Holding the Floor
Now, I had some pretty good coaching last night, and I find that if I yield only for a question or a point of order or a personal privilege, that I can hold this floor almost until doomsday. In other words, I've got a piece to speak, and blow hot or cold, I'm going to speak it.Bob must perform a filibuster for in-universe reasons. Perhaps he is a politician and must perform a genuine filibuster.note Perhaps he's been cornered by the Big Bad and is pretending to surrender in the hope that the Big Damn Heroes or The Cavalry will turn up to rescue him. Perhaps The Hero is doing something critical in the next room and Bob has offered to hold the bad guys off or at least hold the attention of the audience. Perhaps two groups in the room each know One Side of the Story and he simply can't let them talk to each other. Perhaps Alice is on next and she hasn't turned up yet, but Bob knows she will if he can hang on for a bit. Either way, Bob is screwed and his only option is to stand up and talk. And talk. And talk. What Bob says might be a Character Filibuster but more often he's making it up as he goes, going off on tangents, telling Blatant Lies or rambling. A good opportunity to rattle off exposition. May be a Multitasked Conversation. If Bob pulls it off, may become a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Bonus points if Bob can't or won't lie. Compare We Need a Distraction, Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?. May be part of a Scheherezade Gambit. May overlap with Conveniently Timed Distraction if a character stalls for time and hopes for an opportunity. Contrast Talking Is a Free Action. Do not confuse with Hold the Line which involves a lot of physical fighting, though if you throw in Blood on the Debate Floor they might overlap. A Character Filibuster is where the author puts a speech in Bob's mouth to make a point
— Jefferson Smith, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
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Anime and Manga
- In the Marvel Universe, MJ in the Sensational Spider-Man Annual. During Civil War she's caught by a SHIELD agent, she starts talking about her and Peter's relationship, about how they got together. At one point the agent calls her on it, tell her she's in trouble, that this isn't a time time to reminisce. When he pulls her up he sees a spider tracer lying on the bench she was sitting on. And Spider-Man's about to come through the window. Turns out MJ was just stalling time for Peter to be able to get there to save her.
- One Lucky Luke story has Luke help build a bridge, which still isn't finished by the time of the opening ceremony. Luke asks the mayor to stall for time, which he does by declaring that a few words from the Lord wouldn't be out of place, and starts reading aloud: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." By the time the repairs are done he's all the way up to Job.
- In The Pulse, when Luke Cage proposes to Jessica Jones, the proposal and his reasons for it covers five pages.
Films — Animated
- Merida in Brave keeps four clans focused on her while her mother, turned into a bear tries to sneak up to her room.
- Timon in The Lion King 1½ has to distract the hyenas long enough to allow his mom and uncle to create a tunnel underneath the hyenas to collapse (long story!) which leads to this unforgettable exchange:
Timon: "Shenzi Marie Predatora Veldetta Jacquelina Hyena...would you do me the honor of becoming... my bride?"Pumbaa: *Jaw Drop*Banzai & Ed: *Jaw Drop*Shenzi: *Jaw Drop* I don't think so!
Films — Live-Action
- Nicholas and Alexandra: the Russian prime minister says "I have the floor Mr. Kerensky." Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky, who is the Only Sane Man in the Duma later manages to silence the Duma and tells then that Rasputin's death does not solve the problems of Russia's failing government. The army deserting by the thousands, the civilians are going to organize food and fuel riots, his German wife is still ruling The Empire, and the Czar is ignoring reality. , 
- Mr Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibusters in front of the Senate
- 10 Things I Hate About You: Kat tries to distract Mr. Chapin so Patrick can escape detention. She rambles on about soccer tactics for several minutes. Patrick has almost made to the window when Kat's ingenuity begins to run out. In desperation, she begins talking about misdirection, using..."THESE!" (and lifts her shirt up).
Patrick: I thought for sure I was busted when I was climbing out that window, I tell you. So, how did you keep him distracted?Kat Stratford: I dazzled him with my...wits.
- Akeelah and the Bee: Akeelah leaves the Spelling Bee for several minutes and Javier stalls spelling his word ("ratatouille") to give her time to get back.
