If you tune into today's broadcast of The Chew, you can see me in the audience. I'm easy to spot: I'm the one who isn't cheering, clapping wildly and laughing on cue. Sorry, I just not the type for audience participation.
But I enjoyed seeing the show being taped as part of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I went along with the folks from icFlorida.com to interview the show's cast members after the taping. Those cast members are Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall and Clinton Kelly.
The Chew is a weekday program that airs locally on ABC affiliate WFTV-Channel 9 at 1 p.m. It has been on the air since 2011. You can see some of my interview in the video below from icFlorida.
And now, a confession: The first time I saw an episode of The Chew was last week, when I sat in the audience at Epcot. Here are my thoughts:
The Chew is ostensibly a cooking and food related show, but it's pretty surprising how little cooking is done or food talked about. During our taping, which occurred between downpours and took place under an elaborate temporary stage at the entrance to the World Showcase, there was a very long taped segment regarding two giddily happy Chew fans who were surprised with a trip to Walt Disney World (their escapades were taped; the two young women were not in the audience, which seemed odd). There was also a "$10,000 Pyramid"-style game show featuring three of the hosts and three members of the audience. And lots of commercial breaks.
One of the actual cooking segments featured "Glee" cast member Chris Colfer, who was really there to promote a book and who spent most of the segment pretending to zest an orange while Batali talked about the book and the movie that may or may not be based on it. To one side of the stage was a bank of audience members who gamely ate whatever was being talked about. And the food was rarely talked about.
I had nice chats with the cast members following the show -- they were all gracious and accommodating with their time as they moved from one film crew to the other.
But I was most impressed with R.C. Smith, who served as the audience warmup guy.
No, that's not an accurate description. Warmup suggests that he gets the audience geared up before the taping begins and then goes away once the cameras start rolling.
Smith started about 20 minutes before taping began, then during the taping he cued the audience when to ooh and ahh while the cast was talking or to laugh when we were supposed to think something was riotously funny. But he didn't stop when the cameras were off during the commercial breaks -- the loooong commercial breaks. Smith, a stand-up comedian in his night job, kept the audience entertained and let them know what was going on. He was easily the hardest working person on the show and was indeed, in his own words, "Sweating like a Karsashian on 'Jeopardy.'"
I appreciated his efforts and I can recognize that he's very good at what he does. My non-participation in the faux jollification of the audience should not be seen as a reflection of his ability to work up a crowd.
Are you a fan of The Chew? Tell me what you like about the show.