Let’s face it…reality programming is taking over the airwaves and clogging our DVRs (well mine at least). I’ve been watching reality tv since Eric Neis was modeling shirtless on season 1 of the Real World and haven’t looked back since. MTV had a monopoly on my reality obsession…Real World, Road Rules, Rich Girls, Laguna Beach, The Hills, The City, Run’s House…just to name a few. The Bunim/Murray production company may have laid the ground work for the reality television empire, but Bravo’s Andy Cohen has become its king.
Andy Cohen is the pure genius behind some of my personal TV obsessions like Top Chef, Rachel Zoe Project, Bethenny (Getting Married?! and Ever After), Million Dollar Decorators, and of course The Real Housewives franchise. As the Exec VP of Original Programming, I’m sure Andy did not think HE was going to be the star of one of his own original programs. With his wonky eye and endearing Midwestern charm, Andy caught our eye as he hosted the reunions for his reality shows and has now won out hearts as the host of his late night talk show Watch What Happens Live!.
His set, which is modeled after his own den, is playfully referred to as “the clubhouse” and what an exclusive club it is! Fabulous celebs and Bravo-lebrities come to visit him to discuss that evening’s reality drama, play made up games, and field questions from live tweets/texts/phone calls from avid viewers all whilst drinking (sometimes heavily) cocktails. And because the size of the clubhouse studio is reminiscent to the basement where Wayne and Garth taped their show, becoming a member of the studio audience is as much of an exclusive club as being on set! That is why, ladies and gentlemen (if there are gentlemen reading this) my sister, Katie, and I had to JUMP at the opportunity when two tickets came our way for the November 21st taping!
In all honesty, Katie and I are “indian givers”. Along with my dad, we had given my mom 2 tickets to WWHL for last Mother’s Day which we won in a charity auction. We had both surrendered our rights to go to the show with her, since it wouldn’t be fair if one went and not the other. We may be in our late 20s, but my sister and I can fight like 8 year olds and what’s fair is fair. After months of agonizing (mostly about the fact that she would have to forgo her usual 7pm pajama time), my mom gave my sister and I the tickets! This was like my Charlie Bucket moment. Just when he thought all of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets were found and all hope was lost, there was his all access pass to The Wonka Factory-right under his nose. Well Andy Cohen was my Mr. Wonka and the clubhouse was my chocolate factory!
We were instructed to arrive at the Soho studio PROMPTLY at 10:30pm. If you know anything about the family Robin, punctuality isn’t something we take lightly…so we obviously arrived 15 minutes early. We found our way to the Bravo offices and were greeted with a fabulously well stocked bar 🙂 This really WAS Wonkamania!! As the youngest audience members by far, we sat back and did a little people watching – to try to get our bearings. We befriended a fabulous gay man (who was gym friends with Andy Cohen, obvs) and his two friends. Of course through our favorite game, “Jewish Georgraphy”, we found out that our new friend not only lived in our parents’ UWS building, but he knew who both our dad and dog were!! I mean, our dad DOES looks like Sam Waterston and our dog IS the cutest labradoodle ever…but I digress. We were ushered into the studio (which was legit smaller than my small living room in my small one bedroom apartment) and were seated in the front row right behind the camera men and the show was about to begin.
Have I mentioned the guests yet? Well, since it was the Monday before Thanksgiving, we knew that the “talent” were probably going to be for the NYC area. We were right. One was Andrew Rannells from Book of Mormon (which we saw last spring and was AMAZEBALLS) and the other was Ellen Barkin. Let me let you in on a little secret…I LOVE ELLEN BARKIN. Love isn’t even a strong enough word. She is my soul-bitch. She’s fierce, she’s fashionable, she’s got the vocabulary of a truck driver, and she knows exactly what she wants and gets it…she is everything I try to be (though, I already know how to use the F-bomb very well!).
11pm finally rolled around and we were live on the air!! The drinks were flowing, the guests were on their A games, and the laughs never stopped. There was a life-sized Snoopy in the studio as Andy’s special Thanksgiving guest who served as the Vanna White for the night’s “Word Association Rotation” game. The feeling on set was of happy chaos. During the commercial breaks Andy, Ellen, and Andrew would chat with the audience which made us feel like we were actually all friends. Well, in my heart…Ellen and I are already friends.
We stayed through the live televised show as well as the 15 minute after-show that Bravo puts up on their website the day after. Andy and his guests left the studio first, but not before stopping to chat with their new audience friends. Ellen stood in the aisle right next to me. Her shiny black alligator skin Hermes belt was right in my face and I couldn’t even breathe. A little intoxicated after 2 vodka/pineapples, I mustered up the courage to say something to her. “What kind of nail polish are you wearing? It’s fabulous”. Nail polish. NAIL POLISH!?!? That is how I was going to lure Ellen Barkin into being my BFF?! Thankfully, she indulged me and then left the studio (probably to do something fabulous). Katie and I followed shortly after. What a fabulous night we had!
Just like Andy, I am a (self-proclaimed) pop culture expert. But, unlike Andy I don’t have my own late night talk show. Since Watch What Happens Live! is now going to be on 5 nights a week-I propose that I become Andy’s co-host. So next time you are watching go ahead and post on his facebook, tweet him, or call in live with a drunk dial and let him know that I’m available. I mean…look how good I look in his chair!