1. I auditioned for X-Factor. You don’t go to the celebrity judges first you go in front of some ‘off camera’ judges.
So every terrible and horrible singer you see on the show has already been told they are better than the many talented ones not deemed ‘tv worthy’ which makes it a lot more disgusting to me.
2. They let the other girl in the Showcase Showdown (Price is Right) rebid after the audience booed her original bid (something silly low like $10,000). When it aired, they cut her original bid and showed only her second, winning bid. I lost to her.
3. Was on a MTV game show called Fist of Zen on MTV. Basically a group of people subjected to painful and nauseating tasks for cash. We won every round but the producer asked us to purposefully ‘fail’ one to change things up. Despite losing one round we were still paid the full prize money.
4. I was a contestant on the Price is Right. They don’t choose people at random. They interview everyone in the audience for about 30 seconds earlier in the day and decide who to pick based off that.
5. I was on Cash Cab. You can’t just hail a cab in New York which turns out to be the Cash Cab. There is a vetting process, but you don’t know you are going to be on the show so the reaction is genuine. Also, there is a lot of awkward silence time while he is listening to the producer in his ear. There is a cameraman riding shotgun unseen on TV. The money he gives is prop money for TV. They mail you a check after the show airs. Ben Bailey was genuinely a nice guy.
6. My teacher was on Wheel of Fortune Australia and he won a lifetime supply of WD40. It turns out with average usage a can of WD40 lasts twenty years, so a lifetime’s supply is four cans.
7. Was in the audience at a Food Network taping and Iron Chef America really is a 60-minute competition. That’s not fudged. The judging on the other hand takes foreeeeever.
8. My wife got a tattoo on a tattoo competition show. They gave her headphones to wear while she was being tattooed, but she wasn’t allowed to actually plug them in and listen to music. Pure product placement.
Other than that it was a really good experience! Producers worked with her for several weeks leading up to and made sure she got a tattoo subject and style that she wanted.
9. Had a teacher in middle school who won full carpeting for a house on the Price is Right when he was in grad school. He did not own a home in grad school.
He also said you could see which games were coming up in line off on the side, and literally everyone was trying to hold out winning the first game for Plinko.
10. I’m a film carpenter and I worked on Big Brother. The ‘house’ is actually inside of a huge warehouse. I found it kinda creepy that when they lead a contestant to the games room, they put a black bag over their head and you’re not allowed to talk to them. Also the camera alleys mean that anyone working on the show can just wander behind the walls and watch the contestants in any room. I will never understand why people apply to be on that show. It looks stressful af!
11. I was a judge in a segment on something called Beauty and the Geek many years back.
Not knowing much about how reality shows work, I was kinda surprised to see almost every take on the show done repeatedly, over and over until the producers/director were satisfied with the final product.
Kinda burst the balloon for me, thinking reality television was spontaneous and unedited for the most part.
12. I was on Pointless in the UK. If you’re the first couple to answer and haven’t thought of anything, they just give you longer by doing some chatting with the other contestants.
Alex and Richard were incredibly friendly, and Richard has the biggest hands I’ve ever seen.
13. Alex Trebek is just as no bullshit and likable as he appears on TV. During commercial breaks he took questions and told stories. Communicating and joking with the audience the whole time.
14. I was part of the ‘paid’ audience for American Ninja Warrior. I was actually with a vegetarian group that collected the money earned for charity, so that was cool.
What wasn’t cool was getting downtown at midnight, for there to be hundreds of bats flying around and a two-hour delay.
We were only allowed to wear certain colors, no logos, and yeah they did take the audience cheering/booing to edit in later, which was honestly a good thing because at around 3 am, most of the audience started leaving. The stands were empty so they had us moving down the course as they filmed to make it look more full.
I got to meet a couple of the warriors, we all were on tv, and we nabbed a sign from the set. Overall was fun.
15. My uncle’s friend went on Big Brother this year and was a COMPLETELY different person. They made him the villain of the show which is completely different to him in real life. IRL he’s actually a really nice footy bloke.
16. I was on Slime Time Live because my family visited Universal Studios Florida, including the old school Nickelodeon Studios building. They gave my sister and me an entire change of clothes, including boxer shorts (I’m a girl too) and watershoes.
Our team was eliminated the first round so they took us back to get dressed in our regular clothes. Then we got to sit in the audience for the rest of the show.
My family took 2 weeks off of school in order to make that Florida trip. I realized that Slime Time Live only filmed on weekdays, and not during summer, so 12-year-old me came to the conclusion that you had to be playing hooky in order to get on the show.
17. Robot Wars:
– You’re waiting about half an hour between each battle.
– They will film either a heat or all the finals in a single day, if you were lucky (like I was) you’d see all the most popular robots fighting it out in the finals.
– The bit where the lights go out and all focus is on the arena, after the big scary voice says ‘Roboteers, Standby,’ there is a pause that could be anything from 10 to 30 seconds in which the entire building is silent, you can hear a pin drop. Then you get the countdown and I shit you not it is one of the coolest, most intense things I’ve ever sat through.
