Dynamics of ‘Springer Break’ unveiled

By Jeff Mitchell

“Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”

MCT

The slow chant built like the anticipation of an oncoming train. The audience members rose out of their seats in excitement and pumped their fists in the air as the headliner emerged on stage. For the show’s 21st season Jerry Springer appeared on the same stage that he has hosted on for the past 20 years. This show’s audience held approximately 30-40 University of Massachusetts students who were a part of the “Springer Break” program, which was offered through WMUA. This program consisted of a bus excursion from a college, transporting 35 students to the studio to be a part of the audience.

Upon entering the Stamford, Conn. studio on Nov. 21, a school bus of children drove by shouting, “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” Before the show began, Jerry started off with some opening banter, with a select few of the audience asking him questions. One of the more memorable questions came from a young student who asked, “where do you find these people?” To which Jerry replied, “Where are you from?”

The audience consisted of two busloads of students from UMass and Central Connecticut State University. The rest of the crowd ranged completely in age, race and gender, making it clear that everyone has been brought together across all of these boundaries for one thing: Jerry.

The topic of the show was “Family Secrets.” The first segment was about a woman who slept with her cousin’s roommate. She was then confronted by her pregnant cousin and the boyfriend who decided to stay with his mistress instead. Like ravenous dogs anxious for the taste of raw meat, the audience could hardly wait for an infamous Jerry Springer-style fight. As the cousin’s friend and the mistress started to brawl, a bell chimed, causing the audience to rise to their feet. The audience yelled and jeered as the girls separated by security. Familiar “Jerry!” chants echoed throughout the belligerence-hungry crowd.

The next part of the show involved an unfaithful man who slept with his fiancé’s sister in a boat. If this does not seem outrageous enough, he was on the show to demand his ring back. As the adulteress was brought out, she was met with jeers and swears. Fighting began, and as the two sisters dueled it out the audience yelled.

In the final segment, the crowd was introduced to a thinly-mustached bartender who planned to break up with his girlfriend due to her inherent clinginess. The women received sympathy from both Jerry and the audience as she explained her boyfriend’s rudeness and uncaring attitude. The turning point of this segment unraveled as the bartender’s brother appeared on stage. Holding flowers and wearing an oversized suit, the brother confessed his love for the girlfriend and asked if she would leave his brother for him. In this strange love triangle, the girlfriend still insisted on having the bartender back and wanted nothing to do with the brother, despite the opposite feelings coming from the other two men. To the audience’s dismay, no punches were thrown.

Each part of the show was summed up in a comments segment. During this section of the show, the audience had the opportunity to make any comment they wanted to those on “trial.” Comments included whale jokes in reference to the fiancée, the woman in the boat and even in regards to the appearance of other segment members. Those on stage who took these insults did not do so lightly and were not afraid to call out the audience members and verbally fight back.

The show concluded with the “Final Thoughts” segment. The purpose of this part was for Jerry to bring some insightful closure to the chaos of the show as the audience sits back and takes it all in. Once he finished, Jerry waved goodbye to the crowd and headed backstage.

UMass sophomore Brett Hausler said, “The experience seeing it live was a lot different than seeing it on T.V. and you felt like you were part of the experience.”

Jeff Mitchell can be reached at [email protected]