Well we made it through without any wounds. My earpiece kept dying, and I'm helpless without it. It's the only way the producer can tell me what's next, whether to stretch, or wrap it up immediately. Rayvon, our incredible sound man, looked at it afterwards and found that the tube was frayed at the end. He snipped it off, remounted it, and it should work fine.
Those earpieces are custom made for each individual's ear. You can use a generic ear bud but they tend to pop out, so if you use an earpiece regularly (and I do on every show) it's best to have one custom made.
They're generally made by hearing aid companies. I had my done at San Francisco Audiological Services. They pour some kind of rubbery plaster into your ear. It hardens in about 15 minutes then they pop them out with a huge sucking sound. They use it to mold a plastic earpiece that fits very comfortably into your ear canal. It's attached to a 6 inch long hollow tube which snaps into a wire halfway down your back. The wire has a mini speaker at the tube end, and plugs into a wireless pack about the size of a garage door opener. I keep the pack hooked onto my belt.
I have two left earpieces which I had made for $125 each three years ago. I'm getting a right ear made tomorrow.
The director, sound man, and line producer can all use it to talk to me, but usually it's only the producer. He or she uses it fairly infrequently - a lot of traffic is very confusing - mostly to give time cues or to tell me to get my hand out of the show. There are people who think I have a team of experts looking up the answers to the questions and feeding them to me. No way. It wouldn't work anyway. It's very hard to speak coherently while someone is talking to you in your ear! And it looks really dorky if you stop speaking and your head as if you're hearing voices. Even though you are.
Gotta run. I'm going to do an OS X tip on Call for Help in half an hour. Then it's time to get ready for the all new Screen Savers! I don't think the Boot Camp open is ready, yet. Should be there on Wed or Thurs.