Things I never would have gotten to do if I wouldn’t have left my school counseling job in Iowa and started moving around the country with a weirdo:
Go to a taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on a Thursday afternoon in March. I randomly put our name on a waiting list the week before. Much to my surprise, I got an email that tickets were avaliable and we seized them immediately. They were free and Andrew usually can sneak away for a couple hours (or 5 in this case) without worrying about putting in for PTO. Don’t get the wrong idea…he worked until 9 p.m. after we got done with the taping and continuously works more than most people I know, so he ain’t no slouch.
So, last Thursday, after three days of subbing that was capped of with a brutal day in PE, we met up for a lunch date/free food from work and headed to the Ed Sullivan Theater in Midtown to embark on an experience we knew very little about. Would we be first in line? (I highly doubted it.) Would we be last? Would I be cold waiting outside? (Duh, of course.) How long would we actually have to wait before going inside? Before getting seated?
Disclaimer, we are by no means Colbert die-hards. I think the man is genius. I love watching clips of his show. He is wicked-smart. He is kind. He is genuine. He is hilarious. He lives in New Jersey. But my problem is that his current show is on at 11:35 p.m. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Just that it would require me to stay awake until 11:35 p.m.
We got in line around 1. It was a sunny day. It was pleasant in the sun. We did not get to stand in the sun.
We waited outside until around 2. We were then ushered in to a snake line in the lobby of the theater. We were warned about using the restroom now or forever hold your pee. We watched clips of old episodes on TVs that occasionally cut out and we could barely hear. We were then briefed on the dos/don’ts of being an audience member. We couldn’t take our phones out. Don’t ask Stephen for an autograph or selfie. You can’t save seats. We will seat you. Get into it, really into it. You make the show. He feeds off your energy. Goooooo team!
It was obvious by our spot in line we would not have to sit in the balcony (although these seats would be cool in a different way). We entered and a kind man with very funky, stylish, mismatched Nikes told us to go left and then take the first right. Left. Right. Walking. Motioned to keep walking by a nice-looking woman in a Colbert Show parka. I almost stop because she keeps motioning but I’m thinking, “We can’t keep walking, that’s the front row.”
She finally gives us this look of, “Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but yes, you are, coming up to the front row, so just hurry your asses up so I can get on with my job.”
We file in. We are laughing. What? Oh my gosh. Repeat.
We are in the front row! The MIDDLE of the front row. Like I think if I counted the chairs in the center section of the front row, we were mathematically the median.
We were “warmed up” by a comedian who pulled some zany and very enthusiastic audience members on stage. Dude, people are weird! And this guy let them know it in a loving way, and I loved that. Anytime there was down time we were pumped up with jams. Good jams. The kind that you want to play at a well-DJed wedding reception. We were told repeatedly to be three times louder and more excited than you think you are or need to be. It has to translate to people at home. If you think you’re laughing, laugh louder. They don’t add in applause or laugh tracks. Our reactions were what people would see and here that night at home. So do a good job, gosh darnnit!
Eventually the same friend with the mismatching Nikes came back out to tell those of us in the center front row that it would be likely Stephen would come up and shake our hands or give out high-fives. Do NOT grab him. Do NOT hold on to his hand. Do NOT pull on his arm.
Then we met and were entertained by the in-house band Jon Batiste and Stay Human. They were awesome.
Then there was a short Q & A with Colbert himself. He really is so cool. No one in our audience asked really good questions. Of course one guy asked a political question. One person asked…they were so lame I can’t even remember. When he came out for the Q&A it was like a practice run of the start of the show. So I got a solid high-five.
Sidenote: They tell you ahead of time, like on your ticket, that the studio is “chilly”. Chilly means freezing cold to someone like me. For almost the entire taping my coat was on my lap being used as a blanket. At the last minute I put on a blazer over my cardigan and Thank the LORD. My hands were ice, meaning my wedding ring was loose. Loose enough for Stephen’s high-five to bring it past my middle knuckle. Not that I every want my wedding ring to fall off, but if Stephen Colbert’s high-five knocked my wedding ring onto the stage and there had to be a big to-do where Stephen himself found it and apologized and then re-told the story on air, I wouldn’t be mad.
Then it was finally time for the actual show to start! We watched the cold-open. We excelled in our laughing. And then, Stephen literally ran out from backstage directly to me! I got the first handshake. Man his hands are soft and smooth. It was nice. Andrew was on my left, but Stephen moved to my right. Oh no! But…then he came back and Andrew got the last high-five before he started his monologue. First handshake, last high-five. New family motto.
I haven’t even gushed about the guests yet…Hugh Jackman! Cate Blanchett! Another actress I’d never heard of, but who had sculpted arms, nice teeth and famous parents! The Cate Blanchett interview was a surprise because she wasn’t on the episode we saw, but they needed to tape her interview during our time. Fine, I guess we will stick around. The Flaming Lips performed. They were weird, but at least if I was going to see a band I didn’t really like it would be one with a man on a unicorn and two people in astronaut suits?
Here is proof we had our glory moment. I will watch this video anytime I need a pick-me-up. What you don’t here in the video is Andrew’s baritone yelling/cheering. I wish you could hear it because it is an interesting juxtaposition to his child-like jubilant bouncing and clapping. And, while at the time, in the furry of it all he didn’t feel like he got a real high-five and was slightly envious of my handshake. We can all see from this video evidence that he did get a high-five. First handshake, last high-five.
(WordPress just informed me that I don’t have a fancy enough plan to put the video right here in the post. So I linked it above and here are some still shots, so you can get the idea.)
The whole point of going to this taping was not to get on tv. We had no expectation of that. I’m working on saying yes and this time it turned out to be really really really fun.