For our third assignment we were told to simply do something we had never done before and write about it. It just so happened that we were going to see a taping of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” that very night and that became my subject.
Watching a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is over in a blurred flash of laughter, applause, cameras, and rules. My toes had barely defrosted when I was back outside trudging through the slush.
Waiting to watch a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was not over in a flash. It chugged along almost in slow motion. I remember every moment very clearly--the smell of the horse manure drifting from the stables a few blocks away, and the sound of a shovel scraping snow off the street. The crew had this machine warmed up, well oiled and it showed. Three was the number of times that we were in a line. 61 was the ticket number I was given during our first time in line, 4.5 hours before taping. Two was the number of chai lattes I enjoyed while waiting in between our first time in line and our second. Four was the number of times we were told that there were no bathrooms inside the studio. I wouldn’t normally be worried about not having a bathroom nearby, but when you are told four times that if you don’t go to the bathroom now you will forever have to hold your pee, you get nervous. Three was the number of women’s bathroom stalls. 40 was the number of minutes we waited in line 1.5 hours before taping. Two was the row we were in for the taping. And 22 minutes was how long the taping lasted.
Beginning promptly at 6pm, the taping was preceded by a warm up comedian and a brief Q&A with Jon. Once he was behind the desk time seemed to speed up. There were jokes about Huckabee, a segment about magic in China, a talking shrimp wrapped in bacon, and laughs about passing versus running calls in the Super Bowl. I laughed loudly with the crowd, bent my body every which way in an attempt to see between the cameras and then it was over. Jon gave us a brief thank you and goodbye and we were sent back into the tundra, euphoric and in awe.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Jon was superb. But I was most impressed with the way in which they ran the pre-taping portion of the evening. If things were run as smoothly and as organized as the waiting to watch a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, there would be world peace. Or at least reasonable wait times at the DMV.