My visit to the Martha Stewart Show

15 Oct

When I learned about my trip to NYC, being the planner that I am, I made a list of things that I wanted to do/visit while in the city.  I hate it when, for lack of planning, I can’t do certain stuff.

I have been a Martha Stewart fan for years – I have subscribed to her Living magazine for almost 15 yrs now, subscribed to her Wedding Magazine for years (I stopped the subscription because I thought that was what was jinxing me from getting married, but apparently that was not the real reason…),  her website is at the top of my Favorites list, half of the things in my kitchen are from the Everyday collection at Kmart (and the only reason to visit that store in my opinion) or the more recent Macy’s collection,  I have her show on season pass on TiVo and even tried to try out for her version of The Apprentice.   I have always admired her sense of style, her commitment to quality, her taste level, her inability to tolerate mediocrity. 

So as soon as I had my dates to be in the city, I searched to see if there were tickets available for her show tapings.  I sent an email with my desired dates and the reason why I wanted to attend.  About a week later I received a confirmation that I was invited to be an audience member for the show.  Our invitation was for October 7th, when they would tape the show that would air on Friday, October 10th. I was SUPER EXCITED, to say the least!!!


I went with my friend Karen, whom I met at the Conscious Gourmet cooking seminar last year.  We were both hoping the show would have a predominantly cooking theme.  We got there early as the invitation requested.  Everybody was super excited to be there.  We were definitely all Martha fans – as soon as people were seated inside the studio, they started to chant Martha’s name. 


I was a bit nervous to be honest.  I have been on TV before, in front and behind the cameras many, many times (due to my job in marketing).  I have had the chance to meet many celebrities – local and from the US.  But I was about to meet one of my idols – not only in the culinary, but also in the business sense.  I was afraid I would break down like that girl in the Next Food Network Star did when she got the chance to meet Martha in person.  I knew I would not get that close, but I am emotional and was not sure how I would react in her presence.

I was surprised at my reaction, the exact same way I was surprised by Martha’s demeanor and attitude towards me and the whole audience during the taping.  After being pumped up by Joey Cola, a comedian who receives you and talks to the audience before Martha shows up, Martha came out and did not address or acknowledge the audience until AFTER the 1:30 hour taping.  She was super serious during the commercial breaks and we even got a sense that she was not enjoying what she was doing.  I am sorry, but it is hard to be enthusiastic about someone when you’re left waiting for a hello for over an hour.   

This is me to prove I was there at the same time as Martha… we were not allowed to take pictures at any point throughout the taping.  I did get to sneak a few…

I understand Martha is a very polarizing entity – people either love her or hate her.  I have always been on the loving side.  I have always identified with her because I feel we are both perfectionists, oriented to detail, we want to exceed people’s expectations. And many times people,  that vast majority of people who do not strive to seek excellence at all times,  misunderstand that drive and passion.  I still believe so, however, I was very put-off by the way she ignored her live audience during the show taping. Not even a hello or a “thanks for coming” comment.  She did it at the end, but doing it then did not have the same effect as if she would have done it at the beginning.  Not doing it at the beginning set the wrong tone for my whole experience.   

I saw the actual edited show this past Friday…  I can honestly say that she looks and feels better and more welcoming on TV than on set.  I guess my expectations were high, but how can saying hi to the audience before a show taping be called high expectations… 

But the whole experience was not a complete bust.  I was excited when the chef/owner of wich’craft made some peanut butter cookies that did not contain any eggs.  I was almost sure that if they cooked something it would be something I would not be able to try and to my surprise, the cookies were AMAZING!!!  They were made with white flour, but still they were delicious.  I also received copies of 2 books written by the guests of the show that day. 


I am still a Martha Stewart fan.  I still want to buy her set of plain water glasses from Macy’s.  I have not done anything to my Season Pass… but my experience of seeing her in person was a bit bittersweet.  I hope we have the opportunity to meet again and to be able to create more memories that will blow this experience right out of the water…  maybe she was having a “not-so-good-day” like we all sometimes have.  I should not be so critical… but if her people are checking out the blogs and run across this post, I hope they recommend her to just say HI to her audience before the start of taping and the tone for the whole experience will definitely be more positive… 

I still love Martha and chant, in the privacy of my home,  MARTHA!! MARTHA!!!  MARTHA!!!!


