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THE MICHIGAN DAILY
October 7, 1956
October 7, 1956
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
- - - vOctoh r 7 r i9r
The Allen Phenomenon
Where A Punch Line Can Be Equal to the Life Line
With a series of masterful strokes, our researcher
is able to solve the interior decorating problems of hi
of students who have been in deep despair
By LARRY EINHORN
Daily Television Writer
IT WAS 9 p.m. on a Wednesday
night in August when I walked
down 46th Street and came to the
Hudson Theatre, an old burlesque
house which is now one of the
many NBC-TV studios in New
York. There were about fifty
people waiting in line in front
of the theatre already. Above'
them was a sign which read "To-
night starring Steve Allen."
Through the kind courtesy of
Mort Hochstein of the NBC press
department and Mary Carr of the
Steve Allen officel had been given
entre' to the rehearsal and so I
walked into the almost empty
The first impression of the
theatre was quite different from
what I had expected. The left side
aisle was the same as
theatre, a normal row
seats. The left middle
only four seats wide.
filled with the rest of
\ \ \
and the other half of the seats
had been converted into part of
Thus most of the studio audi-
ence sit in the balcony for there
are actually very few seats on the
main floor. When you see a shot
at home of what you think is a
portion of the main floor studio
audience you are actually seeing
all the people seated on the main
THE stage is actually "L" shaped,
the base of the L being the
regular stage area and the con-
verted seat section forming the
stem of the L.
This specially constructed stage
explains why Allen can have a
basketball game right in the studio
and why singers can turn around
after completing a song and ap-
pear to walk down a street that is
a block long, a shot frequently
used on the Allen show.
The glass-enclosed control room
was at the rear of the part of the
stage which had replaced the seats.
The customary lights, cameras and
other television equipment stood
idle on the stage.
Allen's desk, what they call
"home-base" for the program, was
located at the extreme left of the
regular stage with the back to the
side wall. Thus, when Allen is
sitting at his desk he is facing the
right side wall, and not the studio
A MUSICAL trio, appearing as
guests on the show, was prac-
ticing a number in the middle of
the stage. The cameramen and
other technicians were now filing
in one by one.
By 9:30 the members of Skitch
Henderson's band had assembled
and by 9:35 Henderson had arrived
on the scene. Andy Williams Pat
Kirby and Allen's writers and staff
were also present by this time.
A general feeling of joviality
prevails among the crew, especially
before Allen arrives.
Allen enters from the backstage
area at about 9:40 accompanied by
his son Brian. Immediately the
attention of everyone in the stage
area focuses on "the boss." Four
men, presumably his aides, rush
to Allen and await orders.
Allen sits down at his desk and
thumbs through a magazine whilel
Brian begins to play with one of
the many toys piled on Allen's
A few minutes later Allen pose's
for some still publicity photo-
graphs for one of his sponsor's
ALLEN rules the rehearsal with
an iron hand. Part of this can
be accredited to his knowledge of
the technical aspects of television,
an attribute very few performers
This asset sometimes proves to
be annoying for his technical crew.
Instead of listening for directions
Allen many times told the director
what cameras he should use, how
the lights should be arranged, how
the props should be placed and in
a few instances even corrected the
Allen rehearses very little of the
show himself. Most of the rehear-
sal is devoted to the guests or. the
musical numbers. Allen only re-
hearses commercials and his plan-
ned comedy routines.
On this particular night Allen's
comedy routine was a satire on
the amazing Dunniger. It involved
the assistance of Skitch, Andy and
Pat, who would be seated in the
audience and have their mind#
read by Allen.
are there almost every night. These
"regulars" are the first ones in
line and therefore get the best
seats every night. Mrs. Sterling is
the ringleader of this group.
Allen makes his second entrance
at 11 o'clock. He speaks the usual
words of welcome and then intro-
duces the members of the cast.
ALMOST immediately questions
are thrown at him from mem-
bers of the studio audience. "Who's
going to be on the Sunday night
program this week?" "How's Ed
Sullivan feeling?" to which Allen
answered "I guess he's alright from
what I've read in the papers."
"Where's Jayne?", referring to
Mrs. Allen. "How can I get tickets
to the Sunday night show?" In
reply to this question Allen sent
one of his aides to the person who
asked the question with two tickets
for the Sunday night show.
