"Come On Down"
January 4, 2013 11:15 AM   Subscribe

The story of a guy who went to LA with one goal in mind, get somebody from his party into Contestants Row on The Price is Right.
posted by COD (31 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
(she passed on the car)

Heh, I always wondered about that. I grew up, in Brooklyn, watching The Price is Right and the whole time I couldn't help but that that BRAND. NEW. CAR. is sort of an enormous imposition. Driving around for a half-hour at 11 P.M. in a residential neighborhood trying to park that fucker? Parking meters? Alternate-side? Never mind vandalism (my mom had her window broken and tires slashed repeatedly.) It's like winning a baby, or something. I wish he'd made it clear whether the dishwasher was in exchange for the car, or if she just turned down the car and received nothing or what.
posted by griphus at 11:22 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Would have read better if "she pissed on the car".
posted by stormpooper at 11:28 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Plus when you win something like a car you owe about about 1/3 of the sticker price in taxes. Better to take the cash value.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:29 AM on January 4, 2013

Would that be the "acrylic box full of $2,444 in cash"?
posted by griphus at 11:32 AM on January 4, 2013

Somehow, I feel like we'll never hear the words "Nate Silver... come onnn downnn!"
posted by cacofonie at 11:34 AM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I kind of like the juxtaposition of the #ComeOnDown hashtag in the corner trying to make the show seem youthful and hip, while Fred Thompson is in every single commercial break selling reverse mortgages to seniors.
posted by Gary at 11:37 AM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I really enjoyed this story. I also have a beard.
posted by josher71 at 11:42 AM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've always thought it would suck to get called up last. You get one shot at it and then you are sent home with your 1 year supply of Turtle Wax.
posted by COD at 11:50 AM on January 4, 2013

I used to work just up Fairfax from the TPIR studio, and one time things fell into place such that the whole company had a non-federal-holiday weekday off... some coworkers and I decided to go to a taping. We were excited beyond all proportion because we were all children of the 70s and 80s, and as Ben Robinson says, "When you're home from school, faking a fever so you can watch daytime game shows, Plinko and the Showcase Showdown seem to emanate from some impossibly distant universe," especially if you grew up on the other side of the country as I did.

This was in the Bob Barker days, and as fate would have it the day of our taping happened to be the first time the man ever called in sick, so it was not to be. My friend Josh would totally have made it onto contestants' row, too. He'd put a lot of thought into it, and his strategy was very similar to the one outlined by Mr. Robinson in this piece.
posted by usonian at 11:51 AM on January 4, 2013

It should tell you something that my only takeaway from this article is, "Wait, Bob Barker retired? When did that shit happen?"
posted by Kitteh at 12:08 PM on January 4, 2013

My only stage experience was as a Nazi guard in my fourth-grade class's production of The Sound of Music. (I had one line: "They're gone," and my mother told me I was very convincing, which is an odd thing for a parent to say about a child playing a Nazi.)
posted by asperity at 12:14 PM on January 4, 2013 [10 favorites]

I'm surprised to read that the studio looks newer than it does on screen. I work in a dusty, blue-lit warehouse. The Price is Right plays on the TVs in the cafeteria. I must have imagined the studio as an extension of the place.

Like I said, it's pretty dusty.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:15 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm happy for him and wish him good health but I liked Drew Carey better when he was fat.

There, I said it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:15 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

How about when he was hot?
posted by griphus at 12:23 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Woah. I'm kind of surprised that that picture hasn't turned up on a mind-blowing Cracked article.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:27 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I never understand why people get so excited at the prospect of playing Plinko. Sure, they say you can win up to $50,000 (or whatever) but you'd have to hit the top-dollar amount on each chip, which is next-to-impossible. Contestants usually walk away with something like $1400 and a couple bottles of floor-waxing products.

It is fun to say, however. Plink-oh. Plink-oh. Plink-ohhhhh.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:27 PM on January 4, 2013

That photo, and his stint in the Marines, is covered in his memoir, Dirty Jokes and Beer. The memoir also contains a chapter entirely of "my dick is so big jokes" and some really dark short stories.
posted by griphus at 12:28 PM on January 4, 2013

(My personal favorite: My dick is so big that right now it's in the other room, fixing us drinks.)
posted by griphus at 12:29 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure, this guy used his innate traits to get on a game show, but he could have also used these qualities to be a MeFite, and which is the greater honor, eh?
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:14 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ok Californian Mefites, you know what you have to do: Get on The Prices Right.

