Lucky To Be Alive

By Jeremy Meltingtallow

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I went to a taping a few nights ago of the popular Comedy Central TV game show “@Midnight” with Chris Hardwick and nearly required an ambulance by the time it was over. It’s actually a pretty funny show if you have a certain sense of humor, so I can recommend you check it out if you’re not already a fan, but if you decide to see a live taping, read the following story first and be sure you train for a few weeks before you go.

Before any taping of a TV show, they have a warm-up comedian who chats up the crowd, gets them energized and laughing and clapping a bit. Then he reminds you that during the show you need to laugh a lot, clap hard, and that live performers get their energy from the audience so the whole success of the episode is literally in our hands (and lungs).

In this case, our warm-up dude was a guy named Brody. He was funny but also very stern. He wanted to make absolutely certain that we understood the point of our presence in the studio and understood what was expected of us.  He spent around 20 or 30 minutes drilling us on the importance of our role and making us clap as hard as we could to get “warmed up.” It makes sense to do this, I get it, but by the time the taping began we were already getting tired of clapping like escaped mental patients and being told that our best efforts weren’t quite good enough. At this point, the audience had plenty of energy but most of it was from those of us who wanted to rush Brody and crush him beneath us.

Commandant Brody could sense the crowd turning against him but he didn’t blink. I suspect that sometime in the not-too-distant past he trained as an Iraqi torturer but I can’t prove it.  Undaunted, he persisted in his blatant disappointment in our performance like a gym coach with a class full of video game fanatics.  He clearly didn’t care what we thought of him, as long as we laughed and clapped loudly.

For the duration of the taping, he stood at the side of the stage and clapped and waved his arms maniacally at us, goading us to put more effort into it at every turn. Every few minutes, they’d break for a commercial or to reshoot something that didn’t go well, and out would jump Brody the Audience Nazi, pacing around the stage, telling us how we were doing “okay,” but not “great.” Fürher Brody demands GREAT. He chided the audience into laughing louder and clapping harder over and over and over and over, throughout the entire experience, which lasted almost an hour.

By the time the show was winding down, I was exhausted, my hands hurt, and my throat was sore from trying to interject volume into my laughing. (I have a sister who just naturally laughs like a hyena with a PA system––Brody would LOVE her.) Even though by this time older audience members have fainted and overweight ones have been treated with cold towels and oxygen, the worst was yet to come. Brody informed us that the show is almost over and that after the host signs off and the music starts, we have to make a powerfully joyous noise for a complete 90 seconds while the credits roll and the performers stand around the center of the stage pretending they can hear each other talk. This may not sound like much, but try clapping and laughing as loud and as hard as you can for 90 seconds straight. It’s grueling. Especially after doing so pretty regularly for an hour.

My recommendation is to watch the show on Comedy Central from the comfort of your own home and be thankful that no one is regulating your laughter. It’s much less stressful.

God, I hope Brody doesn’t see this post. I’m kind of afraid of him now.

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