I am simultaneously exhausted and ecstatic. Literally dragging my feet on air (if that's possible). I just got home from one of the longest and yet most amazing days of my life. Thanks to our friend Nicky being a total flake (which is why we love you!), I got to go to a live taping of the Ellen Degeneres show with my partner in crime (and by crime I mean obsessively quoting How I Met Your Mother among other things), Kelly Bean.
The queen of all things delightful!
I haven't watched the show very much to be honest. I'm not usually around during the day, and if I am, I haven't had even basic network television for almost two years now. But I love Ellen with all my heart and soul. She is a goddess. I worship at the altar of her witty yet relatively clean standup ("Gloria Estefan is the copper plumbing of the music industry!"). Her performance as Dory made Finding Nemo one of the few computer animated I absolutely adore. And of course there's her courage, kindness, and all around kick-assness that cannot be denied. Naturally I was so there it was insane. Not to mention I am a film geek and will look for any chance even to be in the same vicinity as the people who make movies and television. I would have been happy just to sit in the parking lot (which we did a lot of today...).
After waking up absurdly early to beat the surprisingly non-existent traffic to the Valley, I picked up Kelly Bean and headed out to Burbank towards the Promised Land (aka Warner Brothers). It was tough, with Kelly's bitch of a GPS guide (not so lovingly named Karen), mumbling orders seconds before they had to be executed, but we made it there before 9 am. We got our tickets, 287 and 288, and prepared to sit for 5 or 6 hours until the show started. Luckily the nice, perky show wrangler Kathryn (who looks startlingly like Rachel from Glee), told us we could skedaddle until check-in at 1:30pm. So we returned to Studio City to watch Arrested Development and eat pasta salad. Riveting, I know.
Later, we headed back to Warner Brothers where Abercrombie Chad, the nice, cute, possibly gay wrangler helped us to get checked in. Meanwhile I grilled the security guard (who went to film school like me) how he liked working for the WB. Always networking, that's my occasional motto. Kelly and I played Crazy 8s and Go Fish with the tiny cards I always keep with me for just such occasions, while hoards upon hoards of people arrived. We got to see a few episodes of Ellen while we waited, which was ever so pleasant, and heightened the anticipation of seeing the Great One in the flesh. But as time wore on and announcements were made, it became clear that we might not actually get into the taping. They overbook the show like crazy, so most standby ticketholders end up watching the show from the aptly named Riff Raff Room.
Since awesome things like this rarely work out for me, I assumed that we would end up among the Riff Raff. I hate getting my hopes up just to be disappointed. "I bet they cut it off right in front of us," I wagered to Kelly Bean. I bet her the enormous sum of $3, which of course she now owes me. Yes. I was the very first person in line in the Riff Raff Room. We started the process before 9 in the morning, and here it was 2 in the afternoon and we weren't going to get in, despite Kathryn/Glee Rachel playing with our hopes. When the seats had all been filled, she looked at me and said "We have room for one more." Seriously? Well Kelly was the whole reason I was there, I couldn't just abandon her because I'd arbitrarily grabbed 287 and not 288. So she called for a single rider and someone else took the very last spot in the Cathedral of Degeneres.
While some mediocre comedian warmed up the crowd in the next room, Kathryn attempted to console the unwashed, unchosen masses with a raffle. Oooh lord knows I'd take a good raffle over meeting one of my idols any day of the week. But sure enough she called out '287,' obviously unaware that I never win anything. Part of me thinks she took pity on me being first in line and rigged it. But in any case, the winners were led into a corner to claim our prize. Which turned out to be "12 tickets." At least that's what I heard. I had no idea what that meant. Like twelve tickets to twelve different shows? Cool, I guess, but some of us (ideally) have work. But all the shrieking middle aged, big haired ladies informed us that she meant the "Twelve Days of Christmas" series of the Ellen Show. Apparently the first couple weeks of Christmas, Ellen gives everyone in the audience thousands of dollars worth of gifts. FUCK YES!! (Though I just know something is going to come up that will prevent me from getting my gifts and actually seeing the show being taped.)
At last it was time for the show to start. Eva Mendes was first. Eh. Then Flo Rida performed "Club Can't Even Handle Me" completely off-key but that song is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. And it was awesome when he removed his comically oversized gold glitter bling necklace and bestowed it upon a lucky audience member. All this we watched from the next room by the Ellen gift shop, close enough to hear the audience clapping, laughing, hooting, uproariously. Kind of depressing, even though I scored with the Twelve Days tickets.
