Thursday, March 13, 2014

In Which We Go to the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon!

I was incredibly lucky and was able to go see the taping of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on March 11th (the 17th episode!).  I have to thank my big boss, the Library Director, for indirectly having made this possible.  The only reason I was able to get tickets when they were released for March was because we were having a massive snow storm here and the library was closed.  Had it not been for that snow day I would not have seen the announcement, and the entire month of tickets was gone in less than half an hour, I think.  So thanks, Boss Man!

I scored a reservation for 3 people, so my friends Chris and Kate came with me.  We took the fabulous Hudson line down, just before noon.  Since I thought we might not have a chance to eat lunch before the taping, and one person was coming directly from work, I decided to pack a lunch for us to eat on the train.

I was a little overzealous in my lunch preparations.  I wanted to make sure there was something that everyone would eat.  So along with the water and Yodels (because who doesn't love a Yodel?  No one, that's who.) I made sandwiches....a lot of sandwiches.  I made bologna & cheese with mayo and one with mustard, turkey & cheese with mayo and one with mustard, peanut butter & grape jelly and also peanut butter & strawberry-rhubarb jelly.  I was making options, people.  I also cut them each into four quarters.  I thought it would make them easier to eat, but it kind of looked like I thought we were on a kindergarten field trip or something.

The trip was off to an auspicious start when I scored a close parking spot at the train station, and I did a kick-ass job parallel parking.  I hate parallel parking and never do it if I can possibly avoid it.  Driveways and parking lots are how I roll.  To commemorate my awesome parking job and because we took it as a good sign for the way the day would go, we took a picture.

The giant bag in my hand?  Yeah, that's our lunch.

We got our tickets and the train was on time.  I normally have the worst luck with the train and end up sitting somewhere stuck for an hour with "equipment on the line".  We are super lucky that we went on Tuesday, as we would not have been able to make it on Wednesday.  There was a horrible explosion in Harlem in which people died, and it shut down train service for several hours.

We got to Grand Central with plenty of time to spare.  Since I packed enough food for a small army, we had some leftovers.  We knew we could not take it into the studio for the taping, so Chris gave it to a homeless woman we saw begging for money.  She seemed really appreciative, and it was just the right thing to do.

Since the main branch of the New York Public Library was pretty much on the way to claim the tickets we decided to go visit.  

Hi there!  Also, my hair is a hot mess (I'm in the center.)

They have an exhibition on children's books at the moment.  It is really cool, and you should check it out if you get a chance.  They have very cool things like this:

Those are the original toys that inspired A. A. Milne to write Winnie the Pooh

After checking out the exhibition it was time to go claim our tickets.  I had a confirmation for three, but you have to get there to claim them and that part is on a first-come, first-served basis.  We got to the assigned pick-up point in the NBC Experience Store at the earliest time you could start claiming tickets.  Other people got there earlier.

This would be the time I began to worry we might not get in.

The couple in line in front of us were very nice and friendly, which was great because we were going to be spending some quality time standing in line with them over the course of the afternoon.  They were visiting from San Antonio, as it turns out.

We presented the confirmation and our photo identification, and we got our tickets and wrist bracelets.  Now it's real!!

They give you chocolate, too!  Thanks, Tonight Show!

That was all done pretty quickly, considering the line they had to work through.  You then get instructions to meet by the Golden Escalator by a specific entrance at a specific time.  Um, okay.  We had some time to kill before we had to do that.  It was like an adventure in Wonderland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: "Find the XX entrance and then wait by the magical Golden Escalator!"

We wandered around a bit, as we also got insanely lucky with the weather that day.  It was in the 60s outside.  I know that doesn't sound fabulous to a lot of people, but considering that today was back to being 18 with a "feels like" temperature of 2 in the middle of the afternoon, this was awesome!  (And I had to get an iced coffee as I had not had nearly enough that morning.)

We find the Golden Escalator, and now we get to line up against the wall in order of the numbers on our tickets.  Sounds simple, right?  Nope.  People were all just trying to jam up near the front of the line.  It got to the point where Chris was just holding up his ticket with the number so people could figure out whether to get in front of us or behind us.

Once that mess got as organized as it was going to be, we got to go upstairs to....wait in line some more!  But now we were in a special roped off area.  We were getting closer.  So exciting!  One of the NBC gentlemen (I'm not sure if he was security or a page) checked to see if we were in order, and then told us we did a much better job than the folks in the front.  

The upstairs line, it turned out, is where we had to queue for the metal detectors.  They gave us all the instructions on how to proceed when they called each group.  It really was very well organized.  They also told everyone to take a picture of their ticket at that point, as they will be taking the ticket shortly.   :(  The woman in front of us was really kind of bummed she didn't get to keep it.  They also instructed everyone to turn off their phones -- not just silence it, or put it away -- turn it off.  If they so much as see your phone out during the taping they will kick your ass out.

Once we got through the metal detectors we went up an elevator, and then we stood in line again.  This was actually super-fast as they told you where to sit.  I'm not sure how they determined the seating, as we did not end up remotely near the couple from San Antonio.

And then it was awesome!  The Studio!  The Roots!  Jimmy Fallon!  The guests!  We were there for the episode with Tyler Perry, Billy Eichner, and Juanes!

Best part?  We totally got to be on television!  Billy Eichner and Jimmy Fallon went into the audience.  We weren't directly involved in the game, but we got a lot of screen time by being behind people that they spoke to. 

In the clip above, when they circle around and start talking to this woman in the black shirt?  We are sitting right behind her!  You can easily spot my friend Chris in the white shirt sitting on the end.  I'm next to him, and Kate is next to me.

As if that wasn't exciting enough, Chris is now totally in a BuzzFeed gif set!  BuzzFeed

The part that surprised me the most out of the whole process was how little time the guests were actually there.  I know they edit the show before it airs.  I thought Jimmy would talk to Tyler Perry for a long time, and then that would get edited down to what you see on the show: highlight certain parts, or edit stuff out if the guest didn't like how they looked, etc.  Nope.  He was not there that long at all.

Also, we were there for the 17th show in a brand new studio.  They had to tell people during the warm-up that they were not to stick gum under the chairs!  Yeah.  Brand-new studio, barely 3 weeks in use, and some assholes had already stuck gum under the seats.  This is why we can't have nice things, people!  I'm disgusted, but not surprised.  I work in a public library.  You would not believe the shit (sometimes literally) that people will do.

After the show we wandered, ate dinner, got dessert from Magnolia Bakery, and caught the train home.  We even made it home with enough time to watch ourselves on the show that night.  I can't speak for Chris or Kate, but I know I totally freaked and shot video of my television on my phone when I realized we were going to be visible.

All in all it was a fantastic day!  Next time I am going to try for tickets to Late Night With Seth Meyers!

**Edit:  I almost forgot: I had my very first celebrity sighting!  No, not Jimmy Fallon or the guests on the show.  When we were out walking after the taping I saw Ted Allen also walking down the street.  I did my very, very best not to spaz out and to act like it wasn't the first time I had actually seen a celebrity just out in the wild, so to speak.**

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