Morningside Heights may be home to Barnard, but Chelsea is home to one of Barnard's most famous alumnae: Martha Stewart, BC '63. Her audience begins to line up at the ungodly hour of 8:30 a.m. most weekdays to see The Martha Stewart Show live at her Chelsea studio—and, somehow, cold and out of place, I ended up among them. Not feeling any real commonality with the other fans surrounding me, I realized my decision to check out the show probably derived more from a curiosity about its namesake's controversial comeback than anything else. A security check, a coat check, and a sanity check later, I found myself in a large room packed to capacity with more smart sweater sets than I had ever seen in my life. Mounted on the wall were several LCD TVs playing home video footage of Martha's dogs scampering about her property. There also hung a series of blown-up publicity shots—Martha pouring batter with a smile, Martha sifting flour with a smile, and so on. The nagging feeling of being hopelessly out of my element returned. We were greeted by Joey the warm-up guy, who enumerated the segments of the day's show and instructed us in a repertoire of signals. When he made a sweeping motion we were to fade our applause, when he rubbed his gut we were to "mmmm," and when he mimed seeing a puppy we were to "ooh" or "aah." Like a strange catechism, Joey also asked questions to hype up the audience: "Who loves oatmeal?" to which the sea of sweater-clad duplicata would respond automaton-like, "We love oatmeal!" To the incongruous mix of gangster rap spun by the inhouse DJ, we filed onto the dollhouse-like set so taping could commence. The segments seemed to pass quickly—I watched, bemused, as special guest Sigourney Weaver struggled to spatchcock a free-range chicken and as a woman in electric teal sweats tried to get Martha to do core-training exercises with a medicine ball. Before I knew it, it was time to go. Each audience member was sent away with a choice yoga jacket, an Obama hat, an assortment of Quaker products, and a copy of Martha Stewart Living. To be fed and clothed for the cost of a free ticket is hardly a deal any starving college student can pass up. As strange as a Martha taping may be, and aside from the great swag and the prospect of seeing celebrities, the thrill of being on live television is something that everyone ought to experience at least once.
Columbia Spectator Staff