21 Responses to “My visit to the Martha Stewart Show”

  1. destinyskitchen October 15, 2008 at 5:15 pm #

    I am conflicted in my feelings about Martha. It’s been interesting to read about your experience with the show taping.

  2. fallenangel65 October 15, 2008 at 5:23 pm #

    I completely understand what you are saying and agree that addressing the audience before the taping began would have set a better tone, I am just wondering whether, given her seriousness, whether before the show, she is too focused on what is going to be happening and that is why she doesn’t do it.

    I have always enjoyed her shows, but after seeing her on Next Food Network Star, I was thinking it would be painful as she seems so austere.

  3. aleta meadowlark October 15, 2008 at 11:23 pm #

    Oh, that’s too bad. Though I tend to think that persona is what people who DON’T like Martha perceive. I’ll keep my fantasies alive right here in not New York. =)

  4. christina October 16, 2008 at 6:37 am #

    i completely agree with you! i went to see her show last year. it’s almost like she has no personality! i was very disappointed. her staff is fabulous though. i think that’s truly her success – that she’s hired really, really well.

  5. Christy October 16, 2008 at 9:15 am #

    Can I just say ‘ditto’? I planned, I went, was super excited… nearly ran down the street to go to the studio I was so excited. My heart was racing. I came up with the perfect question so I would get to talk to her during an audience question segment. I picked the ‘perfect’ seat to get seen. I even wore green because she told someone once it was her favorite color and it looked the best on camera. I was the one that planned and scheduled the whole trip for our group of 9 or so. I was so incredibly let down. She was so cold. I tried to convince the people I went with that she was having a bad day or maybe because she was ‘working’ she was in her groove. I apologized for her because she was so blah to us. They told us we could take pictures after but she bolted as soon as the cameras shut off. So we left and went to see the Statue of Liberty….no let down there! The next day we went to Good Morning America….way better. Diane Sawyer and the rest of the crew were AWESOME. They shook hands, gave hugs, took pictures with EVERYONE after the show. During commercials they joked around and interacted with the audience. AND the camera boom guy was the same guy from the MS show….he recognized us and gave us lots of tv time! Yes, I’ll still watch her, but I don’t have the same excitement as I did before seeing her live. Her daughter makes fun of her a lot and I enjoy reading about it …. It seems she treats her the same way….it’s not just us.

  6. Victoria October 16, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    Having been in the television business briefly and having gone to a few live tapings, I definitely don’t see the benefit of being cold to your audience. Their enthusiasm comes across on camera if they are pumped up. I’ve always thought the Martha audiences looked a little nervous. Now I understand why. I do admire her and I have found in meeting other people I admire that sometimes you have to separate the work (whatever) it is from the person. Most writers I’ve met that I love, love, love are not necessarily people I’d like to have dinner with.

  7. bex October 16, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    I too am on the fence about Martha. She does seem to be quite tude-y but she can also do cool things and comes up with cool ideas and of course through her show she can introduce you to other people who do cool homey things.
    I wonder if she doesn’t say anything because she needs to be in her own little zone while taping. Like she gets screwed up and flustered if she has to be all casual chatty and then tv show personality. Especially because she is a perfectionist, she wouldn’t want to screw up.

  8. bakingforthecure October 16, 2008 at 6:52 pm #

    What an interesting post! I see a lot of her shows, and she does not look very friendly, even to her own guests. It was very nice to read your personal point of view, thanks!

  9. Meredith October 17, 2008 at 9:00 am #

    I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse. Reading about your experience with Martha made me feel worse about my experience with Oprah. Unlike you, I was not a huge Oprah fan, but my girlfriend was. She was so excited to see a live taping in Chicago a few years. We got all dressed up, got down there at the buttcrack of dawn and even took with us a basket of traditional Lexington Kentucky items to bring a little bit of home with us to Lexington.

    Then we got there!

