Professional clapper is actually a job in Hollywood.
Yes, we all know about studio audiences for TV shows – no L.A. tourist gets paid for that (though it could be argued that those visiting New York would pay to sit in the audience of Saturday Night Live if they could), but on informercials, you can make as much as $75 per taping.
Director Dito Montiel – who in the past has directed everyone including Dwayne Johnson (Empire State), Robert Downey, Jr. (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) and Channing Tatum (The Son of No One, Fighting) – lived with such a professional clapper, “Eddie,” who Ed Helms portrays in The Clapper.
Montiel and “Eddie” moved to Los Angeles together from New York. “You need jobs when you get out there and my friend gave me a job in a dub room, but Eddie got a job as a clapper,” says the filmmaker. Such professional clappers need to blend into the audience, and if their facial identity is fully revealed, it could prevent them from landing another clapping job in the short term. Wearing various disguises, Eddie took on as many as three infomercial studio audience jobs a day. Montiel mentioned that most of these clappers are busy talking and eating sandwiches during a taping, but when the camera swoops by, they drop everything and start clapping for the camera.
“It was spooky how close Ed sounded to the real Eddie,” says Montiel. While Helms crafted his own take on the character, after listening to long-winded phone messages from Eddie, the Hangover actor was surprised at the vocal similarity as well.
“I didn’t know a lot about the infomercial universe,” confesses Helms, “you’re processing this weird alternate universe where people are clapping for a blender. Obviously, they’re paid.”