I never thought my first experience of going to a live taping of a talk show would be in Brazil.
But when my professor asked if I wanted to go do an interview on “Encontro com Fátima Bernardes,” which seems to be the Brazilian equivalent of the “Today Show,” I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
That’s how I found myself on the set of a Brazilian TV show, listening to a man give us detailed instructions of what to do and not to do in Portuguese.
At one point, he was instructing everyone to cheer and clap and was saying something different to get the group to yell each time. I turned to Ryan Sparrow, one of my professors with us, and joked that the man could be saying “Heil Hitler,” or making fun of Americans and we would still be cheering along, since we had no clue what he was saying.
The actual show would have been interesting — if we knew what anyone was saying. I sat there for an hour and a half, trying to pick out some of the few phrases I know, which includes “where is the bathroom?” “thank you” and “chicken.” I stared blankly a lot, smiling, nodding and trying to laugh at the same time as everyone else.
One of the segments on the show was about fast food and what the host would feel like if she ate only fast food for a day. The clip included a huge breakfast plate, a burger bigger than the hosts’ head, a milkshake and nachos on steroids.
Naturally, the segment was filmed in the United States.
They then went on to talk about what foods were healthy and what wasn’t, which I took to mean, “If you don’t want to eat like an American, here are some healthier options.” Members of the audience looked horrified at the food the host was eating in the video.
We originally went to the taping because we thought we would be interviewed. But all we got was to say “Hello!” and “Good Morning!” to Muncie and Ball State. Something must have gotten lost in translation. Literally.
Overall, it was a very long hour and a half. Everyone spoke Portuguese around us, and we were in a little English bubble. We didn’t know the celebrities everyone else seemed in awe of, and we couldn’t understand what anyone else was saying. That made me feel like a clueless American who didn’t know anything about the culture of this country.
Right before we left, the man who was giving instructions prior to the show told everyone thank you in Portuguese, then he turned to us and said the same thing very slowly in English. It seemed to be his version of saying, “Oh, the poor dumb Americans don’t understand anything I say. I’ll make sure to talk slow.”
The show itself was cool — for the parts we could understand. The 4-year-old boy who danced Samba in the opening ceremonies for the Olympics on Friday was there, as was Elza Soares, one of the most popular musicians in Brazil.
For my first time being on TV, it was quite an experience.
Kara Berg is a Ball State University student and writer for BSU at the Games, a group of 50 journalism students traveling from Muncie, Indiana, to Rio for the Olympic Games. Follow them at bsuatthegames.com, @bsuatthegames on Twitter and Instagram, and BSU at the Games on Facebook.