If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself in the middle of a television show taping (and why not – tickets are free!) you’ll likely witness the phenomenon that is the crowd warm-up guy. Excuse me, crowd warm-up person. Put your pens down.
It’s a tradition that harks back to the heyday of radio: some goofball gets up in front of a studio audience and gets them in the mood to laugh by – you guessed it – reading John Boehner’s debt plan. And if that doesn’t work, a few comedy jokes usually do the trick.
Nowadays, the person charged with this task has the delicate job of explaining the ins and outs of taping a live television show (we’re not watching TV – we’re making it!) while simultaneously forcing people to cackle so hard they forget that they were just standing outside in the heat for an hour. Yes, crowd warming is a difficult and important job best left to professionals – yet for some reason we still let ‘Real Time’ head writer Billy Martin do it.
I kid Billy. There is a reason: ‘Real Time’ has a different audience every week, but only one crew. And each Friday he still manages to make us laugh. Usually by tickling us with a feather.
It’s even creepier than it sounds.
In any case, before you watch the show tonight, do yourself a favor and let Billy warm you up: