What Will Happen When You Go On a Daytime Talk Show*

I somehow understand this now.

*Per a bunch of legal blahblahs, the name of the show is being withheld until said show airs.

You will have your own dressing room. There will be 27 bottles of water in the fridge. Sunchips, granola bars and Flaming Hot Cheetos will be piled up on an end table. The lamp on that table will not light up. At first, this room will feel warm and inviting. A wrangler will put you in the room and tell you someone will be with you “soon.” Half an hour later when no one has come for you, this room will feel more like a cozy little jail cell. You will hear doors opening and closing in the hallway and you will worry that at some point on the show your first love or long lost relative will show up, or that you’re being set up for an Intervention. You will freak out about this and will take no comfort in the knowledge that you do not have a substance abuse problem.

There will be a knock on your door and wardrobe will come in and bring you clothes that are fancier than what you normally buy at Forever 21. They’ll use fancy jargon like “pencil skirt,” “color blocking” and “stop crying, everyone has to wear Spanx.

Next, the makeup department will break your heart by making you look more beautiful than you ever have. In fact, you pretty much look like a different person…a person who you have begun to envy for her grace, poise and ability to understand eye shadow. You wonder if there’s a place you can go out to that night to take advantage of the fact that you look like a dream. You imagine meeting a wonderful and handsome stranger. You will have a lovely bottle of wine with this stranger and then you will tell him that you can never see him again because you are an angel or a ghost or are scheduled to be executed at dawn—anything to keep him from trying to contact you and finding out that in real life you look like a hobo.

I'm sorry, I'm only on earth a short while.

You will wonder if the term hobo is offensive.

You will think you will be able to replicate this look when you get home. You will not. You will start thinking of ways to steal the Spanx, because, gosh darnit, you really do look a lot better with them on.

If you step out of your room cell without a handler, someone will admonish you to return to your room. This will not ease the feeling that someone is going to haul you off to rehab for an as yet undiagnosed addiction.

Wardrobe will ask you if you have any jewelry, then will bring you a bracelet, earrings and a necklace that all match and you will marvel at their ability to make you look like a girl. You will then realize how highly constructed the beauty standard is wonder if it’s bad that you feel so fucking pretty right now.

You will listen to show tunes to simultaneously calm yourself down and “ramp up your energy!!!” as the show runners have asked you to do. You will wonder if the big smiles they’ve been giving you are fake or if they actually like you. Their continued enthusiasm will not abate the still-gnawing concern that someone’s going to a produce a heroin pipe with your fingerprints inexplicably on it.

Don't worry, Officer, it's just cocain-- I mean baking soda. BAKING SODA!!

You suddenly remember that your mother said she was taking a totally random trip to “North Carolina” this week. You wonder if she’s going to show up on set and tell you that she’s really your father.

You will really wish that the room was bigger or that there was one other living thing inside of it.

Someone will come in and say that they’re turning on the TV in the room so that you can see a live feed of the show you’re about to be on. The TV will at first be set to the wrong channel so Jerry Springer will come on and you will shit your Spanx a little bit.

Soon, you will be taken out of your holding cell and for half an hour, you will stand in line in your platform shoes that are sexy as all hell, but half a size too small.

The show will break for commercial and a person who’s presumably the charmingest person in the crew will awkwardly talk to the audience and pump them for anecdotes that will definitely not be used at any time during the rest of the show.

A handler will walk you out on stage where four other guests have been chatting for a while. You will remember that the clips of the show you did see seemed a bit more Springer-esque than you were hoping for, but you feel confident that you will be able to have a great conversation with the Celebrity Host. After all, you spent a week talking to producers, telling them who you are and sharing your POV with them. Surely they couldn’t have been lying to you when they said they loved what you had to say.