I won't be participating from Minnesota, but I will try to get Garisson Keillor to say "overthinking a plate of beans".
posted by nathan_teske at 1:15 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Price is Right meetup?
posted by Arbac at 1:25 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

We can all have matching shirts that say we're from the internet!
posted by Arbac at 1:25 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

In the 10th grade, I had a physical ailment that kept me home for 2 months from school. Of course I was sent home work and had to make it up, but all work stopped for me everyday when TPIR was on. I loved that show. Then of course I had to stop again from 1:00 - 2:00 for All My Children, but that is a whole other story.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:26 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

What I really don't understand is how, when I was unemployed all summer, I didn't watch The Price is Right once.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2013

I had a pretty memorable TPIR experience but let me just say Drew Carey is awesome that is all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2013

Cool, but Aaron Paul managed to get on the show and reduced both himself and Bob Barker to absolute speechlessness on the final showcase.
posted by maudlin at 1:39 PM on January 4, 2013 [12 favorites]

I've seen that picture of Drew Carey before. And it still confuses me to no end. Like EVERY SINGLE TIME.

A few years back, I was part of a somewhat-out-of-college, not-quite-feeling-like-adults foursome who decided to have a capital-S, capital-B Spring Break (one of us was a teacher) and fly to Las Vegas and drive to Los Angeles. visiting friends and getting up to responsible shenanigans along the way. As it was my first trip anywhere near CBS Television City, 7800 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036, I did have the side-hope of being on The Price is Right.

We hadn't pre-ordered tickets but had been told by my friend working in TV that he might be able to swing us some using whatever underground network/swapmeet that writer's assistants on Crossing Jordan/former NBC pages used to get their visiting yokel friends and family tickets. We were from Chicago despite our shared small town roots, so we were trying to pretend to be all unimpressed with the whole deal, but when our friend asked if there was anything we particularly wanted to see when I was there, I let it be know more-forcefully-than-expected that the The Price is Right would be cool. Learning this at the last minute, my mom made me a t-shirt with a picture of me as a baby in a swing in front of the TV watching the show and overnighted it to me before my trip.

You see, even as a newborn, my love for the show was legendary. It was her hour where she was guaranteed to be able to get some work done around the house/shower. I like to pretend I was six months old and planning on how to get out of Contestant's Row already but I'm pretty sure I just like the loud noises and shiny lights. Though I've always been a fan of loud noises and shiny lights, as I got older, my adoration continued. Over certain theoretically-luxuriously-long-and-inviting-but-in-actuality-quite-boring summers, I also did much of the whole 'tracking of prices and prizes through spreadsheets (hand-written at first); I got to the point where I was always guessing product placed prices, prizes, and eventually whole Showcases more accurately than the contestants.

(Believe it or not, I actually did this with friends. Or at least a friend. Still, the fact that I just happened to grow up across the street from someone else who would study The Price is Right trends AND like Doctor Who is one of those weird things that makes me believe a higher power was looking out for this particular freak.)

Anyway, adult-me and my group did get tickets upon arrival in California, so though only one of us wearing a t-shirt, we headed off. Early. Even though our tickets said the doors opened at 11 AM (maybe even later) for the late afternoon taping, I insisted on dragging the foursome in our group there before 7 AM because the tickets also said NO GUARANTEED ADMISSION. My memory isn't entirely sure. (6 AM comes early when you've been in Las Vegas and West Hollywood four or five nights in a row.) but everyone might have been slightly pissy.

However, since this was the only thing I had even come close to suggesting the group do for the whole week (other than playing more blackjack or leaving me alone to play blackjack), they were lovingly accommodating. But, as was alluded to in the article, during the Bob Barker days, even arriving that early was not enough. The security guard waived us through to park with a weird look, and before we even parked, we saw the line, and realized that weird look meant "Yokels, you are NOT coming on down." My partner at the time talked to some poor P.A. with his best 'Mike will NOT be disappointed' pleasant-but-not-entirely-giving attitude, and the P.A. who, though sympathetic had probably heard this time and time again, explained that those who got in had been there since around five in the morning. And though I laughed it off and pretended to be all "That's crazy -- if it meant being here this early, I wouldn't even want to go.", everyone was kind enough to both pretend to accept the tough exterior I tried to project but also be really, really nice to me the rest of the day.

So that's why I couldn't even read this article when I first saw it on Deadspin earlier. But, having done so, I have now realized that my "Price is Right thing"...because everyone should have a "Price is Right thing"... is going to be that it was Bob Barker TPIR or nothing for me. Better to be turned away by Bob Barker than accepted by Drew Carey's lesser product. I'm happy for Ben Robinson. Or at least Ben Robinson's girlfriend. But without Bob Barker...The Price is Right ...pshaw.

(Please also accept this tough exterior.)

I still don't know what I'm going to do with that t-shirt. It's the ultimate in 'can't give it away/feel bad throwing it away' clutter that has moved with me to three different locations and still sits in a dresser drawer. Even if I hadn't given up on The Price is Right, I'm pretty sure it references Bob in some way, so it'd be useless for the original intended use. Maybe I can wear it with some Hammer Pants and it can be my "Disappointed 90s Gameshow Contestant" costume for the new Let's Make a Deal.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:42 PM on January 4, 2013 [16 favorites]

Cool, but Aaron Paul managed to get on the show and reduced both himself and Bob Barker to absolute speechlessness on the final showcase.

