Heather Visits The Colbert Report

The_Colbert_Report_intro_2010

Cross another one off the bucket list!

When it was announced that Stephen Colbert was ending his Comedy Central show to take over for David Letterman over at CBS, the timer started ticking on the window that I had to go see a live taping of The Colbert Report. I’ve actually had tickets to the show several times in the past, but work obligations or other scheduling considerations resulted in me vacating my reservations, assuming that I would just get tickets at a time that was more convenient. But with an expiration date on the show, I no longer had the luxury of getting tickets down the road; with a finite number of shows left, the time to go see the show was sooner rather than later. Competition for tickets to his remaining shows was only going to intensify as the program wrapped up its run, so I had to strike while the iron was hot.

Thankfully, I have gotten pretty adept at landing tickets to tapings AND I have an awesome boss who is pretty flexible with my leave time. Ideally, I wouldn’t have secured tickets for a show one week after I got back from vacation, but as you all know, we aren’t living in an ideal world and desperate times call for desperate measures. So with the blessing of my boss, who was probably honestly relieved to see me happy again, I took the day off and made my way to NYC for the taping.

Since The Colbert Report is basically a spin-off of The Daily Show, it is not surprising that there are a lot of similarities between the two shows, both in location and procedure. The studios are located two streets away from each other in Hell’s Kitchen, an area that I learned on my trip to see The Daily Show is not particularly well served by the subway. Since I had just returned from vacation and hadn’t really had much time to plan out activities for the day, I decided to take a later than normal train into the City and just wander around without a clear agenda until it was time to get in line. That’s very unlike me, but it was a nice leisurely day.

Since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I had a good idea as to what to expect when I showed up at The Colbert Report. Like most free tapings, they give out more tickets than there are seats to make sure that they have a full audience, so even though I had a “reservation” I still needed to get in line early to assure that I would actually get a seat. The email that I received indicated to show up no later than 15 minutes before the doors opened at 6 pm, but I knew that was rubbish. Show up that late and you are in the back of the studio. I had read on-line that the queue started to form around 4 pm and when I got in line around 4:25, I was already the 48th person in line. Apparently other people have heard of Google and had the same idea that I did.

The procedure for waiting at The Colbert Report was a little different than for at The Daily Show; the latter makes you wait in line twice – once to get your ticket and then again 90 minutes later to line up for the show. The process is more streamlined at The Colbert Report – we only had to wait in line once and got in line later in the day. This was nice, since The Daily Show taping procedure takes up a lot more of your time and limits how much you can do in the day. The 90 minute break between ticketing and seating isn’t all that convenient – it’s long enough that they shoo you away from the studio, but not long enough to do much of anything. The Colbert Report process is just way more efficient. The Colbert Report also has the audience members line up in an area that is protected from the elements; you’re outside, but inside a little plastic tent. At The Daily Show, we were just on the sidewalk and the lucky of us were under an awning. It was a gorgeous day last Thursday, but it was nice to know that we would have been as comfortable as possible. My only complaint was that they eventually came around and told us that we couldn’t sit down in line at Colbert; I’m assuming this was because the line started moving shortly thereafter, but I had been fairly comfy on the ground. Advantage: The Colbert Report

The waiting in line was also made more pleasurable by the friendly demeanor of the folks that were working at The Colbert Report. They were mostly young and were smiling, polite and helpful. The only guy that was anywhere near being stern was the security guy and even he was pretty polite given it was his job to keep us all in line. We got yelled at a lot more over at The Daily Show and no one seemed super interested in if we were having a pleasant experience or not. Maybe they have just been at it longer, but there was a distinctive difference in tone. Multiple people in line commented on that, so apparently I didn’t catch The Daily Show folks on a bad day. The Colbert Report staff seemed tickled that we found them so pleasant by comparison. I get that they have a job to do, but when you are waiting in line for two hours and being shuttled into a studio like cattle, it’s nice when the people in charge are nice about it. Advantage: The Colbert Report.

