Attending the Tonight Show Review

Ever want to go to a live taping of a talk show?  Well for me, I’ve thought about it a few times, though it’s not one of those things I’ve ever gone out of my way to do.  I would if it included Ninja Turtles, but I never had that chance as they were always out of state back in the day when the Turtles did appear on shows such as Oprah.

Last week I learned that Animal was going to play the drums with “OK GO” on “The Tonight Show”, so Miki and I looked into going to the show.  We got on the website and saw that the tickets were already gone for that show, but you could sign up for a “Wish List” and if someone cancelled going you could still get tickets for the show.   I signed us up and a few days later we got an email saying we got tickets to the show.

Reading up online about attending the show we learned some people arrive as early as 5am for good seats, I refused to go that early and we got there at 7am.  Yes, still early but better than 5am.  The ride there was easy and quiet.  Though along the path we noticed barely any food near the NBC Studios.  With the rules on the paper we had saying “No Cell Phones” we did not even have a GPS to find some where to hang out till closer to show time, as I did not want to wander too far from the studio.

Once arriving at NBC, amusement rose over Miki and I as we saw our first sign “Audience Holding Area for Early arrival opens by 11am”.  Beyond the sign was a caged area, only missing a top.  I could picture a tiger going back and forth in this area, it was just a cement pad gated in with arrows drawn on the ground for the path people are suppose to walk in.  Miki and I spent a lot of time joking about that area, as we thought that 11am we would be moving from sitting outside the cage, to sitting inside the cage.  During this time I did find a gas station to pick up some snack food for Miki and I.  Once I returned with the food we saw Jay Leno arrive to the studio in a really nice old car.

Around 11am someone came and got a sign out of the cage area and told us to follow him if we were there for the “Tonight Show”.  So we followed him onto the NBC Lot over near stage 11.  A gate was opened up where they sent us through a metal detector looking for any cameras or recording devices.  Once through that I showed my ID and ticket to a lady there and we got told where to sit down.  They also told us where there was going to be food.  Soon other people started to arrive and then came the drinks.  Two big things of ice water and one big thing of pink Lemonade.  There was also rest rooms outside for us.  I did like this move as we had a nice shaded area to sit in.

Around noon, I decided to wander and get Miki and I some food.  Another one of the ladies there decided to do the same and we went on the great food search for Subway.  The walk was long but worth the effort as it was nice to have some food when we returned to our groups around 1pm.  This gave us 3 hours before time to go in and get our seats. During this time the “Tonight Show” staff brought out snow cones free for everyone in line.  So we got to relax and talk with those around us, none of us knowing what was going to happen when we entered the studio.

I have to admit I did not realize just how much work is excepted out of the people who go to these talk shows.  I thought it was going to watch and enjoy a show, and that was it.  Though it is more like bring brought in as extras for a tv show, but worse.  You’re not paid, besides for drinks and snow cones... break?  We didn’t see one of those either.  You could earn prizes, but you had to be very hyper to earn it.  People came through the lines giving us a run down of the rules and when we finally got in we got sit down in the second row, this is when I realize just how wrong the seating was at the show.

They take the “cute” people up front.  People who are dressed well, skinny, well built.. etc., they basically go through the crowd and grab the models to get in the front row.  Thinking this is going to make them look better.  Though if you ask me it makes them more shallow, it should not be about looks as much as it should be about character.  The people placed in front of us, was taller and harder for those us shorter people to see around.  Lucky for me I was on an end seat towards the center, but I knew others who totally lost their view, just because they were short and not living up to what the show wants people to believe is the fans.  This has to be one of my biggest pet peeves about the show.

Another pet peeve is the way the stage is set up, there’s some areas where the crowd on one side of the room can’t see, and the same can be said from the other side of the room.  Like stages dipped into the stage and the seating of the room is not worked out for everyone there to be able to see.   As this is when I realized we’re not being brought in to watch the show, we’re being brought in for sound effects.  I looked around seeing guards all over the place as if we were going to mob the stage... whenever the band would play the guards would line up in front of them and cameras would jump into our way. When Jay Leno sat down to talk, the cameras are rolled right in front of the crowd.  There were times the full view was blocked of what was going on stage.

Our directions were to laugh, clap and cheer as much as we can to the jokes.  If we cheered a lot we would be rewarded as long as you were noticed.  T-Shirts and other gifts were given out to those hyper people in the crowd.  I was lucky enough to get one of the items given out for being hyper, as I clapped my left leg with my hand during the show, cheered, and laughed even danced to YMCA.  We all worked hard, through the full hour.  I thought during TV breaks we’d get a break, but the band would play right through those times and we were still excepted to stay hyper and clap to the band. Half the show we could not even hear Leno over the crowd of us clapping, laughing and cheering.

For me it was a bit harder, as a lady at the beginning of the show got so excited after shaking Jay Leno’s hand that she turned to me and clapped her hands on my bad arm two times in a row, both hands.  I fell to the ground in pain and she tried to help me up by grabbing my bad arm. I got her to release me once and she went to do it again. But Miki stopped her from grabbing my arm the next time.  This made it so my arm was swollen worse and I was in a lot of pain for the full show.

I pretended to be okay, closing my eyes and holding back tears the full hour.  I really wanted to make it through this show, which meant I had to act like nothing was wrong.  But after the show was over we found some where outside for me to sit and just breath for a little bit as the pain was intense.

Overall it was a fun event, but not something I need to do again with Leno.  I’d like to check out other TV shows and see how people are treated.  With the Leno show, when the show was over, it was over. Everyone was lead out and it was done.  I always thought there might be something more for people who go out of their way to see the show live. I felt that NBC fell short of being there for the people attending the show.  Drinks were nice, but this was an hour worth of work.

Entertainment Earth