TV studio lingo (1953)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Dec 12 20:20:38 UTC 2005
"Odd Language Springing Up In TV Studios" by Bob Thomas
Washington Post, Jun 23, 1953, p. 33, col. 5
My lexicographer is Joe Bigelow, who is producing the new NBC show,
"Saturday Night Revue," starring Hoagy Carmichael. Bigelow has been
forced to bone up on the TV jive in order to communicate with his cast
and crew.
Here are some of the new words:
Goulash -- a variety show, like Carmichaels' revue.
Peasants -- members of the TV audience who wave their hands at the camera.
Cat call -- audition for chorus girls.
Ulcer gulch -- conference room where the script is rehashed.
Horror box -- TV camera.
Train wreck -- a show that's a mess.
Face factory -- makeup room.
Marx-man -- ad lib comic.
Living doll -- a gorgeous showgirl who can't read lines.
Idiot sheet -- cue card.
Fright light -- red light that shows which camera is telecasting.
Fishbowl -- control booth.
Limbo -- stage area between actors and cameras.
Jockey -- camera room operator.
Mike monkey -- audio room operator.
She's too hot -- this gal is overdressed, wearing too many rhinestone
that burn the cameras.
Torture chamber -- screening room for potential sponsors.
Rossellini -- a TV man whose wife also works.
Producer Bigelow also discovered that TV workers have a term for
anybody who is a producer. It's "the monster."

--Ben Zimmer

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