After one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of herself at the Queen Latifah Show I asked her how I could get tickets and she inboxed me the information. I was excited to see this show in person because, hey, who doesn’t love Queen Latifah?
Although most of my peers have not checked out the show because they are at work during the day, the few who have managed to watch an episode due to not being able to go to work during the government shut down have said that the show is boring. I figured I’d stop by and try to discover why they felt that way.
So I made the trip all the way to Sony studios from Long Beach to be a part of Queen Latifah’s live studio audience today. I arrived about an hour and a half early because a guy I met on the train told me about a short cut to Culver City and well, I’m usually super early to everything anyway. When I arrived to check-in I was greeted by two smiling young ladies dressed in black.
“I’m very early,” I told them. “But I don’t mind waiting it out.”
One of them grinned at me and said, “You’re in luck, we have a few seats left for the first show and you can fill in, if you want.”
They whisked me away to the studio on the back of a golf cart thingy and escorted me inside. I walked into the audience reception area and smiled as I took in the sight and shook my head in amazement.
A little back story. I’ve been in Los Angeles for about 15 months, filming the living documentary for The Rebuild Your Life Project- Los Angeles. I moved to Los Angeles with less than $200 and I’ve been documenting my journey through my Youtube channel as I defuse the fear women have about relocating to a new city to start over in life by allowing them to watch me do it.
Since I’ve been here I’ve explored so many different ways that people who move to Los Angeles survive including waitressing, acting in a commercial and doing background work as an extra on TV shows and in movies. I’ve also been paid to sit in on audiences of talk shows so I’ve made my way around the talk show circuit including going to the Jeff Probst Show, Bill Maher’s show, Ricki Lake and even Arsenio Hall.
It’s interesting walking into each show and comparing the set designs, the way the staff interacts with each other and the audience and the way the host runs their show. So far, I have enjoyed all of the experiences I’ve had being a talk show audience member and until today Ricki Lake was my favorite because she had such an organic way of running her show in that she trusted the audience to offer feedback that was unscripted which was completely different than what I experienced at Jeff Probst’s show. At Jeff’s show every audience comment was pre planned and the audience reaction shots were filmed before the show even started.
To be fair though, Jeff Probst did have the absolute BEST waiting room experience for audience members complete with massage chairs, free hair and make up, computers and snacks for everyone. He even took the time to take a picture with me after the show.
Queen Latifah’s audience reception room was big and comfortable and filled with television screens showing clips of her work as an actress over the years. The middle screen featured real-time tweets and Instagram shots of people who were hashtagging the show with #QLShow. What made this experience so sweet was the fact that we were actually encouraged to bring our cell phones into the show. No other show allows it but the Queen Latifah Show had a video instructing us how to hashtag correctly and which social media platforms to use. I thought was an awesome idea and so many others did too, so much so that most of the time spent in the waiting room was filled with women taking pictures and uploading them to Instagram just so they could see their photo show up on the waiting room television screen.
Since I wasn’t really scheduled to participate in the first show, I was asked to be a seat filler which means that anytime someone in the audience needed to go to the bathroom I sat in their seat until they came back. I’m laughing as I type because this was so much fun! As soon as I sat down to fill my duties as a seat filler, I pulled out my phone and snapped a quick picture of the Queen who was taking a break after her first segment.
As soon as I snapped my picture, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I nervously turned around to be greeted by yet another smiling staffer saying, “You can put your purse on the floor, It’s okay.” I was relieved that I wasn’t in trouble because she had to have seen me taking pictures. That is when I realized, this was going to be a very different experience.
Queen Latifah looked GREAT in person! Dare I say, we’re about the same weight- How did she do that?! She’s radiant and just as majestic as I imagined her on-air personality to be. I do think that when the cameras are off, she’s a homegirl like me, but when the lights are shining, she shines too.
As I changed seats again and again, I got to watch the show from various angles. We clapped. We laughed. We danced. We chatted. Although I know we were not Queen Latifah staff, it felt like we were all a team trying to make sure the show went well. The ladies on the staff were so sweet, they kept thanking me profusely for helping them by filling in seats and I wanted to say, “Are you kidding me? This is so much fun!”
When I heard a loud, booming voice making jokes and walking through the audience, I chuckled as I recognized the same woman who did the audience warm up for the Jeff Probst Show, her name is Bridgette. Bridgette is rowdy, a little raunchy and she is definitely the hype person you need if you want your audience to have a good time in between segments.
During breaks I got to talk with some of the other women in the audience and many of them had been to the show more than once.
“I never get bored when I come here,” one woman told me. “It’s always fun.”
“I came yesterday,” another woman said. “And I plan to come back next week.”
There IS a big difference between the Queen Latifah show and the others and I think it may have to do with the fact that there is a DJ playing awesome, fun music whenever the cameras are off. There isn’t a chance to be bored or annoyed because you’re constantly wiggling in your seat trying to remind yourself that you are NOT in a club.
Her show is eclectic. During one show (remember, I participated in two tapings) I was introduced to a non celebrity who was doing good work in his community, a well known celebrity that made us LAUGH and a musician made famous by Youtube. I can’t name names or they won’t invite me to come back but I will say a very, VERY well known band performed during one of her shows and it was like the entire audience caught the Holy Ghost! We were so caught up in their performance, completely mesmerized. They were freaking AWESOME! I really wanted to go and kiss the lead singer!
For the life of me I can’t figure out why this warm and engaging energy doesn’t translate well on television. Queen Latifah is a pretty good conversationalist, she’s easy on the eyes and everyone loves her no matter what race, age or gender they are. All I can think of is the fact that times are changing and the format for day-time talk show hasn’t changed at all.
The airwaves are saturated with wanna-be talk show hosts. Many try and try again but I think that this new era has changed the way we view day-time talk shows. We now have instant access to our favorite celebs via twitter, Instagram and Google Plus so we aren’t sitting riveted in front of the television screen hoping for a peek inside of our favorite celebrity’s life the way we once were. All celebrities now live in glass houses. There has to be a new way to present day-time talk shows or this genre will die out.
Queen Latifah seems to be following the standard fare for hosting a show, hitting every high point and segment idea that we have enjoyed from other shows in the past but she’s missing something, something that will make us yearn to hear her speak. I thought about it extensively during my 2 hour train ride back to Long Beach but I couldn’t quite figure out what that could be.
Oh well, she seems to be enjoying her new gig, but not nearly as much as the audience did. I’ll keep watching and rooting for her success like everyone else and hopefully she’ll figure out a way to revolutionize the way we view day-time TV.