7/26/11 TCR and 7/27/11 TDS Taping Reports
We left Baltimore early in the morning of the 26th, but not before one of my traveling companions gave me my birthday present, a hand crocheted Stephen doll. I squealed. Loudly.
After one of the easiest drives up from MD to NY I've ever had, we checked into the Westin in Times Square. (Quick note to Westin, when you flush the toilet, the force and sound of it shouldn't shake the room!) We arrived at the TCR studio around 1pm and realized we were too early, as the chain-linked fence hadn't been removed from the waiting area yet. We headed over to the nearby Barnes and Noble where I raided their comics section mercilessly for an hour. Then we headed back to the line and sat down in the newly cleared area.
The graffiti has been removed from the walls an in its place are a couple of spray painted signs with our fearless leader asking us nicely not to draw on his walls.
So kids, for the billionth time, if you're caught drawing on the walls, they will not hesitate to kick your butt out of the line and you won't be asked back for at least six months. So don't do it.
Soon more people joined the line and we played a couple rounds of 'Would you Rather?' with the interns once they'd finished checking ticket reservations. The rest of it was pretty standard procedure for those that have been to a taping before. (For those that haven't, check out my first TCR visit HERE) I hadn't been to a taping in a little over a year, so I had no idea they'd redone the inside of the waiting room. The walls were newly painted, complete with framed artwork. Huddling next to the mining tube Stephen emerged from during the Rally was a real treat too.
Once inside the studio itself, we were seated a couple rows up dead center, far enough above the camera so it wasn't blocking our perfect view of Stephen. Finally after the warm up comic, Stephen bounded out, did his victory lap around his desk, high-fiving the people in the front rows. Here are the questions I managed to remember:
*Harry Potter fan or a Twilight fan: If he was a Twilight fan he'd be Team Edward all the way, but he's more of a Harry Potter fan. He said he read the first five books to his kids to get them interested in reading, but when they got to books 6 and 7, they took it away from him and read it on their own before he could because "daddy works too late".
*Will there be Peace in the Middle East: He answered "yes" not to be a downer and also added he'd like to visit Middle Earth one day as that seemed equally as likely.
*Someone from Northwestern asked if he had any favorite memories from some bar on campus: Stephen admitted to never going to that bar because he worked at another bar and got employee discounts there. He told us about one professor that used to come in, get TORE UP and recite poetry for hours.
*Opinion of Ron Paul: Nice guy with a handful of good ideas, but it's hard to hear them through the bad ones when they're all said in his "crazy uncle" voice.
*Has he seen the new Capt. America movie yet: He hadn't, which sparked him into telling us about how he was willed Cap's shield after the events of the Civil War series of Marvel comics. (Which is by the way, a FANTASTIC run of comics, one of my all time favs.)
Then it was time for the taping. Overall, this was the most I've EVER seen Stephen have to redo segments because of giggling or flubbed lines. What might have seemed like a seamless broadcast was a patchwork frankenstein monster on our end. I tip my hat to the TCR editing department for putting that episode together.
Right from the beginning, he had to do the opening again after messing up a line, so what you saw was take two. Then during the second segment, Stephen flubbed saying Joe Biden's name and later had a bit of a giggle spell during the 'Bucket List' part. So he did it again, but at the very end of the show, he explained he would have to do it one more time because the sound guys couldn't hear two lines. So what you saw was a mixture of a second and a third take starting most likely after the full screen graphic of 'Iran'.
The interview with Peter Edelman did seem a little strained, but not hostile. I'm not sure the guest knew just how far Stephen was going to go with how ignorant of the plight of the poor his character is, but he rolled with the questioning as best he could.
The interview with Brooke Gladstone went off without a hitch. I was really interested in what Gladstone had to say about comics as a viable form of media in telling a story since, you know, that might be an interest to me.
After the taping, I quickly took my picture in front of the studio before a quick but massive downpour rolled into the city. We made our way over to a sushi place across town where I had some of the best sushi and beef tetaki I've ever had. Then we did our tourist impressions as we stumbled through Times Square before heading back to the hotel to watch the shows.
The next day was TDS. When we go there around 1pm, there were already 20 or so people ahead of us so we hunkered down and waited under the canopy. Then at about 2:30, the interns and guards appeared. Now they do something new at TDS that seemed really efficient because of their larger audience size. Basically what TDS does is they check you in around 2:30- 3:00, so your ticket holding person HAS TO BE THERE around that time. You and the rest of your party then gets a paper ticket with a number on it corresponding to your place in line. You're told to come back at 4:45 and get in line according to your number again. So we headed to the park across the street and played card games until it was time to get back in line.
Once inside it was a quick transition from the holding room into the studio proper. We ended up with a full 15 to 20 minute Q&A with Jon because they were doing last minute checks on the graphics.
*Best part of his job: "Hot and cold running pussy". He mock admitted he'd been saving that response for 10 years. Best part of his job is if he wasn't doing this, he'd be in his house with no pants on yelling at the TV. So now he gets to do the same thing WITH pants on.
*Some trading question about Mets players: They talked about some sports stuff I blanked on, but it ended on Jon being asked if as a Mets fan, does he hate the Yankees or the Phillies more. His answer was "As a Mets fan, I hate the Mets more."
*Asked if he would do a world tour: Not likely. Said he was "big... in the Tri-state area." Then he asked where the questioner was from, to which she replied Singapore. He asked if he would be censored, she said probably. He asked if he might get arrested or publicly flogged for any reason? Her response was a hesitant maybe, which lead Jon to ask, "Are you trying to start an international hostage incident on purpose?" He equated the potential set up to "boarding a plane to Iran under the name 'Jewey McJewenstein' and ordering the kosher lunch."
*Have they asked Governor Christie of NJ to appear on the show: They have asked and then Jon asked us what does "fuck you, no" mean as a response?
*Would 'This Week in God' ever coming back: Maybe. They don't really do pieces that need weeks of prep like that anymore, but didn't say it was out of the question.
*Has he donated to the ColbertSuperPac: NO, and he further joked that he wouldn't even give Colbert money for lunch when he was there.
*Has he ever thought about doing a show really quick during a week when they're off and a big news story happens: A big ol' NO. Then he remembered they were off when Cheney shot a guy in the face and they were sad they weren't able to tape that week.
*Will he act in movies/TV anymore: He'd love too, but said "the directors and writers in Hollywood have other ideas for him... such as him never doing it again".
The rest of the show went off without a hitch. It was interesting watching him pull up the different platters of turkey during the first montage and pick out exactly the right amount to put on his fork each time. Then after the fist two segments, Jon announced that since Rachael Weiss was still stuck in traffic, he was going to tape the opening monologue of the global edition of TDS to kill some time, which is something I'd never seen.
Having the luxury of seeing both shows back to back, I noticed a couple of things about our late night heroes. When a news clip is playing, Stephen spend those couple of seconds bouncing from one pose to another to get ready to come back or smiles along if there's a big laugh from us reacting to it. With Jon, he's focused on how he wants his expression to be, heads right there and waits. In between segments, Stephen's usually bouncing, singing along to the music playing, while Jon stuck to drumming along on his desk with his pens.
After both tapings, I asked my friend who had never been to either show which one she liked more. She answered Stephen because she had never seen him out of character and she also liked how intimate the TCR studio felt by comparison to the TDS studio.
Me? I love them both equally and this was an amazing way to spend my birthday.
Page Branson 2011