Javier: Can you use that in a sentence?Judge: You've already been given two sentences.Javier: Can you use it in a song?Judge: (stares in disbelief)(Akeelah returns)Javier: (sighs in relief, then immediately rattles off the correct spelling.)
- Amusingly after he and Akeelah both return to their seats, she thanks him and he remarks (paraphrased) "I was about to start a tap dance."
- Our Man Flint. The U.S. President is on television and about to surrender to the Galaxy organization. Derek Flint contacts his boss Lloyd Cramden and gives him the location of Galaxy Island, which will allow the U.S. to launch a counterattack. Cramden contacts the President:
Cramden: Are you there, sir? Sir, stall! Stall, dammit! Flint is alive!President: Uh, no, uh, no great decision...
- In Star Trek: First Contact:
Dr. Crusher: I swore I'd never use one of these... Computer, activate the Emergency Medical Hologram!EMH: Please state the nature of the medical emergency.Crusher: Twenty Borg are about to break through that door. Create a diversion!EMH: This is not part of my program. I'm a doctor, not a doorstop.Crusher: Do a dance, tell a story, I don't care! Just give us a few seconds.[The Borg break in as Dr. Crusher leaves]EMH: According to Starfleet medical records, Borg implants cause severe skin irritation. Would you like an analgesic?
- A somewhat silly example in that the initial conversation takes exactly as long as the distraction that follows it.
- This is only a technical example, since it's making a political statement in front of politicians, but in Cody Banks 2, the orchestra is asked to stall the world leaders from having their meeting, (since the Big Bad has them under Mind Control and the purpose of the meeting is to hand control of the Earth over to him) while Cody takes on the villains. After the first song, the orchestra goes into a rendition of War! (What Is It Good For?)
- In the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film, when Holmes is stuck in prison, he avoids getting beaten up by telling a long series of jokes. He is released just before he runs out.
- In What About Bob?, Bob is sent to an 'official' mental hospital, dropped off by the gradually insane Leo Marvin. His plan fails, however, as Bob holds the floor by telling psychiatric jokes.
- Bob probably didn't even do it on purpose. The whole plot of the movie is that Bob is actually a pretty likeable guy that everyone loves, except for the unfortunate individual he's decided to fixate upon (for the duration of the movie, this is Leo; it apparently also happened to Bob's former analyst, who seems pretty happy to be rid of him).
- Subverted in Little Voice, where the title character, a shy, shut-in recluse with the ability to perfectly imitate any singer she's heard, refuses to repeat her show-stopping performance at a local nightclub, so Michael Caine's character (a seedy manager of third-rate acts) goes on stage to try to stall for time while her mother tries to talk her into performing once again. It doesn't work; Little Voice persists in her refusal to perform, and Michael Caine's character ends up humiliated when the audience, tired of waiting, finally walks out on him.
- In Ocean's Thirteen, Basher dresses up as a stunt man that Willy Bank has hired for his grand opening and yells at Bank about the nature of his payment in order to distract Bank from the fact that Virgil is hacking in and digitally altering the photos of the gang that are being sent to him.
- Chaucer's "Wait! I haven't given my introduction!" speech in A Knight's Tale buys time for William to tend to his injury.
- In the first Men In Black film, Agent J does this (and takes quite a beating) while Agent K "goes to get his gun". After the Big Bad swallowed it.
- Tony Stark in The Avengers does this twice. The first time he is being his usual charming self while putting a hacking device on the computers on the Helicarrier bridge. The second he is stalling Loki (though he claims he is merely threatening him) while his new suit is brought online.
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Finnick's broadcast serves a dual purpose—exposing Snow and jamming the signals in the Capitol to keep the rescue team from being discovered.
- The Ur Example: in Arabian Nights, Scheherezade tells the sultan stories night after night, always stopping at a Cliffhanger so that he won't execute her until he hears the end. It saves her life.
- In the eighth book of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Klaus and Sunny disguise themselves as surgeons (yes, Sunny's a baby and no, no one notices) to try to stop the "cranioectomy" (read: decapitation) about to be performed on an anesthetized Violet at the hospital by Count Olaf and his henchmen. However, once they enter the operating theater, they realize they have no direct way of stopping the plan, so they try to explain the "surgery" to be performed to the observers in great detail to give Violet the chance to wake up and escape. They end up having to explain the history of the knife, among other things, in order to stall for time.