    We wait 45 minutes outside in a line, to be released into a small room with about 25 chairs for more than 125 people to wait for another hour and a half. We were on top of one another and there was no obvious ventilation. There were restrooms, but not refreshments available, not even via a pop machine or water fountain, that I remember. The doors were opened to the studio and it was a mad dash into the room to grab the best seat possible – no credit given to people who showed up early…in reality the people that showed up late got better seating because they were closest to the studio doors when they were opened.

    But never fear, Oprah will make all this worthwhile! – NOPE!

    She came out, talking to production people without ever addressing the audience. During the commercial breaks, she would step off stage into the wings, where we could watch her, but not interact with her. The one time when we were able to ask a few questions on tape, she was suddenly our best friends, interacting with the few people lucky enough to ask their questions. The production went really quickly, and at the end she said about 50 words of thanks and explaining that we could buy things at the gift shop…then she was gone.

    Oh, and the gift basket my girlfriend had crafted???? Handed to a security guy on the way out, along with many other people’s gifts. The gift was never acknowledged…not even with a form letter. Who knows if she liked the bourbon balls!

  10. Mary Beth December 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm #

    I am SO glad to finally read something about JUST THIS SUBJECT. Ditto the Martha-love.
    But lately, as I watch her show, I find myself WINCING, opening my mouth in surprise and even YELLING at the TV.
    Does NO ONE on her staff hear or see how RUDE she is to guests?
    How she talks NONSTOP about herself, rarely letting a guest or staff member finish a sentence?
    Is NO ONE on her staff brave enough to point this out to her?

    I admit, I can’t stop watching….but maybe now it is because I’m looking for the gaffs!!!

    I found you via TasteSpotting and can’t wait to read more of your blog!!!

  11. caitlin March 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    I’m going to the Martha Stewart Show on Weds., and I’m pretty excited!! Do they provide breakfast or any snacks? I worked for The Rachael Ray Show and we always provided the audience w/ bagels, fruit, juices, coffee, mini cheesecakes and candies. But maybe our show was just unique since RRay is very generous. Any idea what I should expect at Martha…?

    KFC – It’s so cool you got tickets to Martha… They only provided water bottles when I went, but they were Evian water, so it’s nice. I believe they do not offer snacks because some shows they give the audience samples of what they cook, like in my show they gave away cookies. They usually have other gifts for the audience based on what was featured on the show that day.

    In my opinion, expect the worst and you will not be dissappointed. I was expecting a warm welcome and some acknowledgement before the show taping and I didn’t get them. I hope that was an off day. Please come back and let me know how your experience was… for you, I am expecting the best!!!!

  12. Andrea March 28, 2009 at 10:49 pm #

    I am also going to Marthas show April 8th with my daughter. She is a big fan and this is our first trip to NY. Hope we have a good experience. Thanks for your responses

  13. Bonnie April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    I don’t know what to say. We’re extending our trip to NYC for a day because we got tickets to the taping for April 14. After reading this, I’m not so sure that it’ll be worth it to have my Martha bubble burst. I’m also dragging my husband with me and if it’s that bad, perhaps I won’t make him suffer through it.

  14. kellyann April 9, 2009 at 11:53 pm #

    We went to a taping of the show today, and I must say that although it was fun experience, the sentiments about Martha being completely unfriendly are spot on. She didn’t even SMILE at the audience let along wave or acknowledge us. I mean…nothing. Between sets she either seemed very focused or distant. Occasionally a producer would say something to prep her for the next segment, but besides that, she didn’t even look up. I like Martha, but went for the experience more than to see her. I know I have no basis to say this, but her expression seemed unhappy more than anything else. All in all it was a fun experience.

    As far as food goes, Joey (the warm up comedian) told us about 1 in 30 audiences get fed..and we were one of them. On the show they cooked spaghetti and meattballs, but we each got one tiny mini-muffin. Don’t get me wrong I was grateful for anything we were given!! I just didn’t seem the correlation with what was happening on the segments.

  15. Diane April 29, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

    Same is true for Rachael Ray. I went to her show and she ignored the audience from beginning to end and through each commercial. Very disappointed.

