Jon Stewart ends his stint as The Daily Show host today, August 6th, so I figured it was time to get off my lazy bum and write about the taping I attended almost two months ago.
It was one of my top goals in moving to the East Coast of the United States, and the only one that had a timer on it. As soon as I got off the plane in DC, I locked up my tickets and hammered my plans.
For those who would like to see the Daily Show when the delicious-looking Trevor Noah is the host, all tapings are free. The trickiest part was making the reservations which, if done alone, would probably require more time refreshing the Daily Show web page than any sane human is willing to give. Reservations would only open up about a week in advance, and then they were nearly always listed as sold out. Luckily, some computer whiz or other came up with a website that tracks the website and nudges you when reservations were open again. I used CCTicketNotifier.
As it turned out, my cousin from Seattle had just moved to New York a few weeks before I touched down in the US. I offered him my second ticket and he let me crash on his couch in Brooklyn.
On the day of the show (June 17th), I left my cousin’s office so that I could reach the Daily Show studio by noon. They checked reservations and traded them for proper tickets at 2pm, but the advice was to show up around noon to make sure you got in. It was scorching hot. They let us stand under the awning, even wrapping the line to let more people get under it. You could rent chairs at a store next door.
There was a lot of waiting. After we got proper tickets at 2:30 pm, we left for lunch and came back at the appointed time of 4pm. They let us use the bathroom (because we wouldn’t have a second chance after getting in the studio), got us through security, then seated us according to group size.
A staff member explained how the evening was going to go, before giving way to a warmup comic to put the audience in a crazy, laughing mood. He picked on an older gentleman who turned out to be a pastor AND in the City for his wedding anniversary. The pastor was quite game to participate and the warmup comic got a lot of material out of him.
Then it was Jon’s turn for a quick Q&A. My cousin and I had been trying to come up with ingenious questions to ask him, but weren’t disappointed when the rest of the audience stepped up nicely. One lady asked for her last name (McGillycutty) to be used positively instead of pejoratively just once. Another man talked about Jon’s Iranian fans. Jon himself talked about how he never missed any stories when he wasn’t working—he enjoyed not working too much for that. This was the first of many indications that Jon had senioritis. He had it bad.
The show finally started and it became clear to me that it was very much meant to be for television audiences, not us. We gave the laugh track as best as we could, but Jon’s eyes were on the camera.
The guest of the night was Bill Clinton and it was insane. The next thing we know, he’s pulling us into a deep conversation about the trade pact. The ex-president was sharp and it was awe-inspiring to watch the two of them go toe-to-toe about all sorts of topics. A good chunk of Clinton’s interview was cut out of the broadcast. It was dense and not all that funny. Which is fine, but I was kinda wanting a bit more funny than I got that day.
The thing that really struck me about the entire process was how professional everyone on the show was. Their job was to make people laugh, and they took it very seriously. It was just an edge off-putting, to be honest.
I still had a great day, and am glad that I managed to squeeze the experience into my first trip to New York. Thanks Denny, for coming with me!
You can watch our episode here.