Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to attend a taping of the upcoming syndicated version of Don’t Forget the Lyrics. It was an all-day affair during which we powered through eight shows, three of which featured cheerleaders from professional sports teams (none of whom should quit her day job…ugh, my ears) and one a celebrity singer. In between shows, the ADs would shuffle around the audience so it wouldn’t look like the exact same people were there for an entire week of tapings (and wearing the exact same outfits). That’s the magic of television right there.
If you are a sociable person, tapings are a good opportunity to meet new people. There is usually a good amount of down time, and since nobody usually knows anybody else, people tend to be more open to talking to strangers than otherwise if you just act friendly. I hadn’t brought any books or magazines with me, either, so talking to other people was about the only way to save myself from downtime boredom.
In the morning, while we were lined up waiting to have our attendance taken and go through the gate, I ended up standing near two young guys who were hired audience. They were both tall and pretty well-built in a standard-for-an-aspiring-actor sort of way. One was a little more attractive than the other and gave off the impression that he was aware of his genetic blessing. I tried to strike up some conversation with them, starting off with some little quips about waiting in line, but neither guy really bit. The better-looking guy actually seemed a little irritated. Fine, dude, sorry I’m not a 10 and you’re as interesting as a stick in the mud. So much for that.
The rest of the morning was pretty non-descript. I sat between various teenage girls for the tapings and conserved my energy.
After lunch was when things started to get interesting again. I was seated next to a young white guy, tall, pleasantly average-looking, on one side and a stocky, pleasant, early 20s-ish Latino guy on the other side. I found out from Latin Luis that he was with the group of volleyball players that was at the taping. I was able to make him smile, like when I asked if he was a volleyball groupie, but he was shy and only spoke to me when I directly addressed him. Definitely one of those guys who has a daily word limit of around 1000 words, so pressing any sort of conversation would have been fruitless.
The young white guy, on the other hand, warmed up to me almost instantly. I found out that he was a dancer who had been forced into ballet at age 11 by his mother but ended up loving it — and the perk of being the only straight guy in a classroom of girls. In between the taping portions, we chatted about dancing and music, and the conversation flowed easily. I tried to convince him to dance battle a black guy who was shakin’ it on the other side of the room, but he refused. During the tapings, he clapped overly enthusiastically and would glance at me to make sure I saw that he was showing off being silly; I obliged him by elbowing him. More than once I noticed that as we were sitting next to each other, his upper arm was pressed against mine.
Halfway through the afternoon, Dancer and I moved to a different row, still sitting next to each other, but on my other side was now a large stocky blond with glasses who was working as paid audience and wasn’t very happy about it. He clapped tepidly and, when I encouraged him to do his job because it was his JOB be more enthusiastic, he complained that his hands hurt. Herby-looking guy (yes, he was wearing Voldemort’s dreaded khakis) who whines? I’m not sure he could have done more to DLV himself, but he couldn’t even be properly bitter, so I resigned him to the “mildly amusing” category.
When the taping was over, Dancer asked me and Blondie if he could catch a ride home with one of us. It was already fairly late, so while I was mulling over the possibility of whether or not I wanted to take a detour to Hollywood, Blondie jumped and said he would take Dancer home. I then remembered that I had parked in the neighborhood and wasn’t interested in walking back to my car by myself, so I asked if Dancer wouldn’t mind coming with me instead. Blondie scoffed that the neighborhood wasn’t that bad, but after realizing that his car wasn’t parked too far from mine, decided with Dancer that they would both walk with me.
As we walked back to where I had parked, Blondie and Dancer got on the subject of dinosaurs and immediately began cracking increasingly more herby jokes about dinosaurs. I walked ahead of them, at this point just wanting to get to the car and regretting that I had even asked for accompaniment.
At my car, Dancer said good-bye, and I gave him a half-second to ask for my number, but all he said was the generic “see you around” line.
At least it was late enough that there wasn’t too much traffic on the way home (by Los Angeles standards, anyway).