Similar to The Daily Show, after we went through a security screening, everyone is shuttled into a room to await going into the studio. Another advantage of getting there early is that there are a limited number of benches in the back of the room that you can snag if you are quick enough. I strongly recommend grabbing one if you can because you are going to be there a while. The “holding pen” at The Colbert Report was more visually interesting than the one over at The Daily Show as it was decorated with various pictures of Stephen:

2014-05-01 20.18.42

 

There were also two TVs that showed clips from the show that gave us something to watch while we were waiting; I don’t remember there being anything to watch over at The Daily Show. The bathrooms were also in the same room as the pen, which made using the facilities easier and faster. Since everyone who was in line was squeezed into this room, it got to be close quarters pretty quickly. I like my personal space, especially when the people invading it are strangers, but in the words of Frozen I had to “Let It Go” and just deal with the fact that I was going to feel like a sardine in a can for a while. While I was glad to have the TV to watch and I was thankful for the fans that they had blowing, this waiting room was certainly the worst part of the experience. It got very warm in there very quickly and my feet started to hurt from all the standing around. We were probably in that room for close to an hour and while it was a nice room, nobody wants to be in small room with 200 other people for any length of time. I debated telling people that I was pregnant so someone would give me their seat, but decided against it not since there was no guarantee that anyone would actually give me their seat and if anyone had any follow up questions I was screwed. But people were getting cranky after we’d been in there for a while – perhaps it is a psychological trick to make us ready to go wild in the studio. Slight Advantage: The Colbert Report.

Finally, it was time to finally go into the studio, which I was excited about not only because that meant it was almost show time, but because we would also finally get to sit down. As at most tapings, you have no preference in where you are seated, though it is a fairly small studio so even a seat in the back isn’t too shabby. I was on the far left of the studio, under the giant COLBERT in lights in the 4th row. I was glad to have a landmark to refer to when trying to find myself on TV; I knew to look under the “B” in Colbert to find myself.

 

The purple blur next the the really tall guy would be me.

The short purple blur next the the really tall guy would be me.

 

Sadly, we were denied any photos of the studio, which was a bummer. Because we were in the waiting room for so long, we weren’t actually sitting in the studio for that long before the warm up comedian came out. He really wasn’t all that funny, but after being penned up for so long people were already excited and didn’t require much pumping up. Stephen came out before the show to do a Q&A with the audience out of character and the questions were generally not stupid (other than the lady from LA who asked him to come to her house for dinner; enough with that foolishness people). Not surprisingly, Stephen came across as a nice and sincere guy. He just seems like good people. However, no photos and a so-so warm-up guy means Slight Advantage: The Daily Show.

Finally, it was time for the show to begin! As instructed, we were an extremely enthusiastic audience; if fact, when you watch the episode Colbert makes some reference to this and then eggs us on for more. Maybe they know what they are doing with keeping us all cooped up for so long. The episode in and of itself was a little weird compared to a normal episode of The Colbert Report – both transitions to commercials ended not with a big laugh, but with sadness. We were a little unsure of how we were supposed to react to that – the first ad break began with Colbert sobbing at his desk. Were we supposed to cheer that or be sympathetic? This was not covered in our warm-up instructions. The second act ended with an esoteric sequence involving a Waiting for Godot reference. It was funny, but the whole tone was a little different from the usual show. The guest that night was Saul Williams, a poet who is starring in the Broadway musical Holler If Ya Hear Me, which uses the music of Tupac Shakur. The interview was fun and then Williams came out to read a poem, which was powerful and had a distinctive point of view. Again, he was good, but even Colbert admitted at the end of the show that it was a weird episode. He joked with us that when CBS saw this one, they were going to ask “what in the hell did we just buy?” I enjoyed it, but it was definitely a little different from what I had been expecting. Since Rob Ford had entered rehab the night before, I had assumed that would be a big part of the show, but it wasn’t even mentioned.

Like the other tapings that I’ve been to, the show taped pretty much in real time; there were breaks for commercials so they could go over things and fix makeup, but the whole thing was over in just about 45 minutes. Stephen had to go back and say some word differently to be added into the final broadcast – he stumbled over a word or two – so it ran a little longer than normal. He then thanked us again for coming and the then The Colbert Report experience was over. I was walking out of the studio around 8:15 pm, which was fine with me since I had to catch a train back to Albany that night and I was ready to get home after a long day. I didn’t get home until 12:30 am and had to be at work the next day, so it was an exhausting, but extremely worthwhile experience.

