A look at what really goes on during the production of Wild 'N Out
Team Colors: Black Squad and Platinum Squad
The format of Wild 'N Out is of an improvisational comedy game between two teams. Cannon heads up the platinum squad and another celebrity guest heads up the other team known as the black squad. Borrowing heavily from shows like Comedy Central's Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Wild 'N Out pits two teams against each other in a number of improv games, ending with Wild Style where each team attempts to put down the other in freestyle rap, a-la Eminem in 8 mile Road style.
Note: On the first incarnation of the show, the previous definition of the platinum squad was the red squad but MTV asked for this to be changed as TV execs felt that was labeling the red team as "socialists" against "black" people and was also being associated with gang colors in Los Angeles.
Special Recording Notes:
There have been problems at this show with audience members chatting and texting on their phones, so the TV production requires that no-one carries a cell phone into the studio and all cell phones are checked in at the front door. All audience members must also sign a release that allows MTV to use their image, likeness and voice for any purpose they choose.
Rapper on Rapper Insults On This Show Have Not Led To Reprisals, Unlike HOT 97
Due to the show content and format it is surprising that there have been no documented reprisals from participants (or anyone else) demeaned in the show by anything that is said or acted out on the show as trash talk on this show is pervasive. In comparison, the New York Radio station HOT 97 has seen its fair share of hip-hop and rapper violence from on-air trash talk including the 2001 shooting that involved possess from Lil Kim and rival group Capone-N-Noreaga. In another incident in 2013, The rapper The Game admitted to starting a shootout with the rapper 50 Cent at the same location and finally in 2006 Jamal (Gravy) Woolard was shot in the actual studio. Cannon attempts to steer Wild N' Out's participants away from expletives, racial slurs, homophobic comments, sexism and threats of violence, because this show, after all, is intended as a comedy not drama. Given the extreme nature of the celebrities on the show, the over-the-top trash talk and the various demeaning insults traded on stage, many rappers come away feeling that they may have been slighted or insulted and may want to seek retribution after the show. No official incidents of hip-hop violence have been yet been documented in conjunction with Wild 'N Out, but that does not mean that they did not happen or are yet to happen.
Taping and Production Notes:
Wild 'N Out is a seven camera shoot with five of the cameras being fixed (two central, one left, one right) and one boom swing camera. This show also uses two remote cameras, that they use for all the close up shots, of which there can be many. They use Panasonic AK-HC3800 HD Studio Cameras for this shoot. The technical production crew for this shoot is about 40 people. The talent group is about 15 for the teams and ten people for the Wild 'N Out girls. The audience management team comprise about fifteen people and security/cloak room another fifteen people, This makes the whole production for this show about 80 people.
Best Ticket Strategies To See This Show:
There are two good strategies to see this show in the best possible way. They both require you to sign up for tickets in advance, but are considerably different from each other: The first is to arrive at least an hour earlier than advised and get one of the 130 seats at the 30 tables on the ground floor in front of the stage. This strategy means that you will actually be in the studio for over five hours but will have a great viewpoint and be more comfortable during the show. This spot is also where the talent will interact most with the audience and clearly stage left is the most preferred spot, as it is the closest to DJ D-Wrek. Nick Cannon and the rest of the crew will spend much of their time over there by the DJ. Also, during the warm up, that side of the stage is where all the attention is focused. The second strategy is to just turn up late (at about 6:30 PM) and hope to get a standing room only slot somewhere where you can see the stage from the balcony. This strategy means you will be in the studio for just two hours and still get to see the show with the minimal amount of effort. If your sight lines are bad, just leave the show, you will also miss the rush by leaving and you will have only wasted two hours. The incorrect strategy is to be somewhere in the middle of the two strategies because all the standing and waiting for hours on end buys you nothing more than being on the same balcony that the standby's end up on anyway, with maybe just a slightly little bit of a better view. The view from Terminal 5's balconies is sub-par in spots, given its studio set and structural impedances. The balcony view is also at right angles to the stage, so you will have your head and body cricked to one side for 90 minutes during the show, with the standby's constantly trying to push you out to get a view between your legs or between. This show always overbooks audience because of ticket no-shows, so on warmer days there will be more people there vying for the spots. Everyone will get in, but most people will be on the balconies and most of them will have a terrible view of the show, if they can see the stage at all.
