Taking One For The Team: The Marriage Ref Live Taping

Ed. note: Joe Mande, stand-up comedian and the creator of the popular blog Look At This Fucking Hipster(now a popular book!) is forced to do things that we don’t want to do, for our education and amusement. If you have a challenge/suggestion, submit it to [email protected].

Hello, Monsters. It’s me, Joe Mande! Look, I know it’s been a while since I last took one for the team. I don’t want to make excuses for myself, or point fingers at anybody, or expound on who (Gabe) said what (the “k-word”) to whom (me). All I can say is I’m sorry, I’m here now, and we should all move on. Whatever happened is just water under the k-word bridge. Instead, I think we focus on the present. And by present, I mean last night, when I took one for the team so hard and went to a taping of Jerry Seinfeld’s The Marriage Ref.

This particular T14TT assigment actually began two weeks ago, when it was announced that The Marriage Ref had been picked up for a whopping THREE additional episodes, and I learned that regular human beings would be allowed to attending the tapings. Yay? To acquire tickets to a live Marriage Ref taping, I had to set up an account on a (really cool, well designed) website called After setting up a profile and requesting tickets, I was told by that I had been placed in the “pending reservation” category, the purgatory of terrible free television studio audience tickets. Oh no, would I ever get to go to this wonderful taping?

Lucky for me, did contact me to let me know I had tickets to The Marriage Ref. Not only that, they were nice enough to give me 55 MINUTES NOTICE TO GET TO THE STUDIO BEFORE THE SHOW STARTED TAPING! No joke, here’s the email I got yesterday at 4:50pm:

“Please hurry down if would like to come to the taping.” Uhm…do I have a choice, Good job at doing your one job, guys. You really are one iota good at your job.

I quickly printed off a copy of the email, downed two DayQuil tablets (oh, I was sick by the way), and speed-walked to the subway, where I met up with my friend Noah (who deserves props for taking one for the BFF team). We both took the train to midtown Manhattan, arriving at the CBS Studios at 5:57pm. Three minutes to spare! (Shout out to CBS for enabling NBC to make such shameful brain rot garbage!)


Once inside, we were corralled into what looked like a hospital cafeteria and told to sign a confidentiality agreement. Now, I have to tread lightly for the rest of this blog post, because I don’t want to get sued for 5 MILLION DOLLARS However, if I do have the misfortune of getting sued by the Marriage Ref for breaking the terms of the confidentiality agreement, I will ask that they address me by my title, “Dr. DingDong.”

I swear to god, I’ll take Seinfeld V. DingDong all the way to the Supreme Court if have to!

After signing the contract, a PA told said, “Come on, homies,” and everyone started slowly walking single-file into the studio (which was blasting U2’s “Beautiful Day,” because of course it was). Noah and I took our seats, which were okay, but nowhere near as good as the sick Green Monster seats above the set.


Once the U2 song ended, out came warm-up comic Joey Kola who basically said, “Hey, we’re going to have a great time tonight! Here’s a Jersey Shore reference! Please turn off your cell phones! Who let the dogs out?!” Then he brought out Jerry Seinfeld, who explained to everyone the secret behind show’s success is because it’s so silly. Yep, got it. After that, Seinfeld brought out “The Marriage Ref himself,” Tom Papa, who did a few minutes of crowd work and a “tight five” of G-rated marriage jokes, before sticking his face into a bag of Utz potato chips. (Get it? He’s our Jimmy Barrett.)

After that, the show started for real. Tom Papa introduced the panel of judges: stand-up comedian Greg Giraldo (who, from where I was sitting, looked more like Dave Navarro), out-of-touch workout-video movie star Gwyneth Paltrow, and bored billionaire Jerry Seinfeld.


I don’t know how much I can say about the taping without putting the five million dollars I have in my savings account at risk. But I will say this: I did not enjoy myself! Tom Papa “flirted” with Gwyneth Paltrow the whole time, which was disgusting. Gwyneth Paltrow, to her credit, really wasn’t as cunty as you’d expect. (Though, she did describe someone as being “shrikey,” which I’m pretty sure is a British word she clearly made up.) And Greg Giraldo was put in the tough position of being a roast comic on a show that’s more about playful meanness and mild condescension. To add to that, Greg Giraldo mentioned at the top of the show that he’s currently going through a divorce, so that came up one or two (a million) times. During one segment, Greg Giraldo and Tom Papa did about 15 minutes of gay jokes and everyone loved it—the crowd, Gwyneth, Jerry Seinfeld—everyone. Well, they loved it for about the first seven minutes or so. After that, things got awkward. Gwyneth Paltrow stopped laughing. Jerry Seinfeld was getting more and more visibly upset. I couldn’t tell if he was mad at the subject matter, but he was definitely mad that they were wasting his time/money. “STICK TO THE SCRIPT!” his face seemed to say. “WE HAVE INANE, PRE-DETERMINED BANTER TO DO!” Sensing things were getting a little out of hand, Seinfeld interrupted the gay jokes and said, “Look, he might be gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” Thunderous applause. Ugh…nice save, Jerry. Yada, yada, yada! No soup for you! These pretzels are makin’ me thirsty!

The Marriage Ref : Seinfeld :: Washington Wizards : Jordan

Overall, the whole thing made me really sad! By the time the taping ended, I felt so gross and worn-out that I forgot to turn my cell phone back on to take a picture of myself frowning. [Ed. note: AWWWWW.]

In any case, make sure to watch The Marriage Ref, Thursdays at 10pm on NBC!