The Daily Show Taping

My viewing habits of The Daily Show vary. Sometimes I watch it a lot, sometimes I'll go weeks and weeks without seeing it. Recently - thanks to the government shutdown and the roll-out of HealthCare.gov - I've been watching a lot. Almost every day. And so since tickets are free and I can, I decided I wanted to go see it live.

If you've ever been to the taping or live broadcast of a show like this, you know that the one thing you do the most of is wait. Tickets are handed out starting at 2:30. By the time I got into the city and made my way to the studio it was 1:15, and there were already 78 people in line ahead of me (I know this because tickets are numbered and I got 79). So, I waited In the sun. Then in the shade. Listening to Paul Simon's Concert in the Park. It truly was a gorgeous day to stand in NYC and do nothing. After killing 2 hours it was back in line, through security, and then to my seat. Of course the studio was smaller than it looked on TV. However, the thing that struck me the most was how the studio looked in person. It's hard to describe how starkly real everything looked after having only seen it on TV for years and years. The map behind the desk. The globe hanging from the ceiling.


And then we waited some more. But while we waited I got to meet my seat neighbor: Joe, a retired contractor from western Canada on trip with some of his friends. They had spent a few days in Boston, seen a couple Patriots games, then made their way to New York. We had a great conversation, and he asked me what I would recommend doing in the city that he hadn't through of. I suggested riding the Staten Island Ferry at night so he could see the skyline and Statue of Liberty all lit up from the water.


After the very funny warm-up comedian, Jon Stewart came out and took questions from the audience...but the first question wasn't a question at all. It was an older woman telling him he should donate money to Wendy Davis, who is running for governor of Texas. It would be like me going to up to Billy Joel and forcing him to take one of my CDs. (I would never, ever do such a thing, right?! Right.) The last question was the best, though. A woman asked him if he thought comedy was inherently cynical, and he gave an inspiring answer about how he actually thought the reverse: comedy is inherently idealistic and and a way to shed light on things that can and should be better. And then he said, "Let's do the show!" Springsteen's "Born To Run" came on the PA, he sat down, the crew hurried around a little, and within seconds we were into the taping with a lot of great energy.

The show itself was very funny and Alan Greenspan was a interesting guest, but it struck me that Jon Stewart wasn't really performing the show for the live audience (though we were there and an integral part of the show). He was actually focusing his attention on the viewer at home. He spoke directly into a camera that was often fairly close to him, and his voice was amplified only just enough for the crowd to hear what he was saying (presumably for technical reasons). As a result, some moments of the show were lost on us because we were cheering or laughing too loud to hear everything he said or did. For example, the beginning when he says, "Welcome to The Daily Show, I'm Jon Stewart," etc. But we couldn't hear him say any of that because we were cheering so wildly.

We were in and out of the studio in 2 hours. And then I had dinner at Empanada Mama. Now I've just gotta go back for Colbert

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    © STEVE SCHULTZ