You may not be aware of this, but next week Amazon is delivering to your digital doorstep the two-day shopstravaganza known as Prime Day.
Finally! A day to buy things on the internet! Well, apart from Black Friday and, you know, pretty much every day.
Prime Day was launched in 2015 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Amazon’s inception. Since the first four iterations never seemed to drum up that much excitement beyond people who needed a new USB cable, Amazon is really leaning into the star-studded playbook for the 2019 edition. Amazon is not only partnering with the likes of Hillary Duff and Mark Wahlberg for nifty deals on Cubcoats with Hillary Duff and Performance Inspired Nutrition by Mark Wahlberg—the company kicked off Prime Day with a megaconcert featuring Taylor Swift and SZA. (That sound you hear is all your shopping dreams rustling in the subliminal hinterlands, preparing to come true.)
Considering that the hashtag #PrimeDayConcert was pushed down Twitter’s trending topics by Wednesday night’s #Espys and that whole unfortunate Bagel Boss incident, one wonders how many people live-streamed the event.
Worry not, though, because I watched all 166 minutes to see whether it would infect me with a terminal case of Prime Day Fever. (It did not.)
Here is a running diary of what it was like to experience the musical shopping encouragement in full:
Host Jane Lynch, so far away from both Glee and the Christopher Guest movies, is screaming “Happy Prime Day” each time she high-fives a Taylor Swift fan on the way from door to stage. This occurs at least, no joke, 25 times.
“It’s great to be a Prime Member!” Lynch crows while standing in front of a projected caption that reads “Prime Day Concert, presented by Amazon Music.” The camera cuts to an extremely bored-looking audience member, by mistake (?), and then immediately cuts away.
“It’s great to be a Prime Member!” –Jane Lynch, hosting the Prime Day Concert presented by Amazon Prime pic.twitter.com/oZYfWRjqZB
— Joe Berkowitz (@JoeBerkowitz) July 11, 2019
Lynch jokes that the show is being produced by Alexa, in the first of what turns out to be an astounding number of Alexa jokes. (“Alexa, spotlight me,” the host says, and a spotlight dutifully appears.) Fun fact: Bruce Vilanch had to clone himself several times over to staff the writers’ room. It’s the most expensive writers’ room in history.
As Alexa launches into an original rap about Jane Lynch, I can feel my soul scream to be delivered back into the ethereal mush of the pre-born realm, to begin again brand new.
My live stream cuts out for the first time. Why couldn’t this have happened while Alexa was rapping? Perhaps the rap is what made my laptop commit hara-kiri. While I’m back at the launch screen, I see that six people so far have rated Prime Day Concert five stars on Amazon.
Dua Lipa kicks off the show by announcing that she feels lucky to be here with so many amazing female performers. She doesn’t say the words “Amazon” or “Prime Day Concert.” However, just before she launches into her final piece, she does say “Alexa, play ‘New Rules.'”
“How does it feel to be at this exclusive concert for Amazon Prime members only?” cohost Tyler Oakley asks a Dua Lipa fan in the crowd. (It feels amazing.)
Jane Lynch is now doing a bit to demonstrate the incredible versatility of Alexa, where she asks it to play music for several specific moods—”Alexa, play a song that helps me jazzer my cize”—and then each time it plays “Old Town Road.” The crowd is silent, save for screaming “I got the horses in the back” during the “Old Town Road” snippets.
Michael Zegen of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fame joins that show’s occasional costar Jane Lynch on stage. They banter briefly about whether they’ve ever filmed a scene together, possibly during one of the show’s scenes set in Paris, which ends up being a prompt for Zegen’s closing line, “We may not have Paris but we’ll always have Prime Day.”
Whenever the show cuts to a commercial break, the ads are either for upcoming Amazon shows or other Amazon services you may not have heard of. (Something called Amazon Wardrobe exists? Is it the closet computer from Clueless? Because it should be.) The cumulative effect feels like parachuting into the “Malkovich Malkovich” scene from Being John Malkovich, but for savings!
“It’s an honor to be here tonight, sharing the stage with these women,” says the show’s second performer, Becky G. She does not utter the words “Amazon” or “Prime Day Concert.”
“We just witnessed the world premiere of Becky G’s new song, ‘Dollar,’ now available on Amazon Music,” Tyler Oakley says, breathlessly, afterward, “and I have got a prime spot here with all of these fans.” It is at this moment that I pour my first of what would be two Wednesday-night whiskeys.
Like clockwork, Jane Lynch launches into the fourth Alexa bit of the evening—it’s pretty much all they’ve got—which results in a bunch of dancers in Three Wolf T-shirts appearing onstage and firing T-shirts via Three Wolf T-shirt cannons into the crowd, while a Borat impersonator says, “Alexa is mah wife!” (Amazingly, that very last part is the only part of this description I made up.)
When SZA takes the stage to perform, she has to do some notably awkward changes to her lyrics to avoid curse words, before announcing to the crowd, “I’m not allowed to curse.”
SZA is the performer who can least hide her disdain for this entire enterprise, and I love her for it. She does not say the words “Amazon” or “Prime Day Concert.”
“Are you guys alive?” she asks the crowd of Swifties at one point, and I lament my inability to let her know she is giving at least one viewer life at this very moment.
Jane Lynch refers to this evening as “The best darn concert this side of Poughkeepsie.” (?????)
There’s a pre-taped bit where Lynch and Oakley hang out in a room where everything is made of Amazon boxes. It’s terrible, but at least there isn’t another Alexa joke.
“We have been streaming live on Amazon Video, and now we’re streaming live on Instagram!” Tyler Oakley says, filming himself with some fans from his phone. I want to throw my phone into a volcano.
Here are some things Taylor Swift says during her 45-minute performance (the other performers got about half that much time): “Welcome to the Amazon Prime Day concert. I’m Taylor,” “I wanna say thank you so much to Amazon for having us all,” “I wanna say it was an honor sharing the stage with these bosses,” and “Thank you, Amazon.”
At the end of her performance, Swift runs around the stage limply touching fingers with fans as the other performers return to the stage (except for SZA, my hero, who left immediately once her contractual duties were fulfilled).
Finally, with nothing else left to do, Jane Lynch looks into the camera and says, “Alexa, end the show and roll credits.”
Presumably, millions of Prime subscribers begin testing their neglected Amazon services and loading up their carts with sweet deals-to-be, anticipating the blessed moment next week when they can finally, finally do some shopping on the internet.