I'd forgotten about the beach balls.
Sitting in the front row at a taping of "LIVE With Kelly and Michael" on a recent, rainy spring day in New York City, I was unprepared for the barrage of balls unleashed by audience members sitting in the balcony above us.
Their enthusiasm fueled in part by the excitement of being at a live, on-air broadcast, they were pelting us. From the hosts' desk, Kelly Ripa and guest host Mark Feuerstein of "Royal Pains" were helping shoot confetti into the air.
It was only days later, after I got a chance to view a DVR of the episode, that I noticed in the moments before the confetti shower, Kelly had casually placed a piece of paper over the lip of her coffee cup. So, this must happen a lot.
Thus was the signal for spring fling trivia giveway, a game made even more enticing because the audience has a vested interest. If the home viewer answers correctly, he or she chooses a seat number in the studio and on this day, a young woman won $1,000 worth of Fandango tickets.
Live theater in New York isn't limited to what's on a stage. One has to admire the work and timing behind a program that demands such a high level of charm and energy that early in the morning.
"LIVE," of course, is the latest incarnation of ABC's nationally syndicated morning melange that started with Regis Philbin. Kelly Ripa joined the show in 2001 and last year, after a lengthy period of tryouts with dozens of co-hosts ("I felt like Queen for a Day, every day, for eight months"), was joined by Michael Strahan.
It's a testament to the woman's versatility and sense of humor -- not to mention engery -- that she can appear so unfailingly cheerful. Even in relating her daughter's recent trip to the hospital for a broken arm, she joked about the circumstances (who breaks their arm warming up to play frisbee?).
They were still sweeping up confetti and beach balls during the first commercial break. Six feet, 8 inches-tall Brad Garrett, on to promote his new ABC series, "How to Live With Your Parents For The Rest of Your Life," was the first guest.
Standing standing next to Feuerstein and noting it was like "the evolution of the Jew," he dwarfed the others with bear hugs.
During the breaks, the hosts came out and mingled with the crowd. The show's publicist brought Kelly over to say hello, as well as executive producer Michael Gelman. (This later prompted the woman sitting behind me to ask if I were "someone important." Ha ha, no madame, I am merely a journalist).
My colleague, Sharon Eberson, got a laugh out of that.
Singer Nick Lachey later came on to sing a lullaby he'd written in honor of his son. Against a backdrop of baby home movies, as well as a backdrop of cooing from the women in the audience, the show was winding down.
There are many times when the so-called magic of television goes poof when you peek behind the curtain. But in the case with "LIVE," they do a pretty good job of translating the excitement of being in the studio to veiwers at home.
And you don't even have to duck the beach balls.