Totally worth it
Yesterday, I made yet another foray into TV land.
This time a friend got tickets to see a taping of The Daily Show, which is filming in Charlotte this week during the Democratic National Convention, and she kindly invited me along. Being a rabid fan of the show (and maybe just a little bit in love with the show’s witty host, Jon Stewart), I jumped at the chance.
Yes, it meant working on Labor Day so I could have the next day off to travel to Charlotte for the show’s taping. Yes, it meant six hours in the car round trip. Yes, it meant walking several miles through an extremely congested downtown Charlotte. Yes, it meant standing in line for at least three hours, first to claim the tickets and then to get into the show. Yes, I got rained on. Yes, it was hot. Yes, I got blisters — big ones.
And yes, it was totally worth it.
I not only got to see the wonderful Jon Stewart do his thing in person, but I also got to see the night’s guest, Tom Brokaw, talk about the presidential campaign and journalism (awesome), and I got to see The Daily Show correspondents be all funny and stuff.
For those who don’t know what The Daily Show is, I will forgo berating you for your ignorance, no matter how tempting. Instead, I will simply say it’s one of the funniest shows out there right now. It’s a mix of political satire and social truths that is both funny as hell and truly informative. It’s also on at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central, and I suggest you watch it tonight so I don’t have to hold back my ridicule any longer.
For those who are curious about The Daily Show experience, I present —
Things you may already know about The Daily Show but were too afraid to ask (or something like that):
1. They are serious about turning off your cell phones.
Before being allowed into the theater where they were filming the show, everyone was told to turn off their cell phones. No photography or texting was allowed before or during the show, and if you were caught doing anything that even looked like one of those forbidden activities, your phone was immediately confiscated by a rather feisty woman, and you were given a lecture in front of about 500 hundred other audience members. I kept my phone off.
2. There is a Q & A session.
Before the show starts, Stewart treats the audience to a Question and Answer session. And it is a treat. In our audience people asked serious questions and funny questions, but one of the funniest moments came after Stewart talked about how nice and welcoming the people of North Carolina were. He said he couldn’t get over how, even in the face of rudeness, people around here were just so nice.
“I’m beginning to think it’s sarcasm,” he said to big laughs.
An audience member stood to ask a question and started out with “As a native of Charlotte…” Stewart immediately interrupted him and teased him about his opening line. When Stewart finally let up and allowed the guy to continue, he simply said, “I just wanted to say, ‘Welcome.’” Stewart threw up his hands and shook his head at such unrelenting niceness, and everyone laughed some more.
3. What you see is what you get.
After the show’s taping, I of course, watched it when it came on TV, and honestly, with the exception of some technical difficulties with Brokaw’s microphone, whatever is taped is pretty much what gets aired. They don’t do multiple takes, and everything is pretty much unedited. It’s impressive to me that The Daily Show staff does such a good job, they don’t need to “fix it up” much at all to make it look good.
5. The correspondents aren’t really corresponding.
Except for pre-taped segments, the correspondent reporters out on the streets of Charlotte are actually in the studio in front of green screens. When English correspondent John Oliver insulted Carolina barbecue, he accidentally tried to calm down the audience as we “Booed” him even though he was supposed to be standing outside on Stonewall Street. Stewart called him out on it, and he replied, “I can hear those peasants through the walls.”
6. Some of the show is a surprise to Stewart, too.
On the night we were there, the show aired a segment from the correspondents searching for a new Democratic campaign slogan to replace the “Yes We Can” of the 2008 campaign. As the very funny bit played for the audience, Stewart watched it on a small screen placed near him, and he seemed to be genuinely enjoying it for the first time. He was cracking up over it and when the camera cut back to him, he was still laughing along with the audience.
7. Stewart really is funny.
You might assume that most of the comedy on the show comes from talented writers (and I’m sure some does), but Stewart is also very good at thinking on his feet, responding to the audience with a cleverness and quickness that proves he’s got real comedic talent (if you ever doubted it).
8. Pictures are allowed at the end.
Once the show is done, the show’s staff allows the audience members to take a few quick photos from cell phones as they exit theater.
All in all, it was a fun evening, and as my friends and I trudged back to our car in the rain, we couldn’t stop smiling and talking about what a great experience it was.
So again I say, totally worth it.