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I guess I just like liking things


Last week my wife, her sister, and I drove to New York City for a couple of days (Sunday evening through Wednesday morning), and it was mostly because I wanted to see a taping of The Late Show. My wife and her sister had no desire to see The Late Show (yeah, I don’t get it, either), but they found plenty of other things to do and see, so don’t you worry about them.

I had filled out the form online to get tickets to the show, but I never heard back from them. I had also filled out the form for tickets years ago (seriously, like… 15 years ago?) and never heard back. I don’t know what it takes to hear back from the online form, but I apparently don’t have it. I was talking to a friend about not hearing back and he told me that he got standby tickets years ago when he was in NYC. He had to stand in line a couple of hours, but it worked for him. I hadn’t really considered that before, but I thought it was worth trying.

Just to be clear, yes, we went to NYC specifically so I could maybe get tickets to see The Late Show. It’s only a 12-14 hour drive from here, depending on stops and traffic, no big deal.

The standby ticket process is a little different than it used to be. Instead of queuing up at 6a outside the theater, these days you call (212) 247-6497 starting at 11:00a on the day of the taping you wish to attend. We were at the 9/11 Memorial Museum at 11a, and I feel a little bad about making the phone calls there, but at least I went to the lounge/dining area.

I called 65 times in the space of about a half hour and got a busy signal 64 of those times. On the 65th time, a woman answered, asked me my name and where I was from, and told me I was 34th on the list. Then she told me to show up at the theater at 1p.

At the theater, we were asked to get in line according to our number, and the pages went through the line to make sure who we were (we needed photo ID) and where we were, numerically speaking. After a little while they took us inside to a hallway to wait, since it was a little chilly outside.  While we were waiting, I happened to see Alan Kalter going into a passcarded door around the corner and further down the hallway. That was kind of exciting.

Pretty soon they let some people from our line into the theater but also let us know that those were the only ones they needed that day. Much sad, very bummer. But! The main page (her name was Beth) asked if any of us were available the next day. There were 6 or 7 of us that were, so she asked us to wait and everyone else left. After they left, she got our names and gave us tickets for Tuesday’s taping, and since they were actually doing two shows, we had to choose between the earlier one or the later. I chose the earliest one. The most exciting part was that these weren’t standby tickets, they were actual tickets. If we showed up, we were in!

So, yes, I showed up the next day. We lined up outside according to ticket color (mine was red), and the pages would come by every so often to tell us what was going to happen next. I ended up in line behind a couple who were also from Indiana who had also driven to NYC specifically to come to the Late Show, but the difference was they had actual tickets – apparently the online thing does work for some people from Indiana.

After a while they moved our lines into the building, where there were many signs up that said “No pictures!” which was pretty disappointing. I should mention that all the pages (I saw 7-8 different ones over the course of the two days) were very nice, very helpful, and seemed to be really happy to be there. They were all a pleasure to deal with.

After a half hour or so of standing in line in the lobby area, we were let into the theater, where more pages directed us to specific seats. When I told her it was just me, she showed me to the third row on the orchestra side on the main floor, and made everyone move down so I could sit on the aisle:

Screenshot of me in the audience, wearing my N7 Mass Effect hoodie.

Screenshot of me in the audience, wearing my N7 Mass Effect hoodie.

Alan Kalter came out on stage to welcome us and asked us to watch an “audience expectations” video on the monitors. I wish I had a copy of the video to show you, because it was pretty funny. Alec Baldwin narrated and it was helpful and humorous.

Then Alan introduced each member of the band as they came out. I have to say, I haven’t watched the show much in recent years, mostly because it’s not on until 11:30p. Central Time is the best for TV shows, let me just say: Prime Time is from 7 to 10, then the news, then your Late Show at 10:35. Anyway, I hadn’t seen the band in a while and it was really cool to see that most of the members I remembered from way back when were still in it. They played some great music for a while and also played during commercial breaks. There was some question as to whether or not Paul Shaffer would be there, as he’d been out sick for a while, but he did show up and it was great to watch him

Then Alan introduced Dave and he came out. It was so surreal to be 20 feet away from him! He talked a little and then took a few questions from the audience. At one point he asked a guy to stand up who was wearing a Late Show hoodie. “Did you buy that at Hello Deli?” he asked. “Anyone else get something from there?” Hello Deli is the only place that sells licensed Late Show apparel, and I had bought a T-shirt there earlier, but didn’t wear it to the show. That turned out to be a bad choice, as Dave had Alan go around and give money to the folks who had worn their shirts in to the show. “We can’t have these people paying money for these things,” he said.

Then they started the show, and it went pretty much like it does when you’re watching.  The commercial breaks look a little different, of course, and during some of them the band played, and during a couple they just paused for a little bit and then started back in.  The guests for the evening were Bill O’Reilly and Aubrey Plaza, and they were both okay, but I was more just fascinated by being there and seeing the whole process after 20-some years of wanting to do just that.

After the show was done taping they opened the side doors and asked us to head out and that was pretty much that.


I saw my first episode of Dave on his original NBC show some time in late 1986 and liked his style and humor right off the bat. Over the years there’ve been times when I watched the show all the time and others when I didn’t see an episode for months. I’m one of the few I know who enjoyed his hosting of the Oscars, and it’s weird that he’s retiring soon and won’t be on the air anymore. Being in the Ed Sullivan theater (where the Beatles performed!) was a dream come true for me and I’m glad it worked out the way it did.


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