Who: Lori, alllll by herseeeeelllllf
What:
Talk-show guesting
Where: Bangor, ME
When: July 20-21, October 4, 2017
Why: 100 reasons
Sites Visited:
The Nite Show


For the record, let's just state this now before more time goes on and my ego explodes: 

I am nobody.

At times, I like to tell my friends I'm a big-shot because it annoys them and that brings me joy. But in the reality of realities, my life revolves around sitting at home in torn pajamas watching repeats of Grey's Anatomy.

Except in Maine. In Maine, I am Jennifer Lawrence. 

On Twitter, this June, completely by happenstance, I started following a talk show in Maine called The Nite Show. I had never been to Maine before, I was planning to go over the summer, so I aimlessly looked up accounts that said "Maine" and hit follow. There was no hidden agenda. No plan. Just me pushing buttons without any thought. 

A day later, I got a direct message from the host of The Nite Show, Dan Cashman. Why don't you visit our talk show as part of your TV Travels? he said. That would be great! I said back. I love TV tours! A few more DMs were exchanged, I was all amped about Maine, and then somehow the prospect of me getting a backstage tour, led to me being a scheduled guest on the front of the stage, on a late night television talk show. 

ME.

The same me who couldn't order her own pizza until she was 22 years old because she didn't like talking to strangers on the phone. 

When I started telling people about this, the obvious assumption was that the show was run out of a serial killer's basement to lure unsuspecting victims into a murder den. Because that is a scenario that would make total sense for me. But would Lynn Tanner from ALF go to some murder man's basement? No.  Would Double Dare's Marc Summers 20 years after being on a little talk show called Oprah, waste his stories on some dude with a pickaxe? I don't think so. 

The Nite Show with Danny Cashman filmed in Bangor, Maine is an actual legit talk show. It's got a host who wears a suit and does a monologue. There's a sidekick who may not be Andy Richter or Ed McMahon, but could maybe pass for them if you squint. There's a warm-up guy (hi, Steve!), a band, it airs on actual stations that air actual television programs — and on the 2nd episode of its 8th season, it was going to feature me. 

ME.

The same me who wouldn't leave her apartment last weekend because she wanted to stay home and make shelves for her action figures. 

New episodes of The Nite Show didn't begin filming until the fall, so it'd be awhile before I got recognized on the street as the gal who wouldn't shut up about being on a talk show. But Dan had wanted to film a comedy piece showing me all the film locations in Bangor. So ever the faithful TV servant I am, I drove off to Maine in the middle of July!

Originally, there were a ton of friends who were going to go with me to see the magic of television firsthand. But when that number eventually dwindled down to zero, it became just me and 426 miles of the open road. Never having had driven for more than 2 hours at a time by myself, I didn't know if I'd be able to handle all the solitude. Turns out, driving solo for hours on end is my newfound preferred method of travel. 

For close to 8 hours, windows down, wind blowing, music blasting at a level safe for any grandma, I was woman, hear me roar. And if you had happened to pull up alongside me during any stretch of my time on I-95, you could've heard me roar the entire soundtrack to The Little Mermaid, which I was able to play ad nauseam without any sarcastic comments from my asshole friends.

I arrived in Maine at about 4pm, and checking into a complimentary hotel that I didn't even have to ask for, was enough to make me think I needed to look out for paparazzi. But then I walked into my room and I saw it... 



The phone by the toilet.

Like I was somehow Maculay Culkin lost in New York, I had entered a world of high society that I didn't even realize still existed in 2017. At this hotel, at any point throughout the night, whenever I wanted, I could sit down to pee and pick up a phone to order room service at the exact same time. 

Mind you, I didn't

But the point is, I could


So for those of you wondering, my first time ever staying in a hotel room by myself, turned out great.

The next morning, Dan met me in the hotel lobby, and with a cameraman whose name I can't for the life of me remember, but who was lovely, we were off to check out all the major film sites of Bangor. 

Like It! (which I'd never seen).

And The Langoliers! (which I'd never heard of)

And Pet Sematary! (which I'd only watched the night before in preparation for this journey!)