The Celebrity Host will announce your presence and then roll footage that you prepared for them. However, they will re-edit the footage so that you appear to be a mean, deluded villain. The audience will boo. You will roll your eyes, but you will remain composed. You will then tell the audience that while your work is mostly satire and sarcasm, there are a few truths you’d like to talk about. You will tell two jokes and the whole room will laugh and you will feel good because you did not allow the villain tag to stick.

Not me.

The Celebrity Host will not like this.

A guy in the audience will support your sentiment and begin to add his own thoughtful commentary.

The Celebrity Host will ignore what the guy is saying and instead ask you if you want to go out with that guy on a date. That night.

You will say no because that person is a stranger and considering all you really know about him is that he agreed to be in the audience of a daytime talk show, it might be best to have him vetted just a bit.

The Celebrity Host will get another man on stage to join him in demanding that you go out with the stranger. That night. You will hold your ground and say no. The two men will get a little louder and encourage the audience to pressure you into letting this stranger spend the evening with you as well. The audience will comply and you will unfairly compare yourself to a victim in the Coliseum or a character in The Hunger Games. And because you have finally found the boundaries that have eluded you your entire life, you will say no a final time.

The Celebrity Host will say you are too hard to please and that this is why you will never be able to put a ring on it.

It is at this point that you realize that they did not want you to come on the show because you were bright and had interesting things to say. You will remain poised, but will mentally check out while the other four people on stage conform to race and gender stereotypes. You will feel sad. But you will applaud at the right times as indicated by the tired looking woman who is standing by Camera B.

While you wonder exactly how much longer you can keep your legs crossed so tightly so that the front row doesn’t see right up your Spanx, you will be super glad that your friend happened to get a gig on set that day. Because you can tell by the way he smiles at you from behind the audience that he knows what you’re thinking. And that he empathizes.

The show will end and the Celebrity Host will not look you in the eye when they shake your hand. They will, however, laugh it up with the women who spent the whole show acting like they had just stepped out of a Tyler Perry movie and were on their way to a Stephnfetchit: The Musical audition. Other members of the crew will ask those ladies to stick around for further interviews. You will be excused.

As you walk by them, those ladies will drop their sassy ghetto accents, and in voices that sound exactly like yours admit that they were just playing. They will not understand the shock in your eyes as you mull over the fact that their little games for a few minutes of media attention ultimately make life harder for all three of you.

You will return to your cell and change out of your show clothes and back into your regular hobo gear. You will be paid for your time and humiliation in cash. It will feel dirty.

You will be half way back to work before you realize how upset you are that two grown ass men made fun of you for no reason and wasted quite a bit of time just to make you look bad because you value actual conversation. You will begin crying and all your pretty mascara will run away down your cheeks. You will be happy to that the first meeting you have to attend upon getting back to your office is in a dark room.

After the meeting your boss will look at you like he wants to ask what’s up. But he’s very polite, so he will not. You will eat a hot dog because you deserve some comfort food and you will hope that no one notices that your eyes are wet for the rest of the day.

You will wonder why someone the nation touts as an expert person who cares about people could be such a shithead. You wonder if the home audience is really incapable of having a conversation about race, class and feminism that doesn’t descend into name-calling, head-popping and people ranting about their baby mamas. You will remember that you thought that bullying ended in high school and you will feel extra depressed that the nation will see you dismissed as a valid human because you had the gall to be a layered human.

You will wonder if maybe because you lost the attention of the Celebrity Host and the viewing audience if you indeed have lost value. Celebrity Host is the expert, after all. You will wonder if maybe you should just be less fucking uptight about the representation of people in the media. If maybe you should just throw boundaries to the wind and agree to maybe get date raped for a television network’s profit margin. You wonder if you do not loosen up, will it mean that you will not make it in this industry and thus the last third of your life a naive waste.

