Tanner Stransky
November 03, 2011 AT 05:06 AM EDT

If you can imagine, stuff happens at the taping of live TV shows that you — the viewing audience out there in the great USA — never really sees. But, call me a journalist, call me a spy — my job is to bring those moments, however completely and totally irrelevant, to you! So that’s what I’ve done here in this blog post, collecting together the things that you didn’t see on your screen during last night’s two-hour live episode of Fox’s talent competition The X Factor.

So what happened? The producers banned glow-in-the-dark posters! The judges bickered! The fog/smoke choked audience members! And, there were some crazy Canadians, stirring up trouble. Read on for all the details on those things and more inside the studio at X Factor last night:

Audience: Go crazy! Please! The biggest direction from Bill, the warm-up guy, before the show started was for everyone in the house to do whatever they wanted during the show. Really. Bill encouraged the crowd to “boo” if they didn’t like a comment Simon made or stand up for performances they liked, or basically, to do whatever else they felt. Even Simon got on board, telling the audience: “You look very badly behaved tonight. I like that. Here are the rules: There are no rules.” And then he added, to continue the whole judges’ battle thing: “Support my artists more than the others!”

No glow-in-the-dark signs. Banned from The X Factor studio: glow-in-the-dark signs. Warm-up guy Bill warned the audience that any glow-in-the-dark signs had to be put away. I guess so that the pitch-black thing that they regularly do in the studio can be preserved? But still: Weird.

Free tickets to the finale! The pre-show competition to get audience amped up? Warm-up guy Bill pulled four dudes from the crowd — a variety ranging from a 6-year-old boy to a rather old man — to engage in a dancing contest. It was hilarious, as you might imagine. And the winner took home a pair of passes to The X Factor season finale. The rest of the audience was, needless to say, rather jealous.

Pass the earplugs. Before I went to the show, my colleague Adam B. Vary — who went to last week’s first live taping of the show — suggested I take a pair of earplugs with me to the show because of the intensity of the volume in the studio. I paid little attention to his suggestion, mostly because I thought I’d be fine, but when I sat down in my seat, a bag of earplugs was being passed down the row. Later, an usher appeared, offering them to anyone who wanted. And thank goodness! It was loud as hell. Clearly, a memo had come through — after last week’s first live show — that audience members were complaining of the volume. Heck, later, warm-up guy Bill even told us that one of the show’s producers had told him it was so loud in the studio that “the judges complained they can’t hear themselves think.” I wore my pair the entire time.

The judges’ rivalry continues. Before the show, Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid showed up a bit early to help warm-up guy Bill throw some freebie t-shirts out to the audience, and of course, the judges used it as an opportunity to shill for their artists. “Just remember,” L.A. told the crowd, “vote for my guys!” The whole thing got kind of tiring by the end. People will vote for who they want to vote for!

Full stage amazingness. The first performance of the night, from The Stereo Hogzz, was the perfect example of how the staging on X Factor can be superior to almost any other talent show out there: Those dancers that came out were a complete vision! I hope that in the taped version they came across as expansive as they were on stage. The same can be said for Marcus Canty and his dancer-heavy performance. In general, the use of the stage was brilliant last night.

The Canadian contingent. Not far from me in the crowd was a contingent from Canada that was completely obsessed with The X Factor. “Canada loves you Simon!” they screamed in unison during the commercial breaks. They were lead by one especially boisterous lady with amazing mom-jean capri pants who sat down during the two-hour show for maybe all of three minutes. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I’m not sure why this note is relevant, but it certainly seemed like it during the show.

Rachel Crow showdown. During the commercial break after the ever-adorable Rachel Crow performed, there was more sniping between the judges, when Nicole told the audience what she had tried to get out after Simon told her that the “grown-ups are talking” during the commentary portion. “Yeah, older grown-ups,” she had apparently quipped back to his snide remark, although we in the studio couldn’t hear it originally. I love that Nicole sort of goes for the jugular with Simon, even if it’s kind of understated.

Where’s Simon? He was late to the beginning of the show — well, to be fair, they did a pre-tape, but he didn’t show up until a few minutes after the other three judges were already seated. And he regularly dashed off during commercial breaks. I know he’s busy, but where the heck was he always running off to?

The never-ending Lakoda Rayne fashion controversy. While lots of the judges’ commentary about Lakoda Rayne’s performance centered on what they were wearing, trust that what happened during the show didn’t stop there. During the commercial break after the group sang, warm-up guy Bill asked Simon: “What should they have been wearing?” To which he just responded to the crowd: “Was I right?” But they mostly disagreed, as that only elicited lots of boos.

Death by smoke. All that fog/smoke during the diva performances from Melanie Amaro and Stacy Francis? Yeah, I guess it really affected the audience members up close, down in the first few rows, as warm-up guy Bill referenced seeing a few of them choking on it during the show. Ha! But I’m willing to endure a few coughs from audience members for that kind of smokey goodness during Stacy and Melanie’s performances.

Nicole Scherzinger: A promotional moment! During a commercial break later in the show, Nicole took a moment to shill for her upcoming solo album, Killer Love, which has already been released in the U.K. “I do have a new album coming out in a few months,” she told the crowd, to which warm-up guy Bill said: “Look at you, promoting everything!” But to be fair, the show itself was doing plenty of it, too, playing her recent single “Right There” during at least one of the breaks. And honestly, is that type of cross-promotion what shows like this are really all about? And why judges do them in the first place?

The fascinating science of commercial break stage cleanup. Maybe it’s fascinating to no one but myself, but do you ever wonder how they clean up the confetti or streamers or — in the case of Drew’s sweet performance — rose petals in such a short commercial-break time frame? Well, first of the, the crew that comes out to take care of the messes is huge — numbering somewhere in the 10-15 range — and also, they use vacuums to do the dirty work, sucking up all the tiny bits with devices that look like leaf blowers but obviously work in the opposite way.

Simon’s sign-off. “You were sensational,” Simon told the audience before exiting the studio, after the show was over. “You have the X Factor. Thank you.”

Read Annie Barrett’s ‘X Factor’ Top 12 telecast recap here.

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

Read more:

Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’ renewed by Fox

‘The X Factor’ renewed for season 2: What needs to change, and what should stay the same?

‘The X Factor’: Is it refreshing or is it way too much?

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