While in the vicinity of Hollywood, msinvisfemand I went to the recording of an American TV show there - with me under strict instructions from msinvisfemnot to embarrass her by mentioning the host's former stage name...
Craig Ferguson, who some may remember as a stand-up comedian in the late 80s or early 90s, or as Confidence in Red Dwarf, is now rather better known in the States than he was on this side of the pond, after a number of seasons in a successful sitcom, starring roles in a couple of moderately successful movies, and several years of presenting a daily chat show: The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Not having been to a recording of a UK show, I can't make any comparisons, but they don't half make you work for your free ticket in the States! The warm-up man is dire and filthy, not a good combination, although to be fair to him, he knew it; and he was on the ball with coordinating responses silently once the programme began. In return for your seat, you have to sit and laugh for an hour or so, whether it's funny or not; and under those circumstances it's a pretty fair bet it's not...
After too long listening to the warm-up guy, the show began. The standard pattern of the show is opening monologue, followed "after the break" by studio guests. The opening monologue is a bit weird for the audience because it's delivered straight to camera, and even though we were behind the camera, it was plain it wasn't for our benefit! Craig plainly knows his audience and is now an American citizen, but it's a bit odd hearing a Scottish accent building up to his closing catchphrase,"It's a great day for America". There are some jokes related to the world situation that might get more of a mixed response in the UK.
The guest spots were a bit more interesting, as they were slightly less scripted. I had no clue who the first guest was, but Brooke Shields had a bit more international appeal. She was plugging a stage show.
Actually, the guest that woke me up most was Tyson. Who's Tyson, you say? Haven't a clue, except that he was the guy plucked from the audience to look foolish - one seat away from us. He did a fairly good job of matching up to Craig's banter, after an initial period of looking like a stunned mullet. Of course we wondered whether he was a plant, but on balance I don't think so - he was hesitant and lost enough to start with that I think not. And he seemed to enjoy himself, and might possibly have earned himself repeat appearances (apparently this does sometimes occur to audience members, but I haven't watched any subsequent programmes to find out).
Craig has a decent line of patter, but didn't manage to justify the side-splitting mirth expected of us; still, it must be pretty difficult to keep that up day after day, and if we needed any reminding that it's a skilled job requiring talent, we only had to recall the gulf in capability and charm between him and the warm-up man!
Afterwards we nipped out to the Farmer's Market a couple of blocks away for something to eat (the show gave us money off vouchers for local eateries, but not for anywhere we wanted to go). It's a permanent fixture, more like some of the well-established markets in our big cities than the local farmer's market in St. Andrews. After a wander around looking at everything, I had fried alligator tail rolled in cornmeal (nice enough but undistinguished) from The Gumbo Pot.