- In The Lost Fleet, Geary has Rione do this while he prepares his fleet to leave through a jump gate. The Syndics waste a huge amount of time trying to deal with her before they realize that she is stalling.
- In Dead Famous by Ben Elton, Inspector Coleridge talks on television for five and a half minutes to delay the end of the show so his colleagues can arrive with faked evidence to prompt a confession from the murderer.
- Senator Seab Cooley's filibuster in Allen Drury's A Shade of Difference.
- In Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Meliara attempts to plead for the life of her brother despite her obstinate attitude. Just as the villain catches on to her behavior, she reveals she was stalling for time as the Hill Folk arrive and save the day.
- In Diane Duane's The Romulan Way, McCoy gets his chance to engage in the Romulan Right of Statement (after being sentenced to death) and promptly turns it into a "good old Southern filibuster" until another Starfleet agent reaches the city, allowing him to escape. Much of his dialogue is genuine filibuster material—irrelevant side trips onto topics like whiskey and chili that leave the Romulans scratching their heads, though he gets in a number of subtle jabs at the Romulan government.
- In King Solomon's Mines, the heroes take advantage of a Convenient Eclipse to impress an African tribe with their power to "kill the moon". At the time of the eclipse they pretend to perform a ritual, which (banking on the natives not knowing English) in fact consists of long nonsense speeches strung together for as long as the eclipse lasts.
- Atticus, from To Kill A Mocking Bird has to give a filibuster in court...because, well, he's a lawyer. An incredibly awesome speech it is, too.
- Played with in Diana Wynne Jones's Witch Week. In the climactic scene, Chrestomanci is trying to keep the lid on a standoff between a class full of witches and the witch-hunters, and Nan jumps up and begins to talk. Only, instead of buying time for Chrestomanci to act, Chrestomanci is actually holding the world still with magic so that Nan can finish her story. The purpose of which is to convince the class full of witches to combine their efforts to undo the mistake of History and merge their world back into its proper place, ending the threat of witch-burnings forever.
- One of Albert Campion's handiest skills is being able to do this (oft times in a comedic manner), and it has saved both his and many other people's lives many times throughout the series.
- The Gatekeeper does this in The Dresden Files book Proven Guilty. The death sentence on Molly is not considered final until all members of the senior council present have voted, so by delaying the casting of his vote he gives time for those members who aren't present to arrive and overturn the guilty verdict.
- Journey To Chaos: The Big Bad of A Mage's Power doesn't explain his Evil Plan to gloat or Motive Rant but to buy time for his reserve troops to show up and subdue the heroes who have cornered him.
Live Action Television
- In The Mentalist, this trope is Patrick Jane's only weapon against the criminals he corners since he's a "consultant" and not an actual agent, and hence doesn't carry a gun.
- It happened in Criminal Minds once, where Hotch and Reid are locked in a room with a serial killer and the guards won't be back for fifteen minutes. Hotch takes off his suit jacket and tie to prepare to fight the guy, but then Reid, true to his nature, starts babbling about all of the possible factors contributing to the killer's sociopathy. For fifteen minutes.
- It works, too, even though the guy is on death row and specifically attempting to kill them to create enough chaos to postpone his execution. Luckily, Reid is good enough at reading people to figure out that the guy is an enormous narcissist who would rather listen to people talk endlessly about how great and misunderstood he was than, you know, live.
- In iCarly, Carly and Spencer take turns giving speeches at a man's funeral (with hilarious results) so Sam and Freddie can search his computer for his legendary pie recipe.
- In The West Wing episode "The Stackhouse Filibuster" a senator filibusters a health care bill. The staff spend the episode trying to work out why. Turns out the senator's grandson has autism, and the push to vote immediately is blocking autism funding from the bill.
C.J.: If you ever have a free two hours and are so inclined, try standing up without leaning on anything and talking the whole time. You won't make it. I wouldn't make it. Stackhouse wasn't supposed to last 15 minutes. He's 78 years old. He has a head cold. This bill is going to pass. Well, somebody forgot to tell Stackhouse, Dad, cause he just went into hour number eight.
