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The Daily Dish Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen

Andy Cohen Shares WWHL's Unlikely Origin Story: "I Basically Broadcast from a Closet"

The late night host celebrates 15 years of WWHL by revealing how having his assistant record interviews in the office eventually led to the iconic show. 

By Hannah Chambers

Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen is celebrating 15 years! Watch new episodes on Bravo and Peacock and relive the show’s most memorable moments throughout the month of June.

Believe it or not, Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen is turning 15! The late night talk show has come a long way from its early days as a web series, and we're finding plenty of was to celebrate. 

How to Watch

Tune in to WWHL on Bravo Sunday through Thursday and next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Bravo App.

From an epic anniversary party filled with Bravolebs at Andy Cohen's favorite New York City spot, the Boom Boom Room, to a limited edition WWHL 15th Anniversary Box fans can grab to celebrate from home, the good times keep on coming. There was even a must-watch primetime WWHL special on Sunday, June 30. To keep the party going, Andy sat down with BravoTV to dish on the early days of the show. 

Before the iconic Clubhouse came to be, Andy explained that the vibes at Bravo were very different than what they've grown into today.

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"In 2007, the thing that was powering us were our competition shows. So it was, 'How do we build off the success of Project Runway?' So then, the directive was to do what we did with fashion with food, and that's how we came up with Top Chef. And then we decided to do it with hair, which is how we came up with Shear Genius," Andy said in the clip above. From there, he went on to explain that this was also the time that The Real Housewives of Orange County was "off and running," which would soon lead to the next installation in the franchise: The Real Housewives of New York City

Andy Cohen explains how WWHL went from a web series to a late night talk show

While working at Bravo as a programming executive, Andy began sending "really newsy emails" to his bosses about the goings-on at the network. They soon encouraged him to start a blog on 

"I would write not only about what I did the night before, but I would write about Bravo shows," said Andy.

Exclusive video content with Bravolebs would soon follow. When Bravo talent would visit the office, Andy would sometimes ask his assistant to bring a camera into his office to record an informal interview, which would then be shared online. 

"This was the only experience I had on camera," he said. "That was kind of the early beginnings of Watch What Happens Live, actually."

From there, the show evolved into a digital series filmed in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, where CNBC was located. "The show's title was Watch What Happens, and that was Bravo's tagline," Andy explained. "I basically broadcast from a closet." 

From "Would You Rather" to "Word Association," games and viewer interaction were always an important part of WWHL.

Andy Cohen holding a balloon and note cards in front of a blue backdrop.

"It was me and a guest or two and we were taking live calls and emails," he said. "It was meant to be the only interactive talk show." 

Eventually, the web show was sponsored by American Express, and moved to a digital studio in Rockefeller Center. "It seemed like the big time to me," Andy said, but the series would only continue to grow. WWHL moved from a digital series recorded in Rockefeller Center to its own broadcast television show with a studio downtown. 

Ahead of the very first episode, featuring guests Danielle Staub of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Reco Chapple from The Fashion Show, and guest caller Sarah Jessica Parker.

"I was so excited. I felt super, super comfortable," the host said of that history-making episode in 2009. "I remember going into the bathroom to take one pee before I went on the air. I remember looking in the mirror and I remember thinking, 'You're not nervous.' And I kind of felt like it was meant to be, to tell you the truth." 

Andy Cohen Talks About the Premiere Episode of WWHL on Bravo

Andy Cohen's home inspired the WWHL Clubhouse

In the video above, Andy explained that he was thrilled to see the Clubhouse for the first time, noting that it was designed after a room in his house. The shelving, inspired by Andy's home decor, was and still is filled with tchotchkes, awards, and even an encyclopedia set from his childhood.

Some of the decor was even brought in from Andy's home, including a set of antique chairs and an Edward Fields rug. It's since been updated with another from the same designer, but the original is still in the family.

"The original rug in the clubhouse... is in my daughter Lucy's room today. So that is a piece of history," he shared. 

Andy Cohen explains the beginning of WWHL's drinking games and bartender tradition

From the fan-favorite shotski to the WWHL Drinking Game Alert, the vibe of the show has always playfully invited guests and viewers to raise a glass. 

"I said I wanted to be able to drink on the show, because it was live after dark," Andy explained. "I said if I'm inviting you into my home after dark to play games and kibbitz, I'm going to be drinking." 

From the beginning, the Clubhouse included a bar that was well-staffed by friends of the show. Andy explained that his parents, husbands of The Real Housewives and "really anyone we could grab" would find themselves working as WWHL bartenders. He added, "Over the years, it has become a place that we've liked to showcase charities or small businesses or authors of books that i love or authors of books that my staff loves. It's really evolved into its own little thing." 

WWHL airs Sundays through Thursdays at 10/9c on Bravo. Episodes stream the next day on Peacock.

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