I came. I saw. I Ellen-ed.
Yesterday was such a great day, and I want to give you the inside scoop of what it is like to be in the audience of The Ellen Show. Let me just preface this post by saying, I am speaking from my experience alone, and these are my opinions and thoughts on the experience. I hope you enjoy this, because I sure did! (Also, my photos are mediocre, at best. I had to use my phone as opposed to a real camera, but i did my best to snap a few pictures to share).
If I am going to get technical, I should back it up to the day before our taping. Originally we were meant to check in at 12pm, and tape at 2pm. The day before, I received a call from Courtney (we have become phone buddies by now), who informed me that our taping was being pushed back. Our new check-in was at 3pm, and our new taping was at 5pm. My guests and I readjusted our plans, and formed a new departure plan.
Thursday, October 16, 2014 12:00pm (PST): We rallied in a parking lot in Mission Viejo, Ca, piled in my Mother-in-law’s car and hit the road, Burbank-bound. We made crazy-good time. (Side note: 12pm is a great time to drive from Orange County to L.A.) We pulled in to Warner Brothers Studios, Gate 3. The energy was undeniable–or maybe my energy was undeniable. Regardless, even parking the car was exciting.
We Have Arrived
After we parked, we went back down to the check-in area, which is actually just a section of the first level of the parking garage. There were rows of benches, a roped off VIP section, t.v. screens on the cement walls and a small Ellen shop in the corner. (I later found out VIP means you have a friend or family member who works for Ellen or Warner Brothers). Anyway, we checked in with the friendly security guards, who let us know how things worked. Basically, there is no line. You sit on a bench and your order doesn’t really matter, (if you have guaranteed tickets, which we did).
With so much time to spare, we decided to grab lunch at the Italian restaurant next to the parking garage. Lunch was tasty, but I was anxious to get back to the waiting area, because I am a crazy person and didn’t wan to miss a thing! We ate. We paid. We returned.
This is where things start to get fun. So I had two theories going in to this thing, 1.) BE the fun! This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so why not have the best time possible. 2.) You never know who is watching.
I am by nature, a pretty hyper-active, high energy person. Typically, I take it down a few notches to be appropriate in social settings. But at Ellen, I felt like I could let it all hang out. My friends and Mother-in-law got to see me really unleash the beast! And by beast, I mean the Awesome! I saw a man with a notebook, and I told my friend, ‘He is scouting the audience right now’, so we turned on the charm and hammed it up a bit. Guess what? It paid off.
The notebook guy’s cohort approached our group, and let us know that he was with the website and that we had been selected for something. I didn’t quite hear what he was saying, but I nodded and agreed. 10 minutes later, he made an announcement over the pa system, that all of the people he had approached should meet him out back now. Out of over 300 people, it was us and about 15-20 others. We felt important.
They lined us up outside, asked us who was excited and selected only 9 of us (me included), to go to ‘the bungalow’, (which was actually just a shady spot under some trees). They sent the rest of the line back to their seats, (my entire group included). Then they moved us in to an actual bungalow behind the trees, (it was a small trailer with some chairs inside).
The other 8 people (all women), were in groups of two. I was the odd (wo)man out, with just me. All I could think was, ‘be the fun’. The notebook guy and the announcer guy began to give us a pep-talk. They told us we were the most enthusiastic people there. They also told us, if there were to be any games or trivia today, we might be selected. They gave us an opportunity to leave if we didn’t want to participate. No one left. They prepped us on the do’s and don’ts of being selected. They took our personal information as well. Then the best part… They had us practice being called on stage. I felt like I was in an acting class! When they called my name, I jumped up and felt genuinely excited. I jumped up and down, and screamed ‘woooo!’ and hugged notebook guy. I nailed it!
And thus concluded our time in the bungalow. Then Melanie came in and sent two of the girls back to their seats. My odds got even better. She informed us that she would be walking us back to our groups in the Riff Raff room, and that we were now officially ‘Melanie’s group’. We followed her past all of the other waiting audience members, crossed the street in front of the heard of people and were escorted to the front of the security line. We were feeling pretty cool by now. I was reunited with my group, who were dying to know where I had been taken.
The Riff Raff room resembled something of a night club, (only with more lights on). There was dance music playing, air conditioning blowing and energy buzzing–or maybe that was me again. We were lined up according to our check-in numbers, (we were 42-45). The room sits at the bottom of stairs that lead up to the Ellen set. It was exciting knowing that we were just steps away from where the magic happens. There were t.v. monitors everywhere playing Ellen reruns. I caught a glimpse of John Legend singing on one of the monitors, but I was too distracted and visually stimulated to notice much else on the t.v. screens.
We weren’t in the Riff Raff room too long, before they started to line us up again, and feed us in to the studio. Walking up those stairs was amazing. The anticipation alone provided an amazing natural high, and boy do I love a natural high!