- After the white house figures out why he's doing this, and that as a result there's nothing they can do to make that vote happen, they recruit just about every grandfather in the senate to come in with questions so he can have a rest.
- In Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Enterprise Incident", when Kirk steals the Romulan cloaking device, Spock demands the Right of Statement to buy Scotty enough time to install it on the Enterprise.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Looking for Par'mach in all the Wrong Places", Quark demands the Ferengi Right of Proclamation during a duel with a Klingon to give Worf and Dax the opportunity to fix the mechanism that allows them to remote control Quark's body during the duel. The Klingons give it to him as he has respected their traditions and they should respect his.
- In the season 7 premiere of NCIS, Tony is captured by terrorists, goes through a rough interrogation under the effects of a truth serum, swearing his captor will die. Despite being forced to tell the terrorists everything, he stalls by telling them about the NCIS team one by one until Gibbs turns up to rescue him.
Tony: You have 30 seconds to live Salim.Terrorist: You are still bound! You are lying!Tony: I can't lie, remember? And I never said I would be the one to kill you. You know how I told you my boss was a sniper?
- The Doctor, a character who embodies this method of dealing with an imminent crap/fan gestalt, lampshades this trope in the Doctor Who series 5 episode "Flesh and Stone". As the Weeping Angels are closing in on him inside the crashed ship, he buys himself time to escape by Holding the Floor. As he runs off amid their confusion, he actually yells back to them, "And I'll tell you something else. Never let me talk."
- 10 gives a great one in Age of Steel, where he gives a long rambling speech to John Lumic, giving a few vital hints in the process as he knows that Micky is watching, and the speech goes on just long enough for Mickey to understand, and Give all the cybermen back their emotions, causing them to realise what they've become, followed by a System Overload. The funny thing is, the speech, despite the fact that the Doctor is just rambling to give Mickey time, it's perfectly structured, and he gives the kickass conclusion exactly when Mickey is ready and he can stop talking, despite the fact that he has no clue whether Mickey is ready.
- An example in which the floor holder is unaware, is Ianto Jones in Torchwood, during the episode "Cyberwoman". When it becomes clear that Lisa isn't giving up and Ianto can't being himself to shoot her, the rest of the team open fire.
- On Fringe, William Bell does this to temporarily stop the Fringe division of the alternate universe while Olivia and Walter run away from the hospital.
- On Parks and Recreation, Leslie holds a town hall meeting to get public support for her plan to turn Lot 48 into a park, but the only people who show up hate the idea. To avoid an inevitable negative vote, she gives a brief history of the town which eventually degenerates into her attempting to read The Phantom Tollbooth aloud in its entirety.
Paul: My god, she's filibustering her own meeting!
- In another episode, Leslie is holding a meeting to change some of the obsolete rules in the town charter. Gareth, the caretaker of the Pawnee historical house, opposes the changes and holds the floor by reciting his ideas for the new Star Wars movies.
- In the episode "Filibuster" the Pawnee city council tries to pass a law that would make it so the recently integrated-into-Pawnee Eagleton citizens could not vote. Since that is wrong (and because it would cost Leslie votes in the recall election), Leslie filibusters the vote. Councilman Jamm tries to stop her by cranking the thermostat to ninety degrees and breaking off the nob.
- The Due South episode "One Good Man" (alternate title "Thank You Kindly, Mr Capra").
- On the Twilight Zone episode "One For the Angels", to keep Death from claiming the soul of a child, a man has to give a Sales-pitch to distract him long enough so that he won't be able to claim the girl's soul within the time limit.
- In The Black Adder, Prince Edmund is about to be burnt as a witch, when he is given one last chance to confess (which won't stop him being burnt, but will supposedly mean he doesn't go to Hell). Realising he can't be burnt while he's confessing, he starts admitting that he coveted his father's adultery and failed to honour his neighbour's ass. It doesn't work, since the Witchfinder gets fed up and lights the bonfire anyway.
- In 30 Rock, when Jack's girlfriend tries to leave him during a wedding, Liz does this in her speech in order to keep her seated, and give Jack time to commit to her. Considering it's Liz's ex-boyfriend's wedding, things get awkward.
- Artemus Gordon's go-to method for providing a distraction whenever one is called for.
