Oprah, Arj Barker and Quintessential Sydney

If nothing else, Matt and I are efficient. When we go up to Sydney for a weekend we like to double-up on activities and line up visits with other friends in an attempt to get the most out of the three-hour round trip.

Our first appointment was with Arj Barker on Saturday night. We’ve started giving ‘experiences’ or tickets to shows as birthday presents, because we’re sick of accumulating stuff and don’t have the room for it, so I bought Matt tickets for Arj for his birthday. They were well received. We’re both fans of comedy and Arj Barker is one of our favourites.


True to form though, we lined up to meet my cousin and his fiancee for dinner for a quick BBQ King meal before heading off separately—us to the State Theatre and they to the Domain for Jack Johnson.
On Sunday the four of us, and Mum and Dad, headed into the city by ferry to pick up tickets for the main event of the trip—Oprah. Mum and I lined up to claim our free tickets, won through lottery by registering online, while the boys all went to the Australian Museum. There were some excited people, helicopters hovering over the bridge shooting film of Oprah and her cronies on the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, and the usual sights of the sparkling harbour. Some in the queue had even come straight from the airport, luggage and all, having flown from interstate to claim their tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I must admit, I felt a little fraudulent.

You see, whilst I admire all that Oprah has done for the world and her remarkable talent for relating to rockstar and regular Jo, alike, it’s not something I would normally go to such lengths to be a part of. I haven’t watched an Oprah show since I gave up daytime telly six years ago. But I knew Mum was keen and I thought if we both applied for tickets, one of us might get lucky. I never realised it would be us and 350,000 other applicants probably thinking the same thing. To get an email the next morning, after the lottery run, advising of my success was too easy. So easy, I didn’t appreciate the overwhelming envy others would be feeling when I told them.

After one and half hours of queuing, we had our tickets and purple wristbands to the afternoon taping and made our way back to Pitt St to meet up with the boys and continue on to Yum Cha lunch with friends. Finishing off the day with a bus ride home and a swim in the Woolwich baths, we felt like tourists again in our home town.

When Tuesday rolled around the air at Circular Quay was thick with anticipation. The newspapers had already divulged the free gifts the morning audience had received—a silver and pearl ‘O’ necklace—and the show’s guests included Russell Crowe, Jay-Z and Bon Jovi. With another enormous lineup to endure we all wondered what would be under our seats after the show. Finally Mum and I took our seats at the back of the forecourt. I got swept up in the Oprah mania and couldn’t help myself live-tweeting, along with Sarah Wilson(!!), throughout the afternoon. With on-stage guests being Bono, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Olivia Newton-John and Hugh Jackman (yes, we were there for the crash), we were definitely at the better show of the day. Not to mention our gifts of a silver and pink diamond necklace.

The logistics were superbly handled. With such a big audience, and potential for lunatics, I expected a fair bit of mayhem. But there was not one bit of it. Oprah’s ‘Audience Team’ kept us revved up for the 2 hours of waiting before the taping started, and they’d provided us with water, sunscreen, and an inflatable butt-cushion for a bit of makeshift comfort. There was a little cultural cringe—let’s all sway while we sing Waltzing Matilda—and Americans putting on an Australian accent is never comfortable, but all in all, I was impressed with how the day was managed.


She closed the event with some words of her wealthy wisdom. If we continue to do good through life, we can live a blessed life, too. Our lives are our talk-show. Your teaching is your talk-show. Your restaurant is your talk-show. Now that Oprah’s winding down her talk-show after 25 years, maybe there’s room for one of us. ;)

1 Comment

  1. It’s funny how we sort of become hypocrites when we get to do something a lot of people would consider special, even if we don’t consider it so ourselves. I tell people about working at the record shop with Peter Koppes and Pete Porker and Nitocris even though I was never REALLY a fan of any of them. Except maybe Nitocris, though the vinyl corsets play a part in that.

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