Christopher Hitchens and the Rev. Al Sharpton were in the Plaza hot seats on Thursday (video). Before the shows, Ann Coulter and Al Sharpton stayed inside to keep cool in anticipation of the heat they would face outside, while Hitchens was busy with a last-minute podcast at Johnny’s restaurant in the Plaza.
There was an impressive showing on the Plaza both days despite the stifling heat and humidity. On Tuesday, the audience was primarily made up of interns, many of whom were Ann Coulter supporters. Cheers for Ann were heard throughout the show, prompting Chris Matthews to express his disbelief at the number of “Coulter fans.”
A particular highlight occurred as Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards went back and forth over the phone; a man in the plaza yelled out “Why isn’t John Edwards making this call?” Needless to say, the comment added another log to the already heavily-fueled fire between Coulter and Edwards.
The audience on Thursday proved to be just as interesting, with atheist society members present in support of Christopher Hitchens and those who took the stance that God IS great clearly in agreement with the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The audience grew throughout the shows as people passing by stopped out of curiosity and excitement, but the actual audience recruiting process started long before the show began. Hardball’s crew of college interns paraded along the streets with signs, promising pedestrians an exciting show. One sign read, “Hardball is hotter than the weather,” in an attempt to use the heat to our advantage.
Commercial breaks were hardly a time of rest, with Hardball staffers frantically passing out water bottles and snacks, not only to the guests, but to audience members as well, to try and battle the blazing sun that heated the Plaza. The Hardball fans handed out to the audience were no match for the 90-degree temperatures, but they created a colorful background as they were waved in excitement during the shows.
Naturally, after Chris Matthews’ last line of the show, the audience converged on the guests requesting pictures and autographs. They had already been out in the heat for over an hour, so another few minutes would be worth it for proof of their encounter with these well-known political figures. The guests were happy to meet their supporters, and welcomed the attention.
Ultimately, the shows were as advertised: provocative, unedited and hot in every way.