Sunday, November 14, 2010
What it's like at a Cobert Report taping - Part 1
Part 1: The wait
After my friend Carolyn secured our tickets, we got an email telling us to wait at 54th St. between 10th and 11th Ave. in Manhattan. The email said to get in line no later than 5:15, and no earlier than 4 p.m. We got there at 3, and we were third in line behind some VERY rabid fans. Besides having seen Stephen before, they regular had been doing the "talk show circuit" in NYC, including Letterman, Leno, the Daily Show, and that unfunny British guy, often on consecutive nights.
We waited outside the studio, which is a non-descript box with a Colbert Report awning. At about 4 or so, a member of the staff came and unlocked a fence and let us line up in this dingy alley. Fortunately, there was a wall full of graffiti fan art for Stephen that kept us entertained. There was wall love from many counties - Australia, Japan, Israel and the Middle East, UK, etc. etc. It was a loooong wait. And it was cold. And we had to pee. Using my snoozing skills, I sat on the cold concrete, pulled my hoodie over my head and managed to doze for 30 minutes or so while the crazy fans talked my friend's ear off.
At 5 p.m. or so some more staffers came out and asking for our confirmation emails and our IDs. They wrote our names down and told us we couldn't come back for 6 months so we didn't overcrowd the audience with repeat visitors. They took this pretty seriously - a girl in front of us had been there about five months ago and they had her name in their file and told her she couldn't get it. They bumped her out of line after 2 hours waiting, but they let her back in after she told them she had come from Oregon (which was partially true).
At around 5:30 they came around and handed out laminated tickets, which we couldn't keep (nuts). Note: People who had come very late - like 4:45 or even 5 p.m., were able to get a ticket and sat pretty much where we sat, so I'm not what we gained by arriving so early.
Part II: Security and the Waiting Room
After we got our tickets and, along with everyone else in line, had our photos taken holding them. we were led in groups into the front entrance. We handed our tickets, and an unsmiling security guy searched bags, purchases and camera cases. We then went through a metal detector, which seemed surprising at first, but not when I thought of how much money Stephen and the set + crew are worth.
The space inside was a 20' x 20' room with some bathrooms and a water cooler. The walls had funny pictures of Stephen that you could take pics with, and a fake fireplace like he has on his set. It also had a TV that ran clips of the show, including a lot of Better Know a District clips, and my favorite with Eleanor Holmes Norton.
The slowly room filled with 150 or so people. A group of announcers stood up and made some announcements:
1. Stephen, like all comedians, would feed on our energy, so really let him have it
2. There is no laughtrack or soundtrack - we are the soundtrack, so laugh as much as possible. If it's not funny, try and laugh anyway.
3. Stephen was going to try and do it all in one take, so please be quiet in-between jokes
All reasonable requests. My ticket said #4 on it, and I was stoked that I was going to be sitting in the front row. Before I was called, however, all the "VIP" people were called first, about 10 or so people. I was miffed at these "Eliteratti" but I said whatever - my seats were still going to rock. At the front of the line, creening my head, I could see the Captain America shield on the wall of the set!
When I got in I was miffed to see that VIPs had already filled the first three rows - about 25% of the whole theater. I got a seat in the 4th row with my friend.
Up next: The taping, and I wrap this long-winded shit up