- Chuck Bartowski is prone to do this, particularly when trying to distract people in his personal life from discovering something related to his spyworld shenanigans, or more directly stall for time for Casey and/or Sarah to get him out of trouble.
- Monk uses this in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding" to keep a suspect from leaving the hotel until Captain Stottlemeyer can bring Randy down to identify her.
- In the Sherlock episode "The Sign of Three", Sherlock realizes just as he's about to end his (actually quite moving) best man speech at John and Mary's wedding that there's a potential murder victim among the guests but he doesn't yet know who. Trying to buy time and deduce at lightning speed, his speech veers off onto bizarre and inappropriate tangents.
- In the Grand Finale of Chuck the General is sitting on a bomb set to go off at the end of a concert - so Chuck sends in Jeffster to keep the concert going by playing "Take On Me." Chuck defuses the bomb just as the song ends.
- Sarge walks up to Beetle Bailey, fists clenched, saying "say your prayers, Beetle!". Beetle says "all right Sarge, don't rush me." The last panel shows Beetle reading aloud from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, the implication being that he's reading through the entire Bible to stall for time.
- In a FoxTrot comic, Paige tries to avoid eating her mother's cooking by filibustering a pre-dinner toast, which consists of reading War and Peace aloud in its entirety.
- Arlo Guthrie was opening for some other band. They hadn't shown up yet. So, Arlo created and performed the (rather long) song "Alices Restaurant" right there on the spot.
- This is the basis of the long-running BBC Radio show Just a Minute, in which contestants have to speak non-stop for a minute on a topic they've just been given, without hesitation, repetition, or deviation.
- Every kind of delay in simulcasts results in the commentators doing this.
- There was a German football match where two commentators had to hold the floor for above an hour since one of the goals had just broken down and fallen, while the second goal they got was too small. The commentators even earned an award for their performance and their filibuster had more views than the actual game.
- Once MLB instituted instant replay, managers now do this while the personnel assigned to review the play determine whether he should challenge the umpire's decision. This has led to sportscasters pointing out that the stalling prior to the challenges takes almost as long as the old way when managers would argue the call without the fun of watching them blow up once the umpire ejects them from the game.
- The crew of Test Match Special are renowned for their ability to do this through rain delays, typically by Rambling Old Man Monologue (although thanks to cricket's stop-start nature they often do those during the match too).
- In Richard II, Richard has lost his kingdom to his cousin Henry and now must formally abdicate, hand over the crown and "confess" his crimes. It's only through his audacious, eloquent, and almost never ending verse that Richard maintains his power in that room during what should be his utter humiliation. He's still killed later, though.
- In Dragon Age II, should Hawke agree to help Anders in his final companion quest they will need to hold the floor with Grand-cleric Elthina whilst Anders sneaks into the back and plants a bomb that destroys the chantry and kills the only mediator in the mage-Templar conflict.
- In Kevin & Kell, Kevin tried to resign his seat when he found out the Rabbit Council was taking bribes. They refused it since they needed his daughter Coney to protect them. When they tried to move to new business, Kevin started filibustering by chewing carrots, as under herbivore rules as long as he is chewing something he holds the floor. After four days he collapses, leaving him vulnerable to a snake. Coney kills the snake and then she continues the filibuster until the council agrees to stop taking bribes.
- Muertitos: Ankhmutes' mother has to ask her to continue the filibuster while she goes to the bathroom. Since she has no interest in what's being discussed, she just reads her fanfics aloud instead.
- In Kim Possible Kim is late to the school's talent show, so Ron goes on stage with an improvised act to buy some time before she can turn up. He wins.
Ron: But what am I supposed to do?Rufus: Wing it!
- On King of the Hill episode "Flush with Power" Hank filibusters at a regulations board meeting in order to make the board members use the restrooms in the building in order to make them realize the terrors of the lo-flow toilets that were recently installed. He reads two years' worth of newspaper opinion columns.
- On Disney's Hercules series, Icarus has to stall a restless audience waiting to see a performance by Orpheus, whom Hercules has to rescue from the Underworld. Icarus mentions that Herc got the easy job.
