Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And now here it is, your moment of zen.

My friend Josh sent out a message on Facebook about two weeks ago stating that he had three extra tickets to The Daily Show on Wednesday, December 10th, and that whoever wanted them should write back soon to claim them. As it turns out, no one else to whom he sent the message could go, so my immediate and urgent reply of "DIBS! Dibs dibs DIIIIBS!" wasn't really necessary.

Josh and I arrived at the studio right at 3:30 PM after walking about 3 blocks up and 4 avenue blocks over from the N train at 49th, and there was already quite a line formed under the modest navy blue awning of the single story building inside of which the magic of the show unfolds four times weekly. The awning was marked with simple white text stating the name of the show, above which were hung five flags with each of the correspondents and some vertical text next to their bodies (Samantha Bee's flag: "HARD HITTING"; Aasif Mandvi's: "PRO WESTERN"; Jon Stewart's (next to a picture of Stewart looking terrified): AFRAID OF HEIGHTS). Josh's classmates who claimed the other two tickets came just in the nick of time at 4:20; anyone showing up after 4:30 would not be allowed to cut in line with their friends and families who were holding their places.

We were let inside around 5:30, which gave us about two hours of wait time that went by rather quickly - I grabbed a sandwich at a local deli and some chips since I hadn't eaten since breakfast, seeing as I'd come straight from editing a video. Luckily we had better-than-normal weather conditions (see previous post), and we stayed dry through the intermittent rain thanks to aforementioned awning. We were 196-199th in line, and figured we'd be fairly far back in the studio that couldn't possibly house more than 300 people.

After walking through the singular metal detector into the double doors of the studio, we were promptly escorted to the first row in the middle, and proceeded to gloat and dance in our seats for the next few minutes. We weren't allowed to take photos - security threatened to take away our cameras/cellphones and erase all photos taken - but I still snuck one which can be seen above, albeit sans Stewart. I think Josh's classmate Megan and I spent most of the remaining time fixing our hair and smiling like idiots, wondering if there would be a possibility of touching Jon Stewart, hugging him, making eye contact, perhaaaps bum rushing the stage and declaring our love for him and all he does and is? Please, Jon, just sit down and do one crossword with me? We could snuggle on the green room couch and sip hot tea or coffee, really, which ever you prefer, and giggle about the clever theme of this Wednesday's New York Times puzzle cause really, we could finish it in fifteen minutes if we put our heads together, they don't actually get that difficult until Friday, and then as you realize how wonderfully amazing and cute I am you think that yes, you really want to start over in your life over and that a short, green-eyed self-deprecating Jew-by-association grad student is really all you need to make your life whole again....

Eh hem. Sorry.

Anyway, Stewart came out before the show for a brief Q&A session that doubled as audience hype and a brief warm-up for himself. No one really asked him anything interesting; one guy asked if he was going to miss Bush after he was gone, and Megan pointed out after the show that Stewart has answered that question on several other occasions. Another woman asked if he was ever able to change a guest's mind on an issue, and he cited his experience with Mike Huckabee from the previous night (which I watched tonight as soon as I returned from Midtown as a rerun); he responded that he never expects to change any one's mind, and really, if he was able to accomplish that with Huckabee after only 6 minutes then Huckabee wouldn't and shouldn't be in the position of political power in which he finds himself. He seemed a little despondent, tired, and didn't really over exert himself; odds are, he was saving it all for his on-screen moments.

After about 7 minutes of Q&A he sat down to do the show, and all personal audience connection was gone. It's so strange, because sitting at home, watching him on television, he always looks right at you through the camera, almost having a conversation with the viewer as we sit on our couch and he sits in his studio. But being there in the studio, it was like watching a comedy show that wasn't actually being performed for the in-house audience. And really, the studio audience of 300 is nothing compared to the millions of viewers watching at home, so I can understand that Stewart rarely took his eyes from the camera's lens. But even during the commercial breaks (they film the show as if it was recorded and broadcast simultaneously) Stewart spent time talking to his staff or making notes on his note cards, not really looking up or making eye contact with anyone in the audience. Not that this didn't make it hilarious; I still laughed my ass off and didn't stop smiling the entire time. It's so great seeing hilarious material brilliantly executed in the company of an appreciative audience.

I'm not going to ruin the content of the show because it's not airing for most of you for another 3 hours (only 20 more minutes for everyone in the East); there's a hilarious segment with Rob Riggle that was made even more hilarious by watching Stewart's reactions to the material, and Don Rickles was the guest. Not sure how much of the Rickles stuff will get edited out, but suffice it to say there was some audience heckling and a bit of rambling.

All in all, a great experience. If you've never been to a taping of a show before, do it. This was by far my best experience. Jimmy Kimmel was fun only because of Rilo Kiley's performance, and Bill Maher was great too. But I have been on a high for three hours and have definitely fallen more in love with and have even more respect for Jon Stewart's life and work. His show is, I think, one of the most important news commentary shows on cable today.


deepthiw said...

Christ, front row center on top of everything!! I'm off to watch Huckabee fold like a cheap suit.

n/a said...

Swooning over doing the crossword puzzle with tea on a couch with Jon Stewart? Is there an x-rated version of that swooning anywhere? :P

Oh, I just checked, no more Stewart tickets available in the forseeable future. Good thing we got in when we did...

Joumana said...

Ooooh *envy*! Even if he never made eye contact.

Princess Leah said...

Jealous! I am mostly unmoved by the prospect of meeting famous people. However, were I to meet Jon (or even be in the same room with him) I would lose my cool and squee like a fool. Or say something like, "Are you aware that you are YOU?!??!" That is, if I managed to recall the English language.

Short, funny, smart, self-deprecating Jewish men rule!