Then your boss will finally come around and ask you what’s wrong. And when you say you’re not ready to talk about it, he will look at you with empathy and say that you did good work that day. Your friend will tell you over facebook chat to just blow it off. And when you explain to him that you are truly hurting over this, he will continue to listen and be nice to you and check in with you to see if you’re okay. Your friend from the set will text you and tell you that you did a good job and that while you didn’t get to say much, your composure spoke volumes. Your therapist will tell you that your anger is justified and that you may have an issue with impulse control, so maybe don’t go drink tonight. Your roommate will let you rant and rave and she will understand why you are so hurt. You will appreciate all of it immensely and you will wish you weren’t so phobic about hugs.

First stop, hug. Next stop, cuddle party.

You will eat two Lemongrass Chicken Stix and find them to be too pungent. You will remove the lingering taste with 6 mini s’mores from Trader Joes. You will have a glass of wine. Yes, just the one. And you will curl up with your cats and do some writing before you go to bed.

You will think about two things that make you feel better. The first thing is that the rest of your afternoon was full of more value and love than 15 minutes in front of a camera will ever bring and so if all you have for the rest of your career are afternoons like this one, that will be just fine. You will want to tell those ladies that but you didn’t get their numbers and you don’t know their names.

You will also feel better knowing that while you did give the sexy sexy platform shoes back to wardrobe, you totally stole their fucking Spanx.

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53 comments

  1. I found this account to be both thought provoking and at the same time, troubling. I know it must have been difficult – but taking the high road makes you a class act.

    At the same time, why didn’t you accept my offer for a date? Getting rejected on national TV was no fun for me.

    (Kidding.)

  2. I was going to make some jokes about this, after reading the first half of your post. I guess I’ll refrain.

    This is what the TV guys do. They figure out how to hit you, and they hit you. That is their job. If they can make you cry on camera it is a good day’s work,

    The thing you have to remember is that they do this to _everyone_, and everyone knows it. Your dignity was compromised while you were under the lights, But it’s done now, and you can stop thinking about it. Make a cup of tea, sleep, repeat. It’s not as big a deal as you think it is, right now. And no one will remember that aspect of it past Tuesday.

  3. I’ll add that anyone with an eye can see how treacherous the line you tread is. You’re walking a funny sort of tightrope. Even the people who wonder if you’ll slip from it are not going to cheer for an oaf who tries to push you.

    The smarter people in the audience will get that. The dimmer people will just not like the bully. So get as many days of rest as you can, and don’t worry. You’ve made it.

  4. You are an elegant, intelligent, passionate, phenomenal woman. Anyone who treats you as less than such deserves a kick in the balls — daytime celebrity or not. This is the exact reason I get a creepy-skin feeling whenever I watch chat shows.
    Massive kudos to you, my friend, for not succumbing in public to the assholes of the industry. And more kudos for stealing the Spanx.

      1. Breebers beat me to all of these sentiments. And I don’t know what that person above is talking about with the tightrope business. You are very firmly grounded in being precisely who you are.

        And you are loved.

        1. Anna: What I meant was that her satire is dangerous satire, about the most radioactive subject there is these days. And, while it’s hard to know where the boundaries are, it pretty clearly has a biographical element. It’s a kind of satire that makes people angry, as good satire always does.

          My tightrope comment was meant as a compliment. It is scary to step beyond the trite things people are allowed to say. But I’m glad there are people willing to do so, even if they wind up mistreated on talk shows.

  5. OMG, OMfG, you are so divinely, sublimely, wonderfully human, please do not let the bastards get you down! Whether or not you are macerated media fodder, you are marvelously, perfectly you. I know that you know that you will soon rise above it all, and continue to enrapture people with your own words, experiences, insights, humor, sarcasim, gutsy honesty and sheer brilliance. You will change the world one inspiring integrity-filled moment at a time, with a message that sticks, with memorable and mind-opening vulnerability and strength, not with fluff-du-jour pablum that is soon forgotten. My heart goes out to you along with a virtual hug, and you know what? You don’t need no stinkin’ Spanx!!

  6. I loved this so much, thanks for sharing. I laughed a hell of a lot at first – and then I felt so sad and angry. Thanks for your honest comments about being all done up also. Most of all – thanks for not conforming to gender and race stereotypes.

