Laugh Now – Behind-the-Scenes

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Looks like we're at an outdoor concert. We see heads and arms clapping up in the air.

Girl Talk at JellyNYC’s Pool Party (August 23rd, 2009) by Amanda M Hatfield CC 3.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/dust/3854417941/

Earlier this week, due to my 9-5, I attended a panel taping about women in the military that will air later this spring. The taping lasted almost two hours and will most likely be cut down to a half-hour show. Lots of editing needs to be done. And part of that editing will involve reaction shots.

Once the panel was seated on stage but before they started filming, the audience was instructed to react. The two cameras that were facing the stage and panelists, swung around to capture us. We were told to clap, which we did for several minutes. We were told to look thoughtful and then we were told to laugh. There were two takes of us laughing. And those were the hardest. It’s pretty easy to clap, and it wasn’t hard to look thoughtful given the subject we were about to hear. The event was sold out, so everyone there was interested. I got a little theatrical: hand on chin and nodding ever so slightly. That, I suppose, was my bid to get on TV. However, I was in the first balcony row, so I’m pretty sure that there’s a railing through my face. Oh well. Dreams of stardom get crushed every day.

What was the hardest, was laughing. The titters I heard around me were, at first, very unsure and quiet. Then, people started looking at their neighbors, realizing how bizarre it was to laugh on cue and actually started laughing. When we were instructed to laugh for the second time, we were much more into it. The laughter was strong and hearty.

After the panel taping was over, though, there weren’t many lines that could have used our laughing as a cut-away. But I guess it’s good to be prepared for anything.

Have you ever been to the taping of a TV show? What was your experience like?

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5 thoughts on “Laugh Now – Behind-the-Scenes

  1. My sister Cheryl and I were in the audience of the Oprah Winfrey Show once, along with Dora, my first Seeing Eye dog. The Oprah Show had an entire *department* to train audience members how to react to what they saw on stage. It was called, what else? The Audience Department.
    I still remember a man named David from the Audience Department standing on stage to tell us, “If you thought and thought about what exactly to wear today, please stand up,”
    Cheryl and I stayed seated. Dora did, too. “Now, those of you standing up: take a look around you. See the people still sitting down? On staff we have a name for them,” David told us. “We call them liars!”
    Huge laugh from the audience.
    From there, David gave us a list of suggestions on how to enhance our chances of appearing on television.
    -fix your hair, have your neighbor check your teeth NOW, before the cameras start rolling.
    -follow the action on stage. “If something funny happens, laugh. Something sad? Cry. Something thoughtful? Put your finger on your chin as if you’re thinking.”
    -don’t chew gum. There is NO way for ANYONE to look good on camera chewing gum.
    -don’t mouth the words from the teleprompter. Apparently there are a few people in every audience who can’t resist the temptation to read along and mouth words as Oprah says them. “We on staff have a name for this; we call it Karioprah.”
    Huge laugh.

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