As time went on, it became all too clear that I would never make it as president of the Stephen King fan club, but hell if this wasn't one of the best dang experiences of my entire life. 

When traveling to film locations, I am always the one who has to chart out the routes, and drive, and generally make people nuts.  For this, I didn't have to do anything. I didn't have to drive. I didn't have to convince friends these detours would only take 10 minutes when the GPS was telling me a half hour. I didn't have to figure out camera angles or where to stand or what to do. There were people there doing that for me. 

I got to see where iconic movies were filmed under the guise of doing it for someone else. I got to hang out in a new city in a state I'd never been. 

And, most importantly, I got to make television. 

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with a remote piece David Letterman did on his show where he walked around the town of East Orange, NJ with Siskel & Ebert knocking on strangers' doors and asking them about the movies. At one point, a woman said she didn't have to time to talk because she was going to a funeral, and the next scene was all of them walking into a funeral home and looking down at a casket. At 15 years old, watching this segment on a ratty VHS tape way more than I should have, this was the epitome of television comedy. 

Cut to 20 years later, and there I was in Maine, in the middle of a cemetery, jumping on top of a talk show host's back, because, hey, maybe it'd be funny. It had always been one of my all-time dreams, but now it was an actual reality. I had become Roger Ebert.

Roger Ebert wrote about that experience with Letterman in an article for the Chicago Sun Times -- about how wandering around NJ gave him new insight into the creation of comedy. And now after having my own wandering experiences, I've gained my own insights. Like, how television is awesome. I always knew that it was -- that's how I got into this mess in the first place -- but there's something about driving around with a one-person camera crew to record a hokey (in the best way possible) comedy bit for no reason other than people might get a kick out of it that really drives the point home. And to be around a host whose passion shows through in every move he makes, just makes you embrace your own passions even more. 

I had never heard of Dan Cashman before our impromptu encounter on Twitter, but this mini TV empire he's been able to create on his own is nothing short of mind-blowing. He wanted to be a talk show host, so he just... became one. He created a show, he put together a crew and 20 years later, The Nite Show is airing all throughout his home state and he's getting recognized on every street corner (at least the ones I happened to be on with him) like he's the Godfather of Maine. He writes his own cue cards, he gets his own sponsors, he creates his own skits, and he books his own guests. Sometimes those guests are little nobodies like me, and sometimes they're NBA all-stars. 

The whole process of filming took about two hours, ending right about the time I discovered Dan had only about 15 miles left in his gas tank -- which empire or no empire, is living way too on the edge for me. I did, however, get the pleasure of watching him fill up at the gas station (Stars - they're just like us!) and then inadvertently forced him into treating me to lunch because not wanting to be the annoying girl carrying around a purse on a film shoot, I left everything in the trunk of my car, and became the annoying girl in a different way. (Dan, do I owe you $12? PLEASE let me know if I owe you $12).  

My prequel to television stardom ended around 2pm, and then back to the Bronx I went, to live out the next three months of my life as someone who couldn't poop and call a concierge at the same time. Commoner life was difficult, I have to say. But then September came 'round and up came the Google alerts.



Holy crap, this girl sounds AWESOME! Someone get me my toilet phone!!


My return back to Maine was scheduled for October 4th, so that morning after 3 and a half hours of sleep, my eyes popped open at 4:30 and said, yep, you're ready for your 23-hour day. 

Armed with a box of Clif bars that would end up being my breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a jam-packed playlist of podcasts and 90s teen beats, I was back on the long interstate of 95, roaring like a mo-fo, and being on the lookout for moose. 

Seriously, where are the moose, Maine? You get me crazy with all the warning signs every 10 feet and then you don't deliver. 

I finally arrived in Bangor at around 3:30, and with two hours to spare before I had to be anywhere, I really should have taken advantage of my time --  power napped, maybe had a proper lunch, gone over some things I may have wanted to say on TV. What I did do? I watched an episode of A Different World and returned calls from work. Then I got dressed in my finest apparel from Target and  spent 10 minutes trying to find the email with the address of where I was supposed to be going. So, totally prepared for my one and only appearance on any late-night talk show anywhere ever? Sure.


