Archive for October 28th, 2010

Going to the Daily Show

Completely non-writing related, but this is my blog, so I get to talk about what I want to talk about.  And today it’s the fact that I was in the Daily Show audience last night.  That’s 10/27/2010 for those who aren’t reading this today, so the episode where Obama became the first sitting president to be on the show.

First off, I got “tickets” several months ago when they first got offered, having no idea who the guest would end up being.  I just knew the show was going to be in DC, and that Thursdays are a bad night for me.  Sure, I had an outside hope that they might land a presidential interview and that he might be in-studio and not either remote or pre-recorded and that it might be the episode that I got tickets for.  So when it was announced that he would be on the night I had my “tickets” for and would be in-studio.  Oh, I was psyched.

Now, for those who don’t know the process, I keep saying “tickets” because all that we really got for signing up online was a reservation to get to stand in line for the actual first-come-first-serve tickets.  The Daily Show overbooks, at least when it’s on the road.  I’ve read up on the process when it’s in New York and see it’s a little different than what we went through.  So that meant taking a half day and showing up early to stand in the rain outside the Harmon Center across the street from Verizon.  A street that was, by the way, filled with temporary stables for the Washington International Horse Show taking place at Verizon.  Fortunately we got the covered side of the stables, so it smelled  little like horse manure, not a lot like horse manure.

In line I got interviewed for local NBC 4.  Lot of great questions like “do you think the Daily Show is becoming a major information source for young adults?”  My answer was a diplomatic version of “yes, if you’re asking that question in 2000.”  I don’t think I made the show, because I always stammer when I have a news camera shoved in my face (okay, “always” means “twice”) and the fact that, even with an umbrella, I was a soaking wet mass by that point.

Then I saw the tickets.  The magic yellow tickets being handed out to the crowd.  Then…they stopped.  Literally 9 people in front of my wife and I the last yellow ticket, #495, was handed out and the ticket people vanished.  For like a half hour.  The sun came out, but I wasn’t feeling any cheerier.  Anyone who was following my tweets last night probably noted my rising anxiety just from the rising volume of tweets.  For that half hour it was rather fitting that my twitter phone client is called “spaz.”  Finally, the clipboard came back out and someone came around with blue tickets.  “They’re just as good as the yellow ones” we were told.  Which is a good thing, because if we had been told, as we would get told later, that the blue tickets were non-guaranteed seats, then I would have spent another hour freaking out instead of finally calming down.

Here’s how it worked.  There were pink tickets.  These were VIPs.  Like that guy.  And that other guy.  Really, I didn’t recognize a single one of the VIPs, but then again there are maybe 10 total members of Congress that I would recognize on site, and I’m guessing these weren’t even congressmen, more likely staffers and friends who used connections.  Then there were the yellow tickets.  As best I could figure, the combination of the promised VIP tickets and the yellow tickets would be a capacity crowd.  Blue tickets got to fill in the rest of the space, covering for pink ticketers that, for one reason or another, didn’t show up.  It’s hard to guess how much they were overbooked by, I’m horrible at estimating crowd numbers.  But considering I bet there were people who didn’t show up because of the last minute change in filming time, the shitty weather, or any other reason, they probably overbooked by at least 50% if not by a full double capacity.

Another half hour and finally we started filing in and through the Secret Service screening.  Well, by we I mean the pink and yellow ticket people.  The blue tickets were stopped at the door, so again we were people #10 and #11 on the outside looking in.  Actually #12 and #13 since 34 and 35 were allowed by ushers to cut in front of us.  Another fifteen minutes, and the blue tickets were let in to deposit our umbrellas in giant bins and get screened.  I’ll note: we were told to have a photo ID handy, but at no point did anyone look at it.  Then, the blues lined up in numerical order (screw you, 34 and 35) and got to wait while they let the pink tickets in.  Then the yellow tickets in.  This was the first time anyone said out loud that the blue tickets were non-guaranteed seats.

No drama, the blue people started getting in, and we were right at the front of that.  We actually got about three rows better than we would have, cause we were willing to sit across an aisle rather than directly next to each other.  Actually, everytime blue people got an upgrade, there were a few yellow people who complained.  See, this is DC.  By giving us tiered tickets, they created an artificial and temporary class system.  And it was time for some class warfare.  When a trio of blue ticket people were pulled out and taken down to fill some seats in the third row, there was a lot of complaining from the yellow ticket people.  I was happy, it was the trio in front of us in line who were very nice and chatting with us, and even shared information with us when one member of their group went looking for the right people to ask about more tickets.

Loud music.  Local warm-up comic.  The Jon Stewart came out for a brief question and answer.  Again, it was a DC crowd, so he was rather surprised when the first question wasn’t something silly like “who would win, a bear or a shark” or “what super power you would take” but “who is your favorite Congressman”.  Then, the show started.  It wasn’t quite the show you saw on television.  There was an opening bit.  “Our newest segment: Keep the president waiting.”  Jon Stewart doodled, spun around in his chair, and did the classic “you must pay the rent!” routine before bringing Obama out.  At the end, they announced the interview had gone long, and they needed to reshoot the opening going straight into the guest.  You can see it for yourself watching the show.  When he brings out Obama, his desk is empty.  When Obama comes out, there’s paperwork on the desk.

There was a post-show Q&A, mostly to keep us in our seats until Secret Service had cleared the building.  Then we got to find our umbrellas on three giant tables, and had the rest of the evening.  It was a hell of a lot of fun, and worth the fact that I’m getting up early all week to shift time, had to stand in the rain, and got my ATM card eaten by a Capital One machine after the show (they’ll know how I felt if they run back their overnight ATM film).

A supposition.  I saw Olivia Munn.  She waved at me.  Take that, internet!  Other people saw Jason Jones and John Oliver.  The entire cast was there for an episode that was going to be 100% interview.  I’m betting, I’m just betting, that they had an entire episode scripted and ready to go, including an emergency guest, in case the president had to cancel last minute.  Cause he’s the fricken president.  Sometimes there’s stuff he just has to do.  Would be interesting to know who the emergency guest was.

And that was it.  My Daily Show experience.

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