The verdict is in.
At a packed Jethro’s BBQ in the Drake area it was pure jubilation. When the premier began everyone in the restaurant was clapping and cheering. I’ve never seen so many people united for such an event in a restaurant.
(Thanks again to everyone for being there to enjoy the moment. Check out some DSM Register and Drake photos (article). And to the 12 people taking the challenge after the show – all valiant efforts, including one within a few bites of glory. Sadly, the end result is more pictures on the Wall of Shame. Sorry guys, better luck next time.)
The show went well, but there was certainly more to the filming than meets the eye.
For instance – the real Adam Richman.
I’m not insinuating what you see is a fake Richman, but off-camera is slightly different than when you tune into the Travel Channel. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was he going to be funny? Serious? Light-hearted? A plain and simple get-after-it eater? Maybe a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fun-loving guy?
Instead, I saw a TV professional. Not in a bad way, but it certainly wasn’t his first rodeo. He had a very calculated approach to the show. He considered every step in the process. The setup. The end result of camera shots. What to say. When to say it. And even though he threw in his share of improv and witty comments, this was a TV production.
Before the taping began, Richman appeared from his mobile home (like any other TV/movie star) to address the crowd. I’m not actually quoting him, but here’s the general idea of his opening comments–
“Everyone. Thanks for coming out tonight. I’m so excited to be in Des Moines and wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you. My fans have been awesome and really given this show a life of its own.
That being said, I wish I had the chance to spend time with all of you. I am going to take pictures and talk to you as much as time allows before we begin.
However, I am asking you for your consideration afterwards. This is a lot of food and I probably will not be feeling well. So please understand if I am not available. And please do not slap me on the back. That does not feel good.
So thanks again everyone for coming out. I appreciate your patience and excitement.”
Not an exact quote, but you get the jist of it. The man was about to eat a five-pound sandwich. This is his livelihood
Understandable though. I mean, if you were eating five pounds of food, how would you be feeling afterward.
Richman retreated to his trailer as we waited for sandwich assembly and the production crew to set up. They informed the audience of the “rules” – Clap. Be loud. Show excitement. But when we get the sign, Richman will be speaking. Transition into the golf clap – low noise, no talking.
Just another one of those things I never saw coming.
When Richman reemerged from the shadows, the place went crazy. It still wasn’t time for the challenge. Ipod in hand, Richman took his seat while rules came again.
Richman retreated to the trailer one last time, before coming back 10 minutes later. Finally, it was time.
Full of energy, Richman sprints through the crowd. Slapping hands. Dancing.
He sits down.
Here comes the monstrous mound of meat. Pandemonium in the ranks.
The challenge begins.
Chants . Lots of clapping. Yelling. Cheering to encourage Richman’s eating frenzy.
Every few minutes, we went into the golf clap as our Man vs Food star gave his state-of-the-challenge addresses.
Various people were summoned to speak with the producer, and asked to offer a few words of encouragement. Even a kiss on the cheek (this didn’t make the final cut apparently).
The trend continued for the first 10 min of the competition. (By the way, clapping and cheering for that long continuously is exhausting. Ask anyone who was there. I’m glad I wore # 15 in college and not 40.) At the 5 min mark, I was asked to come up and offer support. Receiving direction from the producers, I made my entrance, said my line, and sat my butt down.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite time for that. Too much background noise made it difficult to hear on film. Fantastic. I get a redo.
Back through the previous process. A slightly different form of encouragement. Regardless, the second try made the final cut.
After that? Well you know the rest. Two pounds remained on the plate. Food wins.
End result – I have a new appreciation for Mr. Richman and his chow-devouring prowess. He’s not a freak-show. He is a professional. That’s why the show has been so successful. That’s why it now has a cult-following. And that’s why I was so excited for the show to come to Des Moines.
Richman was funny. He had a lot of energy and made the show fun. But at the same time, do not dismiss him as being some clown/amateur/frat guy living on a couch going around eating ridiculous amounts of food with a camera in his face. He knows what he’s doing.
Hours after the show, I experienced another side of Richman. Since I did not get a chance to speak with Richman prior to the taping, he asked if we would hang around for a few minutes afterward.
The crowd dispersed and a few people remained. But, true to his word, he came out to talk. The hour approached 10 PM, nearly 12 hours after they setup shop at Jethro’s. Richman was obviously a little tired after a long day of filming and a full belly. He signed a menu and took a few pictures.
He was very genuine in conversation. He talked about wanting to take his mom to a restaurant in Alaska. Asked about where to get Drake merchandise for his nephew. Still witty and enjoyable, but he was just a normal guy.
Thanks again Man vs Food. Thanks for opening my eyes and helping me gain a newfound respect for your star and show. Thanks for treating everyone so well. For your gracefulness in making all these new people feel like your friends. And thanks for earning a new cult-follower.