The Dance Row
I stood at the top of the stairs, gazing over the Ellen set I had seen so many times on my television. It was surreal. Bright lights beamed back at me, people with notebooks buzzed around the set, a girl in a bright yellow shirt showed people to their seats. I asked her if she loved her job; she said yes. She asked how many in our group; I told her four. Then we were seated in comfy, velvety, movie theater seats, (I think they were blue. Or red.)
We were so excited. The set looked much smaller than we had imagined. The seats were much closer to the stage than we pictured. The stage looked different than on t.v. We were in awe. The yellow-shirt girl came through our row to tell us we were in a dance-row! That meant Ellen would probably dance through our row! Oh sweet joy! This was the one thing I had hoped for–to dance with Ellen!
Not long after we were seated, Tom the audience warm-up guy, (who has what seems like the funnest job ever), introduced himself to us. He prepped us a bit, and then the dance-party started. ‘I’m So Fancy’ (by Iggy Azalea), blasted through the sound system, and we all began to dance our little tails off. Tom hosted a full-blown dance off. People braved the stage and showed off their dance-skills to the entire crowd. Some had moves, some did not.
Then ‘Shake It Off’ (Taylor Swift), began to play, and a microphone appeared. Audience members were handed the microphone to brave the lyrics. My friend Megan turned to me and said, “I know what they’re doing!” So did I. This is the part of the show where they make fun of people who don’t know the lyrics to the song they are singing. It is pretty hilarious, but I was holding out for a game. Before we knew it, we took our seats, and were minutes to show time. I wished I hadn’t danced so much because I was feeling a bit sweaty.
The Ellen Show
The bass-y Ellen-music blasted over the system, the doors parted, and our beloved Ellen appeared. Collectively, we all jumped to our feet and cheered our hearts out. Just when it started to quiet down, we cheered louder. Ellen woo-d back at us, and finally as we quieted down, we took our seats. Ellen looked like Ellen. Ellen sounded like Ellen, only a little bit different since she was microphoned.
She performed her monologue, and went in to a skit. The left side of the stage opened up in to a littler set, where she performed her one-woman sketch. Then she said those two amazing words… ‘Let’s dance!’
Again, we pounced out of our seats, and began to boogie like our very lives depended on it. She danced up the aisle to our left. She danced back down the aisle, and then it happened. She danced through our aisle. I like to think we made eye contact for a second. As she danced in front of me I said ‘I love you’, I couldn’t help it–it just came out of my mouth; I hoped I hadn’t broken a rule by telling her that. She kissed a pregnant belly in our aisle. I wished I was pregnant! She danced back to her seat, and then it was over.
She told a ‘classic joke Friday’ joke, because in Ellen-land, Thursday is really Friday. She did a funny bit about cat-week, and went to ‘commercial’. Ellen disappeared, and there was another dance-off, led by Tom.
Ellen took her seat and called her first guest, Rosemary Dewitt–who? She seemed like a nice lady, and she is in a movie with Adam Sandler. They talked about her sex scenes and about her baby she had adopted. They showed a picture of her family, and her husband is Ron Livingston, (the guy from ‘Office Space’). This made me like her more. The interview was quick, and seemed scripted.
There was another segment with NFL player, Devon Still, who’s four year old daughter is battling brain cancer. That was a tear-jerker. Ellen and Shutterfly donated money to Devon Still. Then another commercial break / dance party.
Next on stage was our musical performance by Jessie J. She performed a medley of two of her songs, and she had a great live, singing voice. We danced along and clapped along, and after, Ellen announced we would all get her cd. Then Ellen made another announcement about breast cancer awareness week. Before the show started, we had been asked to donate money to breast cancer research. Our audience collected over $700, and we were awarded with $200 gift cards to Michael Stars.
And then. It was over. The show was done taping. We couldn’t believe it. Ellen took the microphone, and expressed her gratitude for us. It was genuine, but short. I had hoped for a bit more audience interaction from her, but I understand that this is the end of her work week. Maybe she never interacts much with the audience, or maybe she was tired. Either way, I still love and adore Ellen.
First of all, if you are still reading this, thanks! I know it is a long one, but I wanted to give a detailed account of my experience at The Ellen Show! Here are some things I realized about the show:
- Ellen is first and foremost an entertainer / performer, and an amazing one at that.
- When she is filming, she is at work.
- Ellen mostly addresses the camera, which really gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling when you are watching from home.
- If you get selected to be in the bungalow, it is not a guarantee that there will be any games on that day. It is more of a ‘just in case’, situation.
- A lot of the magic that you see in your living rooms, happens in the editing of the show.
- Ellen has a HUGE staff.
- BE THE FUN. Even if you don’t get picked, positive energy is contagious.
- The other audience members are your friends. Be nice, make friends.
If I have missed anything and you have questions, please comment below and I will answer anything else you want to know about my experience on The Ellen Show!