salon.com – Sonia Saraiya
Earlier this week, in a burst of schadenfreude, I decided to attend the taping for NBC’s “Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris,” which aired the first of its eight live broadcasts last Tuesday night at 10 p.m. It was far too late, on a weeknight, to be in Queens (at the Kaufman Astoria studios, lit in rainbow hues, with huge spotlights chasing beams into the clear, breezy night; but still, Queens). Worse, being a member of a live studio audience is rather exhausting—glitzy, perhaps, but a marathon of forced enthusiasm, from lining up to be seated at 8 p.m. to finally being released, around 11:30 p.m. We were constantly being asked if we were having fun yet, if we were excited to see Neil Patrick Harris, if we were looking forward to being on live television; we were told, at varying points, to stand and applaud, to clap in rhythm, and to offer up “oohs” and “aahs” when Harris and his guest host, Reese Witherspoon, donned helmets and onesies to climb an obstacle course. A few days later, I made a point of watching the episode (available on Hulu), partly to see if “Best Time Ever” felt different on television, and partly to see if I could spot my black-clad, bespectacled visage in the sea of faces. I eventually did spot myself. In the back row of the audience, next to two enthusiastic couples. I look completely baffled.
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