After bagging tickets for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, a woman named Nancy was presumably riding high. However, when she got a little overexcited at the studio’s memorabilia store before the recording, hidden cameras caught her red-handed.
For almost 15 years, Ellen DeGeneres has delighted audiences with her eponymous TV chat show. Of course, the American actress found big success with her sitcom, Ellen, before becoming a host. But it is The Ellen DeGeneres Show that has really cemented her celebrity status worldwide.
The lighthearted lifestyle show combines celebrity interviews with comedy, human interest stories and musical performances. There are also audience participation segments and prize giveaways. But one of DeGeneres’ most popular recurring features involves hidden cameras.
Over the years, the chat show host has set up several celebrities in hidden camera pranks. Indeed, stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Emma Watson and Adele have all participated in hilarious practical jokes, usually with unsuspecting members of the public. But in June 2017 DeGeneres turned her lens on her own audience.
Given the popularity of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, audience tickets are unsurprisingly in hot demand. In fact, they often sell out in advance, and some people who turn up for recordings can’t get in. And as a result, producers created the so-called “Riff Raff Room,” where extra attendees can watch the live show from a nearby space.
Now during one fateful recording in June 2017, audience members arrived at the studio and were shown to a special The Ellen DeGeneres Show store. A sign among the merchandise explained to people that they were allowed to take one item per person for free.
The simple sign read, “Welcome! Thank you for being part of our Season 12 Premiere Week. Please pick one item to commemorate your visit. Only one per person please.” However, little did the audience know that it was all a test.
Later on during the actual recording, DeGeneres explained that she was trying to discover just how trustworthy her fans were. And on the whole, the host appeared to be happy with the results. “It turns out you’re very honest – very, very honest,” she told her audience members.
Upon being congratulated for their honestly, the audience began to clap. “You should applaud yourself,” DeGeneres responded, congratulating them on their high morality. “It’s really tough. ’Cause you know, nobody’s watching.”
And it was then that the star dropped a bombshell. Yes, DeGeneres revealed that she had secretly filmed her audience as they made their choices in her shop. And while most had nothing to be ashamed of, the same could evidently not be said of others.
In fact, the footage filmed earlier in her store first shows one woman excitedly trying on an Ellen baseball cap. As she places the accessory on her head, the woman claps her hands happily and enthusiastically cries, “Oh my god!”
Just as it appears that she has settled for the hat, though, the lady notices a green slogan T-shirt. She then reaches across the table to grab it – even though at this point she’s still wearing the cap. Perhaps the woman may be trying to bend the rules and bag two items? No, she finally decides on the shirt, telling her friend that she’d just purchase the hat later.
DeGeneres was so impressed by the woman’s integrity that she decided to reward her. “You put that back, and you weren’t going to take it, and you wanted it. So I have the hat for you,” she revealed. “That’s for you, for being honest. You don’t have to buy it now.”
However, not all of DeGeneres’ audience members had shown such restraint. Returning to the secret footage from her store, the host turned her attention to two other ladies who were in the process of browsing through the memorabilia table.
From the footage, it’s clear that one of the women – a blonde lady – already has a T-shirt draped over her arm. However, she proceeds to pick out a shocking pink mug and a keyring – before scurrying away from the table, as if to distance herself from the scene of her crime.
But it seems that her sticky fingers have rubbed off on her friend, who now grabs a pencil and a shot glass as well as the T-shirt she’s already bagged. As she does so, though, the other woman begins to panic. “Hurry up,” she snaps, before advising her buddy to conceal her swag.
However, that’s not the end of the blonde woman’s exploits. In fact, she later returns to the table to exchange her pink mug for an Ellen cap, much to the bemusement of the host herself and the mortification of the lady in question.
Having introduced herself on the show as Nancy, the audience member later defended herself. “My sister couldn’t come, so that was her souvenir,” she explained. However, that excuse didn’t exactly wash with DeGeneres. “A lot of people’s sisters couldn’t come,” the host pointed out.
Continuing to berate Nancy, DeGeneres added, “You’re the type of person, like, when you go Trick or Treating and nobody’s home, you take the bowl.” However, most of the comedian’s jibes were in good humor. She even assigned Nancy to a naughty chair for the rest of the show.
But it wasn’t DeGeneres’ intention to embarrass Nancy; she just wanted to teach her – and perhaps all of us – an important lesson. “You think nobody’s watching you,” she said. “[But] you just need to be a good person because you want to be a good person.”