18. Not really a game show but I was an audience member with my class for America’s Funniest Videos. They literally had empty plates/cups at some tables and a light up sign telling us when to laugh.
Sometimes they would even move audience members depending on how well they laughed. This field trip was for our school drama club.
19. Not a gameshow but was in the audience for the Steve Harvey show. Holy crap is he a shallow and fragile individual. We were told we could ask him questions between takes if he was in a good enough mood – which he would only be in if we reacted well during takes. We also were not allowed to ask him any questions about his teeth or mustache. He also said that his lifelong dream was always to just be on television and that’s it.
20. I was in the audience of a game show and the host didn’t interact with us at all. Instead, to keep the audience spirits up they had this guy joke around with the audience between shows (I think it was 5 shows in one day or something). He was funnier than the host, actually.
21. Not exactly a game show, but Conan plays awesome indie/alt rock during commercials and the preshow.
22. I was in the audience at the Price is Right. You wait like 4+ hours just to get into the taping. They come by and give you a short interview to see if you are a good prospect to make it to contestant row. I was with a group of 4 and none of us made it. The studio audience is significantly smaller than it appears on TV. Drew Carey told jokes between filming. The set is tiny. The wheel is tiny. No secrets to reveal except that they must use some serious lenses and angles to make it appear bigger. It was a long day but it was a cool experience.
23. For my 19th birthday, we went to a Jerry Springer taping. This was about 12 years ago when it was still in Chicago. It’s faker than I thought but far more entertaining than seeing the occasional episode on TV. The guests are small-time actors trying to get screen time in. Most of what’s filmed is never used and you also get tired from nonstop clapping. However, during breaks they show live marionette sex scenes and also give beads to women if they go topless. (These are audience members). You’re also encouraged to antagonize the actors on stage with one-liners. 10/10 would never go back but it was fun.
24. In Deal or No Deal only the interesting people get picked, if you are outgoing and excited you’ve got a high chance of being selected.
25. There’s an indicator that tells you when you can chime in with your clicker when responding to a trivia question/clue; if you try to ring in before it lights up, you are ‘locked out’ for a few seconds, perhaps long enough for another contestant to ring in.
In Jeopardy the indicator is a set of lights on the perimeter of the big board; in Win Ben Stein’s Money, it was literally a lamp on a lampstand sans a lampshade.
Viewers never see it because the shot is of something else (e.g. the contestants or a closer shot of the game board).
I was on WBSM in 2002 (became the episode’s champion but couldn’t beat Ben in the bonus round), and Jeopardy in 2013 (led at the end of Double Jeopardy but the competition was tough, bet big on Final Jeopardy but blanked, losing and coming in third).
For Jeopardy, they tape five episodes (a week’s worth) a day, two days a week (the same crew works on Wheel of Fortune, which is literally next door). Twelve contestants show up for the taping day: the returning champion from the previous week, enough challengers to fill in the first four episodes, another challenger for the Friday episode, and two ‘alternates’ in case something happens; the alternates tend to be locals from the LA area in case they have to come back later. Before the final taping, if the two alternates haven’t gotten to appear, one of them is randomly chosen to be the second challenger on the Friday show; the one who isn’t chosen is invited to come back on a future taping date, but then with a guaranteed slot as a challenger. Selections of challengers and even sets of clues are random, in order to stay fair.
During the episodes’ taping, the rest of the ‘week’s’ contestants sit in the front few rows way to the right of the audience, and thus won’t appear in audience reaction shots. In the middle of the day (after the third taping), the remaining contestants are sequestered and treated to lunch at the studio commissary; if you’re done playing, you’re expected to leave/go home.
26. When I was a kid I went to family game show with my uncle. The theme of the show was animal life, so it featured interviews, musical performances, etc. in between the questions we had to answer.
None of that was shot in the order you see on TV. We shot questions and answers all in one go. Everything else had already been shot before and they used sound effects to make you think it was sequential.
27. I was on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, and its all scripted. The filming took half a day for 30 minutes of filming. When you win the intro round, you are taken out to get your make up on, and then they instruct you how to act when you celebrate.
The reason the audience is so completely useless (and why you see so many press wrong on obvious answers) is because 20-30% of the audience is friends and family to the other seven contestants who are waiting for their turn. We spent two days in the studio, and if the initial contestant loses, the others get their chance. If one contestant goes far and takes a lot of time, no one else gets a chance, so the audience tells the wrong answer on purpose.
28. They tell the audience to clap and cheer and they film that to edit it in during appropriate events. If we didn’t cheer or clap loud enough, they had us retake it. The same goes for grimaces/negative reactions and shock/surprise.
29. I was on Wheel of Fortune. You have to get there at 5 AM where you draw straws with other contestants to decide when you will film. They film the entire week’s worth of episodes in one day. Pat Sajak is incredibly friendly and interacted with us on every break. The wheel is HEAVY.
30. A work colleague of mine was one of the couples in Married at First Sight.
She had a horrible experience, needed counseling afterwards, and is still receiving an ‘appearance fee’ (read hush money) even though her season aired like 5 years ago.