The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a program that needs no introduction. It’s such a successful late night talk show that it’s single handedly launched careers for many of its correspondents, such as Stephen Colbert. Back in August of 2012, during the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, FL, I heard rumors that The Daily Show would be taping at the convention, and tickets would be free for anyone who showed up early enough to get one.
I had been a fan of The Daily Show since Craig Kilborn was the host, and I had never been to a live taping, so I figured I should jump on the opportunity. I decided to go with a few friends of mine. We were told to show up early to get our tickets, so we arrived on the scene at about 11:00 AM. That was our first mistake. A rather long line had already formed, but it was nothing that could rival a typical line at any given theme park or state fair.
After about two hours of standing still in the Florida sun while annoying protestors and voter registration recruiters hassled us, the line finally started to move. Once the line began moving, it went very quickly. In just five or 10 minutes I was at the front of the line being handed a ticket with a number on it. The tickets were laughably cheap looking — they were just the generic numbered raffle tickets you can find at any run-of-the-mill party supply store.
We immediately felt like fools for showing up so early and waiting so long. Had we known better, we could have shown up right as they were about to give out tickets, or we could have just went to the mall and bought a bag of raffle tickets. You think they would have at least had the decency to print “The Daily Show” on them so you could at least save it in a scrap book.
After we got our tickets, we were told to come back at 5:00 PM, when the taping would actually begin. We wandered around downtown Tampa with nothing to do for another four hours and then returned at 5:00 PM on the dot. Another line had formed, and we got in it and stood there for about 30 minutes. Then a man who I could only presume was some type of security officer came around and instructed all of us to order ourselves in line based on the number of our ticket.
Yep, that’s right, they had about 500 people try to arrange themselves in a single-file, numerically ordered line. The real chaos didn’t even begin until we actually entered the building. The second the crowd got through security and into the building, everyone dispersed into a messy mob of people with cameras and iPhones a blaze. What was the point of having us line up in order?
The other members of the audience were shockingly rude and obtuse. Three separate producers/show-coordinators had to explain the rules to us over and over again, and no matter how many times they did, without fail someone would immediately violate one of those rules, get kicked out, and hold up the whole event. Finally we were herded like cattle into the main auditorium where we were instructed to sit in uncomfortable seats that we were told we could not get up from once we sat down, while obnoxious music blared through the PA for over 45 minutes. We were also banned from using any cell phones or electronic devices during this time.
Eventually Jon Stewart came out on stage and apologized for being late — the show was already 30 minutes past start time. He also informed us that the original guest, Michael Steele, had been replaced by Herman Caine. I know a lot of liberals like to laugh at Herman Caine because he’s such a spectacle, but I for one feel like my time is being wasted whenever I have to hear him speak. It’s not as if I was looking forward to Michael Steele, but to pull a switch like that at the last minute was definitely a disservice to anyone who may have had their heart set on him as a guest; but I guess that’s show business.
I could go on and on for pages about everything that made this experience so unpleasant, but I’d rather not relive it.