If you ever get the opportunity to go to a taping of a Late-Night Talk Show, I implore you to do it! There is no better thrill than to see someone live that you enjoy seeing almost every night in the comfort of your home. Television on its own is great, and with the advent of High Definition, it is one step better. There is, however, no replacing being live, and there are many aspects that are different than the home viewing experience. I feel it is something you should do at least once in your lifetime you will not regret it.
When I went to a taping, and I have been a handful of times, it has always been to see my favorite late night host Conan O’Brien. I just had a certain rapport with him growing up. I knew that he went to Harvard Unversity and wrote for The Simpsons in a few early seasons. He has a certain humor that I always enjoyed. I am fortunate to live in NJ in an area that is a 30 minute train ride to New York city where at the time he was filming Late Night. We would go to www.nbc.com and look up the show and find the number or email address to request tickets. You must request tickets a few months in advance. You can try to show up the day of a taping but there is usually only five to ten tickets and people do wait as early as 4 a.m. sometimes because they are coming from out of state etc.
Once you have your confirmation of the date you are going it is really exciting to get ready for the event. You never know you may be on tv! The fun is in telling people family and friends alike that you are going to a taping and who the guests are expected to be. You never know you may experience an impromptu concert by U2 or be there when a star is on giving away a promotion like Ellen does or Oprah. The overall experience of the preparation is fun. The main thing people do not realize is that the Late-Night Talk Shows are not taped late at night. They are usually taped around 3-5pm during the day.
The only part of going to a filming that is in issue is the wait itself. You have to typically arrive on site in this case to Rockefeller Plaza to pick up your general admission ticket. If memory serves me correctly the ticket they send or that is in your name you go to and redeem and in actuality it is a general admissions ticket. They typically tell you when to come back to line up for the entrance to the theater where the taping takes place. You will wait in line about an hour unless you don’t mind where you sit. Once seated you are really amazed at the set and how different it looks in person than on the television you appreciate all the set changes and all the people that work on set to make the well oiled machine work.
My experience was there was a comedian that once the crowd was seated warmed everyone up with humor asking people where they were from and making on the spot jokes almost like a celebrity roast of sorts. After everyone was warmed up he would make a joke about Conan and then he would come out about five minutes later to shake hands and greet a few fans before coming out in his full suit to do the taping. He is always very kind and genuine and makes great jokes when surfing the crowd. The only rule is you really cannot leave once you are seated if you leave you are gone for the taping. The other thing is when they say to be quiet they mean it. There are times sure when you can shout and woo a few times but out of line and they will escort you out.
The band is one of the best kept secrets. They are great on air but they are even more amazing during the commercial breaks. They are professionals providing you with a free live concert of sorts. They really get the crowd going and ready for the show to being. Once it begins the magic is on and you are usually smiling ear to ear. The jokes are funnier than any night you watched at home the experience is really dreamlike. After the monologue the guests come on and you are really right there with them. Its surreal to see famous people in real life. I was lucky enough to go for a Christmas show and Tony Bennett performed. I truly was lucky and they performed a bit during the show that my dad was involved in. He passed a year later so it was really special to have that taping of him laughing and having an amazing time. We loved watching late night together so it was a special treat to go as a group. Once the show was over we all left but we all were giving an audience member Late Night shirt to go home. I wear it often to go to sleep that is how much fun the event was and how much it still means to me even to this day.
So if you are ever interested or have the option to go to a live taping for a Late-Night Talk Show, I say go for it. If you are fortunate enough to live near an area like NYC or LA where they frequently tape these types of shows, take the less stressful route and call or email to order your tickets in advance. Think of when you want to go. I would also order the tickets if you are planning a vacation if you do not use them its not like they cost you money. They are free and they never go to waste there are always more people willing to go to a show than they ever have tickets. Enjoy the experience it is a fun memory you will cherish for a long time.