What it’s like to get booed on The Steve Harvey Show.
Like most modern tales of woe, mine starts in the message request folder on Facebook.
In the winter of 2016, a producer from the Steve Harvey Show—who got my contact info through Chicago’s wide-reaching improv community—messaged me about doing the “Ask Steve” portion.
I‘d never seen an episode but had a pressing life dream to be in the audience of a daytime TV program. I wrote back that I’d be happy to be on the show, as long as I could bring my husband along for the joyride. Then I sat back, closed my eyes and wondered if Steve would throw out Koosh balls on break like Rosie used to.
What a dumb dumb dummy I was. There would be no Koosh balls. The only thing Steve was going to throw at the audience was unfiltered crazy.
On the morning of my big daytime debut, my husband Alan and I took a very expensive cab to the NBC tower. I gripped my notecard with the question I was supposed to ask my new friend Steve. It would start as a cute little story from my childhood where my Mom permed my bowl cut to give it a more “feminine” look. The next day I got beat up on the bus ride to school, and to this day my mom claims it was all a wild coincidence.
My question was if Steve thought the hairdo(n’t) was the reason I got beat up. It was going to be light and funny. The producers did a rewrite to give it a melodramatic feel for the show’s “bullying” theme. I promptly changed it back to my original question like the working unprofessional I am.
We went through security and were shown to an empty concrete hallway with a few chairs. Not exactly the star treatment I had imagined for myself. Then I was taken to hair and makeup. I won’t even lie?—?this was a #treat. Unfortunately this process only lasted all of 20 minutes. After that, Alan and I spent four hours in that hallway without any snacks or water. As a resourceful woman, I filled some of this time with bathroom selfies, which I later posted on Facebook.
We spent the rest of the time whispering about whether or not we should just get up and leave. The correct answer was yes; we chose no.
Right as I came to terms with dying in that hallway, the producers came around and told myself and the three other participants to run our Ask Steve questions. They casually dropped that they would only have time to use half of us today, but not to worry! Those not chosen would be asked back to do this all over again. We were ushered into the studio with the rest of the audience.
They immediately separated me and Alan, but promised I would see him again soon. It was all very “Titanic”-y. I was seated in between a group of gal-pals that had been to show tapings before. They had prepared by bringing snacks and bottles of water—none of which were offered to me, even though I kept saying things like “Yummm” while they were eating.
…this was also the point I realized I was put on this earth for a reason: to take zero bullshit from Steve Harvey.
While waiting for the host with the most to come out, we were blessed with two full length episodes of the “Steve Harvey Show.” This was when I realized just how big of a mistake I had made. Every time Steve interacted with a woman who raised her voice or said anything mildly out of the ordinary, he treated her like she’d just escaped from an 1880s psych-ward. I have no patience for that kind of bullshit. Showing any emotion beyond joyful doesn’t mean a woman is nuts. But that was the exact type of rhetoric this whole show seemed to be built on.
Alan later told me this was the point when he realized just how horribly this whole thing was going to go. Coincidentally, this was also the point I realized I was put on this earth for a reason: to take zero bullshit from Steve Harvey. That’s when Steve Harvey walked out and waved to the crowd. The taping had begun.
This feels like a good time to tell you my 2016 resolution was to work on my short fuse. In return, 2016 decided to be a bag of flaming dog shit on the world’s front porch and this resolution has been long forgotten. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, the taping of this show was very very minimal, but I was mad as hell. Then they handed me a microphone.
My voice came out angry and squeaky. Or as they say in politics?—?shrill. I could hear it, but there was nothing I could do to stop it. Steve immediately backed up and stared at me like I was crazy. In his defense: I AM CRAZY. In his not defense: I WAS HUNGRY AND DISAGREE WITH HOW HE SPEAKS TO WOMEN.
I got to the part about the bowl cut and an enthusiastic audience member yelled it was a mullet. I turned around and screamed that mullets and bowl cuts are two completely different things.
Then I started laughing?—?something that continued for the rest of the segment. It wasn’t a “this is too much fun!” laugh, but an “I’ve lost my mind! I hate this place. HELP!” laugh. It’s the same laugh I get by the end (first 20 minutes) of every party I attend.
I finally finished my question, but it had gone so poorly that S.Harvs could only vomit sassy remarks like, “I don’t know what the hell is going on.”
And then I delivered the single most important retort in the history of my feminist career.
“What’s the matter, Steve? It seems like you don’t like strong, tall, and loud women.”
The audience gave a small cheer and a big “ohhhhhhhhh.”
Steve told me there was a blessing in every ‘mess,’ if looked hard enough for it. To prove his point, he said:
“Men used to hit you, but now they hit on you.”
I chewed on this for a second, then spit it back and said “bullshit” into the microphone. This is where I lost the crowd. They turned toward me and started to boo.
I was being booed on the “Steve Harvey Show.”
Maybe rightfully so. Maybe they just hadn’t been given snacks either. Either way, it was a mess. I asked the producer twice if I could just sit down?—?he motioned to stay standing. Then Steve said, “Look at her! She’s still standing!” and the audience laughed and laughed and laughed. Finally I was told to sit down and, probably for the best, they took my mic away.
Steve broke into an improvised song about my bowl cut and letting the past go. The improvisor in me had to admit?—?it was pretty well done. The everything else in me burst into flames. The editors managed to oddly cobble together a two minute video of this eight minute-long mess.
After he quit singing, the woman behind me gave me a back massage and promised it didn’t go that bad. She was lying, but I will love her forever for it.
They were done taping. I had finally made it. JUST KIDDING. Steve Harvs came back out to give us a 20 minute lecture about praying for money. He very astutely explained the reason people aren’t receiving their packages from God is because after they pray, they don’t stay on Faith Street. He then began to cry and had to leave the studio.
I looked around for someone to laugh with or say a snarky comment to, but everyone was bawling. They were on their feet and bawling over what Steve had said about poor people just not praying right.
The studio doors opened and I sprinted out. Alan caught up and could only say, “I think that went worse than you understand.” I promised him I was very aware of how crazy I looked/was and that I cared zero percent.
Then I bought us a delicious pizza and ordered 100 waters. On Faith Street.