Burbank, California Ellen Show Appearance

So yeah, I’m in my dressing room on the Ellen Show.

It tapes in about 2 hours. It should air on Monday. The channel and time changes by region, so check your local listings here.

I’m watching the Friday episode tape now. Matt LeBlanc is wandering the halls outside. They’re about to put him on.

Ooh! Promo for Monday’s show:

“Country superstar Wynonna Judd, internet dancing sensation, Matt Harding, and a 12-year-old snake expert!”

Yeah, that sounds about right.

I’m becoming resigned to the fact that I’m just not on planet earth anymore.

Matthew McConaughey is on the same show as me, but he taped a couple days ago. That’s 3 Matts in 3 days. I represent only 33% of this week’s Matt-named guest population.

They sent a town car to take me here. An hour drive through LA freeway traffic. When we pulled into the studio, there was an enormous line of people waiting for tickets to Ellen. I’m told the line forms around 8am. They saw my car pulling in with tinted windows. People started waving. My impulse was to roll down the window and explain:

“False alarm! I’m not anybody! Sorry for the confusion!”

More later…

Change of plans. They were going to have me come out at the beginning of the show and sit with Ellen, explain the video and all that. But we did a rehearsal and me not talk so good, so instead she’s going to explain it and then introduce me dancing in the “Riff Raff Room.”

The rehearsal was really hard. One of the producers, Derek, sat in Ellen’s chair and asked me a couple questions, then they played the video and asked me to talk over it.

“Uh…that’s me…dancing…in different places…and…yeah…”

It’s tough to stay focused while talking on camera, but it’s even harder when you’re pretending to talk on camera and you’re not really actually addressing anyone.

My two handlers are Derek, the aforementioned producer, and Andy, who discovered my video a couple months ago and has been keeping in touch while trying to get me on ever since. One of Andy’s responsibilities is finding people like me and selling them to the higher-ups, which seems to be a long and difficult process.

Another of Andy’s responsibilities is making sure all my whims are catered to — like a few minutes ago when I wanted a turkey sandwich and he sent a guy out to grab me one. Provolone, lettuce, tomato, mustard, no mayo.

That was awesome.

After the rehearsal they took me around the NBC studio lot to dance. The idea is they’re going to introduce me at the start of the show, then keep cutting back during commercial breaks to see where I’m dancing now. Sorry to shatter the illusion for those who watched it, but all those clips were taped beforehand.

First they had me dance in the control room; dozens of grizzled technical guys staring at a bank of 48 monitors. Add to that a camera guy, a woman pointing a light at my head that is brighter than the sun, and as many random production people as could fit in the space remaining.

Odd.

Next they wanted me dancing in Ellen’s dressing room, but Ellen was actually in her dressing room…dressing…so I stood outside her door with said crew while they nervously discussed how to proceed.

The crew all wear headsets. Unseen forces spoke to them and put the kibosh on the idea. We’ll see if there’s time later.

I went into the show’s production offices with Pete, the “remote shoot director.” He grabbed a handheld video camera and the two of us left the studio to go wander around the lot.

He took me to the Days of Our Lives set. We met with some handlers and they led us into the penthouse apartment of Dr. Marlena Evans. I stood in her living room, in front of the balcony that overlooks the fictional Salem skyline, and danced like the world was ending.

We went over to the NBC commissary — made famous by a thousand Johnny Carson references. Pete loaded me up with a cafeteria tray, a banana, a soda, an apple crumble, and some fruit loops. I danced and tried not to let anything on my tray fall over.

Then we went over to the Tonight Show set and I stood in front of Jay Leno’s parking spot. Legend has it Mr. Leno’s got something like 300 cars. He keeps them in an airplane hangar nearby. Each morning, before coming in, he calls and has the car of his choice driven to his house so that he can drive it to the studio.

Today’s car was some kind of antique convertible from the 1920s; fire red and polished until it glows.

As I was taking my place in front of the car, another vehicle pulled up right next to me. It was the size and shape of a golf cart, but pitch black with tinted windows. The car stopped and George Clooney got out.

That man is handsome. He has a handsomeness radius of about 5 feet — meaning everything that enters his sphere instantly becomes more handsome, but not nearly as handsome as he is, unless it’s Brad Pitt — the only man alive who is more handsome.

But really the distinction is academic. It’s like trying to determine whether a quark has more mass than a lepton. You’d need a billion-dollar particle accelerator to observe the handsomeness delta between Brad Pitt and George Clooney, and even then you’d only be able to observe it for, like, a trillionth of a second. More trouble than it’s worth, if you ask me. Let’s all just agree: they’re both really handsome.

Pete the camera guy looked over and said, “Hey, that’s George Clooney.” Then he looked at me and said, “Dance!”

So I danced in front of George Clooney for about ten seconds while he talked to a security guard and waited patiently for me to finish. When I stopped, he walked past into the secret famous person’s entrance to the Tonight Show set, paying me no further notice.

