Going to my first talk show taping - what should I know?
April 7, 2008 6:58 PM   Subscribe

So I'm going to my first talk show, indeed my first television show, taping. What should I know?

Ellen DeGeneres's show is coming to Chicago in May. Although I'm not a huge fan, my best friend is and so we requested tickets. If we get them (it's not confirmed yet), we'll be going to the NBC plaza to see the show on a Saturday.

How much earlier than the taping start time should we get there? What is it like to see a talk show being taped? About how long does it take to do the show? Is there anything else I should know in general?

I'm not worried about the Chicago part, as I've been there several times, although not specifically to the NBC plaza.
posted by IndigoRain to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Seeing a show taped is really fun. The handlers will answer all the logistical questions like when to get there, and you'll have a pre-show prep to get you pumped and trained. I got to see a taping of Dick Cavett years ago-- it was a blast even though the guest was kind of boring, because Cavett was so rivetting. The pre-show prep for Cavett was quite short (about 10 minutes, basically telling us to read and obey the light-up signs for applause, laugh--yes they had a laugh instruction at the Dick Cavett show-- and quiet) as they didn't need to get us to the hysterical edge that daytime talk shows seem to desire in their audiences. The taping took exactly the length of the show, but Cavett liked the guest so well that he had everybody stay and taped a second show, so that was pretty cool.

NBC Plaza is right at the top of the MagMile, so it's a good location--fairly accessible (if expensive) parking as well as accessible to public trans. Take a walk along the river afterwards.

Hope you get the tix-- watching a show taping was really a blast, even one as low-key as Cavett.
posted by nax at 7:15 PM on April 7, 2008

i was doing some photography on the wheel-of-fortune set once. i stepped on the floor that had just been waxed....

don't do that. really.
posted by klanawa at 8:19 PM on April 7, 2008

I have no idea how they are going to do this in Chicago for Ellen, but when I saw Wheel of Fortune when they taped at Navy Pier about six years ago, they gave us plenty of instructions on when and where to arrive, and though I've never gone to a talk show in Chicago, when I did it in LA, they also told us when and where we needed to be there. I assume since Ellen is a "special occasion" they will make sure to let you know what's up when they contact you about tickets.

Good luck getting tickets... my boyfriend and I also signed up to hopefully get tickets as well.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:54 PM on April 7, 2008

I've been in several live TV studios and it's lots of fun. When you get there, they'll escort you to a big holding room for a while before the taping, it's kind of boring, so just mingle and be friendly. Probably there'll be snacks. Once you get into the studio there's more waiting, but at that point, usually there's a person hired as the "audience wrangler" (often an aspiring standup comic or improviser) who will keep the crowd entertained with goofy stories, crowd games, or prize giveaways.

The actual taping of the show involves a lot of waiting for what seems like no good reason, but you'll be with your friend and there'll be stuff to look at, so you'll be entertained. Keep small snacks in your purse (granola bars, nuts) to munch on between segments (not during segments!), and don't drink too much water because there's not a ton of bathroom breaks. Oh, and bring your camera to take photos (again, use it between segments, not during!)

I suggest you wear plain, bright colours (because they look nicer on TV). Wear slightly more makeup than normal, with extra pressed powder on your nose & forehead (because the studio lights will make you shiny), and a comfy outfit that doesn't bind your belly when you sit down, because you'll be sitting the whole time, so you wanna be comfy- plus, if they use any shots of you, you'll be happier if your sitting-stomach pudges are concealed!

If you don't want to be seen on TV, sit in the middle of a row, not on the edges. The most anonymous place to sit is a couple seats away from someone really eyecatching. Find that person, then sit in the same row as them (not directly in front or behind them or you'll be in their shots too!). The camera and the viewer's eye will be attracted to the eyecatching person, and you'll probably be framed out of the shot if you're 2 or 3 seats further down the row.

If you do want a some shots of you to appear in the broadcast, you'll increase your chances if you sit on the aisle or in the first 2 rows, and sit up straight so you're taller And if you're very responsive, smiling, laughing, & clapping a lot, the camera operators are more likely to notice you and shoot reaction closeups of you. If you really really wanna be on TV, you could even try to catch a camera operator's eye before the taping starts, and wave hello or have a very short friendly chat. Once he has identified you as a "friendly, outgoing audience member" you're way more likely to make it into his shots.

Have fun- I bet the Ellen show is a blast!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:09 PM on April 7, 2008

Take a book.
posted by pompomtom at 11:06 PM on April 7, 2008

Two books. These things go on forever...
posted by Dizzy at 3:54 AM on April 8, 2008

I went to a Letterman show once. The big thing there was you got one chance to hit the restroom then that was it. We were told that if you got up and left the theater after that, you wouldn't get back in. I guess they don't want people milling around during the show and that's understandable. I don't know if this applies everywhere, but just the same, I wouldn't go for beers before heading over for the taping.
posted by lpsguy at 5:53 AM on April 8, 2008

Response by poster: Update: We didn't get the tickets, and we didn't feel like going up to Chicago to wait outside to see if we'd get in.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:42 PM on May 3, 2008

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