I was recently thinking about the strange time in the early 2000s right after I'd been laid off from Excite@Home. I was living in L.A. I had no children. My only responsibility was picking up two giant dogs from an actress' house in Topanga. What else should I do with my time...Why, I should be on a game show, of course!
And so I found a tiny ad on Craigslist searching for contestants for a new game show hosted by John McEnroe called 'The Chair.'
I went to the all-day audition where I filled out personality tests, tried to act cute and personable for an on-screen test (one of the casters said that they all thought I was 'instantly likeable,' ha!), and then had to sign up to come back for a stress test, physical, and urine test once I'd been told that I'd made it past round one.
At this point in my life I enjoyed, well, smoking something that wasn't exactly copacetic for this show. You see, 'The Chair' was a game show whose premise was that you had to answer trivia questions while keeping your heart rate below a predetermined number. They wouldn't want you to be on the show in an altered state that would cause your heart rate to go any slower.
So I spent $25 at the local head shop for a nasty-tasting drink that I chugged down on the way to the physical. I had to ride a bike with a bunch of electrodes attached to me for nearly 30 minutes. After I peed in the cup, the nurse remarked, 'Wow, that is some very healthy looking pee!' Um, yeah...
Success! I passed the test and was scheduled for the first taping. I'd already spent two full days at the studio and was told the third would be the longest. They weren't kidding.
I arrived at the studio at around 9 am with several changes of clothing, makeup, and a book. (that I wasn't allowed to read) I, along with the other contestants, spent much of the day sitting on our duffs in blue velour recliners while they measured our resting heart rates. We did this for 3 hours while covered by a blanket. We were not allowed to close our eyes or make any visible movements. My tactic was to do kegels in a futile attempt to make my heart rate a tiny bit faster and give me some sort of advantage. No such luck, however; my resting heart rate was 68, quite low. They 'gave you' 25% on top of that, and you were not to go above that magical number or you wouldn't be able to answer a question, and eventually your time would be up.
After a really bad hoagie, some time getting makeup caked on, signing a contract with the studio that said that I wouldn't sue them if I DIED, and more peeing in a cup, (which, yes, required another $25 purchase from the head shop), they came into the room to tell us who the lucky first-person-ever-in-the-chair was going to be. You guessed it: yours truly.
It was total chaos. Seriously, this crew had no idea what the hell they were doing. Everyone kept shuffling me around here and there, talking in hurried voices, and generally making me way more nervous than I already was. And then the lights came on, a cameraman stood right.in.front.of.me, and they told me to start walking down this corridor through all of these crazy pyrotechnics. I then had to buckle myself into 'the chair' and was hoisted up through the floor into a round room where the audience surrounded me, gladiator-style, and John McEnroe appeared as though he were the devil, in front of me. In truth, he was actually a pretty cool guy and the only real bright spot in this whole experience.
Let's just say it didn't end up well. My heart rate was out of control and I wasn't able to even answer the first simple question: What is the name of Harry Potter's Owl? During this time, the other half had been whisked away into a private viewing room to watch my pathetic performance while being taped cheering me on. If you know the other half, you know that acting is not his strong suit, nor is doing anything that might deem him a bit cheesy. So after maybe 60 seconds in the chair, I was whisked back down to the depths of hell with a collective 'Awwww' from the audience, and a 'So sorry' from Mac. In the viewing room, the other half was asked to reenact his cheering for me. "But she already lost!" was his reply. He had to do it again anyway...
I had to then wait in a holding room for four more hours with no tv, the same hoagie I'd eaten hours earlier, and the other half. I was NOT happy, nor was he. This game show had ended up costing me money. And to add insult to injury? They cut me from the show along with all but three of the other contestants I suffered with. And even better than that? They deemed the show 'too hard' and gave future contestants more than 25% over their resting heartbeats. Bastards.
So here is the intro to the first show. I'm shown in three different points. (2:09, 2:27, 2:57) Get your laughs...I'd be doing the same if I were you!