That wasn’t Katherine McPhee singing live last night. Well, I mean, it was Kat McPhee, but she wasn’t singing live. Her performance, along with that fascinating viewer questions segment, was pre-taped about an hour before the show. And I would love to tell you all about it, but unfortunately, I got shut out of the studio. Fox didn’t so much inform me that McPheever and David Foster were not doing their oh-so-energizing rendition of “Something” live, and so I arrived, as per usual, 45 minutes before the show was due to start. And so I missed it.

While it’s tempting to launch into a Doc Jensenian explication of the temporal paradoxes presented by this unexpected scenario — how would the Kristy Lee Cook from the pre-tape have behaved if she’d known that she was in the bottom three, which she should’ve known by that point in the show, except she didn’t because it was pre-taped, boom, Lost American Idol, and your mind is blown — instead, after the jump, I think I’ll just give you a straightforward tick-tock of the goings-on in Stage 36 at CBS Television City.

Fortunately — for me, anyway — an unexpected benefit of the KatMcPhee/”call-in” Q&A pre-tape was that for the second night in arow, Corey the Warm Up Comic did not have time to go through his normalwarm-up routine.(Click that link if you want a full picture of the Corey the WUCexperience, but please do consider yourself forewarned.) Instead, Coreyonly could half-heartedly pull a dude up on stage to shake his booty,allow a pretty decent pop-lock hip-hop dancer do his thing, and then inhis customary NBA announcer fashion, introduce the judges and Ryan. Oh,and some guy named Jim Carrey.

I’m going to continue Slezak’s pledgenot to mention the movie Carrey was there to plug, but that won’t stopme from remarking about how the be-pachyderm’d comedian’s entrancebrought a doofy “gawsh, that’s a movie star right there” grinto no less than Simon Cowell. There weren’t any other celebs in thehouse, best I could tell (and I do not consider Sanjaya a celebrity),but I’ve never seen all three judges as starstruck as they were withCarrey. I mean, Simon even did an air rimshot after one of Carrey’s on-air jokes, a move I thought was limited to American parents out to embarrass their kids.

(Speaking of, I’ve got to apologize if I mention thingsyou’ve already seen or heard on the televised show, which I missed lastnight as I was out at my mother’s 60th birthday dinner. Happy birthday, mom!)

Cheesier still was that group number, but at least that’s somethingwe’ve all come to expect. It was fun to hear the audience scream likeit was an actual Beatles concert, but did anyone else notice thatseveral of the Idols weren’t really singing for long stretches of thesongs? D’Archie practically didn’t open his mouth until “Can’t Buy MeLove”; he looked like he was concentrating more on the choreographythan on matching harmonies.

After the medley finally finished, Carrey left the studio with aflourish, and Jason Castro and Syesha Mercado got Howie Mandel-stylefist pumps from Randy as they left the raised platform behind thejudges’ table. As Corey the WUC moved through the audience handing outcopies of Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul, the Idolstook their position on the benches and promptly began drinking frommini-water bottles (with straws, mind — don’t want to muss thatmake-up). During the recap of Tuesday’s show, the audienceapplause-o-meter pretty much foretold the bottom three: The weakestcheering by far was for David Hernandez, Kristy Lee Cook, and especiallySyesha.

Yesterday, I notedthat the sound system in the studio blew out Syesha’s voice when shesang on Tuesday (a problem I gather from your comments bothered some of you watching fromhome, too). Someone with the show must’ve noticed as well, because Syesha’svoice came through loud and clear last night, and though it stilldidn’t make it any less painful for me to listen to, that didn’t keepRamiele and Nigel from singing along, or a relieved Carly, Michael, andJason from cutting loose.

Michael was free-spirited the entire show, actually. During the adbreak, Corey introduced Danny Noriega in the audience, and when Dannystood up, Michael waved to him with what I can only describe as anocean-wave wave, launching his hand palm up towards the sky. As Carreymight say, allll righty then. Later, while Kristy Lee Cook butcheredperformed “8 Days a Week” for a second time, Michael and Jason bothdanced like they were at a hoedown, and then roped Carly into arecreation (homage? lampoon?) of Kristy’s wide-stance twist-dance. KLCencouraged a lot of silly behavior, really: Nigel even do-si-do’d witha crew member. (But not with Jim Carrey, who had reemerged sanselephant ears and watched the rest of the show in the wings of thestudio.)

Once we went to the ad break, Michael, Jason, Brooke, and DavidHernandez all quickly zoomed off the stage doing the I-gotta-pee run.Chikieze started chatting up D’Archie, David Cook and Carly stood upand, er, just stood there, and Ramiele stared off into space, lookingforlorn, most likely convinced that, given the order in which Ryan’dannounced Syesha and Kristy’s bottom three-ness, she was most likelylast in line. She didn’t have long to feel sorry for herself, though.Amanda Overmyer immediately stepped down from her row, sat next toRamiele, and began to console her, kinda like that single aunt whoalways brought you a popsicle after you skinned your knee. David Cooksoon joined them, sitting on Ramiele’s other side and delivering theSeason 7 pixie some hard-rocking TLC. And then Jason gave her a sweetshoulder squeeze after he’d returned to his seat. (I hope he washed hishands.) They all must really want to keep Ramiele from getting upset.Poor Syesha and Kristy, meanwhile, sat clear on the other end of thestage underneath the still-malfunctioning Stage Right Idol uber-globe, all by their lonesome the entire time.

With all the Idols back in their seats, we moved into the pre-tapedsegment. Amanda continued to defy my prediction that she’d be thisseason’s in-her-own-world LaKisha Jones,instead gamely cracking wise (and more than one smile!) with herroommate Carly. But eventually the reality of the results sunk in, andas the lights went dark so we could better appreciate Kat McPhee’sstirring, invigorating, rousing performance, all the Idols fellsilent. Even when Debbie wrested Jim Carrey away from Simon and Randyduring the next ad break and asked him to sit on the couch, most of theIdols barely interacted with him (although I did see David Cook try tocrack a joke, only to have Carrey act as if he wasn’t there at all).

We spent so much time off the air that I think Paula thought theshow was over, because we were about 10 seconds back into the live showbefore she made it back to her seat. Ryan gave the bad news to DavidH., a relieved Ramiele went back to the benches, and the bottom threeremained standing stage center during the final ad break. (The judgesleft the stage again during this break, and I had to wonder why, sincethey’d all taken their leave of us at least once during the showalready.) We came back, Ryan gave the even worse news to David H., andall the rest of the Idols crowded around him as his Goodbye Packageplayed on the video screen behind them.

It wasn’t until the show was over and the lights came up, though,that I saw they were all waiting for Chikezie to release David H. fromhis now-patented results-night bear hug. The guys must’ve really bonded– when they finally separated, they were both in tears. Paula went upto David and wiped them off his face, and then Simon spent a surprisingamount of time talking with him. Actually, Simon spent a surprisingamount of time on the stage entirely; last season, he would deliver hiswords of wisdom to the voted-off contestant and then make a bee-linefor the door. Last night, though, I caught Simon spending time talkingto Carly and Michael too. Even Kristy got a brief audience with Simon(but, based on the look she gave him as he stepped away, I doubt shewas exactly thrilled with it).

Corey invited the audience to stick around for the taping of American Idol Extra,but I had a dinner to get to, so I had to pass. Next week, theformidable Whitney Pastorek will be giving you the inside skinny onIdol, so until then, were you dancing along with Kristy’s “8 Days AWeek”? How would you react if Jim Carrey showed up at your workplace toplug his new movie? And what would you ask the judges and Idols if yougot to “call in” to the show?