Lately, I’ve been reading a few books by Danny Wallace. His oeuvre consists mostly of what his ex-girlfriend calls “stupid boy-projects”: things like starting his own “cult” of 1,000 do-gooders, and spending several months indiscriminately saying “yes” to anything and everything asked of him.
It got me to thinking about things I’d like to accomplish while I’m here. Having lunch with a famous architect or film composer would be high on the list. Being a guest on a TV chat show would be another. Well, I haven’t made it on TV as a chat show guest yet, but I have made it as an audience member. And, on one of my favorite shows.
Today I attended a taping of the show 8 Out of 10 Cats. It’s a simple idea for a show, but oddly hard to describe. Basically, it’s a mock-game show (like Whose Line Is It Anyway? where Drew Carey (in the US version) was fond of saying, “Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the show where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.”). Considering Whose Line originated in the UK as well, I’d say the British are fond of “game shows” where the points don’t matter.
8 Out of 10 Cats is a show about opinion polls and surveys. A regular panel of comedians (pictured above) and celebrity guests makes jokes about “the top five talking points of the week” and fill-in-the-blank questions like “40% of British men say they wish they had more _____.” In some ways, it reminds me a little of the old Match Game, and I’m sure if Charles Nelson Reilly were British, he’d be on this show (along with Phyllis Diller and Charo, who regrettably are also not British).
If you’ve never attended a TV taping, you’re not missing much. Back in Los Angeles, I attended two, for the shows Anything But Love and Sibs. I actually met TV tycoon James L. Brooks at the latter taping, but I didn’t realize it was him until a few days later. TV tapings are notoriously slow. It can take hours to record a 30-minute sitcom. People flub lines, the sets and costumes have to be changed, the lighting and sound have to be adjusted. And, the gaffers’ union has to have their coffee break.
8 Out of 10 Cats was simple by comparison. One set, no costumes, probably only a handful of gaffers. Nevertheless, it still took nearly three hours to shoot the 30-minute show. Since it’s all improvised, only about one joke/comment in five makes it into the final episode. There were a lot of pithy comments that fell flat and didn’t get a laugh. There were personal anecdotes that went on way too long, and lots of tangents that had nothing to do with the show’s main topics.
I’d like to tell you who the d-list British celebrities were for my taping, but to be honest, I don’t remember. There was a fat guy with glasses who was pretty funny, and older feminist author [Germaine Greer] who had some wild stories about being on Celebrity Big Brother in Australia and trying to call “999” (the British version of “911”) while being strangled by an obsessed stalker (not that there’s any other kind). There was also a sexy brunette woman who unintentionally outed someone during the taping (which was naturally cut from the show). I’d like to tell you who it was that she outed, but since I don’t even remember who she was… well, I really wish I was better with names.
More info: 8 Out of 10 Cats