPod. Literally, only those 20 songs on repeat for 6 hours. And he held candy hostage in exchange for engaging him on the microphone.

No thanks. I cracked open my book. “Beheaded. Divorced. Survived.” A feminist reinterpretation of the wives of Henry VIII.

The fluffer said, “Who has jokes?”

A girl raised her hand. “Do you want a raisin? “ Host shook his head. “How about a date?”

I turned to the kids behind me and said, “That sucked.”

I dove into Anne Bolyen’s life before Henry the VIII when . . .

A girl said, “I don’t have a joke but I can tell you five things I don’t like:

1) Whales. I think they are big and creepy.

2) Praying Mantis. Manti. Whatever. I don't like them."

The microphone was pushed under her mouth and as everyone quieted to listen, including the crew, I too was forced to stop reading about what historians concluded Henry the VIII’s interference with Anne Boleyn’s engagement to Henry Percy was or the retrievable details of her mysterious flirtation with poet Thomas Wyatt to listen to this . . .

“3) Electric eels. They swim with their mouths open and I just don't like that.

4) People who wear socks in their sandals. Tacky.

5) Waking up on a bare mattress when that thing that’s supposed to stay around it comes off when you are sleeping. And you wake up and you are lying on just the mattress, you know?”

The host of the show steps forward towards the audience for the first time and asked, "Why don't you ask her what she does like?"

(Long pause)

She says, “Cartoon bears. Cause their cute and colorful.”

I put down my book totally now.

Audience fluffer, “Like who? Yogi Bear? And Poo Bear.”

She said,  “Yeah.

2) Nacho lunchables. I like that stuff encased in plastic that you can just rip open the plastic and eat. Not just any lunchable but the nacho lunchables.

3) When you go get your mail, and see your paycheck and is more than you thought it would be.

4) Those flowers you blow on that fly away in different pieces.”

Audience Fluffer, “Dandelions?”

She said, “Yeah, I guess.

5) Shark meat."

I looked to the girl next to me and said, “I was just forced to breathe dead air.”

Someone said, “Why don't you do stand-up?”

She said, “I just did.”

Someone else said, “Be funny this time.”

She said, “Why don’t you try?”

The audience fluffer said, “Ok . . . ok, lets be nice.”

I picked up my book again and tried to gain my concentration back before round two.

New teams. New episode. 

Host, “The prize is a ticket to anywhere in the world, where do you want to go?”

Mother/Son, “Washington, D.C.”

The audience exhaled in disappointment. 

Then the second mother/daughter team.

Host, “How about you? Anywhere in the world, where are you gonna go?"

Daughter, “We are going to Europe.”

The audience exploded in the first genuine applause of the morning. I mean- there is a world out there. Who knows if any of us will get the opportunity to see it before we destroy it all.


This morning was my casting call for a trivia show slotted on prime time television. Watching what I write here, so I don’t get sued.

I was 20 minutes late, but jumped in line right as 100 people outside of a studio started shuffling in.

I was given a sheet with questions like, “What do you do for a living (how you pay your rent)?” That question was clearly rephrased for actors.

“What’s your most embarrassing moment?” I wrote, “N/A”

"Who in your family would you give the money to?” I wrote, “Me.”

Stapled to that sheet was a long skinny answer sheet. Then there was a slate, where you write your name, age, city and phone number with a black sharpie.

We walked in and were seated in a large room of folding chairs. They turned a video promo on a screen of the show in a foreign country, in this case Israel.

The lights came up and we were told to lift the clipboard out from under our seats, flip the questions over and write our answers to those 30 trivia questions on the answer sheet in 7 minutes.

People with loud, clacky shoes circled us. Clack. Clack. Clack.

“And go!”

The first page was pop culture.  I couldn’t answer most of them.

“Who did [pop-hit-name with incorrect spelling] write [such in such] song for?”

“Who is in this custody battle?”

“Which celebrity owns this dog named [Disney cartoon character]?”

I sucked on this page. Now, I am a classic rock girl, so I expected to be thrown off by some pop music questions, but the entire page was nearly left blank before I threw it over to the next page.

These were easier:

“Simple, one-word name for this liquid ingrediant”

“Which planet is (insert #) from the sun?”

“Who was arrested and thrown out of office for this sex scandal”

“What ocean is this country bordering?”

“What explorer discovered this state?”

There were more academic questions. I got more than half of those.

I couldn’t remember the author of this classic novel. I knew it. I KNEW it.

I said, “Clear your head” and I thought of white light. The name didn’t appear in memory.

The guy said, “And time!”

They collected our tests and scored our cards. That left a room of 100 people googling the answers on their phones. At least that’s what my section was doing.

Lots of  “God damn it” 's and SHOOT Me" 's going on.

We were called up to join a group of eight other contestants to pitch ourselves in 20 seconds.

The guy leading the casting call said, “What ever you do, don’t go up there and (beat) (Stare blankly with mouth open) (adjust baseball cap) My name is Bob. What do you want to know?”

We chuckled.

He said, “Tell us a story. Tell us about your kids. Tell us anything about yourself that we can remember.”