    Take care of yourself. And have fun in those spanx.

  7. What a gift this is. There are some shows whose legal blahblahs disallow guests to talk about their experience in any public forum ever, and some of the people who have been on those shows are now suffering in isolation. I hope all of them find this post and take comfort from it. P.S. Sending you the virtual version of your favorite soy-based replacement version of a hug. 🙂

  8. Ouch sweetie…you were totally on the front lines that day. I can’t believe people would act that way. I can feel your pain. At the beginning of the post I was so excited that you’d get to talk about what you do on t.v, and then came the slow descent into deflation. It must’ve been such a shock to you. Keep your head up…you’re not alone in being above the influence. And you more than deserved those damn Spanx!

  9. Very well written. I liked how you made it funny although you spoke of a very serious issue. I have heard similar thing about other talk shows and “realality Shows”. It’s all about dollars and ratings for them at the expense of their guest.

  10. Hey! I just saw one of your youtube videos and thought it was hilarious. You are very funny. I think the video was ‘why you don’t date black men”. Very very funny. We need to talk and write a book together. I am serious. Noahwilliams808@gmail.com

    when you are ready.

  11. I happen to catch the episode when it aired and I carefully listened to what you had to say about finding a black man and/or refusal to date black men. All that I could say to myself after seeing the comment is that this is someone that A. afraid to step out of her comfort zone., B. Have self hating views towards black people, or C. Honestly, you may have a self hating view of yourself. As you sat upon the panel, I sensed a form of discomfort with the environment around you being surrounded by a majority of black people. As I continued to watch the episode, I began to gradually go from angry, to sympathetic, and eventually sadden to the fact that there were a room full of articulate and intelligent black people( like yourself) and in the end, the audience couldn’t realize that the issues that many of them have is that they need to stop comparing their own issues and experiences and imposing them as problem with a vast majority. Me, being a college educated man that doesn’t appear or carry himself as some would say, “the stereotype”, I have encountered and have met black women that were under the impression that I like white women. Not saying that I don’t find all women beautiful, I have never dated outside my race. I do believe there is good and bad in all people, but to give up on one group after 2 strikes is to me cowardly and unrealistic. I could never come t the conclusion that there are no good black women out there for the simple fact that I came from such a great mother that conceived me with her then husband, my father who has always been there for me. I can’t promise that they will enjoy show-tunes but there are a lot of us educated black men that still look to start a family ( there area lot of them even though the media does a good job of showing a lack thereof) that are very nice and that may be able to feed you desired for a stimulating conversation or Share common grounds of attraction.
    It was hard and sad for me to see a beautiful woman feel that she never dated a black guy. But, in my opinion, I honest think that you may at least make an attempt to interact with a positive and productive group of young black people and you may find that your middle class Oreo aspirations are just middle class american aspirations. Also, If there may be a sense of discord over being a black woman that is feels like the black lava rock on the white sandy beach, in mainstream environments #’s don’t lie. You are!!! Beside the slightly offensive satire and sarcasm about black people, I bet that you may be a fun nice person that just wants a black male friend that understands. I believe that we all should look for someone that makes us happy, not their attributes just as long you don’t downgrade others. I guess I’m offering to listen.

    Not sure if you truly love yourself, but I love me and instead of getting angry, Im just gonna say I love you and I hope your heart towards black men changes.

