Last month I was invited to Hubei TV to participate in a major talent/game show in China called 挑战女人帮 or something like “Challenge (with a girl’s help?)” in English. It was a lot of work but extremely fun. From Zhuhai, it was a couple hours flight to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. Since my girlfriend is from Wuhan I felt especially comfortable there because the people are cool and the food is awesome. But what happened when I got to my hotel was a completely different story…
After my driver left me at the hotel, I was greeted by new-hires (let’s call them) and they were very friendly. They showed me my room and began to tell me the schedule for the next day. Although it was near 1am, they wanted to get me “ready” to start at 8am. That was when one of the young assistants gave me about 3-4 paragraphs of Chinese to memorize!
My jaw dropped, but I already knew that in China this script meant nothing. I could easily get out of half of it… but still, that’s almost 2 paragraphs of natively written chinese which, given my homegrown language abilities, was still a lot of work. Anyway, I got to bed by 2am and starting thinking about how I could survive the next day…
The next morning I was driven to the Hubei TV station, across from the Hubei High Court (yikes). Before tapping, they taught us how to play the games we might select during the show. I kicked a lot of ass in all of the practice games… but it was during the real tapping that I began to suck.
After the taping of the dancing girls started I was led into a windowless room to meet the director and hosts. They were getting into massive details about how to ask and answer questions from the “Mama Tuan” (Group of Moms). More lines came from that room… and my brain began to swell… Luckily, the paragraphs of Chinese were reduced to about 10 lines at this point, along with the new Mama Tuan skit.
When I first got on stage I was asked to sing a very crappy song, so I improvised! You’ll see that in the full version of the show. Yikes! Everything else went fine to plan except for me losing so many games. Actually, the director said that if the last girl beat me in the ball-ring game, the show would be over. SO, she dropped it on purpose hahaha!
One of the last things I had to do on stage was teach S4 to the models on stage. It was actually quite good, but they cut it in final edit… it probably seemed like a promotion for my books about S4 Native English Speaking. (It’s ok, I can plug on my blog: )
That night my “Dui shou” (competitor) and I took some of the models out for BBQ and beers. It was a lot of fun and very cheap food. My competitor was from Nanjing and a bit of a dancer/model himself. A bit of a hustler but still cool.
When the show finally aired I had been back in Zhuhai for about 4 weeks, I think. It was awesome being on TV in China and I would never take it back. I would probably avoid doing that kind of show in the future, only because it was a lot of work! Students coming to China to learn Chinese should try it – maybe you’ll like it! Who knows? You might just have the time of your life!