The Big Day Is Here!

Oh boy!!!  We're finally getting to the good part!!!

Oh boy!!! We’re finally getting to the good part!!!

What’s that I see?  Barbecues?  Fireworks?  Parades?  People celebrating?  Well, it can only mean one thing!  It’s Friday, and it’s time for the next installment in my seemingly neverending tale about my appearance on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!  And we’ve finally reached the BIG DAY!  No more stories about January 17th… as Foreigner once said… that was yesterday, and now yesterday’s gone!

With all due respect to The Lads...

With all due respect to The Lads…

Thursday January 18, 2001, 6:00 AM.  The sun isn’t even going to rise for another hour, yet I have to be down in the lobby of the hotel no later than 6:45 if I don’t want to get left behind and stuck watching the walls in my room crumble to the ground.  The heater managed to kick on sometime during the night, so I guess the temperature dropping into the 20’s was all it took to get The Empire scrooges to cut loose with some warmth.

freezing in hell

Yep, it’s cold enough now to throw a lump of coal on the fire…

I managed to sleep pretty decent, but I can’t say the same for my poor Dad.  The medieval futon he had to use for a bed did quite a number on his spine.  I guess that’s to be expected when the mattress is the thickness of a patio cushion and has to cover up a hard steel beam running down the center of the frame that was forged by Vulcan himself in the depths of Hotel Hell.  This kind of plush luxury is just what you’d expect from a hotel room that runs upwards of $500 a night.

At least we didn't get the $300 a night room...

At least we didn’t get the $300 a night room…

Now I get the joy of trying to freshen myself up in The World’s Smallest Bathroom®.  I wasted about ten minutes trying to get the shower running and the water the correct temperature.  At least this isn’t an inconvenience that is unique to the Empire… I have issues working the shower at all hotels.  I think it would be easier for me to figure out how to work the control panel on the Space Shuttle than it is for me to master the fucking knobs on the hotel shower.

You called for some help, ma'am?

You called for some help, ma’am?

Once I managed to get myself squeaky reasonably clean, the next challenge became not killing myself while grooming at the mirror.  Bathrooms are one of the most likely places for someone to sustain a serious injury, and that chance goes up one trillion fold when there is literally no room to stand between the tub and the sink.  It wouldn’t take much of a step behind me to send me backwards over the tub and cracking my skull open on the shower wall… which would not only cause me a serious head injury, but likely infect my brain with slimy mildew.

Don't ask what possessed me to draw this image, but this is as good an excuse as any for me to finally use it!

Don’t ask what possessed me to draw this image, but this is as good an excuse as any for me to finally use it!

I have survived the world’s most unsafe water closet, and it is time for me and Dad to head down to the lobby.  I mentioned before that there would be two shows taping on my day, so that means there weren’t just ten contestants that would be making the short trip to the studio, but twenty of us.  Double that since we each had a companion along on ABC’s tab, and you can imagine what the lobby of The Empire looked like at 6:45.  You know those fancy hotels with really big lobbies?  The Empire wasn’t one of them…

Yes, this is an exaggeration... the Empire lobby was much smaller than this.

Yes, this is an exaggeration… the Empire lobby was much smaller than this.

Somehow Paul, the assistant contestant coordinator you all met a couple weeks ago, managed to squeeze his way through the lobby-turned-sardine can, raising the total number of occupants to 41, or about 40 over what the New York City fire code would have allowed.  Paul called off the roll of contestants for both tapings…

Herr Kommandant!  All present and accounted for!

Herr Kommandant! All present and accounted for!

It looks like the other two contestants who had yet to arrive yesterday evening had since made it into The Big Apple.  Oh well, so much for that potential advantage…

We were instructed to load up our taping wardrobe onto one of four moth-infested clothing racks provided by the hotel, and were then led to a pair of buses that would take us to our final destination.  Each taping group had their own bus, but the clothing rack situation was a complete free for all.  Airlines have a tendency to send your luggage to far off exotic places you have never been before, and it would suck to arrive at the studio and find out my nice, solid colors wardrobe wound up being confiscated by the Tongan Ambassador down at the UN.

Happy dance time!  We're getting khakis!

Happy dance time! We’re getting khakis!

The studio was located only about four blocks from the hotel… which of course in downtown Manhattan travel time is about three hours away.  We debussed, tore through the racks of clothes like bargain hunting shoppers at Mecca to find our outfits, and prepared to enter….. the back of the ABC building.  It wasn’t exactly the most exciting way to get into a major television network building… it felt more like we were sneaking into the place to find an illegal card game or something.  But there was still the security checkpoint to go through…

OK..... who's first?

OK….. who’s first?

Actually, all we were subjected to was the metal detecting baton… though that can be a fun experience in itself.  The forty of us crowded inside the building, and were led up a flight of stairs to a large, but narrow hallway where the contestant dressing rooms were located.  If you’re following the theme of today’s post, the secret word of the day is claustrophobia.  I had heard reports from contestants in single show taping days who complained about the tight quarters of having just twenty-something people in the hallway… with double that crowd, plus a number of the show’s associate producers now milling about amongst us, things had gotten beyond ridiculous.