    Stay Blessed

    1. Very well articulated Blake. 🙂 Thanks for this post. I slowly realized that this also applies to me, and it dates back to high school where clique and stereotype lines get heavily drawn. I didn’t fit in with the other black kids and they did well to remind me. And also I realize I didn’t have many positive black African American role models in my life. When black girls (or girls from any other race for that matter) can’t be easily pigeonholed into a single racial identity, they’re seen as outcasts and it’s easy to develop resentment toward the people who’ve rejected her. It’s been a problem for me much of my life, trying to define who I am as a person and also embrace my identity as an African American. This is a good start. Thanks for making your voice heard. It’s good to know there are guys like you in the world. 🙂

    2. This discomfort you saw was fully explained in the post above. I don’t go on dates with strangers and I had two grown men demanding that I go on a date with someone I didn’t know. The problem wasn’t that he was black, the problem was that I didn’t know who the hell he was and that’s simply not how I date. My problem was that the refused to respect my boundaries. I was prepared to have a conversation about race and feminism, and instead, the other panelists threw around stereotypes and said nothing of substance at all.

      1. I’ve never dated a black man either. OK, I’m a white heterosexual guy, so that’s not that surprising. But.even if I dated black guys I would _never_ consider dating someone who couldn’t fucking paragraph.

        1. I guess I have to apologize for the fact that the HTML system that this blog is running on compiles each sentence together. I apologize that my post doesn’t display the indention and spacing to separate the paragraphs. And i’m very sorry that’s the best that you could come up with to bash my post.
          To Lercomari, Thank you for your comment. I do agree that a lot of people that hurt do hold resentment due to past experiences.
          And to O.W., Most people that you may meet who are potential mates are usually “strangers”. It’s called life. But I do agree that they did put you both on the spot and ruin it for him. I feel bad for him because he did want to ask you out.

          1. Re: “Strangers.” – Well…yes and no. And I simply do not go on dates with people I don’t know at all. I’m happy to chat on the phone or over email for a bit, but if a guy basically just walks up to me and says “let’s go out,” the answer will always be no. A person who doesn’t know me has no reason to want to go on a date with me other than, ostensibly, thinking I’m cute. And that’s simply not enough for me. And I don’t want to waste my money and time as well as his money and time sifting through small talk that may indicate that we’re not compatible. I’d rather vet that person (and have him vet me) through some pre-date conversations.

            Plus, there is a HUGE safety issue for women. A strange man is a very potential threat. And I’m not going to get myself alone with some guy if I have no idea what he’s like. In college, I ended up in a guy’s car when he was high on meth because I did take that chance. And while most dudes certainly aren’t addicted to meth, it would have been much better and safer for all involved if I had spent some time figuring out a bit more about that dude first.

            And what makes everyone think that guy wanted to ask me out? All he did was say “I agree with what you’re saying.” I agree with thousands of people’s thoughts, ideas and experiences. Does that mean that I want to go on dates with all of them?

  12. Oh, man, you had to mention those spicy Cheetos. I’m sure the rest of the article will be great, but I’ll have to read it when I get back from the 7-Eleven with a fresh bag.

  13. This was really good, to me it’s funnier & deeper than most of the writing that gets published out there.

    Gak, but I really feel like an idiot for my nonsense about the Cheetos now.

  14. You should send a portfolio of your black satire to FOX news. I’m sure they’d love you there, give you your own show or, at the very least, ask you to co-host with Bill O’Reilly, a potential soul mate just for you.

  15. -First you’re ravishing with or without make up.

    -This was enjoyable to read (that last line was gold), and I want to thank you for sharing.

    -I find that people in general have a trait that makes them stand out and usually it’s that very same trait that gets them into trouble. I haven’t seen the show but judging by your blog and several of your videos that I’ve seen, I can’t say that I’m surprised that you roused the host of the show and its audience. You do have many wonderful, smart things to say but, unfortunately, they’re buried under layers of demeaning, racist expressions – I can only imagine the clips the producers of the show patched together to introduce you. With posts like these and many of your videos, there’s no denying that you have value and that you’re layered, but the rest of your stuff – videos like “30 Seconds With a Black Chick” – begs the question: how much do you value yourself? I think the Oreo Experience could be a brilliant commentary, and as a black person, I think it’s a voice that needs to be heard, one that could start constructive discussions, and one that could reach many but only if presented in a humourous fashion, so you’re definitely the right spokesperson. However, you attract people with your comedic ability but kick them in the face with severe self-hate before they can get close enough to discover you and ponder on the smart things you have to say. I mean, as an entertainer you might appreciate that even television networks are looking to diversify their writing staff in order to appeal to broader audiences. You don’t have to water down your stuff to appeal to shithead celebrity hosts, no. But how do you remain edgy without hurting people (well, maybe it’s just me who is hurt by some of the things you say)? How do you invite people into your world and make them want to stay a while? As a screenwriter, these are questions that I have to answer before I begin to write anything; maybe answers to these questions can help you too.

