The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

I attended the taping of The Daily Show yesterday. I'd tried to get tix a few times before, to no avail, but this time I included a sob story about how I'm leaving New York in the fall (true story) and perhaps that melted the heart of the person on the other end of my e-mail. The show is taped at a fairly nondescript studio out on 11th Ave. between 51st and 52nd St. A sign hangs over the entrance: "Abandon news all ye who enter here."

I arrived a bit after 2pm and was fifth in line. Hmm, maybe I was a bit too early, but since no one is guaranteed a seat, I thought I'd better be safe than sorry. Thank goodness it was one of the cooler days in recent memory. I stood as still as possible, trying not to sweat. They finally opened the doors to us between 5:30 and 6:00pm.

I always enjoy when various young folks come out to greet us in line with phrases like, "Jon is very excited to see all of you." It sounds so odd, and yet people get excited upon hearing it. The next time I have people over for a party, I'm going to hide in my bedroom and send out a few greeters.

"Eugene is very excited to see you. He'll be out shortly. Now remember, turn off all your cell phones and make lots of noise. Lots of noise! Eugene does not use a laugh track."

The studio seated 200 according to my rough scan. A warmup guy, the audience fluffer, so to speak, came out and made comedic banter and led us in rehearsals of wild applause and screaming. If you're the type of person who turns his nose up at such behavior, preferring to stand with hands in your pockets or arms folded, the warmup guy will single you out and force you to rehearse in front of everyone else, so if you're such a person, best to stay home and watch on TV. If, like me, you've wondered why the audience of The Daily Show sounds like a mob of drunken frat boys, know that they encourage that. The audience actually consists of a fairly normal cross-section of society, but the warm-up guy and the ear-thumping soundtrack they pipe in the studio gets everyone worked up to a froth.

The studio consists of Jon's chair and desk in the center and three large screens arranged in a semicircle behind him. Jon came out to field a few questions before the show. Among them:

Who is more vile, Ann Coulter or Karl Rove?

Ann Coulter, because she has succeeded in dehumanizing those who disagree with her. I honestly don't think she'd feel a thing if they were killed in front of her. But someday, she'll learn the true meaning of Christmas.

When is Rob Corddry getting his own show?

I believe we have him through October, then he moves over to his own show on Fox(?). His brother is already gone. You have to watch out for those Corddry's, they'll f*** you. When we found him, he was just an orphan, emaciated, abandoned. I found him behind a dumpster, fed him, raised him, and what do I get? A knife in the back.

What size are your shoes?

[beat] Size 14.

On somewhat of a slow news day, the field report was from Samantha Bee, reporting from San Andreas (the Grand Theft Auto neighborhood). They shoot those segments right next to Jon Stewart, in front of a greenscreen, so the studio audience can see Bee or Corddry or whoever is the field reporter. The guest this evening was Anderson Cooper, fresh off a two hour interview with Angelina Jolie, who Stewart referred to as the "Bono of hotness."

Before recording the usual check-in with Stephen Colbert, Stewart and Colbert chatted for a bit. Stewart complained about fatigue from raising his two kids, and Colbert responded, "It's like wrestling inexhaustible midgets." As with many of these live tapings, most of the funniest moments are the ones not shown on TV, when hosts like Conan O'Brien or Stewart just ad lib and chat with the audience.

Colbert screwed up the punchline of the check-in segment so they had to record it a second time. Then Stewart recorded the lead-in for the international edition of The Daily Show which airs on CNN International. I saw that a few times while on vacation in E. Europe. It packages a week's worth of Daily Shows into one long Daily Show.

One more item to cross off the NY checklist.