After seeing Letterman in person twice, next on my stop of the late night talk show circuit was Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Getting tickets was slightly more complicated than David Letterman was. There was no easy 'ticket request' on the internet like 'The Late Show' provided. After some searching on NBC's website I found a phone number to call. The lady that answered said that they were taking reservations for dates that were six months in the future, except for the following Monday night in which they had four tickets if I wanted them. It turns out that Conan usually does not film on Monday's and that is why they had tickets available.
The following Monday my three lucky friends and myself met at Rockefeller Center for the taping. As we stood in line there was a rambunctious line growing across from us that turned out to be the audience for 'Last Call with Carson Daly'.
These people were being plucked right off of the street to see this show, staring at this motley bunch I did feel some superiority over them because they had Carson Daly to look forward to in their future. Honestly I think I would rather take my chances with the Cracken from "Clash of the Titans".
The atmosphere for Conan is a lot more laid back than at Letterman's show. They do not run you through any sort of boot camp to teach you how to laugh. All you do is wait in line until they divide the line up for the elevator rides up to the studio. When you get to the studio doors there is no 'door man' with a velvet rope deciding who sits where, it is completely first come first serve. Upon entering the studio, the first reaction is to notice how small that place really is. I mean really small. On television it appears that Conan and Max Weinberg are a decent amount of distance from each other but in reality they are almost right on top of each other.
After a warm up comic finishes, Conan himself come out and addresses the crowd. Wow he is a tall man in person, I mean really tall. One of the guests was Seth (tell Sloan I said 'wad up') Green who is not a tall man and the contrast was freakish. Like I said earlier, Conan usually tapes Tuesday through Friday. He explains though on this night, through the magic of television that even though today was actually a Monday it was to become Friday. Because of a prior commitment they were taping Friday's show on this night. This led to awkward giggles from the audience the entire evening. It started in Conan's monologue when he declared "TGIF...... right crowd!!!" It was actually pretty great to be there, it was like an inside joke the whole night that Conan never revealed to the viewer at home. Another great thing about Conan's show is the awkward silence after a joke bombs. Without any boot camp training like Letterman's people put the audience through, if a joke fails it fails. So if you are watching Conan at home, all the laughter is real, there is no cattle prod forcing it which I really liked.
The best moment of the night came after guest Josh Duhamel (of Las Vegas and Tad Hamilton fame) explained to Conan how he barely made it to the taping tonight after being at the Superbowl in Jacksonville (which was the night before). This lead to the biggest laugh of the night when Conan asked Duhamel "Why, did you walk? You had 5 days to get here.....right..." Of course the at home audience would have no idea why the crowd erupted in laughter.
I have to admit I enjoyed my experience at Conan more than I did Letterman. The atmosphere was just a lot more natural (and warmer, yes it is freezing at 'The Late Show' a fact I forgot to mention) than at Letterman's show. Of course on the way out there was one incident, a woman in front of me snapped a quick picture of the lobby leading back to the elevators and an NBC page saw this transgression and confiscated the camera. This was after the show!!! The woman understandably was irate and wanted to go on to their next destination.
The page informed her that the camera would be taken to security for the removal of all her photos taken inside Rockefeller Center and then it would be returned, and she could pick it up the next morning. As we went down the elevators she was still arguing with the page, I heard her cry "But we are going to the Statue of Liberty tomorrow morning........" as the elevator doors shut. Ha.
The next instalment will take a look at the taping of the third ever episode of "The Colbert Report".