I got to the Gracie Theater at Husson University where the show taped, at about 5:15, an hour and a half before I was technically supposed to be there for my own taping. Before I was expected to actually do anything, I wanted to soak in as much of this experience as I possibly could. 

Now, let me say that I'm not sure if the people of Maine are the friendliest and most polite people on earth, or the people of The Nite Show are just well trained. But from the second I got there, I was treated like they thought I was Full House's Lori Loughlin and not this rinky dink website's Lori Mooney who kept the price tag from her boots tucked inside them that night because she wanted a constant reminder that they were only $5. 

I walked into the huge atrium of the theater, not knowing where the heck I was supposed to go and was immediately greeted by Nice Lady #1 who called out my name like she'd known me for years and led me backstage. "You look a little different than the picture I saw but I was pretty sure it was you," she told me as we walked. Having had basically the same look since I was 9-years old I have no idea what photo of me could have possibly circulated that made me look different (Was it Aunt Becky??), but I let it go and carried on. 

Backstage, Nice Lady #1 introduced me to Nice Man #1, who I believe headed the crew, and then Nice Lady #2, Katie showed me to my dressing room (I had a dressing room!) and told me that I could hang out wherever I wanted just as long as I was back in the room by 6:30 to get mic’d (mic’d!).

So I wandered...

   
       
I knew from very early on that The Nite Show with Danny Cashman was no joke. But actually seeing it all up close, it is really no joke. 6+ cameras shooting the stage, TVs everywhere showing the live feed, an entire audio team, people with headsets, a set that wasn’t made out of paper mache. The crew is made up of college students studying film and TV at The New England School of Communications, but they’re not like the college students I’ve been coming across back in the old NYC. These college students have clipboards and camera equipment, and are running around backstage acting like they know what they're doing, because, get this, THEY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING. 


After that, I went around to the front of the theater to sit and watch soundcheck, and learned, because Dan was mic'd and didn't know I was there, that the band would be playing The People's Court theme for me when I walked onto the stage. "It'll be a surprise," he said to an audience member before I could grab his attention and scream, "SHHHHHH! MY REACTIONS ARE GOING TO BE COMPROMISED!" 

"We won't tell him you were here," one of the girls operating a camera said to me, right before Dan talked about having to download photos of Dawson's Creek, presumably not for the shows with the basketball player and 60s folk singer . Thank you, Nice Lady #3. 



I stuck around to watch the beginning of the first show with the very tall, NBA hall-of-famer Dave Cowens, and then snuck out so I could be right on time for my 6:30 mic appointment. I then met up with Nice Guy #2 who had my lapel microphone ready. But because he was Nice Guy #2, didn't seem to be the most comfortable with the idea of having to thread a mic wire under and through my dress. So, because when in Maine, you do as Maine does, I became Nice Lady #4 and did it myself.

All mic'd up and ready to go, I chatted for a few minutes with the warm-up guy, who earned his title as Nice Guy #3 by allowing me to put all blame on him if the audience didn't react well to anything I said. I was then brought to the side of the stage where I finally got a chance to talk to Dan and not tell him that I knew what my entrance song would be and that at some point Dawson's Creek would be discussed. He mentioned that during my segment we'd go through some photos he'd taken off my website, and I said okay, thus concluding my big pre-interview for the evening. He then went out to start the show and I was left standing in the wings waiting for my cue.

In those few minutes immediately before I was going to be thrown out to the masses of Maine, I probably should have been nervous. I've lived and breathed talk shows my entire life. They were sacred. The first and only time I'd ever spoken on television  was coincidentally enough on The People's Court, and that was when I was 17 years old. There was a very good chance I could screw this up entirely. But things moved fast at The Nite Show. There wasn't time for a freak out. Television was happening. You just had to go. 


