On the scene at the Emmys: Five things you didn't know about the live show

Ah, The Emmys!  TV’s prom night — but with fewer virgins than your average high school dance.

The annual salute to the television industry’s best and brightest took place last night, as you may have heard (or seen flooded across your Twitter timeline). And while you saw the show as it was intended — on your television — seeing it play out from inside the Nokia Theater is an entirely different experience. Not to say it’s better or worse, simply different. A little eye-opening. A little magic-killing. And with much fewer snacks than you probably had at home.

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about what goes on during the show when you’re not watching: 

1. Unless you’re a Kenyan sprinter, you won’t make a trip to the bathroom without getting locked out of the theater. Once the show is thrown to commercial break, the aisles are usually flooded with bathroom-goers or people who really need a cocktail from the bar. With only a few minutes of commercials, it’s rare — if not unheard of — to see anyone return to their seat before the doors to the theater close after break. If you get caught outside, you have to stay there until the next break and finely dressed seat-fillers take your place (if you’re sitting in the orchestra).  Sometimes — we’re looking at you, Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen — celebs will skip a few portions of the show after their categories and hang out in the lobby instead. Rebels.

2. No-shows are awkward. Yes, there’s always a little groan at home when a winner is not around to get their trophy, but in an audience of 6,000, much of the energy is a result of spotting the nominees in the crowd while their category is being announced. The moment is not quite as fleeting as it is at home. So when there are several no-shows — like there were last night in the Best Actress in a Miniseries category — it sucks the energy out of the room. I previously never gave absentees a second thought — that is, until I got dressed up, crammed into a small aisle, and sat food-less for several hours. I did it; why couldn’t the nominees? This sounds bitter. Maybe I’m being bitter. And maybe all the no-shows had good reasons. My point is, it may not seem like a big deal for someone to skip out on one of what feels like a million awards shows, but in the room, it definitely feels like a big deal.

3. No standing O is a guarantee — even for Elton John. That’s right, the legend didn’t earn a standing ovation last night after his tribute to Liberace. Tough crowd! The audience did, however, have a huge soft spot for the late James Gandolfini. His tribute got the crowd to their feet, but it was the many wet eyes in the theater that spoke the loudest about the actor’s far-reaching impact.

4. People in the audience are very supportive of the host. Unlike at home, where people often look for reasons to say the host failed, the live crowd tends to have unrelenting good wishes for the night’s master of ceremony — at least this was the case for Neil Patrick Harris last night. (On the Internet, reviews were mixed.) But it’s hard not to cheer for a man with Harris’ seemingly endless stamina. [Insert Barney Stinson-style sex joke here.] In fact, after one of his crazy dance performances — the one that featured cameos from Nathan Fillion and Sarah Silverman — dancers in the routine panted as they walked offstage. NPH? He skipped offstage, unfazed. A true showman.

5. The cocktail line, the bathroom, and the valet stand are the night’s best equalizers. Mindy Kaling waited in line for a pre-show cocktail with everyone else, Alyson Hannigan had to make the long trek from the Governors Ball to the valet line and wait with the big crowd as car numbers were called out, and every woman in the bathroom — famous or not — lamented about the difficulties of getting business done with long dresses. Stars, they really are just like us. Unless they’re carrying an Emmy. Then they’re better than us.


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