By Archana Ram
Updated December 13, 2010 at 09:15 PM EST

Bravo’s late night talk show series, Watch What Happens Live, began as an online series that has grown into a wacky, never-know-what’s-going-to-happen hot spot for everyone from Real Housewives cast members to Tina Fey and Sarah Jessica Parker. To celebrate the series’ five consecutive shows airing this week, we visited the set last night to get behind-the-scenes scoop on what goes on in the Bravo clubhouse.

“It’s Wayne’s World-meets-Playboy After Dark-meets-Larry King,” says host Andy Cohen, whom Housewives fans recognize from those epic reunion specials. (Three episodes for New York‘s reunion? Yes please!) The studio, located in a quiet stretch of New York’s SoHo neighborhood, is about the size of a cozy living room, which is fitting because that’s exactly the vibe Cohen is aiming for.

“It’s really meant to be hanging out to in my den,” he says. And nothing in the retro wall-unit is filler, whether it’s the two (!) Justin Bieber dolls that fans recently sent him or a copy of The Hunger Games, which Cohen recently finished. In fact, Cohen has decked out much of the studio space with his own knickknacks. The golden rabbit and multi-colored rug came straight from his house, the book shelves are filled with titles by Bravo talent, and the walls are dotted with pictures of Cohen and some of his (very famous) friends, like Parker.

Anderson Cooper and Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes were guests on last night’s show, but the pairing was more deliberate than you’d think. Cooper and Leakes haven’t been shy about their admiration for each other, and last night was their first in-person meeting. Before cameras began to roll, Leakes saw the Silver Fox and gushed to Cooper, “You’re so beautiful! You’re so gorgeous,” before asking us, the studio audience, “Isn’t he pretty?”

Whatever you saw on camera — the flirting, the batting of her eyelashes — was just as present during commercial breaks, and continued well into the aftershow, a 15-minute segment that allows for even more viewer questions and calls.

But in between talks of how to “douggie” and Leakes grooving to WWHL‘s campy theme song was plenty of booze. Ah yes, we’d be remiss to not mention the fuel that sometimes keeps the show and its guests going. Sure, Cohen and his guests happily imbibe on stage, but the audience can get in on the liquid fun, too. Members of the crew double as waitstaff, who seemed more than happy to take our orders before and during the taping. Whiskey, vodka, M&Ms, cupcakes — exactly our kind of house party.

“We don’t take ourselves seriously at all,” Cohen says. “We don’t pre-interview our guests. It’s very unscripted. It’s very live. There’s nothing else on live at late night. The spontaneity is something that really attracts people.” And as taping on the show wrapped, Cohen’s other famous friend, Kelly Ripa, texted him to say last night’s WWHL was one of the best ever, only to be followed by Cohen’s parents (who were featured in a game on the show last night) who texted, “I love Anderson Cooper and NeNe, but oy vey are we old!”

The rest of this week’s line-up features Diane Von Furstenberg, Amy Sedaris, Tom Colicchio and polarizing Atlanta Housewives couple Phaedra and Apollo — and that’s all before WWHL‘s New Year’s Eve party, which will feature guests likeSandra Bernhard, Jay Sean, Jenny and Jeff from Flipping Out, and, of course, Kim Zolciak singing “Tardy for the Party,” all before the almighty wig drop at midnight.

Are you guys watching Watch What Happens Live? Will you be tuning in for the New Year’s Eve hoopla? And check out last night’s hilarious game, “NeNe or No no,” below:

Read more:

Andy Cohen’s ‘Watch What Happens Live’: Who else is obsessed?

‘Watch What Happens Live’ finale: Could Rachel Dratch be the next ‘Real Housewives’ star? Or simply its biggest fan?

Photo: Bravo Media

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