    Well, you definitely have my attention. I’m going to keep reading and watching. Good luck!

    T.

  16. I got to the last 8 paragraphs and wanted to cry for you. I understand exactly how stereotypes undermine being taken seriously as a person. You are not alone. You are never alone. We are all around you. We are the “Island of Misfit Toys”.

    Sorry for the X-mas reference, but it is December.

  17. Great post. Thanks for sharing. It is sad that the mass media cause so many problems. I think you handled it all with real class. I would like to say more….but then again, no.

  18. I just saw a re-broadcast of the episode and a totally cringed when the host was trying to make you go out with that audience member. It actual pissed me off. I’m a fellow black female Oreo like yourself and it pissed me off b/c it goes back to, “oh he’s black and your black plus he went to college so you must go out with him.” I always hated this assumption that just because I share the same skin color as another person and he is male then I’m obligated to go out with. Especially if he has a job, is college educated, etc. then you *must* go out with him. The guy did not ask you for a date and the host was pushing you together. Even he came to your defense saying the line about just b/c you went both went to college doesn’t mean you want to date.

    Also, the other thing that really pissed me off is that if you date a guy who doesn’t know about a subject (i.e. Shakespeare) that it’s your job to teach him about it. Ummm….no…it’s your job to get a *new* guy who knows about Shakespeare. It’s not my job to teach men about these things. If they don’t know about it and that’s your thing obviously you not compatible and come from different worlds. I feel like their saying that you need to date down and get what you can get from a guy just b/c he is black.

    I don’t think you have anything to be upset about, you were totally funny and the best part of the whole show!!!

  19. I’ve seen your videos before on youtube. I totally understand your sense of humor and I do not find it offensive at all. I date men with different size melanocytes than mine as well. The size of the melanocyte determines how much melanin. The amount of melanin determines the level of pigmentation. The pigmentation is the outward skin color we see. All this is determined by how close our ancestors lived to the equator. Africa is damn there on the equator, hince our darker skin and thicker hair. Racism is all about socialism & capitalism. You had a group of ppl that wanted to feel superior to another group; so, they exploited the only difference they could find: skin color. I work in a hospital. Blood and other vital organs needed for transplants are not stored under nationality. They are stored under blood types: a, b, ab, and o. If a white supremacist needed a kidney he wouldn’t reject receiving a life sustaining organ just b/c it came from a non white person. Trust me. There’s only one race, the human race. And, when we bleed the blood is the same color no matter the nationality. Medically speaking. Keep having fun girl.

  20. Oh, and I saw Lifechangers with Dr. Drew. I can’t believe they set you up like that. For the record, those other 2 girls offended and misrepresented me as a black woman. The show was a total waste of my hour. It made the problem worse. I hope the girl in the orange dress pressed charges against the guy who grabbed her rear. Totally disrespectful!

  21. Especially after attending boarding school for high school, I got the Oreo tag and I’m from Compton. I’m just discovering the Oreo Experience and am enjoying the truth and satire. Do you have a link to the show you were on? I don’t know what show it was, but, sadly, I’m not surprised by your experience. Sadly, much of TV caters to the lowest common denominator as it can get ratings. Intelligent discussion on issues? That’s left for NPR. By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you on Michelle Martin’s Tell Me More. I think you’d be a great addition to her discussions.

    Anyway, by now, I hope the pain of that even has eased. Continue doing what your doing.

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