Saturday, May 10, 2008

On Being Ten Feet From Howard Dean

This is a little late, I apologize. But last week I went to a taping of The Daily Show. It was last Thursday, the episode that had Howard Dean as the guest. I thought that I'd walk you through the process.

First, you arrive and stand in line. You have to make reservations at the Daily Show Tickets page. Those come with the disclaimer that not every who makes a reservation will get in. It also suggest you arrive between 3:30 and 4:00. That's crap. On my first attempt to get in I arrived somewhere around 3:15 and was at the back of the line around the corner. They cut the line off about 10 or 15 people in front of me (*grumble*). That, however, worked out for the better, because if you get denied the first time you can e-mail them for VIP tickets that guarantee you a spot in the audience. Which is what I had last week.

With VIP tickets you don't have to get there quite as early. I believe 4:30 is the latest you can arrive and still be guaranteed a spot. I got there a little before 4:00 and stood and waited. At 4:30 (or 4:35 or 4:40...) they come down the VIP line and check your name off their list and give you a numbered ticket. I was #9. Yes, I made "Client 9" jokes. It was the right thing to do. Then you go through a security checkpoint. Metal detector and someone searching your bag. Like the airport without the condescension or attitude. Then you are corralled into a holding area while all 200 audience members go through security, and you stand there for about an hour total. Then they finally let you into the audience area (after making 2 or 3 announcements reminding you not to use electronic devices or take pictures, or to shout anything out during taping, etc) by your ticket number.

My party had really good seats. If you're facing the desk Jon Stewart sits at, we would be to the left (so, his right) in the second row. Pretty much as close as you can get without giving him a lapdance.

You sit there for another half-hour or so. There's a warm-up guy who comes out and makes fun of people in the audience and gives instructions about applause and all that. See, they don't use a laugh track. The audience is mic'd at half the volume Stewart is, so your reactions are what is used on the show. And you have to clap and cheer loud because of the half-volume thing.

So Jon Stewart comes out (woo) and talks/answers audience questions for a few minutes.

The taping starts. Little did I know, they do the entire show in a straight shot. They even have monitors hanging that play the pre-taped segments. It's exactly what you see on TV, only live. I was surprised by that initially, but I guess it makes sense for this particular show. It's scripted, but there's a little bit of ad-libbing and audience reaction that feeds it and is what makes it good.

So, on to Howard Dean. I was interested but not completely thrilled when I learned he was the guest. See, I don't agree with his decision to disenfranchise Florida and Michigan. Though I will say with his appearance I can sort of see where he's coming from, but I still think it's a huge mistake and very much smacks of what happened to Florida in 2000. Which I hate because he was one of my top choices in 2004, I think Edwards-Dean or Dean-Edwards would have been a better choice than Kerry-Edwards. Certainly more charismatic.

When he left (during the commercial break) Jon Stewart said a little something to the audience that to me sounded like he was pretty much thanking us for not booing Dean off the set. So that acknowledges the fact that I'm not the only liberal irked by his decision. Which I sort of already knew.

Anyway, after that, it was just like the end of the show. Wrap it up, Moment of Zen, out of there. Then the audience was ushered out.

It's a really cool experience. From a nerdy, "I love that show and anything that comes out of Jon Stewart's mouth" place as well as being interested in seeing how these things work behind the scenes.

Have some clips from that day's show (which, put together, are pretty much the entire show):

(I decided that John Oliver is by far my favorite of their current correspondents)

(I though this segent was kind of stupid, except when he asked if Clinton wore pantsuits when she was 3)

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