Last night my friend and I went to go see a taping of CBC’s The Hour in Vancouver. My friend won the tickets, but little did we know how much she had won. The Hour is taping in Vancouver this week. The host George Stroumboulopoulos has been twittering about everything he’s been doing here, including going for a Japadog.
We were in line for quite a while before getting into the building, but the crew of the hour set the laid-back tone off right away by offering everyone standing in line Rice Works chips (turns out the sweet chili ones are really good) to tide us over. When the doors opened and we began inching our way into the building, George himself popped out to meet all his guests. Shaking hands and posing for pictures, George was relaxed and engaging, and I began to understand why his show did so well.
After the long line-ups to get inside (coat-check, stairs to the deep basement where the show would be filmed, line ups to get placed for seats, etc), my friend and I finally took our seats towards the back and right the room facing the stage. Sitting at the aisle we both had nice clear sight lines to see host and guest clearly. I wasn’t really all that surprised at the line-ups and lengthy time to get in, I’d seen Margaret Atwood speak about her book Payback in that venue, and I’d seen a taping of the Rick Mercer Report in Toronto. The drills were explained to us, about clapping and cheering and being enthusiastic, then we found out we were in for a treat: we were going to be the audience for two shows that night. The first would be a live taping that would air in the maritimes with a few second delay. (George got nervous about not swearing cause they usually edit him out when he does.) And then Thursdays taping. Then George came, answered some questions, explained what he would do and told us the most important thing for us to do was not to clap and cheer, but to laugh at his jokes.
The show started and our first guest was Betty Fox, Terry Fox’s mom. If you were able to watch the show on tv or online, you’ll know Betty Fox’s interview was outstanding, and I almost cried when she spoke about still speaking to her son and how he still guides her and the family. What you probably didn’t see, because they were doing her bio at the time, was the standing ovation she received as she entered the room. Although we were told in our rules not to suddenly stand up because the gib might hit us as it swung over, we risked beheading in order to do so.
The next guest was Neill Blomkamp, writer and co-director of District 9, and he managed not to give away any spoilers about his upcoming work. He also spoke about what it might be like in South Africa with the World Cup. They implimented a “Shoot to Kill” law last fall, a far cry from the type of Police efforts here in Vancouver during the Olympics.
For the post-live taping the first guest we met was Dr. Julio Montaner, HIV researcher and activist. He is heavily involved in working through government red tape, and I’ll make a poor summary of his arguments, so watch the show when it airs on Thursday.
The second guest we met was Rick Hansen. He’s a pretty amazing canadian legend. And I really liked his top perks and peeves of being in a wheelchair. Note to self, never use an accessible washroom stall again.
The final guest was Nancy Robertson of Corner Gas and Hiccups fame. You will hear her talk about how big the red chairs are, but she stands at less than 3/4 of George’s stature, which is on the normal side. It was quite entertaining to watch them together.
I do believe though, that the best part of the night was what you don’t see on tv. During commercial breaks and between sets/guests, George answers questions from the audience. Everything from “why do you sign on with ‘I’m your boyfriend’?” to “how long does it take you to record your radio show on CBC radio 2?” (Because it confuses someone, which amuses him, and 10-15 hours.) George was so approachable and willing to answer all the questions, that its like he engages in a conversation with the audience. Which is why he does this I suppose, to help us engage in a conversation with someone interesting on the television, and to make us feel like we’re sitting there with him. And to George, I say well done. If you can get tickets to his show, trust me, its well worth it.
PS. I would love to see him interview Alan Cross on the show, I think they could just talk for hours about music and life and it would be amazing to be able to listen in. Who do you think he should interview?