What It’s Like to Go to the Emmys

Culture


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Getty ImagesKevork Djansezian/NBC

When you watch the Emmys on TV, you see plenty of good stuff (red-carpet Fashion, marriage proposals, etc.), but when you’re in the audience in real time, an entire different dimension opens up to you. From the late-night guy that people really, really love to the kinda rude thing that people do, here’s the interesting stuff you don’t get to see from your couch.

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1. There is an entire bleacher section of people screaming at the red carpet.

Forty pairs of tickets are given out via sweepstakes and the lucky winners have a nice look at everyone coming in. You might’ve seen the bleachers in coverage before—I definitely have—but the audio is always tuned into the celeb interviews happening, not the 80 people hollering (so loud!) at the arrivals like they’re at an outdoor show at a theme park.

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Be there or get locked out.

Leah Melby Clinton

2. There are countdown clocks.

As the start time rolls around, massive screens with ticking down clocks and the voice of a suave announcer man are used to try and keep guests in check. “Ladies and gentlemen, there are five minutes until we’re live, which means if you are not inside you will get locked out and everyone inside will laugh at you.”

~ one minute goes by ~

“Don’t make me use my announcer voice on you.”

3. It’s very bright in the auditorium.

I had expected it to be like any other play or performance, where the lights are dim and all the focus is on the stage. I think because audience shots are such an important part of the show, that does not happen here. You could see everything.

4. The full scope of the set design is impressive.

Cameras spend most of their time zoomed in on winners and presenters, so a lot of the choreographed movements of the giant panels and lights are never broadcast.

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That’s me, second from right, in the very bright auditorium

Sterling Vineyards

5. People cheer when the nominees are read out.

Watching from home, every new category is introduced with snippets of the nominees in action while the presenter reads their names. When you’re sitting in the audience, though, different groups scream and cheer as people from shows they’ve worked on come on the screen. They’re loud during acceptance speeches too—when Amy Sherman-Palladino thanked her AD and union workers, sections of the cavernous auditorium were shrieking.

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7. The snacks are not fancy—but the drinks are.

Concession stands sell candy, paper tubs of popcorn, and soft pretzels. Drinks-wise, you could order a pretty big plastic cup of beer or a really nice glass of wine. Napa institution Sterling Vineyards is an official sponsor of the awards, and part of the gig is getting to serve some top-notch wines.

8. Winners are talking to a massive swath of people.

I’d never understood the enormity of it when watching on TV, but in person you can see why people standing at the mic could be nervous. Since the house lights are up, they must be able to see how huge the space is.

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Rachel Brosnahan, that little red dot, looking at a TON of people while giving her acceptance speech.

Leah Melby Clinton

9. There’s some not-for-TV stuff too.

After the in-honorarium section, the panels went to black and there was a moment of silence. Later, the screens broadcast a funny video of stars singing or saying happy birthday to Emmy (it was the show’s 70th anniversary).

10. People really love John Oliver.

When he won for “Outstanding Variety Talk Series,” he got the most screams of anyone, in any category, and the section in the back where his staff was sitting started up some short of chant I couldn’t decipher.

11. Hollywood doesn’t wait when it’s tired and/or hungry.

The second that Game of Thrones won “Outstanding Drama Series,” a huge amount of people were up and walking toward the exits (exactly like when people start to leave a game or concert when the end is near). Even as the cast was saying thank you, the auditorium was already emptying.

12. After the telecast, everyone moves en masse to the Governor’s Ball.

Famous names and not all walk slowly in a pack to the official afterparty (I was nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with Ron Howard and Keri Russell and Mandy Moore was directly in front of me). Once inside, it’s basically the fanciest, biggest wedding you’ve ever been to. Winners bring their statuettes to a special, roped-off area to have pre-printed plaques added on. After, they get a second fancy, personalized thing: Sterling Vineyards has a super luxe bottle of Iridium cabernet sauvignon boxed and customized for each and a glass of it ready to go.

13. It’s still an industry event at its core.

At home, you see the pre-show and the big-name stars with their big-time dresses, but when you’re actually there you’re reminded of how many people it takes to make all these shows come to life. Those people are celebrating just as hard, mingling with industry acquaintances, and having a super nice hang with their work friends. Walking out, I overheard a pair who had been involved in an award-winner. “You probably wrote words in that episode”; “I definitely did!”



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