Slight change here, we went to Seth Meyers instead of Fallon. This post will be about my experience in a late night audience.
How to get tickets:
I knew that I wanted to go to one of the late night shows that tape in NYC. Of all the late night talk shows only three tape in the city: Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver. All three shows give free tickets to fill their studio audience. Fallon tickets are on high demand and released at the beginning of each month, so it is difficult to get them. Check out more info here. John Oliver releases tickets the Wednesday before the Sunday show. Again, they are hard to come by so applying right when the tickets become available is the best option. You can apply here. To get my tickets I applied for Seth Meyers on a website called 1iota. This website is a great source for free tickets to lots of different shows and tappings.
So, when I found this website I started exploring what options there were for late night tappings. My work schedule is not ideal for weekday tappings because shows typically begin their check in process at 5:30. I was going through the available days, because many were already sold out, and eventually found a show that began at 8:00pm! I quickly applied for tickets, which is an application form that includes your basic contact information along with the number of tickets you are requesting. You can apply for one to four tickets, no large groups are allowed. In the initiate phase my request was put on the waitlist. A few weeks had past when I received an email saying that my tickets were moved from waitlist to available. This change happened two days before the tapping, so I acted fast. I requested the maximum four tickets and quickly got my group together. When you receive the approved ticket request you need to have the other guests also put in their information on the website as well. Once you do that you can print out your e-ticket, along with all of the instruction about the tapping.
I was very excited for the show because I love Seth Meyers and I wanted to see how a show is filmed. My inner television nerd was freaking out! There was a quick realization that this was serious business from the rules and instructions that came along with the ticket. I’ll just cover a few big ones. First, the ticket does not guarantee seats. They purposely overbook the studio audience, so getting seats is first come first serve. Secondly, you can not arrive until the designated time for check ins because the pages at 30 Rock will turn you away. This helps to combat the people that try to line up hours early. For our show the check in time began at 7:15. If you are going to a show be there at the earliest check in time because you will not get seats of you show up later. Third, do not being big bags or backpacks. They are not allowed in and you will be turned away if you have them.
Alright! That was the process of getting in to the initial portion of check in. Wahoo! So, once you got in line right away and have no large bags you are moved from the main level of Rockefeller Center up one level to the security check. At this point you are not allowed to take pictures, but I was bad and snapped this one before putting it away.
It’s at this point that the tickets are scanned in and out ids are check to make sure that we are matching the assigned guest list and over 16, the minimum age to attend. After this we are moved into the Peacock Lounge. This is the waiting area before moving into the studio. It was a fun waiting time because they had pages taking pictures on iPads like so.
They also had a trivia contest and dance off for the super fans to win front row seats. My roommate joined the dance off, but was unfortunately beat by a semipro dancer. The girl that won did some serious trained dance moves, so I say it was rigged (I’m just bitter). Anyways, we were in the lounge for about 45 minutes enjoying the crowd warm up and the overall experience. The lounge is also the last place to use the bathroom and your cell phones, both of which are prohibited once you enter the studio. This is a very serious rule. If they see a call phone out after the lounge you will be asked to leave. Same with in the studio, if you leave the studio you aren’t allowed back in.
Once 8:00 rolled around it was time to move into the studio. They called groups of people by their ticket, which was give during our check in. When you’re called you move in a line to the elevators, up the elevators, and into a hallway. Not to sound strange, but the hallway was one of my favorite parts. Here’s way. First, it was lined with pictures from SNL sketches and cast members. Second, at the end of the hall you could see the SNL studio! It was so cool! From there we made a right into the show’s studio and into our seats! We were on the right hand side in the fifth row from the stage. I was sitting on the far side next to a stage door where the stage managers, que card men, and other crew members came in and out. One of the guys kept putting his que cards right next to my feet. The crane camera was also near us and the band was right in front of where we were sitting. With these great seats our excitement was growing.
Before Seth started the show there was some preshow preparation. There was a guy, I’ll call him the hype guy, that came out to entertain us before the tapping. He did some jokes, asked us question to get to know us, throwing t-shirts, etc. Best part here was that he started making fun of our group because we were using my friend’s scarf as a blanket, he actually kept coming back to us to tease us. We should have gotten a free t-shirt for that! This was also the time that they told us our jobs as a studio audience because the show is only as good as the audience. We needed to clap and laugh when we found things funny, as well as when we were instructed by the stage managers. Before the tapping Seth came out to talk to us. He gave us a rundown on the history of the studio we were sitting in and his own. I really liked that he came out before the tapping. It was nice to have him engaging with us, you could tell he was excited for the show. With that They were ready to begin!
The guests were Ashton Kutcher, two baseball players Kevin Millar and Sean Casey, and cartoonist Chris Eliopoulos. Once the show got going to was fast paced. He began The show with a news segment, similar to Weekend Update from SNL. There were tv screens hanging from the ceiling that displayed what the tv viewer would see, including any graphics and animations. The guests came out, chatted for a bit, did promo ads, and then were done. Ashton talked about his show, The Ranch, and his family life. The baseball players obviously talked about baseball, which was way over my head, but they were very funny. Seth came out again during a break between the baseball players and the cartoonist to do a Q & A. He took audience questions, coming right up into the audience. Again this was cool that he engaged so much with the audience. When the cartoonist was on he taught Seth to draw political cartoons, Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump. These drawings were given to audience members after the tapping was over. What I learned from being in a studio audience is that there is a lot of real/fake laughter and so much clapping and cheering for commercial breaks and the guests! I also enjoyed seeing the filming process with all the different cameras and prop set ups. Seeing the behind the scenes look gave a new perspective for how television is actually made.
At the end of the show Seth thanked up for coming and we were ushered out of the studio back into the streets. We had to exit through the gift shop (very coy NBC), which allowed for some fun photo opportunities.
This was an amazing experience, one we will try to do again in another studio audience!
Until next time…