Some additional thoughts now that I finally watched this:

1) Thoughts from the beginning: "Surprisingly, that gives Aaron Paul's best known role a run for its money in the 'Meth-iest Performance' category."
2) Thoughts from the end: "Jesus Christ that's the most heartbreaking Price is Right story ever. And that includes my sob story above."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:00 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wish I had read that article before I went to a TPIR taping this past summer, it would have been nice to have advice ahead of time. We had dinner the night before our taping at a restaurant next door at The Grove. My brother asked the waiter about parking for TPIR for the next morning and the waiter mentioned there was another waiter who had been on TPIR a few times and he would have this other waiter stop by our table and give us some tips. We were psyched! The TPIR waiter stopped over and was so nice telling us all his "secrets". He filled us in on the 5-second "interview" with the producers, it just how it was described in the article. He said to be enthusiastic, but not TOO enthusiastic; stand out. But then, unfortunately for us, one piece of advice was to make and wear "catchy slogan TPIR pick me" shirts. We were on vacation in LA and had no access to anything to make shirts in 12 hours. That bummed us out because if we had known, we are pretty creative people and could have come up with something cool. Anyway, the waiter said not to wear white or light colors that the cameras don't like that, so they might not pick you, so we didn't. We thanked the waiters for the tips and tipped well.

Things went pretty much as described in the article. It was a very long day. We had tickets for a noon taping, but they suggested we get there early and we were the first in line for the PM taping. So we waited in that line - on the sidewalk outside of CBS studios - for 3-4 hours. We watched as the AM group was let in, but they had overbooked the AM show. They gave the people who didn't get in the AM show vouchers to come back and they would be first for the PM show. Suddenly things didn't look good for us, there were a lot of people who were getting the vouchers. All we could do was wait and hope that we 'd make it. Finally they started admitting for the PM taping and and we were very lucky because they wound up only taking the first 15 people in the PM line of 250+ people. I felt bad for the people who didn't get in, especially for the people who had been waiting there for hours and were told to go home. That would suck, I don't understand why they can't have a better guaranteed system. I'm guaranteed a seat when I get theater tickets, why not tv taping tickets? Anyway, the main point is that we'd gotten in! We all breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Once you're in the door, it's like that South Park episode where they had "The Line Ride". It was a combination of sitting/standing in line for 4 hours. So far we're still outside in a covered area waiting, but was super organized and the CBS people were really nice. I will verify that the name tag lady will hear no arguments to not use your 'government' on your name tag. (I have since laminated mine and put magnetic tape on it so it's on the fridge.) There was a snack bar and you could have a photo taken against a green screen and then select a TPIR themed photo to be inserted into. (I chose the one of me spinning the Showcase Showdown wheel.) Security was very tight and you HAD to surrender your cell phone.

Finally at 4:00, we were seated. It DOES look much smaller in person. The producers and staff were introduced and we were briefed on how to act while pages walked around with plastic cups and asked people to spit out their gum. The music began, the lights started going and it was time to "come on down!" The energy in the audience was really high, everyone was clapping and screaming and they encouraged us to yell out answers. I'm not a big TPIR fan, but I did get swept up in the energy and excitement of things and I was cheering and screaming too. OMG! Maybe they'll call me!

In the article, the author's girlfriend was picked to come on down, so he probably didn't notice what happens if you're NOT picked. I'll spare you the suspense - no one in my party was picked - so I can tell you what happened. So, back to this energy and cheering; it goes the whole show, shouting out prices and yelling "higher!!!" or "lower!!!" until it comes time to announce the last person for the day on Contestants' Row. At that moment when that last name is announced and the other 285 people who weren't called on down have just realized they won't be called to come on down - the energy level just plummeted. It was weird. So during the "commercial break" before the Showcase Showdown, the announcer said they would still call another name after the taping and that person would get "called on down" and a prize.

We knew the odds were against us being called and were thrilled to have just even made it in the door, so we kept on enjoying the rest of the show. For the record, for the show we saw being taped, ALL of the people called to Contestants' Row wore those "catchy slogan TPIR pick me" shirts!! We had a nice "feel good" ending though; the woman who won the Showcase Showdown had lost her job and had been out of work and she was so happy she couldn't stop crying. Everyone just kept cheering for her, it was pretty cool.

If you are a fan, you should go, it's fun. If you're not a fan, there are a whole lot better things to do in LA for 9 hours.
posted by NoraCharles at 10:25 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I once saw a woman on The Price is Right wearing a crazy homemade sweatshirt that said "The Price is Right is My Church, & Bob Barker is My God."
posted by broken wheelchair at 1:58 AM on January 5, 2013

I too have fond memories of being home sick from school and despite being genuinely ill also being psyched to get to watch TPIR. Great article.
posted by Leezie at 6:54 AM on January 5, 2013

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