Astoria resident Steven Tarca can see Kaufman Astoria Studios from his window.
On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Tarca was in the building as part of the studio audience for “Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris,” a live variety show that debuted on NBC on Sept. 15. Tarca, a guest service supervisor at the Empire State Building, was asked through Facebook by show staff if he wanted to attend the show, and possibly get a chance to participate in a segment called “Get Lucky.” Tarca said he was chosen based on his active presence on social media.
During the segment, an audience member is picked at random to join Harris on stage and answer a number of questions pertaining to news and current events. For every question answered correctly, the participant receives a prize. Tarca said he read up on the news the week before his segment and also skimmed pop culture websites. His studying paid off and Tarca answered 6 out of 8 questions correctly.
“I had no idea that I was going to be picked but in the case that I did, I was very much reading up on the news for the week and keeping my eyes turned to social media for anything that’s been happening,” Tarca said. “[I’m in] complete shock. I’m still kind of recovering.”
Tarca decided against answering the bonus question, which could have resulted in his winning all 16 prizes, or possibly forfeiting the prizes he already won if he answered the question wrong. The contestant went home with $5,000 in cash, a bathtub full of Snickers bars, a hoverboard, tickets to the Broadway production of “Spring Awakening,” kitchen appliances from Cuisinart and a diamond necklace.
“My phone was off the hook the minute the show ended,” Tarca said.
Though he didn’t get to interact with Neil Patrick Harris after the segment, Tarca said the host told him he was doing a good job and shook his hand during the commercial break. The Astoria resident went to college in Staten Island, then moved to Brooklyn and later attended graduate school in Florida. But his favorite home has been Astoria.
“When I lived in Brooklyn I didn’t really have a sense of community and neighborhood that I get here in Astoria,” Tarca said. “It’s a completely different feel. The feeling of the community here is really incredible.”
To watch the full episode of “Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris,” click here.