Priority Tickets Are Not Actually Priority:
The audience management company 1iota provides tickets for the Wild 'N Out show. All the tickets that they send out are marked as "priority tickets." But as New York audience members are quick to find out, 1Iota is deceiving as they actually mark all the tickets in this fashion, so anyone with "priority" printed on their ticket has no actual priority over anyone else other than the standby ticket line people. Everyone who has tickets is made to wait on the "priority" line, therefore there is no actual priority given. It is anticipated the reason they do this is to reduce no-shows, if people think they have something special that other people do not have. Standby tickets are the only level lower than "priority tickets"
Lots of Audience Members At The Taping:
This TV show is shot at Terminal 5 in New York City and has a total number of 400 audience members. The studio audience is comprised of 130 people at the 30 tables placed right in front of the stage, 100 people on each side of the two balconies and 70 people located behind scenery and placed at other random places around the studio to fill the space. The set is made to look like a nightclub, but there is definitely no club feel during the taping, because all the champagne bottles are fake and all the glasses are empty. The show is shot during the daytime, so it takes a while for the crowd to get into the swing of things.
Best Seats To See This Show:
There are three main areas of the studio for this TV production. There are the ground floor tables in front of the stage, the standing area behind the scenery and the standing areas on the balcony. The ground floor tables are the clearly the best, with the scenery area coming in second and the balcony (where the majority of people are located and are forced to stand for over four hours) comes in as the last choice. Although you might be able to see a part of the show from many areas of the studio, it is best to see the show from the ground floor tables. The people at these tables get to sit down every once in a while, whereas everyone else will be standing for over four hours. To get these seats you have to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled time of arrival. The audience management company will trawl through this group and make sure that it is racially diverse enough to appear on camera, but if you look good and are not wearing logos or white clothing you will have this prime spot to see the show. The people at these tables are the only ones that appear on camera, even though the audience management company will tell everyone that they will be on camera, even on the balconies, which is just not true.
The Wild 'N Out Girls:
The Wild 'N Out Girls have been on the show since it first started back in 2005. The cast is ever-rotating and almost always has models, dancers and entertainers as part of the team.. The Wild 'N Out stage is a great platform for the girls to put their faces out there, if they wish to reach the top of the ladder in the music/entertainment industry. The concept of having attractive women on a comedy show, is similar to The Fly Girls of In Living Color, the only difference being that the women actually danced and did much more than just stand or walk across the stage as they do on the somewhat misogynistic Wild 'N Out where they have non-speaking roles, a throwback to the fifties.
TV Viewer Demographic For This Show:
The target viewer demographic for this show is black urban youth and Cannon makes no bones about "being hood" despite his privileged childhood in California and private education in North Carolina. The show fails to cross the color divide and Nielsen data shows that this TV show is a 92% favorite for African American youth or white wannabe rapper youth with little else moving into the viewing demographic. This demo skew plays havoc with MTV2's ability to sell the advertising space to traditional TV advertisers, but does appeal to more niche brands, that are limited in number.
In-Studio Audience Demographic:
Most of the studio audience is young, black youth. Very few non-black audience members turn up for this show so the show production tends to put Caucasians, Asians and Hispanics front and center, right in front of the cameras to help to redress the social balance. Non-blacks may have many reasons for not coming to see this show live. Reasons may include not liking rap music, fearing for their own personal safety or not wanting to be associated with the perceived violent rapper lifestyle which can often be the subtext at this show.
