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Grinning, dancing with Ellen

Posted: December 15, 2008 9:17 p.m.
Updated: December 16, 2008 5:30 a.m.

There I was, shaking my hips, waving my arms and grinning maniacally when it suddenly hit me: Ellen DeGeneres is dancing next to me and the cameras are on us!

I'm not the star-struck type, but when one of the world's funniest and most successful women grooved her way by me, I couldn't stop staring and smiling.

You see, the excitement built way up after hours of waiting. Once my mom and I checked in at the parking garage across from the studio, we waited for three hours surrounded by more than 350 other guests and televisions continuously playing recent Ellen re-runs.

During the waiting time, an Ellen intern hyped up the crowd by asking us if we had cleared some trunk space, because we were going to need it.

For those who don't watch the show, Ellen hosts her "12 Days of Giveaways" shows around the holidays, giving out more than $1,000 in merchandise to each guest.

So I have to admit, my excitement to see Ellen collided with my excitement to mooch presents.

Eventually, we were led in groups across to the studio and through security.

Then it was through a hall to watch more Ellen re-runs, which I never object to, and picture after picture of Ellen with a celebrity guest. We made our way through the "riff-raff room," where stand-bys view the show from TV monitors.

The room was wall-to-wall Toys for Tots. Ellen asks her guests to bring an unwrapped toy to donate to the program during her holiday shows. It was inspiring to see her use her celebrity status for good.

Inside the Ellen Studio was just as I've seen it on TV, but more surreal, and the studio seemed smaller.

Pre-show time, a production assistant gets the crowd cheering, clapping and dancing. The assistant held a dancing competition in the aisles and passed out "I danced with Ellen" T-shirts to the winners.

Finally, Ellen entered the stage and the crowd went crazy.

Her monologue on holiday party faux-pas was hilarious.

"Tip number one: no one wants a Xeroxed copy of your butt. Tip number two, no one wants to see a Xeroxed copy of your butt."

After her monologue she danced her way through the audience, and I got my two seconds of fame.

My giddiness gave me a break once she brought out the first guest, actress Amanda Peet.

But only for about a minute, once I realized - the presents were bound to come out at any moment!

Ellen tries to trick her audience and keep us guessing when, exactly, she'll pull out the presents.

So I sat patiently and watched Amanda Peet explain her "rope collection." She and Ellen seemed so small on those two red arm chairs surrounded by production cameras and the audience.

You have to know people think this is kind of weird, right? Ellen asked Peet as the audience snickered.

Peet's feelings seemed hurt.

At that moment my mom turned to me and said, "I don't think she likes that people are making fun ... "
DING! DING! DING! Cheerful Christmas music signaled one thing - it's present time!

That sneaky Ellen! Here we were thinking: Who would have a rope collection? Why is Amanda Peet getting her feelings hurt? And it was all a trick!

The next few minutes were a blur. All I remember is seeing a food processor (an item my mother was particularly excited about), a $375 watch, clothing, a tool set, a Blu-ray DVD player, and my personal favorite: a $500 Sears gift card! There were screaming and clapping and jumping up and down.

To be honest, the rest of the show faded into the background.

Actor Jon Hamm from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was there and Barry Manilow performed - an aspect my mother could appreciate just a bit more than I could.

By the end of the taping, my voice was hoarse from cheering and my feet were tired from dancing.

There was no opportunity to meet Ellen or get an autograph afterward, but I was proud to walk away with my two seconds of dancing fame, along with my $500 gift card in hand.


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