I did not stop him and say, “Hey, George Clooney, I think it’s great that you’re making films about important issues like media responsibility and US policy in the Middle East. I admire your determination to put your spotlight to good use by raising the level of debate in our country. I hope you’re able to push through all the ridiculous crap and bring important issues to the forefront. Who me? Oh, I’m the internet dancing guy. Yeah, I dance really badly in different places and people think it’s funny.”

More later…

They’re not using the Sweet Lullaby track I had in the video. They’d have to pay licensing fees for each time they play it and since they’re planning on showing a bunch of 5 second segments, it’d cost a ton. Instead they’re putting some Foggy Bottom Breakdown banjo over it.

…that’s another way to go.

We’re in the break between the first taping for the show that airs tomorrow and the taping I’m on that airs Monday.

My dressing room is fabulous. I have a bathroom, complete with a shower and everything. I wish I could take a bath. That’d be great.

There’s also a fully stocked fridge. It’s got everything from Red Bull to iced cappuccino to OJ to freaky famous person water. The water is called "Penta: Ultra Premium Purified Drinking Water."

That’s “Ultra Premium” mind you. One step up from regular premium. "Arsenic free, chlorine free, chromium free, fluoride free, MTBE free. Purified by reverse osmosis/deionization with USP Medicinal Grade Oxygen."

It’s bottled in Carlsbad, California — surely at some top secret research facility built on the glistening shores of a pure mountain spring.

There’s a snack basket too. It’s got chips, granola bars, and about 50 different types of candy.

A word on the wall decoration. The halls are lined with pictures of Ellen doing weird stuff with her various famous person guests; Jim Carrey falling off a bicycle, Cameron Diaz making cotton candy, David Bowie having a tea pa rty. In the production office, they’ve got a mural-sized blow-up of one of Ellen’s grade-school detention punishments. It’s a crumpled sheet of notepad paper on which she’s written:

I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class
I will not eat food in English class

You get the idea.

In my dressing room is a black and white photo of what appears to be a Sri Lankan boy leading an ox carriage. Sitting on the carriage are two chimpanzees dressed like royalty. It’s mesmerizing.

I got to go into Ellen’s dressing room once she cleared out. The decoration in there was pretty wacky too, but it was of a more personal nature so I’ll refrain from describing most of it. There were two more great photos though; one was Muhammud Ali yelling at a bunch of reporters, the other was two old women dancing near a guy who appeared to be Frank Sinatra.

The show starts soon. More later…

Well that was fun. It didn’t take long since the main interview, Matthew McConaughey, was pre-taped. I didn’t have to do much. I danced for 5 seconds after her opening monologue, then I sat backstage for a while.

Wynonna Judd came out and sang her song. Her handlers thought I was funny. She walked by as she was leaving and one of her guys told her to “Say goodbye to the dancing guy.”

“Bye dancing guy!”
“Bye Wynonna Judd!”

…did that really happen? Yes. Yes, I think it was an actual experience.

Ellen brought me out at the end to dance with her on stage. That was the first time I’d actually been in the same room with her. We got right into it and she did her best to mimic my…whatever-you-call-it. I’d say her dance was more like a jubilant prospector who “dun struck gold,” which is a close cousin to what I’m doing.

We danced for maybe a minute through what I imagine would be the credits until the taping stopped. Afterwards we were both exhausted. She thanked me for coming and said “That was really hard work! It’s like swimming!”

That was the sum total of our direct interaction…which is not meant as any kind of disparagement. I got every indication that she’s a sincere, genuine, kind lady — not to mention smart and funny.

I guess it’s just that whenever I do one of these things, I can’t help but feel like a dancing monkey. It’s no big deal. That’s the thing I do, it’s what I’m known for, and it makes people happy. I accept it. But the media experiences make me have to examine my motivations. Is it really a pure, silly, uninhibited expression of joy? Am I actually getting the message out that we don’t need to be afraid of the outside world or insulate ourselves from the perceived dangers; that there’s so much to gain from interrupting our everyday lives to hop on a plane and become part of this amazing, beautiful, blue ball? Or am I just trying to get on TV?

I wish I could not care about that stuff, but I have trouble staying grounded. It’s so exciting. I get caught up in it and then I feel dirty after.

Anyway, I did have a great time and everyone on the show was really decent to me. The town car drove me back to where I’m working this week and I’m finishing this post in my makeshift office at 11 at night. I think I’m the only one here…I think I still have make-up on.

It’s not unreasonable to suppose there’ll be a lot of site traffic here on Monday, once the show airs. It’s not every day my URL is mentioned on network television.

…Hi everybody! Thanks for coming. Make yourselves at home. The dancing video shouldn’t be too hard to find and there’s lots of old travel stories to read if you’re interested. That’s about all I’ve got to offer. Feel free to write. I reply to as much as I can. Oh, and you can leave your shoes on, but be careful not to let the cat out.