Confessions of a ‘Family Feud’ warm up man… Part V

Russell, with the 'Family Feud' audience

Russell, with the ‘Family Feud’ audience

So, Russell Fletcher (Family Feud studio audience host and warm up man par excellence) is talking us through a typical recording day on the Feud. So far, the contestants have auditioned, gained a place on the show, and made their way in to the studio, all pumped and primed and ready to play the game on national television, for the chance to win big bucks… and maybe even a car! And you can read about all the preceding steps that brought them to this point in my previous posts here, herehere and here.

So now the families have arrived at the studio, and they’re excitedly awaiting their 15 minutes of fame, some more graciously than others…

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SH: The families that are waiting to go on; do they watch the show in the audience, or is there a Green Room?

RF: Yes, there is a Green Room. 

SH: Do they mingle?

RF: Some of them do and some do not. Some of them are real prima donnas and some of them actually turn into real a***holes, which is really interesting. And that’s why we’re pretty fastidious about saying on the audition day “We are looking for people we want to work with”. And some families have been hilarious, sending us emails about their rider; you know, “we need 14 different types of cola, we need three dwarves massaging our feet…”  They are really, really funny. We do get lots of emails thanking us for the experience they’ve had. Because our team is totally professional but also incredibly relaxed and all about saying “:Guys, be playful, have fun, don’t over-think it”. It’s a game, and we are just trying to give everyone a really good experience. Some families are like Eyes-On-The-Prize Only and you go “Dude, it’s not worth it – you might win ten, you might win twenty”. I think our highest money winner has been thirty something, thirty thousand dollars…

SH: And that’s over three nights?

RF: Yeah, so it’s ten grand up for grabs every night. No one’s won more than $34,000. We have given away about, over the journey – and it’s been nearly 2 years now – 7 or 8 cars? Maybe more. I am not sure of the actual number. But it would be good to see a graphic of how many families we’ve auditioned, how many have got through that process and then how many families we have had on the show. I think they are trying to work that out, but keeping those statistics is quite complicated. You can shoot a bunch of episodes in the afternoon and then by the evening record session not know who you had on that afternoon because we meet so many people and some of them are quite unremarkable. And then there are some families who are quite remarkable – like they’re playful, they’re funny, they’re articulate but they are not false. They are just real and they have a good story. I always like meeting the salt-of-the-earth people. They are awesome. That is truly one of the delightful things about it. It’s ten thousand dollars which is a lot of money but it is not heaps of money – Stephen Hall, former game show winner – and how excited people get about getting through the show and then winning ten grand is actually really delightful because they get so excited! And it’s fun and they are grateful and they are thankful. It does actually confirm your belief in human nature. 

SH: That’s nice. 

RF: It is nice. 

SH: What time would a studio day recording finish?

RF: We try and record from 2:30 till about five. But we never get three episodes done in that time. It usually goes up until 5:30 and then we have a meal break and then we have another audience for two episodes in the evening. We hope to finish by 8:30 but generally go closer to 9:00. 

SH:  And the families that are in those final two episodes presumably have been there since 10 that morning?

RF: That is right. So it is a long day and they have to manage their energy. The producers are really good at coaching them and we kind of reinforce that as well a lot. Show business is about managing your energy and your expectations and then just turning up when your time comes. 

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Russell’s point about “managing your energy” here is worth repeating. As has been pointed out in previous interviews by various guests, studio record days are long. Really long. And there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting. Then, all of a sudden, you’re ON, and instantly expected to be performing at peak capacity. It’s a good idea to learn a few little relaxation techniques – even if it’s just sitting quietly somewhere and doing some deep breathing – and to make sure you bring some snacks. Such as muesli bars, or pieces of fruit, so that your blood sugar isn’t going up and down. Bringing a few snacks with you is a small thing, but if you’ve thought of it and your opponent hasn’t, then you will have a very, very slight edge before you’ve even gone on set.

And as we all know, every little bit helps….

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