Thursday, June 4, 2020
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TV Taping: Learning to Fake Laugh

Diane Oh/New University

There is an extreme fascination with Hollywood in our society today. The basic questions of what celebrities do, where they go, what they own and what they wear rivals that of a catalogued library.

It would be a lie to tell you that I do not find them fascinating as well. Some days, while running to an 8 a.m. class, hair in a ponytail, glasses and bags the size of quarters under my eyes, I find myself wishing my life would start being a little more fabulous.

My normal life contains little of the grace, poise and perfection of the red carpet stars but, as I came to realize, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My best friend first told me his good news during finals week. “We won tickets to go see Chelsea Lately for next Tuesday!” he practically screamed into the phone. Having been buried under notes for finals and essays, I was confused for a second, having forgotten what the real world was. “We can go dress up and meet famous people!” FAMOUS PEOPLE?! Hearing those words, I was sold.

Since I can remember, I have been extremely interested in celebrities. Even though I was supposed to be studying, I found myself Googling my favorite stars and reading up on the most recent celebrity sightings. Until this taping, the closest I had ever been to a star was the tour at Universal Studios, so this was definitely an upgrade!

When the big day came, dressed in my “upscale, hip” attire, as the ticket had told us to do, my best friend and I arrived to find a growing line of enthusiastic fans wrapped around the studio. Upon seeing the security guard, my friend started squealing, nudging me and pointing.

It seems that when normal, calm and collected people, such as my friend, see a celebrity every ounce of coolness and subtlety flies out the window.

Men squeal, women point and, by the end, people are asking their favorite star the strangest questions like, “Can I rub your head?” or “Will you hold my baby?” Yes, people go ape shit for celebrities. We can’t help it, like mating and eating, losing our cool around people who appear on TV just happens.

After making it past two security checks, we were rushed into the studio. In the studio world everything seems to be in a rush, from the people to the jokes to the deadlines.

The stage hands are constantly running around the set with new chairs which are switched out with old chairs only to end up back with the original chairs. Before “Chelsea Lately” began, the warm-up guy prepped the audience, keeping us laughing while teaching us the cues for when to be silent and when to clap. Then he began teaching us to fake laugh.

Fake laughing? It sounded so awkward and forced. Taking another look at the set, surrounded by the fake laughs of my other audience mates, I began to re-evaluate everything. The background looked completely washed out in person, the stage was impersonal and the staff looked exhausted.

As the cast came on stage, they neither acknowledged the makeup artists spraying and dabbing at them, nor the audience. To say I was disappointed would be a little of an understatement. This world with which I had been fascinated suddenly looked forced and fake.

Leaving the studio, my friend allowed me little time to consider my new revelation about my former celebrity heroes and drove me around LA to Pinks Hot Dogs, cupcakes and Beverly Hills where we marveled at the rich world we could only imagine being a part of.

It dawned on me then, as I crammed down my second guacamole dog, that this moment with my best friend, laughing till we couldn’t breathe, was actually what made someone’s life perfect. Strangely enough, even though my normal life is messy, it was so much better than any celebrity show could portray.

My celebrity sighting missed the main thing that I had wanted: connection. Here in my own life, I am connected with friends and family, with a guy I love, with opportunities to help people, with adventures, with happiness and laughter. The best part of it all is that it is all real – no fake laughs, no cuts, no edits.

Though I may find myself sneaking a quick peek at Rachel Zoe’s new baby and continuing to enjoy the craziness of “The Jersey Shore,” I no longer marvel at the studio world because it is just a bunch of fake laughter. As for me, I get to be surrounded by cupcakes, good friends and hotdogs. In my mind, that’s a pretty good deal.