It seems like the girlfriend and I are on a whirlwind of adventure recently, doesn’t it? A ferry trip almost two weeks ago, a Broadway show last week, and another play that I haven’t even gotten to write about from the fifth of July (that’s for you, Lanford Wilson). We added even more excitement yesterday with a trip to The Colbert Report (You can watch the episode here.
For those of you who haven’t been, it’s not too terrible a process. First off, tickets are free—you just have to make an online reservation beforehand. There are VIP tickets available for a charge, but the studio is small enough that it doesn’t really make that much difference. We arrived at the studio around 4pm and joined the queue of about 30 people. While the doors don’t open until 5:30 at the earliest, you still need to get there early, as they overbook the show to ensure a full house. The line was beside the building and under a canopy, with signs painted on the wall asking patrons not to write on the walls.
I was glad we were under some shade, as it made the 95-degree heat a little more bearable. We bought water, and the staff handed out small bottles as well around 5pm. Still, it proved once again that you sweat in New York doing just about anything.
At 5:30, they opened the door and handed us our physical ticket. Mine and girlfriend’s were blue, with a number indicating our entry order.
The red tickets, denoting the VIPs, were not numbered—they simply got to go in first. Once we got our ticket, we passed through a metal detector and entered a (thankfully air conditioned) anteroom, where we waited until about 6:45 for the studio doors to open. We were seated about ten rows back in house center. Of course, girlfriend and I did our usual technical inspection, noting lights and sound equipment. I personally liked that some lights had been gelled by clothespinning full sheets of blue and diffusion to the front of a barn door, a technique I was, um, not familiar with.
The warm-up comic (whose name he correctly predicted I would not remember) was okay, although he got hilariously schooled by an Asian researcher who suggested he “do more research” when he said he couldn’t tell if she was Korean or Chinese from looking at her. But it got the job done, and the crowd was pretty hot for Stephen’s entrance. Before the taping, he comes onstage out of character to take some questions from the audience. Girlfriend wanted to ask him how he felt about Saint Louis University making his dad’s portrait a focal point of their med school tour (his father was a dean of SLU’s medical school). Unfortunately, he didn’t call on us, so instead we got stuck with a guy asking how he could get a job with The Colbert Report. Stephen was a good sport about it, asking the kid what skills he had. When the guy said he didn’t really know, Stephen smiled broadly and said, “Good luck with that!” and moved on to the next person.
The actual filming was pretty streamlined, which I suppose it should be after almost eight years. Only a few moments had to be reshot, including one where it was the technology and not the performer that had problems. The guest was Jerry Seinfeld, who was as engaging as you’d expect. He was extremely appreciative of the woman who came to the taping wearing a puffy shirt like the one he wore on Seinfeld. Stephen enjoyed his interview so much that we recorded a false break for commercial, so he could use more of the interview.
After the taping, Stephen let the audience ask him one last question. A woman in the front row mentioned that his dressage episode was her favorite (it was one of mine, too), and asked if that was his first time riding a horse. He told us that he in fact had done dressage as a child, up until fifth grade. It was then he had to choose between dressage and little league, a decision made “easier” when he showed up late to a little league game dressed in jodhpurs and a velvet hat, to which his manager said, “Well, looks like Little Lord Fauntleroy finally made it.”
It was a very enjoyable evening, and one that I hope we get a chance to repeat in the future. Not having cable, it’s easy to forget how entertaining Colbert can be. I also have to admit that a small part of me hates watching political satire because it reminds me of how angry I am about the subjects they’re riffing on. I appreciate the satire, and it’s important work, in my opinion. At the same time, I don’t like being sad. But being in the audience, it was easy to just laugh at the jokes and be a part of making the satire, even if it was only a very small part. And hey, swag!