- In one of Futurama's Anthology of Interest episodes, Bender is turned into a human and the professor plans to show him off at a science convention, but Bender goes missing, causing the professor to do a rather poor attempt at this. Made better by the fact he finishes with the line "Without further stalling for time."
- The Justice League episode, "In Blackest Night", has The Flash trying to stall John Stewart's trial by saying things like "So if the ring wasn't lit, you must acquit." Flash also mentions the Irony of asking the world's fastest man to slow things down.
- The old rules for United States Senate filibusters are where this trope got its start. While the rules have been changed (repeatedly) in the last quarter of a century or so, originally, to filibuster, a single Senator had to hold the floor by speaking continuously. He didn't have to stay on topic; he just had to keep talking (with three exceptions: he could yield to a question, a point of order, or a point of personal privilege).
- Huey Long, an early 20th century populist who filibustered many "pro-rich" bills, was known to read Shakespeare and discuss "potlickers" recipes. For fifteen hours.
- In the Illinois State Legislature (around 2009), a senator filibustered a bill by reading from the phonebook.
- The record so far is Senator Strom Thurmond. He filibustered for 24 hours 18 minutes until the bill's supporters got the supermajority needed to shut him up. The bill? The Civil Rights Act of 1957.
- Senator Ted Kennedy mentions in his biography that President Reagan once pulled something like this on him. At one point, when called to a meeting with Kennedy and several other senators on the subject of shoe and textile import limits, Reagan asked Kennedy about his shoes and then rambled on about how he used to sell shoes for his father for over 20 minutes. The policies in question never did get discussed.
- And now Sen. Rand Paul talking about Liberty and Rights in protest of the American drone program on American soil, for just shy of 13 hours.
- On 25th June 2013, Sen. Wendy Davis held the floor for 13 straight hours to stop an anti-abortion billnote from passing in the USA-state of Texas. Unlike in US Senate, Texas laws dictates that she could not veer from the topic, cause distruptions, eat, drink, sit, lean, receive assistance, or stop talking for any reason except to hear questions, which the Republican senate observed as strictly as they could. She was forced to stop just minutes from the deadline, but Senator Leticia Van de Putte (At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?") caused the crowd outside to make enough noise to shout down the voting. The voting had to be done a second time, which occurred after the legal period for taking it had ended, which meant that the bill was declared dead. Governor Rick Perry then had to assign it to a Second Special Session.
- In Ontario, the NDP filibustered legislation that would join Metro Toronto and the City of Toronto into a single mega-city by introducing over 12000 amendments: one for each street in the effected areas, 700 different proposed dates for the bill to come into effect, and some more thrown in by the Liberal party proposing historical designations to named streets. The process of voting on each amendment (and then going back and striking down some amendments that did manage to get passed) took over a week.
- Left wing Labour MP Dennis Skinner (and several others asking questions) spent several hours on 20th January 1989 moving a writ for a by-election in order to stop an anti-abortion bill being debated.
- A quote from David McCullough's biography of John Adams, concerning his ability to speak extemporaneously during his time as a lawyer:
"Once, to give a client time to retrieve a necessary record, Adams spoke for five hours, through which the court and jury sat with perfect patience."
- When Ronald Reagan (yes, that Ronald Reagan) worked as a sports broadcaster, in one baseball game he had the telegraph that was sending him the game information go out. Since there were other stations covering the same game, telling the listeners would have meant losing his audience for the game. So Reagan, thinking on his feet, started repeatedly calling out foul balls for the Cubs' Billy Jurges until the telegraph started working, for long enough that had it been real, Jurges' at-bat reportedly would have set a Major League record for consecutive fouls. Amusingly, it turns out that Jurges had actually gotten out on a fly ball on the first pitch.
- In 1897, Dr. Lecher maintained a 12-hour filibuster in the Austro-Hungarian House, which Mark Twain called "the longest flow of unbroken talk that ever came out of one mouth since the world began." Similarly to the Davis example above, Lecher was confined to speaking to the subject — which he did, without notes.
- Shorter example, but awesome in its own way: When the scenery for that night's performance of Ruddigore hadn't quite been finished in time for curtain-up, Festival Director Ian Smith stepped out in front of the curtain and regaled the audience with random anecdotes and factoids until a hand came out and pulled him in. The show eventually started something like 30-45 mins late.