New York City is a great place to visit but it can get pricey. The good news is one can always find something fun to do in the city for little or no money at all. One great way to kill about three hours for zero dollars is to attend a television show taping, and that’s exactly what I did on March 12th, 2014.
Jon Stewart (or as my dad used to call him, Jon Daily) is more than an overly likeable guy who hosted a remarkably successful late-night talk show. He is also super-smart and really funny because of it, he pulled really interesting, important guests onto his show and asked them real questions, and for some important years he held sway over a huge chunk of an influential demographic who turned to his comedy show as their number one source of actual news.
His show also served as the launchpad for a staggering list of comedians including Steve Carrell, John Oliver, Jason Jones, and Stephen Colbert to name just a few.
In short, dude deserves respect and I was happy to buy a free ticket to his show.
It’s interesting to note that attending the taping of a twenty-two minute half-hour program takes several hours. Though I booked the tickets online weeks before one is never guaranteed entry; you have to show up at least an hour early and line up. When you get in it’s wait, wait, wait some more before actually being seated, and then a couple of the show’s VIP’s introduce themselves and go through some explaining and hyping. I’m sure all of this is to ensure the crowd is stacked with fans eager enough to go through such an unnecessary hassle and it makes them all really, really excited when Jon Stewart finally emerges from backstage.
The host came out to cheers and screams and answered a bunch of questions. He seems like a genuinely likeable guy, just like he does on the show. I kept putting my hand up almost Horseshack-style hoping to ask him if I could please have his much-scribbled-on notes after the show, but unfortunately he never called on me.
Once the house lights go down and the theme music starts it’s almost surreal how fast things get happening. Before you know it you’re at the first commercial break, then Stewart sits in the dark while a Samantha Bee report is played on the monitors, (somewhat disappointing) guest Jason Bateman sits through a decidedly not hard-hitting interview and before you know it: your moment of Zen.
As long as a process as it is for the show to get started it ends in a hurry, and about a hundred seconds after Jon Stewart left the set I was on the now-darkened streets of New York hailing a cab to get myself to the Beacon Theatre.