We're moving the contestant meeting to Cyndi Lauper's room...

We’re moving the contestant meeting to Cyndi Lauper’s room…

Just when those of us seeking relief had begun to take refuge in the dressing rooms themselves, we all got called back out into the hallway so we could hear a welcome speech by Brent.  Brent was the AP who gave me the good news five weeks prior, and it looks like he was a big shot among the group who would be taking care of us.

Brent welcomed his sardines contestants and their companions to the Millionaire studios, apologizing for the fact that we were being smashed like atoms in their humble backstage.  We were instructed to leave our outfits in the nearest dressing room, possibly to never be seen again.  Brent reiterated the warning about not being able to have any electronic devices, and gave us one last chance to turn over any battery operated contraband… and sure enough, one of the contestants up and parted with a calculator from their purse.

But I was only using it to calculate the density of people in the room!

But I was only using it to calculate the density of people in the room!

After a short, but not short enough speech, we were led to the Green Room.  No doubt you have heard the term before… this is the lounge where guests on television shows hang out when they are not on the air.  The Green Room was loaded with goodies to eat and drink and plenty of places to sit and relax… but after spending the first part of the morning in a tight bathroom, a packed lobby, a jammed bus, and a crowded hallway, it’s best feature was undoubtedly the fact that it was fucking huge!

YES!!!!!  There is actually elbow room in New York City!!!!

YES!!!!! There is actually elbow room in New York City!!!!

I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna take this moment to chill and get the blood moving again in my extremities.  Join me again next Friday, right here in the spacious Millionaire Green Room, where the adventure continues!

And of course, the room wasn't really green... that would look weird.

And of course, the room wasn’t really green… that would look weird.

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About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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26 Responses to The Big Day Is Here!

  1. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Graphing calculator: don’t leave home without it.

    • I don’t think it was a actually graphic calculator she had (That’s the only calculator image I had on file already), but you’re right. You never know when being able to plot out a parabola might save your life….

  2. merbear74 says:

    Paul wrote yesterday all by himself…he had the melody first, and used “scrambled eggs” as temporary lyrics. 🙂

  3. Sorry that you had to spend the night at Hotel Hell…. but I’m glad that such Hotels are not only common in France (there the room was as small as The World’s Smallest Bathroom® and therefore it was without a bathroom). btw: I still try to sing Yesterday with using “scrambled eggs” thx Mer :o)

  4. I’m disappointed that the “green room” wasn’t green. I feel gyped! 😉

  5. draliman says:

    So you didn’t like your hotel room then? I’m good at reading between the lines 🙂

  6. 1jaded1 says:

    The Tilex illustration is awesome funny as are the rest of the photos for this installment. Did anyone try to pick a fight with you in the green room? That’s where all the action is…

    Tuning in next week! Happy Fourth.

  7. fanrosa says:

    Dude, that wasn’t Foreigner, that was Chad and Jeremy. Man, you’d really suck at that game show where you have to know song lyrics…..

    Meanwhile, what’s up with making the old man sack out on the futon? Unass that bunk, soldier!

    (Your room was big enough to fit in a futon? You must have gotten the Uecker Suite….).

    • Awwww, i forgot about the Chad & Jeremy song, or I would have rephrased that line to reference it instead…

      Hey, who needs the good night’s rest here… me or Pop!?!? He can man up for one night. And no, the room wasn’t big enough to fit a futon… but that’s how they roll in the NYC…

      • fanrosa says:

        I guess you’re not familiar with the concept of co-sleeping…. My sister and I bunked together at the Dumpire and we both lived to tell the tale. He’s your dad, ffs!

        Although my brother and I, in our early twenties at the time, once shared a bed in a Motel 6 because neither one of us wanted to neither one of us wanted to end up with either parent…..

      • Well, to our credit, the full scope of how shitty the futon was hadn’t been fully realized until the morning after. I can assure you there will be exciting co-sleeping action coming up in a future installment!

  8. Shane pointed out “long dramatic corridor” I am still getting over the Hotel in New York not being glamorous. 😦

  9. markbialczak says:

    I dig the whole cramped installment, ESN, but the best part is how you’ve now explained why every Millionaire contestant always looked like they’d neglected to wash their hair. Couldn’t figure out the shower handles in the dump hotel!

  10. Thank you for reminding me why we shouldn’t apply to go on game shows!!

    • LOL!

      One thing about these classic days of ABC Millionaire is the fact that the contestant experience was much more like a school field trip… at least from the time you arrived in the city until the taping was over. Though I can’t say from experience, I’d think as far as most other game shows would go, you were pretty much free to do what you wanted until you actually arrived at their studio… no cramped lobbies, buses, or hallways….

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