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Don't ever go to a focus group.

They show you tv shows starring Eric Roberts. They make you look at Gap commercials over and over. They ask you silly questions and make you behave like you are 12.

We previewed two shows. "C-16" which stars Mr. Roberts as a grizzly looking detective of some sorts. It sucked. Then there was "The First Gentleman" starring some familiar looking guy as the first female president's husband. He is also a former cop who has not lost his passion for crime solving and gets involved in a Chandry Levy-esque case. The writing was so bad and condescending it made Family Matters look like quality tv. They asked which show we preferred and I wrote "is death an option?"

There were two stand up comics we had to watch. One was mediocre at best. The other, I rated as assclown. One of the choices for how we felt about him was dumb.

Then we had to spend 30 minutes rating a commercial for hair color. My sister and her husband and Justin were no help, as they kept making silly comments and tasteless jokes and we laughed so hard and snickered so much I felt like I was back in school and the principal was going to come yell at us.

Where you were supposed to fill in the part about how the commercial made you feel, and what it said to you, I went into a rant about adrogynous waify models and the attainment of ultimate perfection but then I stopped and just wrote:

I will now sing the doom song. Doom doom doom doom doom....

And I filled the rest of the survey with the word doom. Except for the part where I really pretended I was in high school and drew the AC/DC logo in the top corner and added a pentagram underneath it. For good measure I wrote Metallica Rules!

So basically, we will never be invited to one of these things again. Which is fine with me, because one should not be forced to look at Eric Roberts more than once in their life.

Oh, yea...just to make sure that this wasn't a subversive plot to weed out the dissenters of America, I wrote "Ashcroft is the Anti-Christ" on the front cover of the survey.

I think someone is at the door.


(6 months later) ... DOOM doom doom de dooooom.

That's perfect.

I hope they gave you more than $50. I watched "Three Dads" or something, with allergy meds commercials, once and nearly exsanguinated myself from boredom. Way to rock the stupid fucked up survey!

50 dollars? They didn't even give us coffee!

Speaking now as somebody who helps organise focus groups and who collates the data I'd just like to point out that... we don't actually care.

You can mess up your survey as much as you like, if 60 people attend and everyone writes "doom" except one mentally unbalanced guy who spurts all over the page it is taken as a sign of success because the negative is dismissed and the positive becomes the only part of the focus.

Those TV shows will be on one channel or another, those stand-ups will keep standing up and telling really poor jokes. Why? Because somebody somewhere likes them.

Dave, if I thought they actually cared I would have written a three page rant on what is wrong with the shows I previewed. I'm sure my survey is in the trash by now.

It was more of a marketing ploy than a focus group, anyhow.

That "First Gentleman" sounds like the network tried to bastardise 24 with West Wing...

There can be only one White House drama series.

When I was a stay-at-home mother, I used to pick up a lot of pocket money by doing focus groups.

There was a pre-qualifying process first - someone would call on the phone and ask "do you use fabric softener?" or "have you traveled on an airline in the last 7 months?" I figured out how to give the appropirate answer and off I'd go.

So I would sniff detergent and describe the way it made me feel, or look at Lego packages or say which dog food was in a better position on the store shelves for 10-20 minutes. They'd pull out a wad of bills, peel off a few and I'd be set for a trip to Toys R Us.

Once Mr. Sami reviewed the options of a multi-line business phone system for $200.00. That was a hot one.

Well, now I'm annoyed. All we got was water.

just to really make the whole thing seem like a worthwhile use of your time... it's likely that your answers about the tv shows and the stand-up comics were thrown away the second you left the building. frequently, those sessions are designed just to test the commercials, with everything else thrown in to "replicate the cluttered TV environment". sometimes they show old pilots from like, 1982. gak.

i did one of these once. i was at universal studios on my way out and got stopped by CBS people. my friend and i watched 2 tv pilots and a few commercials and wrote our opinion down. it all sucked. but, our gift was a free pass to come back to uni studios the next day. i guess it's a matter of the right company in the right place with the right gift ;)

I got $50 years ago to do a focus group for beer. This was back when I was a hardcore homebrewer and and could ID the variety of hop used in a beer just by taste. Nothing was labeled, but I'll never forget the look of sheer horror on their faces when I said after drinking one particular sample that I would strongly suggest Killian's never try to to do a light beer again. It was very obvious I had just nailed it perfectly. They never invited me back, but I never saw a Killian's light so I saved the beer world much misery!

No margaritas? No chocolate cake? Bastards!

Chris, if wine has oenophiles, what's the word for beer gourmet/gourmand types?