Dan's monologue lasted about 5 minutes and before I knew it, I was being placed behind two big double doors, and told to walk out and wave to the crowd as soon as they opened. This was it. Any second thoughts anyone in this entire production may have had about allowing this house-stalking, picture-taking, neurosis-filled loser out on their stage, didn't matter anymore. The doors were opening, my legs were moving, and I was sitting down on a stage in front of a camera crew, listening to a talk show host ask me why I started this web site... right before production was halted for technical difficulties.   

Let's just call it a day now and declare the entire cast and crew of The Nite Show the nicest people in all of Maine. We don't need to debate it. It's official. 

In general, technical difficulties, for me are the best part about being in an audience because it brings backstage action onto the stage and I can watch all the chaos. But as a guest on my first ever talk show, technical difficulties were a gift given to me directly from the heavens. Because now I knew the first question. 

On my 8-hour drive to the most northeastern state in the country, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the first question would be for me that night. Sometimes I hem and haw when I'm trying to answer people, and ain't nobody got time for that on TV. You have to be quick. I wanted to be prepared. But then I decided if I tried to guess the first question and I was wrong, it'd be worse. So I didn't. 

But now I didn't have to guess. I knew. They made me go back behind the big double doors, they opened again, the band played the People's Court theme song, I walked, I waved, I shook, I sat... and then I got the question again. Why did I create this site?

I've answered this question maybe 1,000 times in general conversation. It's a very obvious and simple question. There is a very obvious and simple answer. But I don't think I decided to give it that night. Instead, under the very bright lights of a very well-lit stage (hats off again, crew!), I'm pretty sure I decided to ramble. I don't have any recollection of what exactly I said or even if what I said actually answered the question. But I know rambling was involved. Also, I don't think I looked at Dan once while talking to him. Also, I think there was a lot of resting bitch face.   

But in reality, what should I have expected? I can't be holding myself up to Fred Savage best-talk-show-guest-ever status. He's had years to perfect his craft. I've had 45 seconds. And so what, that I base all my interest in certain celebrities by how entertaining they are on talk shows? That's my right as an American. I don't have to be as equally entertaining. I take photos in front of stranger's homes as a side job that pays me nothing. So get off my back, okay, Maine?? Jeeeez.

I feel like I maybe eased up a bit during the picture-showing portion of the segment -- because hey, those pictures were all of me! I knew who that was! I had seen myself in all of those places! Yes, that is the house from Step by Step! Really weird choice considering all the other houses I've been to, but okay then! 


Before I knew it, my first segment was over and the weight of my word-tripping world was lifted right off of me. Next up was quick small talk and the pre-taped piece from the summer. That, I knew I could handle.

We came back from the break, and as part of the photo-taking theme of the evening, Dan, sidekick Joe and I took a selfie in the middle of the stage (fun!) and then we ran off through the audience to go see the other film sites of Maine.



ROLL CLIP!

As I stood in the wings watching that piece, my debut on a real life late night talk show coming to an end, I really tried my hardest to take it all in. Back in the day, I was the kid who sat on her couch every week with the TV Guide and a highlighter, because even watching television was something I couldn't take lightly. And now here I was, a producer on a nationally syndicated television court show, watching myself on a TV screen as a guest on a talk show, because one day on a whim, I followed a dude on Twitter. Sometimes life takes every dream you ever could have had for yourself, and says, nah, try again, you could do better than that.

When the piece ended, Dan and I ran back onto the stage to close out my segment, he gave a plug for this website like it was the next Superman film, and just like that, it was over. My talk show appearance, four months in the making, done. The mic came off. I said my goodbyes. People remained nice. And off I went, back to my regular life in the big city where if I rambled on too much, it didn't matter, because no one was paying attention to me anyway. In regular life, others jump in front of the spotlight. I stand happily behind it. That's the way it's supposed to be. 

But for a brief moment in time, this nobody got to play pretend for awhile. And that was pretty cool. 



Thanks for the mem'ries, Nite Show! (And for the mug). 


Catch me on The Nite Show this Saturday, October 21st! Bangor: 11:30PM on WABI. Portland: 7:30PM on CBS 13, 10:30PM on FOX 23, 12AM on WAGM. Presque Isle: 12AM on FOX8

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