The casting director, who cast me in Jerry Springer's Baggage was leading this group. He is a young, petite, gay Asian man with big glasses. The casting call for this show is everywhere on breakdowns and mass emails, but he was the one who emailed me and asked me to come in and audition. He saw me and frantically waved his hand, “Hello!!”

I asked, “Do you remember me?” I mean, I shot Baggage last year. The interview was over a year ago.

He said, “Of course!”

One girl said she liked “Llamas, broccoli and Aerosmith.” I liked her.

Another guy, about 30 yrs old, in a blue vest and blue slacks with a grey, trilby hat on said, “The girls dig me, and I dig the girls . . . and my hats.”


On my turn, I said, “I am going through my mid-life crisis at 33. I  was fired so I said, why not do what I want to do. So I am working at a doggie daycare and acting. (pause) (guilty look).”

Asian Casting Director, “Shhhhhhhh! We don’t say that word here. No acting. No actors in here. Ever.”

I said, “Ok, and I am really liking younger men right now. Everyone keeps saying, you should be with older men and I wonder, if I was a dude going through a mid life crisis, would they say that to me?”

Casting Director, “Good point.”

I said, “No, they would let them buy their sports cars and tell them to go have fun. Well that’s what I am gonna do!”

After that, we waited in our seats for a little more before being broken up into even smaller groups.

Our group of 5 was shuffled into a building and we waited outside a room; me, three handsome men and a middle-aged blond woman.

The man who held the door open for me, leaned against the wall with me. I asked if his last name was French, since he was holding the slate face up, against him. He said it was and we begun discussing the answers.

I said, “A hendecagon has 11 sides.”

The other two men looked up at me.

And I said, “Abraham Lincoln is the president furthest to the right on Mount Rushmore.”

The blond said (in a baby voice), “I put Nixon.”

I laughed.

She said, “No, I am serious. I am from Canada. I don’t know any of that stuff. I just thank God they had pop culture on there. That's all I know. You know. Cause I am from Canada.”

I said, “Well, no one in America wants to remember Nixon. There’s a tip.”

I continued, “The African animal often mistook for a gazelle is the Ugandan Kob.”

The guys were looking very impressed with me, despite my smudged mascara and heart shaped glasses. I said, “I only know this cause I googled it afterward.”

They nodded, smiled, look down.

Handsome bunch. Just over 30, I would say. Eye glasses. Sweater vests. Khakis.

We filed into a smaller the room and were told to slate the camera with name, age, home town and occupation. We were warned never to say the word actor nor to act, because you will be axed from the show.

I felt the men sweating from the emerging spring heat. I could smell them. They were so sweet, just smiling at me. Asking me a question or two.

The blond bimbo goes up, “I am a reporter from Canada, so I don’t really know anything but pop culture.” (hehehehehe)

I rolled my eyes. Get this pruning Barbie out of my face.

Two guys were professors. Clean cut. Low 30s. Serious but sweet.

Asian Casting Director, "So it says here you wrestle. That's interesting."
Professor #2, "Yeah, its a sport."

Asian Casting Director, "Do you do that cause you like men or just the sport?"

Professor #2, "Just the sport."

Asian Casting Director, "Oh. Ok. Well, you never know."

Then there was the long-haired bartender with the accent who smiled when he spoke. He was the one who made me blush.

Asian Casting Director, "So do you have better luck with the women or the men at the bar?"
Bartender with accent, "Um . . . the women."

Asian Casting Director, "Oh. Ok. Well, you never know."

I went up. 

Asian Casting Director, “Why are you so good at trivia?”

Then the he read my handwritten note next to where my score was calculated. I wrote “I suck.” Even though, we never got to see our scores after the fact.

He amended, “I mean, why are you not so good at it?”

I said, “Well, I have been smoking the ganj a lot lately, so maybe I am slow on the trigger. But I came from a family of education. My sister has a PHd and both my parents hold education very high. THUS, I am the disappointment in the family. What (pause) (emphasis) ever.”

Everyone laughed but I felt just a mild flush of anger.

I got back in line and a professor said, “Good job.” Really?

Then we lined up for a lightening round of trivia. If the person before us didn’t get the answer, we had the opportunity to nab that question. If we didn’t get it, the question went down the line until it was answered.

Casting Director said, “The worst thing to do is sit there and think about the answer in silence. Keep guessing out loud until you run out of time.”

“What’s the capitol of Pennsylvania?” We all missed until the last guy.

My next question, “What is a young sheep called?”

I said, “A lamb.”

Then, “Who wrote the 1996 top 10 hit  ‘The Long Road Home.”

I said, “I know the Long and Winding Road but that’s the Beatles. Oasis? Green Day?”

Casting Director, “Eh! Time’s up. Next.”

The guy next to me had no guesses. But guess who did know it? Pruning Barbie.

As we walked out she said, “I am so lucky I got the pop culture questions. Those were the only ones I knew. I mean, I’m from Canada. I don’t know anything.”

I walked quickly away from her as we exited to the studio. She broke off and soon I was walking with three hot, smart guys.

I said, “Leave it to the blond Canadian with the baby voice to get all the right answers.”

They smiled and walked me to the street. Each said goodbye. Flashed a smile at me.

One guy said, “Hope to see you soon.”

I said, “On TV!”

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