  16. adockery72 July 17, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    I watch Martha everyday… If you pay attention to her attitude on the show, you can see the audience, like her employees are there to “build HER up”. I don’t like THAT but I do like some of the ideas she has. I say we all go see ELLEN in L.A.!!!!!

  17. Doris October 8, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting about your experience! As a vegan, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Martha. I have tickets to be in the audience, so I will now go in with low expectations. Although based on the comments, it seems the Oprah audience experience was worse!

  18. Brenda December 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    Omg I just saw Martha today and am sad to say that she appeared soooo unhappy. When on camera she smiled, but off she had a serious look as though depressed. At one point she even gave a small yawn. I hope she is not as unhappy as she appears in her real life : (

  19. Brenda January 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Gee, I hope I have a good expereince when I go see Martha’s show on Feb 3. I signed up for tickets…and got them within 3 weeks. I guess not many people go! I am flying up just for the day and will use air miles for my tic1ket so I’m not paying for the trip except for cab fares..hopefully, it will be a worthwhile trip!!!

    • KarmaFree Cooking January 20, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      Brenda… I hope you have a great time too. I love NYC and, regardless of my experience, I still value Martha’s contributions to my culinary life very very much.

  20. Strawberrygirl March 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    I have been to the Martha Stewart Show 3 times as I live in the NYC area and have lots of time off frequently. It’s one of the best in New York City to go to and they by far treat the audience better than any of the other shows I’ve been to. First, there is normally a free food truck outside with coffee and breakfast food or soup for the audience guests on line. Next, there is a nice waiting room with lots of chairs, complementary bottled water, and a fairly large, well decorated bathroom, and free coat check (most studio tapings have none of the above for the audience). Joey Cola comes downstairs to greet everyone and lets you know whether or not you’re getting giveaways and and idea of what they are.

    The seat you get in the studio is based on 1. when you got in line and 2. What you’re wearing. If you’re in a section of the audience that may be on camera and they don’t like what you’re wearing, the seaters will “Scarf” you. They have several brightly colored jewel tone giant pashmina scarves they will have you put on to cover whatever your outfit you wore is that is colored wrong or whatever it is they don’t like. I thought this was rude but then one time I got “Scarfed” and sort of appreciated it because I did not happen to own anything jewel toned to wear and it saved me from having to go buy something.

    Joey Cola knocks himself out entertaining the audience and brings out random gifts inbetween segments. Sometimes Martha will say hello at the beginning, but mostly she says hello and takes questions at the end. People need to remember that she is about to tape a tv show and is WORKING and has a lot to think about, say, and remember when she is taping so she needs to focus on that – that is why they have Joey there to pay attention to you. You are observers being at any tv taping, they let you in for free, it is not a show you pay to go to where their purpose is to entertain YOU personally. If you go to the People’s Court taping for example, you are cramped in a sparse waiting room then squished on hard court benches with long pauses and nothing to do inbetween segments or before they start – and that taping was 3 hrs long plus the wait to get in.

    You also have to understand what it takes to be a female CEO or otherwise leader of a major corporation, especially in New York City. You have to be tough to survive here to begin with, let alone elbow your way to the top. The 3 shows I went to, Martha very nicely and graciously answered a lot of questions.

    Also, they allow photographs in the studio both before and after the show which is very nice. A lot of studio tapings (Anderson Cooper, Colbert Report, for example) do not allow ANY photographs at any point.

    Finally, the Martha Stewart Show gives out a LOT of giveaways. I’ve gotten several HUGE bags full of gifts and as I used to work one block from the studio in my old job, I used to see people come out from the morning taping with giant gift bags also. For example, I went to the 2/29/2012 show taping and got: A cookbook, 3 packets of Martha Seed packs, crackers, jam, olive oil, pasta, and two catalogs.

    The Colbert Report and People’s Court give out nothing. At Anderson Cooper they sometimes give things away, for example I got a Sinead O’Connor CD and another time they gave us $5 Starbucks + $10 Subway sandwich gift cards. Those things were nice but basically the point is that if you compare Martha to all the others here in the city she is known to overall treat her audience the best.

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