i ain’t no one’s kathie lee

I took a little vacation yesterday.  I did it because I couldn’t stay awake all day long.  I just kept falling asleep and having the strangest dreams.  For some reason in the dream the Donnie and Marie Behind the Music that I had been watching got melded with the Lenny Bruce documentary that I had watched the night before and I was really upset that Donnie had resorted to racist humor to get ratings.

It was that kind of weird day.

The wake was really nice.  Both Eric and I were nervous about it.  We thought that people weren’t going to show up, or everyone would be uncomfortable– but instead we had more than we ever imagined show up.  They all wrote their goodbyes to Lillith and we had a toast with Irish whiskey.  Eric’s toast was wonderful.  I was too nervous to say anything about her.  I just said, “It means a lot to me that you are all here.  You’re my best friends in the world.”  Eric actually talked about Lillith, and called her an amazing animal.  “TO LILLITH!”

So, we really had two toasts for her, and no one thought we were being dumb.  In fact, people were passing around all of the e-mails from you guys with this look of awe on their faces.  It was nice to have all of you there as well.

It’s getting better.  There’s this little ache in my heart for her late at night.   The bed is lonely without her.  It’s strange, though– every once in a while it looks like Taylor gets possessed by her.  He’ll start doing something that only she did– like follow me from room to room or make biscuits on my arm or sit next to my lap– and he’ll have this look on his face like, “DON’T…WANT…TO.. .MUST..RUB…AGAINST…YOUR…ARM!”

Then he’ll sort of break away and start licking his chest or something.  I think Lillith is playing around with him.  It does feel like she’s still there.

Okay, enough kitty talk for today.

What I really want to talk about is a show I finally saw Sunday night.  You must understand that I’ve been in rehearsals every night, so although I had heard the hype about this show, I didn’t know what the big deal was about.  But now I’ve seen it and I’m hooked.  Why didn’t anyone tell me about “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

This show is brilliant!  What a clever use of psychology and mental torture!

For those of you who do not get American Prime Time Television, let me share with you this game show:

You’ve got fifteen questions that if you answer correctly you win one million dollars.  Seems easy.  Here’s where they start messing with your mind:

First you have to get there.  You do that by answering questions at home on your phone.  The more right answers in the quickest time gives you a better shot of getting on the show.  If you make it past that then you have a semifinalist round where you play against others on the phone.  If you’re faster than your opponents, you just might make it on the show.  If you’re in the top ten (eleven and twelve are ruled as alternates) you’re flown to New York to get a chance to play.

(Oh, the heinous life of the alternate…)

Okay, so say you’ve made it this far.  Then you get on television.  You have to do a dorky wave when they call your name.  You’ve got to get the right answer faster than the other nine people.  If you do that– then– and only then– you get to try for a million dollars.

If that’s not enough pressure already.

The fifteen questions start out easy and get harder.  You have three “life lines.”  These are ways to get help on certain questions.  One is a “50/50”, which means they take away two of your answer choices and you’re left with the right answer and a wrong answer.  One is an audience vote, where you can see what the audience thinks the answer is.  The last one is a phone call to a friend of your choice, who has thirty seconds to hear the question and the possible answers and tell you what he/she thinks is the answer.

There are certain points where you are guaranteed the amount won.

Sunday night I saw a guy lose on the first question.  He had even done the “50/50” and he lost.  He felt like a Big Loser.

But you have to look at the pressure!  If you’ve already made it that far you’ve certainly beaten some odds.  Then you’ve got to sit in this chair in the center of this room and they have this loud music and bright lights that make a big production out of each question.  Then once you answer you get asked “Is that your final answer?”  (we used to do this when we played Trivial Pursuit to ice out our friends.  It worked for a while.  Then we had to do it because people would say, “Wait!  We didn’t all agree to that answer!”  I can’t believe ABC heard about our little trick…)

Oh, and the biggest pressure cooker of all– you have to sit with Regis Philbin.  Even worse than that, you’ve got to talk to him and endure his little jokes at your expense.  Then he tries to fake you out with this “Oh, that’s too bad you chose ‘A'” look when you’ve got the right answer so that you’ll change it at the last minute.

They don’t want you to win a million dollars.  They’ve employed the world’s top psychology experts to make sure you don’t.  The lights, the sound, the “easy choices”, the host– all are designed to make you be under so much pressure that you can’t remember your own last name.

You cannot blame the people who get wrong answers on this thing.  They are about to wet themselves from the pressure.  For the rest of their lives they will be teased for whatever answer they get wrong.  They are just hoping they didn’t do all of this work just to win $500.  They know they won’t get a million.  There’s no way.  They just don’t want to look like assholes in front of America.

I haven’t been this excited about a game show since Press Your Luck.  (“no whammies, no whammies, STOP!”) Now there was a game show that I would have been great at.  I was only nine or something but I still knew all of the answers.  Oh, I take that back– I loved Remote Control.  I was a bad ass at Remote Control.

But I don’t want to be on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”.  I’m glad, too, because if I wanted to be on the show I’d be pissed off right now that the only people I saw as contestants on this thing were men.  So, I’m not pissed.  I’m just glad that I’m not in the running.

But I want you to be on the show.  I want you to be on the show so that when you get asked “What is Johnny Depp’s middle name?” you will say, “I’d like to phone a friend” and then you call me up and I go, “I guess you need my help, huh?” and then I tell you the answer and you win a large amount of cash and you’re so grateful that you even offer to give me half of the amount that I helped you win.

That’s how I plan to make my living.  I’ll be a professional phone a friend.  Who wants to hire me?

Leave a Reply