TV on Tour

December 6, 2009
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Guy Fieri Road ShowLately, it seems like TV shows are hitting the road with increasing frequency. This trend started several years ago with American Idol‘s “American Idols Live” show, and continued with the annual So You Think You Can Dance tour. But it’s not just made-famous-by-TV singers and dancers hitting the road–TV chefs Anthony Bourdain and Guy Fieri are also in the middle of multi-city tours.

An Idols or SYTYCD tour makes a lot of sense. These are reality series dedicated to showcasing performers, so seeing them perform live seems a natural extension. But what’s the deal with the touring chef stage shows? In Fieri’s show, he cooks (a little) and tells stories (frequently) and goofs around (a lot). Bourdain’s show, I discovered when I finally found a description, will entail, “speaking on many different topics including his travels, restaurants, books, and of course food…[and] also…taking questions from the audience.” Not exactly the same as seeing the chefs cook and/or eat on TV, so what is it, then, that makes audiences pay to see TV personalities live on stage?

At this point, I feel I should confess that I have attended two Idol tours (seasons 1 & 2) and one SYTYCD tour (season 2) and just saw the “Guy Fieri Road Show” last week in Milwaukee. So I’m not only a critic, I’m also a fan. And I admit that there’s something really exhilirating about seeing your TV favorites out of the box (literally) and live in person (even from the second balcony). In fact, when alerted to the fact that Guy Fieri was on tour and coming to Milwaukee, I knew right away that I wanted to go–even though I had no idea what the show would include. (In fact, I didn’t know until it started. It’s hard to find useful descriptions!)

But why do I (and 2500 other people at Guy’s Milwaukee show alone) flock to the theaters? Is it just a matter of fandom? We show up because we want to see the objects of our affection in person? Because we want to brand ourselves as a true fan? Because we just can’t get enough of these folks?

For me, it was all of these things, and I’ve always enjoyed my TV tour experiences. Nonetheless, I can’t help but wonder what’s next. Lost: The Musical? The Office On Ice?


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2 Responses to “ TV on Tour ”

  1. Jonathan Gray on December 7, 2009 at 8:45 AM

    Actually my brother and I have long joked about writing Lost!, the musical, but note the exclamation mark, and it’s an adaptation of Paradise Lost not the TV show (or perhaps it could merge them both?).

    More seriously, I think here of Nick Couldry’s excellent work on “media pilgrims,” visiting sets or sites of filming. He looks at the degree to which such experiences reify a sense of the media as center, or stand to challenge it, and he looks at the act in ritual terms.

    But I think the interest extends beyond the media to a simple desire to know how things are put together (hence the awesomeness of this book), and there’s always the promise that we’ll not only get more of the show, but a window into how it’s put together. Certainly, part of my interest in paratexts and adaptation lies in the notion that we can see what makes a show tick in the moments when it moves platforms.

  2. Erin Copple Smith on March 6, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    Well, wouldja lookit that… Variety offers two reports on move TV on tour in the form of Glee and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s respective tours.

    Read more here and here.