Notable Celebrity Appearances On Wild 'N Out
Some of the more notable appearances read like a who's-who of black stars and have included hip-hop recording artists, rappers and musical artists Kanye West, Common, Method Man, Rev Run, Bobby Brown, Kelly Rowland, Lil Jon, Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Ne-Yo, 2 Chainz, Machine Gun Kelly, Mariah Carey, Big Boi, French Montana, Rick Ross, Nelly, Bow Wow, Wiz Khalifa, Tyga, T-Pain, Ray-J, Pete Wentz and Jordin Sparks. Notable comedians that have appeared on the show are Kenan Thompson, Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Charlie Murphy and Wayne Brady. Movie, TV and sports personalities as well have had a starring roles on this show with Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Amber Rose, Mike Epps, Steve-O, Tara Reid , Serena Williams, Brooke Hogan, Adrien Broner, Pauly Shore, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Strahan all making an appearance. Given that the invited performers are a who's-who of rap and hip-hop artists in the United States, there are many notable absences from this show that include Eminem, Iggy Azalea, Kid Rock, Vanilla Ice and any surviving members of the Beastie Boys.
TV Studio Space At Terminal 5
Getting tickets to this show is not that hard as they shoot the show early in the day and always shoot it in the large space, that can accommodate over 500 people. The space at Terminal 5 has been specially customized for this TV production and the number of people that it can handle is reduce to 400. When the show gives out too many tickets, they try to accommodate everyone, but the TV show can get out-of-hand very quickly and production can often be difficult with so many people. Some people with tickets do not get in if they turn up late.
Given millennial's lack of normal television viewership habits, MTV has decided to forgo the traditional format of TV programming and adopted a progressive approach to programming structure by just looping the most popular editions of Wild 'N Out every other day on the channel. As the show is still in production they will insert a new show into the schedule and pull out a less popular show. Also, they release the shows out of order of recording based on the newly adopted formula of switching comedian focused to rapper focused on every other show. Online videos are released shortly after the television versions, but go onto achieve a higher audience rating but with a lower revenue from ad-sales. Some of Wild 'N Out videos on YouTube are reporting over 3 million views.
Audiences Are Held For Over Four Hours, Often Five Hours
The Wild 'N Out TV show, in its edited TV transmission format, is about 22 minutes long. This show taping actually takes over 90 minutes of filming to record one episode, excluding the retakes, that can tack on another 20 minutes. In stark contrast, the total time the audience is actually in the studio is over four hours. This fact is not conveyed to audience members ahead of time by 1iota, the audience management company, and the audience's patience wears thin. The ticket reservation states to arrive there at 4:30PM but loading people into the studio takes a very long time and is poorly managed by the 1iota team (who are based out of Hollywood, California).The first tip-off to the huge delay is when you see the audience to the prior show still leaving, from a call time five hours earlier, it is a red flag to anyone who has ever been to a TV show taping before, but the young crowd is completely oblivious. The problems first start with the audience being forced to wait outside for over an hour and a half in the elements, often freezing cold in the winter. Once they are inside, the audience is forced to go through the rigorous process of unloading all their personal possessions into coat check. That is everything including phones, wallets and anything that you are not wearing on your person - they insist that jackets are checked, even though the studio may be quite cold. When the show is over, there is, you guessed it, a huge line for the coat check with over 400 people trying to get all their worldly possessions back. Depending on the amount of people at the show, getting out of the studio can easily add another hour to the process making the total time spent at the studio over five hours for regular people and over six hours for the persons sat at the tables. No food or snacks are provided to tide people over and one small water bottle each is provided to the small amount of people sat at the stage tables, nothing is provided to everyone else to cover for a five hour stretch. This production clearly has little concern for the welfare of its studio audience and they abuse the privilege of shooting a New York TV show with young people who do not know any better. Older New Yorkers would have walked hours earlier and they often do. This may be an attempt by the production crew to weed out over twenties, as only naive high school aged people would put up with the terrible taping conditions, it is probably the first time they have ever been on a TV set and Cannon makes full use of that.