Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The warm-up emcee knew his crowd. Think about it: you've pulled together a group of hip urban black people with enough money to be interesting to Lexus. They are out to have a good evening with friends, not necessarily to perform as a studio audience. The warm-up emcee has to gather them as a group into a group, get them having enough fun as a group to relinquish the people they came with. They've already been seated by prettiness or interestingness, cautioned about keeping purses off the very shiny tables. He starts off by miming how tacky it looks to be on TV caught chewing gum. Then he engages some of the more resistant (that is, not attending to him) audience members by the reliable insult-method. Hey man, what's all that? Blazer on top, Air Jordans on the bottom? You don't look comfortable, you just look confused. Then he starts his routine. The crowd loved it a lot. I kept thinking Damn, that's funny, but I could never say it. I mean, I'm a white woman just past middle age. I could not, would not even think of saying Lexus is a good car--faster than a runaway slave! I tried that one on for size, to see if my quoting it here would be racist. My method for doing that is to reconfigure the remark for Jewish people, my people. In this instance: how would I feel if someone said, "That car is faster than a Jew escaping Dachau." Ya know, I would be fine with it. I would say, "That is one fast car." I hope I am right, because I am going to publish this post--now.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Behind the Siren sound stage in Hollywood sits an unobtrusive trailer, sort of a truncated Aerostar with the sort of perforated metal steps you might associate with sneaking into a factory. The Aerostar houses the crew and equipment that produce the show. Last year the atmosphere was funky, like the saggy sofa over against a wall. (How did they ever get that thing through the doorway?) This year it is sleek and cool, like the efficient climate control that keeps crew and equipment from overheating while they scan every one of those screens in real time. Andrew-do-not-call-me-Andy explains that he has to choose views of performer and audience that convey the flow and mood of the performance and the audience's response, and set them in packages four to six minutes long, to allow for station ID and other FCC requirements. It is not simple to manage the mood and the length and the coherence all at once. Sometimes he gets it by shaving fractions of seconds from different shots. I commented that this sounded like pernickety work. Yes, it is! That is exactly the word I've been looking for! My cousin-escort informs me sardonically that the crew will not thank me, because now they will be hearing this word all day and night. Yes, but getting the right word is worth it. I take one red M&M from the hygienic plastic cup on the console.