This particular night was the
night the Republican convention
ran overtime so "Tonight" couldn't
start at the usual 11:20 p.m.
This gave Allen a few more min-
utes to exchange repartee with the
At 11:40 Allen went backstage
again and President Eisenhower's
orange crates, which
available in some of the better
markets. This allows you to build
on the principle of growing up-
ward and economize greatly on
space. Of course, if you don't read,
this is a small problem.
2. Since you are using the clos-
ets to live in, use paper bags and
hooks on the wall for storing your
clothing. Paper bags have been
found to be very utilitarian for
this, and do not scratch the wall
when you pile them up.
3. For dining, keep on hand a
cafd table which can be folded
and put inconspicuously aside
when not needed. Bring it out only
for guests; you desk is good
enough for dining alone.
4. Although a studio couch is
ordinarily excellent as a bed at
night and a luxurious sofa during
the - day, it probably will not fit
into your apartment. Your best bet
is a cot, which can be decorated
adequately for seating purposes.
MOST of these approaches are
relatively inexpensive, unless
you pay for the card table and cot.
If you are not able to obtain a!
card table from a friend or rela-
tive (who, by the way, comprise
the most important way of saving
money on furnishings), you will
probably have to purchase one.
The cot, however, you can con-
struct yourself with wood from a
Provisions from a lumber deal-
er, or better yet, from a sawmill
at wholesale, are even more im-
portant in a larger apartment,
where there is a greater vacuum
.One student we know desgined
and built his own studio couch
with two-by-fours. Altogether, he
used 300 feet of the 400 feet of
two-by-fours he bought to con-
struct the couch, a work bench, a
typewriting table, shelves, tables,
chairs and assorted tidbits. The
other 100 feet, he planned to "keep
around in case I need it."
His apartment is a pertinent
showcase for the do-it-yourself in-
terior decorator. He also built a
desk and record shelves, and a
stand for a television set, which,
are still ,
THE entire dialogue was written convention address went on the
on the teleprompter as are all monitors for the benefit of the
of the commercials. There was audience.
even a teleprompter facing thep
seats so Skitch, Andy and Pat THE program had to start at
seat soSkich, ndyandPat midnight because the kinescope
would, not have to memorize their recordings of the full network hour
lines. Allen reads most of the lines (12 to 1) had to be made for the
of the sequence during the re- cities which receive the program
hearsal but inserts "ring ding a week late. Most of the studio
ding" for the words of the punch- audience was unaware of this fact.
lines. This is so the cameramen, At 11:55 Allen asks all those in
pages and other crew present at favor of continuing to watch Pres-
the rehearsal will not know theident Eisenower appl Si
planned jokes beforehand and lence. He then asks all those in
they, too, might laugh at the jokes favor of starting the show to ap-
when they are told on the air. aparinewshdeafening.
During the entire rehearsal Brian plaud. The noise was deafening.
was running up and down stairs, These people are not un-partri-
playing hide and seek with the otic nor were they all good Demo-
writers and telling jokes. crats. They're just loyal Steve Al-
At 10:45 Allen goes backstage len fans. t
and the ushers leave the crowd, Up to this time it had never ap-
most of whom have been waiting peared that the show was ready
for at least an hour, into the to begin. Even a W.lf-minute be-
theatre, fore midnight people were still
It was interesting to notice the walking around on the stage, mu-
looks of astonishment on the faces sicians were tuning their instru-
of many of the people who had the ments and there was a complete
same impression of the first floor feeling of relaxation.
of the theatre as I had. Then the resounding drum roll,
Of course for a handful of the the announcer saying "The Na-
guests this was just another night tional Broadcasting Company pre-
at the "Tonight" show. They walk sents" and everyone is in place as
in like they own the place for they the show begins.
FOR THE SOPHISTICATED
... without rising from your chair
FOR THE 4
a world of
heg u d g i n g l y admitted, he>
F YOU have enough room in
your apartment to manipulate
a hammer, saw and paint brush,
here are some hints on building
1. Bookcases of boards and
bricks have become quite common,
but you can add zest to yours by
choosing the right color combina-
tion. Crude bricks are just that,
See REFURBISHING, Page 15
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STEVE ALLEN AND AUDIENCE
.. 11:55 p.m., the noise was deafening
1 107 S. University - Across from Ann Arbor Bank
Store Hours: 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.