Saturday, August 25, 2012

Going to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

We started off the day attending a taping of The Price is Right. It was my husband's first time in LA and boy, was he getting a taste of the traffic! Well, we were supposed to be at the studio for The Tonight Show no later than 2:45pm, but The Price is Right tapes about a half hour away and we didn't get out of there until about 2:15pm, so it was going to be close. After we got our bearings and were headed in the right direction, I called the NBC box office, as that was the only number I had on-hand. The girl who answered the phone advised me to come anyway, and if we see the gate closed, it's too late. Otherwise, go on in and give it a try. As she also mentioned I wasn't the only one who called, we decided that there was definitely a chance we'd still make it. I asked her for a last-minute parking suggestion (in case she had something better than my plan of under the Clear Channel building) and she told us about a $5 lot on Bob Hope Drive. We went for that, but couldn't find it. Luckily, we found a non-metered parallel spot just off Bob Hope.

The gate was still open and we walked up at 3:05pm. A woman in a suit was not thrilled to greet us, stating that we were late and marking our tardiness on our tickets. She said we might not get in, but could wait in line. Next up was the metal detector and security, who gave me a lecture about having a magazine in my purse and had to get a manager's permission to let my husband bring in his key chain - there was a bottle-opener on there. After being detained for a few minutes, we grabbed a Dixie cup of lemonade and joined the end of the line. It wasn't too hot out, but there were fans with mist on, keeping it nice. The 8-10 people in front of us were also missing numbers, and the couple right in front of us shared that they also received a punctuality lecture. A group of four joined the line behind us, but that was it. We weren't waiting all that long before people started to be let inside, and they constantly moved the lines so that we were in the shaded bench area in no time. One thing that was interesting to note - you were allowed to keep your cell phone in this line! We had left ours in the car because I was under the impression they'd be confiscated again, but nope! And, speaking of cars, one did pull up to the gate about 3:30pm to see if they could still come in, but they were told to go home, and the gate was closed shortly after that, with the check-in person leaving.

Anyway, when there were about 20 of us left outside, we began to wonder if we'd actually get in for the taping, as things slowed down quite a bit. Plus, there had been a young woman writing down how many people were in various groups, and she had disappeared. It was a slow process as only 2-4 people were being called in at a time. When we were next, we probably sat there wondering for a full minute or two before being called inside. We were led immediately to our seats - on the floor near the house band, third row, third and fourth seat in from the edge. (It's a HUGE band, by the way!)
The crowd was already being warmed up with some jokes and improv. We realized that the only seats left in the place were the two next to us, and the four people behind us were let in, then forced to decide who would sit and watch the show and who would go back outside for the hour. That's gotta be a rough call to make, yet at the same time I was incredibly thankful that we arrived when we did - JUST in the nick of time that day!

The "briefing" for The Tonight Show was much simpler than that for The Price is Right, with a guy telling us to watch for the "applause" sign, not to heckle, and that those of us on the floor can go up to shake Jay's hand when he first comes out. After that, we were rolling! Now, I should mention that I don't watch the late night shows and had probably only seen Jay Leno's show once before, perhaps not even in its entirety. So, I'm not going to be a great judge on how this taping went compared to how things normally go down on this show. But, the guests were Zachary Levi and Bubba Watson, with B.o.B as the musical guest, so I was expecting a good time.
The taping opened with Jay coming out and telling jokes for a few minutes, joking about Justin Bieber and traffic and such. We decided not to go out and greet him because the people next to us weren't planning on doing so and we didn't want to climb over them. I enjoyed the comedy and was sad that there wasn't more throughout the hour. Zachary Levi talked mainly about Comic-Con, which started the following evening. Bubba Watson talked a lot about his new adopted child, though I had a difficult time understanding that he was a golfer - the initial pictures alongside his name suggested baseball. I'm not going to lie, guys... I was totally yawning halfway through the taping! I didn't think that anything neat was really being said, though I did get a few laughs out of the Pumpcasting segment, which features pre-taped scenarios at a local Costco gas station! Apparently it's not a one-time occurrence, so perhaps I'll try to tune-in to more of those in the future. Another thing that kept me awake was the house band! While we were taking commercial breaks, they just jammed away... SO LOUD! I was enjoying it in the beginning but it got more and more annoying as the hour went on. As things began to wind down, B.o.B was invited to play a song. I'm told it was one of their famous numbers, but I can't say that I recognized it. We were very far from that area of the stage, so we couldn't see much of the dancing, though fortunately they put it on a screen for us to watch.

Unfortunately, however, there was a problem with taping that part and they had to perform AGAIN after everything was over. We were tired and ready to be out of there, and while the dancers seemed to be able to put on an identical performance, the lead singer looked a little out-of-place when he finished the second time... as did Jay's other guests. After they made sure that the new version was good, we were released, and we exited almost immediately because of our proximity to the entrance/exit. We saw the two people waiting for the friends outside as we went to use the restrooms (in a trailer) before taking a quick look at the souvenir shop (a whole lot of nothing, in my opinion) and heading off of the grounds. Because of where we parked we were able to get onto the highway pretty easily (we stayed in San Marcos that night), though it wasn't exactly smooth sailing at 5pm on a Tuesday.

All in all, it was a pretty fun time! I think one of the downers was that we had to reserve tickets before the guests were announced, but it wasn't the end of the world. I think I'd probably try to go to a different show taping if I was looking to fill part of my day again, but the experience being so much easier than it was for The Price is Right definitely works in its favor, especially for those who aren't the most patient people. Have you been to a taping of The Tonight Show? Did you get in trouble for being late? Who were the guests? Did you catch Pumpcasting? Let us know!
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