Patsy Porco

Posts Tagged ‘Audience’

Who’s To Say?

In Humor on August 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Back when I was young and idealistic, I tried to do the occasional good. (I wasn’t fanatically idealistic.)

For a few years, I worked in radio and, once a week, I would go to a makeshift studio in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and read the day’s newspaper to the blind listening audience. Some of them knew of me from listening to WCOL-AM, where I cohosted a middle-of-the-night call-in talk show on Saturday nights. I also manned the control board from Sunday through Thursday. In truth, that shift wasn’t an on-air one. I was supposed to air talk-radio programs and live sporting events. After those ended, the station aired syndicated programming.

But, in the middle of the night, my bosses weren’t listening, so sometimes I would play music and chatter on-air. I had a small following of a handful of people who would call off-air and keep me awake through the long night.

I also brought a pillow and an alarm clock, for nights when I chose to actually do my job as prescribed. On those occasions, I would sleep on the floor behind the board while the automated shows and commercials played. My alarm clock would get me up to play the news at the top of the hour. Then, I’d go back to sleep, unless I felt like doing a live music show.

So, to return to my original topic: I would read to the blind once a week. A few dozen people each volunteered one day a week. We worked in pairs, and read the daily newspaper until we finished it. It was a small operation and I’m not really sure how our audience heard us. I think they had special receivers.

When I moved to Manhattan, I signed up to read to the blind, but this time, it was competitive. I was only able to get fill-in shifts because of the demand for shifts by aspiring actors. They were cutthroat about getting on-air time, so I quickly lost interest in the cause.

My sister’s boyfriend accused me of only doing it so that I could say that I did. Was he right? Maybe. It was an interesting thing to bring up when talking to people I knew, or strangers on the bus. They always looked very impressed at how altruistic I was. So, maybe I wasn’t so altruistic, after all.

Now that I’m older and less idealistic, I know that I sometimes do things for a self-serving reason, even if I’m not aware of it. So, if you’re my friend, you should know that I’ve always wanted a full church at my funeral Mass. If my death precedes yours, I would appreciate your attendance. That’s not the only reason I’m your friend, but it’s one of them.

I’m just kidding. Or am I serious? Who’s to say? I surely don’t know.


Headless Guests and C-Sections

In Humor, TV Shows on June 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm

The other day, my son and I were in the very last row of the balcony of The Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, attending a taping of  the Late Show with David Letterman. Generally speaking, every seat in that theater is fairly decent, since it’s not a huge theater. Specifically speaking, our seats couldn’t have been worse. We would have had a better view of the stage from our house in Connecticut.

From our vantage point, we were looking directly down onto the stage where Dave’s desk was. In between us and his desk were enormous monitors and lights hanging from the ceiling. The only way to see Dave was to crook your head to the left and try to catch a glimpse of him between the giant lights and monitors. Forget about seeing the guest who sat next to him.

On this particular day, we were the second audience. Prior to our seating, there was a taping of  the episode that was to air that night. We were there to view the next night’s show. By the second show, our show, Dave was spent. He came out looking energetic and enthusiastic, so we were initially psyched. However, the staff had booked only one celebrity, Bill Murray, along with a musical guest, so even Bill looked bored by the second segment. By that point in the interview, Dave was killing time by reading a list of every major movie that Bill had ever made and was commenting on each one. Bill tried to make clever comments, but he was mostly bemused. We, the audience, who had been repeatedly reminded—while being held hostage for two hours prior to the show in a bar around the corner from the studio—of our obligation to laugh and clap at every opportunity, did our part. But it was hard. Especially if you were sitting in our seats.

While Bill sat in the guest’s chair, next to Dave’s desk, he was only visible to me from the neck down. I could see his head and body on the ceiling monitors, but when I looked down onto the stage, all that I could see were his torso, legs and arms. From my vantage point, he had no head. It was like watching a disemheaded body on the stage. I’m used to disembodied heads, but a disemheaded body kind of freaked me out.

Naturally, it also got me thinking about C-sections. I had a C-section when my son was born, but I wasn’t thinking about mine. I was thinking—while I should have been laughing and clapping—about my sister’s.

When my son was air-lifted from me, my husband was in the operating room. A curtain was hung below my neck and my husband was told not to look over the curtain. He willingly obliged, so all that he saw was my head, and we were able to talk throughout the delivery.

When my sister had a C-section, her husband couldn’t resist looking behind the curtain. I don’t know if he regretted his decision, but I know that he was shocked by the disparity between what was occuring on one side of the curtain and the other. He later said that, on one side, he was talking to an animated puppet head who wouldn’t shut up about the impending birth of their daughter, while on the other side, all he saw was blood and gore. It was hard for him to mentally connect both sides of her body.

Excepting the blood and gore, I could relate, while watching Bill Murray’s body. I kept looking at the monitor to see if his head’s actions were matching his body’s actions. And, to complicate matters, he introduced a hologram of himself in the chair next to him. Of course it wasn’t really there, so everyone, no matter where they were sitting—Dave and Bill included—could only see it on the monitors. That was a relief. Seeing a disemheaded hologram would have sent me straight back to the bar that we were imprisoned in earlier.


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