media, News, school

Sitting in on ‘The Hour’ with George Stromboloupoulous!

Our journalism class got a real treat today as we went down to the CBC building this afternoon to be a part of the studio audience for the only late night Canadian talk show, The Hour, hosted by George Stromboloupoulous.

The Hour is a nightly talk show on CBC hosted by former MuchMusic VJ, and longtime radio personality George Stromboloupoulous. The show’s been running for nearly 5 seasons now on national TV and has become quite a success. The show delves into a huge realm of topics such as politics, pop culture, sports to you name it, featuring guests ranging from the likes of politicians such as  Jean Chretien, Brian Mulroney to musicians like Queen and Tragically Hip, to comedians like Russel Peters, Trailer Park Boys and a whole lot of other people and topics. I like to think that the show knows little to no boundaries when it comes to who and what will be discussed.

It was a really neat experience to be a part the taping of the show. I’m really fascinated by how things work and to actually see for myself how a television show  like The Hour gets put together and how things go according to plan. I’m talking about cameras, and sets, and applause and other TV oriented things that you usually take for granted that come with the whole presentation of a TV show.

So we arrive at around a quarter after 3 at CBC and we begin to wait in line to go inside. And low behold, coming out of the door beside the line, is George himself! He waves, we cheer = very cool. I learn very quickly that getting a close encounter with George is a very common occurrence when visiting the studio audience of the show. We check in, head up the elevator to the set where we’re greeted by the crew and some complementary potato chips and energy drink (not kosher, but super nice to provide for the audience).

Upon waiting to go inside, Mr. I Like To Take Pictures (aka me) gets into action! I wouldn’t call it overwhelmed but I like those environments that I’m completely foreign to, because I can come in with a completely impartial point of view and just take it all in as I go along. There’s George walking back and forth between the stage and the waiting area. Once whisked in, we take our seats, yours truly has a real nice view! The set is really nice. It’s got the bells and whistle of a typical set but it manages to maintain a very relaxed vibe, which really comes into play once the show gets going.

The show is set up in a very unique way: Two guests + two news segments + commentary from George in between = The Hour. However, both guests for the day’s are not taped one after the other, rather one is taped on an earlier date, while the other is taped on the day it’s aired. The news and he other bits for the day’s show are also recorded on the same day for obvious, “must keep up to date” reasons.

For today’s show, singer Lily Allen (who was taped earlier) and Ed Broadbent were the guests. Broadbent is a large political figure in the NDP Party of Canada at the federal level.

But the big treat was who George was interviewing for a later date – Howie Mandel! That’s right, our Jewish-Toronto born and raised comedy legend, currently host on NBC’s Deal or No Deal and Global’s Howie Do It (and of course the creator and star of the hit kids show Bobby’s World).

What an interview. Howie is very comfortable with opening up about the things going on his life that normal\someone wouldn’t talk about, yet still find a way to make a joke about it. I’m talking specifically about a health scare Howie dealt with not too long ago here in Toronto. He began going on about how neurotic he was about having to be in the hospital (a germaphobe nightmare). From there he told the audience how he noticed that part of his chest was shaved by paramedics due to the ailment, and in an attempt to look alright when his wife would soon walk in, he proceeded to shave his own chest to even it out (a first he claimed). It was a very funny exchange.

In fact, George would say off the air after the interview that Howie is by far the best kind of interview a talk show host can have. He even said he was one of his favourites of all time. How cool to be a part of that.

The best part of the experience came at the end of the taping when George took questions from the audience. And than after that, he talked to whoever wanted to speak to him personally until no one was left. What a guy. He was so willing to answer everyone’s question to the best of his ability, going on with various anecdotes from his past experiences. I was really impressed with his mentality of “going to sleep knowing more than what knew waking up”. That sheer desire to grasp knowledge is very appealing to a wannabe journalist like myself.

He answered questions that addressed the types of guests he had over the years, the on-going difficulty of people pronouncing his name (another appealing one indeed), how he determined the direction of the show and other things too.

But my favourite part was when after sticking around, I got to talk to him personally. I’m not usually starstruck, but I couldn’t think of anything specific to say when approaching him. But instead he greeted me, shook my hand, asked me my name, and it was so laid back from there on. Along with two other fellow students, conversation eventually led, through George’s words (not mine) about a band I can’t stop listening to: Metallica!!! George is hardcore hard rock music fan, and we started talking about old and new Metallica. He talked about seeing them in 1987, bootlegging their cassettes(!), we exchanged opinions on the loudness war issue over the new album Death Magnetic. 2 words: Mighty cool!!

I actually got offered by one the show’s managers if I wanted to come back for the next day’s tapings cause their were openings. Unfortunately, I reluctantly refused cause we have a newspaper to finish for Thursday (ugh/yay- you choose).

All in all, a really cool experience. Thanks to our professors for setting the whole thing up.

The Howie Mandel interview is being shown on Wednesday February 18 @ 11pm on CBC.

Archives of recent shows including the taping our class was at today can be found  @ http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/

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