The last guest on the show was Mindy Kaling, who is another one of my idols. We didn't know who the guests were going to be until we got there, and I think I was the only one ridiculously stoked about her. For those not aware, Mindy is Kelly Kapoor from the Office, but she also happens to be one of the main writers (the genius who created Jim and Pam's epic wedding episodes), as well as an executive producer. Plus I follow her twitter and she is hi-larious! Mindy even has the honor of being mentioned in my inaugural Sporadic Sporkitudes blog. That's how much I adore her. Sadly, her segment wasn't terribly good, but she is still one of my role models.
Mindy along with fellow
writer/producer BJ (tee hee) Novak
During one of the commercial breaks, the lights turned up in the Riff Raff Room. Kathryn made everyone stand and turn towards the main staircase. Everyone was buzzing, "She's coming! She's coming! Oh my god, she's coming!" Which sounds kind of foreboding, but as I saw a shadow coming down the hall, I knew it was her. Ellen came down the stairs, not six feet from me, smiling and waving to the peasant folk below. She was so beautiful, with her brilliant blue eyes sparkling, and her smile genuine and gracious. Sort of like a lesbian Grace Kelly. Even if I hadn't won the raffle, that moment right there would have been worth the hours of waiting on the drafty parking lot bench area, and the disappointment of just barely missing the Cathedral.
The show was ending, and Kelly and I bolted to the door to beat the traffic of Ellen-sheep. But Kathryn halted us. There was more? Sometimes they film segments from different shows when they can and SURPRISE! Ben Affleck was there! Kathryn pulled me aside and said they had one seat to fill. I looked at Kelly, then asked, "It's only this segment, right?" So I headed up the stairs, totally pumping my fist the whole way. I got lost at first, but then they led me to a seat in the second row! I was in heaven. There was the set, the cameras, the real audience, everything! I tried to take it all in, but was overwhelmed.
Ellen came out in a new outfit, and introduced Ben Affleck. My 7th grade self was delighted to observe that in real life Ben is super tall (a particular fetish of mine), with super nice teeth, just as studly as he is in the movies. (Now that he's starting to take himself and his work more seriously, I can respect him again.) So I got to be an audience member for about 15 minutes. I thought it would be awesome to dance around and get my groove on. But let me tell you, it was AWKWARD. Especially since I was all by myself, kinda tired, and slightly self-conscious that I looked kind of rumpled with greasy long-day face (after I had applied my make up so carefully and selected the perfect outfit for my television debut). The comedian kept making us clap and shout way longer than was natural, and it was hard. Woe is me!
Catch Ellen's show on Wednesday to try and find me during the Ben Affleck segment. I'm sure I looked awesome. Even more awesome about getting to watch this small part, was that I got to win the stuff Ellen gave away! The Riff Raff Room does not get presents, it turns out. But I was entitled to a Flo Rida CD (woo?) and a $100 gift card to Victoria Secret. Personally, I'd rather just have $100. I'm not big on the frilly things, and I'm too big to actually wear anything from there. So I gave it to Kelly Bean so she wouldn't hate me as much for getting to see the set. Fair tradeoff? Sort of? Well she's my guest for the Twelve Day's show, so we'll both score then, hopefully. (I want a new tv, a laptop, and a pony Ellen!). They called me right when I got home today and we are scheduled for December 14th. Even without the gifts, I'll just be stoked to see a whole show. It is such a high, even though this is is really only the second live taping I've seen in my life. The first being a sitcom pilot that never got picked up though I enjoyed it immensely.
What else could explain her
youthful appearance and demeanor?
Sorry this is such a Russian novel, but one of the funniest things I noted was the oft-repeated wrangler phrase, "Ellen feeds off your energy." Meaning, dance, cheer, clap, etc. But the way they said it made it seem like Ellen is some kind of demon who literally feeds on your soul. The more you applaud, the stronger she grows. Soon she'll be UNSTOPPABLE! Why else do you think she dances so much? But if any one person has to take over the world, I'm glad it's going to be Ellen. But I am utterly exhausted, so I think she really did drain my energy and use it to stay so young at heart...