Friday, March 7, 2008

The (Actual) Montel Williams Show

After our rousing pre-show warmup, where Montel proved himself completely and utterly batshit insane (see Thursday's post), we moved on to the real show, with a subject fascinating to us all: germs. Also, the important of disinfectants.

The show's coming on in six...five...four...

Montel turned to us, big grin on his face, arms out, palms pointed upward, and adopted the tone of a kindergarten teacher.

"Big smiles! Sit up straight!"

Every single time we came back from commercial, he did this. Every time.

Out came a microbiologist from the University of Arizona School of Public Health. Her introduction was a good example of the two sides of Montel's stage personality: Funny Class Clown, and Guru On Pretty Much Anything. First, the Clown:

"Please welcome Dr. Kelly Reynolds to the show! Dr. Kelly, when you were in school, you actually said, 'Hey, I like learning about germs. I want to study germs for the rest of my life.'"

She laughs. "That's right."

"That's crazy!"

Soon, she was giving tips on how to keep a kitchen clean. Montel quickly switched to Guru mode and interrupted: "When I'm cooking chicken at home, I clean my sink first. Then I just prepare the chicken in the sink, and so when I'm done, I clean it again, but I don't have to clean up my whole kitchen!"

"That's a good idea!" Kelly said. She was chipper and clearly pretty much game for anything. "Remember, clean your sink with bleach."

At Montel's prompting, she soon talked about the biggest germ hotspots in the average household. When she got to the bathroom, she used the phrase "fecal bacteria".

Montel reverted to Clown, turned to the audience, pulled a Jim Varney/Ernest scrunched up face, and squealed:
"Fecal bacteria? Eeeeeeeewwwww!"

As evidenced by the Q&A prologue, the man seems to get a real kick out of telling his viewers what to do. If the makeup of the audience at the show with me is at all representative, his viewers are overwhelmingly composed of middle-aged women. Before the show, Reynolds had swabbed the handbags of fifteen or so women, and she revealed the shocking diagnoses during the show. Diagnosis: dirty.

"You know you do it, ladies," Montel quickly chided. "You've got a big ol' bag, you're out to eat at a restaurant, and there's not enough room on the table, so you put it on the floor. Or you're in the bathroom and instead of hanging it up on a hook, you put it on the ground. Where all the fecal bacteria is."

Montel is in touch with the day-to-day doings of the Everywoman.

"Your bags are even under your seats right now! Picking up all kinds of germs!" He smiled. For the first and last time I was in his studio, I felt he was kidding. When we got there, we all were instructed to put our belongings below our seats.

Then, as it did several times during the show, often interrupting people mid-sentence, even Montel, the prize bell went off. That means:
  1. Someone in the audience is given a prize
  2. Montel's eyes are going to get really, really big.
  3. His grin is going to get really, really big.
A woman got some cleaning wipes.

Montel brought out a second doctor, Dr. Manny Alvarez. He's not a microbiologist. He's a television doctor with apparently real medical qualifications. He was not interesting.

We moved to a taped segment where Dr. Reynolds went to a family's house and tested it for germs. Their house has a bathroom. Their girls played with Barbie dolls in the bathtub.

We cut to commercial.

I happened to be sitting in the front row, and the parents of this family, Melody and Ron, came and sat next to me. They're from Tempe, Arizona. The show flew them, and not their daughters, to New York for a few days, booked them a hotel, and gave them a small stipend. This arrangement, they said, was an absolutely ideal vacation. How did they get picked to be on the show? They're well involved in Girl Scouts, and their local chapter got an email looking for someone who's obsessively clean. They forwarded it to Melody, who considers herself a bit of a clean freak, and it was a perfect match.

When the segment finished, Reynolds read the results of the tests to the audience, dramatic NBC game show style.

"Your bathroom has...four hundred thousand fecal bacteria!" (Cue Montel's Ewww face.)

"Your girls' Barbies have...twenty thousand fecal bacteria!"

Melody was aghast.

As a prize for this taking this disturbing news publicly and like champs, Reynolds and Montel gifted the couple with brand new Barbies for their daughters. They held them awkwardly on their laps.

We cut to commercial.

Montel pointed at the Barbies. "I'm going to have to ask you to put those on the floor for the rest of the taping."

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