From time to time over the past several years, I've participated in a variety of focus groups here in Las Vegas. This market research company sends me an email with a qualifying survey, and if I fit the profile they're looking for, they tell me when and where the group will be held. I show up, give my opinion on stuff, and at the end of a couple of hours, they hand me anywhere from $75 to $200, sometimes more. It's quick money and you know me, I value my own opinion so I'm especially happy to get paid to impart it.
So last week I got the query email and answered a bunch of questions about my political affiliations and how often I watch the news. They said this was going to be a televised focus group and I'd get a hundred bucks if I'm selected to be one of the 25 participants.
Well, I must have answered the questions right because they chose me. As soon as I arrived last night in the ballroom in Mandalay Bay (where they were filming) and one of the guys running the thing asked me how I felt about Obama's recent tax blah-blah-blah, I knew I was in over my head.
You know why I never address politics in this blog? Because I don't know what the eff is going on. But the other 24 people in the group are right on top of things. And they're passionate about political stuff. I started to panic a little; they warned us in the acceptance email that we wouldn't get paid if we don't participate in the discussion. What intelligent contribution could I possibly make in a conversation about politics? Years ago I had a line in my comedy that went, "I like Tony Blair, but he was a lot funnier when he was in Monty Python." Let's just say I haven't progressed much since then.
After they sat us in three rows on the stage (thank God they put me in the back), they told us we were going to be televised live at 9:10 EST on some Hannity program on Fox News, and we'd be taping segments for future shows, one of which will air tonight. Wait. Live? On Fox News? I turned to the man sitting next to me and confided, "When I said I watch CNN Headline News five times a week, I should have specified it's because of Joy Behar and Showbiz Tonight."
As it turns out, I did come up with some inane shit to spout off whenever they put the mic in front of me, thus earning the promised hundred dollars. At one point, I lifted a line right from my book: "You can't tell anybody anything; we're all talking just to hear the sound of our own voices." I have a feeling that one won't be aired on national TV.
All in all, it was a fun experience. And in a mere three hours I earned enough money to buy my entire Spring 2011 wardrobe at Ross.