"And now, Kelly Ripa... and Jason Colthorp!"
I walked out the door onto the stage and the audience was loud. It was like a packed night at Olds Park in my Lugnut days. The first thing I did was point to the crowd. I wasn't pointing at anyone, or really looking at anyone, but being me, I had to do something during my entrance.
At this point the nerves were long gone and I really felt at ease as I helped Kelly into her chair, found mine and sat down. Then we started talking. It's hard to explain, but Kelly seemed so familiar. I could interject while she was talking and not break her train of thought and vice-versa. It felt like we had worked together 100 times. And we had only met moments before!
I met Kelly Ripa about a minute before the show.
There was no rehearsal, no going over bits, no talking about what she was going to say or I was going to say-- 99% of what you saw was unscripted. That's how they want it and I imagine so you get days like that-- some guy arm wrestling Kelly and doing a catwalk around the studio.
Speaking of the arm wrestling, she really has some arms on her! She is strong, although I did give in a bit at the end. Somewhere in the middle I thought to myself, "Is it really a good idea to manhandle Kelly Ripa on national TV?" I thought for a moment she was offended I let her win, but she quickly moved on to something else.
She is so good at keeping the conversation moving and interesting, no matter who is doing the talking. Usually, Regis is in that role so it's even more impressive that she can take the show by the reins and lead it. I noticed some days during the week of the Local to Live contest she did have to lead more. Other days it seemed like more of a partnership at times.
I went in with some simple guidelines for myself.
1. Have fun.
2. Be myself.
3. Don't force the Jason Colthorp show on America.
The last one means, basically, I'm not going to force in all the things I think are funny even if that's not what we're talking about. For example-- I do impressions, and I wasn't going to just go out there and find a way to bust into my Harry Caray and Dick Vitale and Dr. Phil unless the time called for it. I did a quick Regis and Simon Cowell because we were talking about those things and they worked. If Kelly had asked if I did any other impressions, then it would have been Thursday at the Improv! But she didn't and that was fine, because I just wanted to go where the show took me.
Kelly Ripa is exactly the way she seems on air. At least she is from the time I spent with her off-air, which wasn't long. In the first commercial break, she was quick to meet my wife Julie and my VIP guests. One of my high school TV teachers made the trip from Virginia as well as a high school classmate from Manatee High, who lives in New York. I hadn't seen either of them in 17 years. Kelly made them feel right at home. She always talked to the crowd and had a great time with it, telling stories, making jokes, you name it.
In that same break, Gelman told me we were eight minutes heavy. That is a lot, by the way. I apologized if I'd run on at the mouth to put us such a hole, but he said it wasn't a problem because it was a good segment, which made me feel good. But that's why we were pushing things fast through the rest of the show.
Then came Jeremy Piven. I was a little worried he might be the guy who brushed off the unknown and only spoke with Kelly, but he was cool once I jumped in the conversation. In the break, we chit-chatted about a few things with Kelly and then he and I had a fun conversation about stuff he would probably prefer I didn't post on the Internet. But, you'll know what it was about if you caught what he said when he kissed me when the interview was over in the next segment. The kiss was in response to my feigned jealousy that Kelly got a kiss when he first came out. But overall, Piven was hilarious and cool. In the break after his interview ended, he asked Kelly if I was the future. I jumped in and said no, just the seat-warmer.
The toy segment was made for me, which many of you know, and Kelly's no slouch in that area either. Chris Byrne, the toy guy, was as quick as anyone as well, and I thought the whole thing was great. When Kelly shot the Nerf dart, I held down the target hoping she would hit me in the face. Ideally, it would have stuck to my face, but it just glanced off my forehead. In the break, Kelly came over worried she'd hit me in the eye. I was laughing and thanked her for her excellent marksmanship!
Kelly took one more turn to entertain the audience in the break before we signed off. I even took the lead from her and chit-chatted with some folks from Minnesota. At this point I didn't want it to end. Gelman informed us we had four seconds to say goodbye. I couldn't believe the hour was over already. But Kelly had told me in our satellite interview on Tuesday that it would be the fastest hour of my life-- and it was.
After the show, we had some fun with the illegitimate child joke from the end of the show. An emailer thought I looked like Gelman and Kelly's love child, so we took a picture with me kneeling, shoes under my knees, and Gelman and Kelly standing cheek-to-cheek. It got a nice laugh from the crowd.
I was able to get a quick interview with Kelly, but the staff was pretty busy getting ready to tape Friday's show-- the only taped one of the week.
In my dressing room I was on cloud nine. It was one of the best moments of my life knowing I'd just taken my one shot and hit it out of the park. Then it got better. A girl came in looking for me to fill out some paperwork.
Me: What's this for?
Girl: So we can pay you.
Me: Pay me!?!? You're paying me??? I would've paid you to do this!!
Just to satisfy your curiosity, it wasn't anything outrageous, but enough to offset Julie's plane ticket and our dining expenses. I immediately invited everyone out to lunch and informed them that I was buying.