Some other random thoughts:

  • Most of the people who were waiting in line for the show have been to a lot of tapings, so I was not the rock star that I was when I went to see The Tonight Show. I heard many people note that Jimmy Fallon does not interact at all with the audience before or after the show, which they found a little off-putting. I hate to hear criticism of my pal, but on this case they are right.
  • I had my first shawarma while in the City; I’ll admit that the only reason I wanted to try this was because of this post-credits scene in The Avengers.

 

Ha – I’m such a nerd. It was pretty good, if messy. I’d have it again.

  • I killed some time sitting in Bryant Park while I was wondering around the City. I’ve been to Bryant Park in the past, but it’s always been Christmas time and the place is swarming with little pop-up shops. It was nice to spend some time in it as an actual park. It’s quite lovely.
  • While I was walking around, I ran into a gaggle of pre-teen girls huddled around a hotel with their cell phone camera ready. A limo was waiting outside, which piqued my interest. After all, I knew Justin Bieber was in town. So I decided to hang out for a second and see what was going on, though I’m sure the girls were wondering whose mom was there (yup – I am old enough to have a pre-teen without having gotten pregnant while a teenager. Sigh.) I finally broke down and asked one of the girls who exactly they are waiting to see and they said something about someone from Vine. Realizing that I was going to have no idea who these people were, I finally moseyed on. No celebrity sightings for me.
  • We were repeatedly told to be enthusiastic during the taping, but an emphasis was put on us really being loud during Stephen’s “Table of Contents” – the four jokes that he does at the top of the show before the credits that set up what will be discussed. I thought we killed it during that segment, but I was surprised to see that was cut completely from broadcast. Maybe the show ran long or maybe we were TOO enthusiastic.
  • Stephen did indeed have a real, live chicken that he used during one of the segments; don’t worry – he didn’t actually sacrifice it and read its entrails. He DID hold the chicken triumphantly over his head so we could see it was real.
  • You don’t see this on the episode, but the audience gave Saul Williams a standing ovation after his poetry reading.
  • During the warm-up, the comic had each section of the audience practice cheering. One of the sections did a Daniel Bryan “Yes!” chant, which really confused the comic. That guy clearly doesn’t watch the WWE.
  • When you are walking out of the studio after the show, there is a cutout of Colbert that you can pose with for a photo. There was a long line and I was trying to catch a train, so I skipped it.
  • The episode airs the same day that it is taped, so the episode that I saw was actually on TV before I even got home.

 

  • The guy sitting across from me on the train home managed to consume these in the hour ride that he had. Either someone had a bad day or someone might have a problem:

2014-05-01 22.08.21

All in all, it was a very fun day and even though I got home very late it was worth it for the experience. Stephen Colbert was as much fun as I thought he would be when in character and even though tonally the episode that I was at was a bit of an aberration, it was a memorable experience. If you get the chance to see The Colbert Report before Stephen leaves basic cable for greener pastures, I highly recommend it. It’s worth waiting in line for.

The Colbert Report airs Monday-Thursday at 11:30 pm (ET) on Comedy Central.

 

Colbert to Replace Letterman

letterman-colbert-crossover

Well that was quick.

A week after Letterman announced that he was planning to step down as the host of The Late Show on CBS in 2015, we already know who his successor will be. For once, all the rumors and speculation were actually correct; Stephen Colbert will be making the jump from his show on Comedy Central to assume the seat that Letterman is vacating. Same time slot for Colbert, but a much larger stage.

I am both tremendously excited about this news and a little bummed out about it. I love Stephen Colbert and think he is very talented, so I am glad that he is getting this promotion. He seems like a genuinely nice guy and it’s always a plus when good things happen to good people. I have no doubt that he’ll make The Late Show a fun and entertaining show. At the same time, I am disappointed that this could possibly mean that the end of the “Stephen Colbert” character that I find extremely funny and that helps provide some much needed satire of our political system. The one-two punch of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report every night makes this political scientist very happy. The idea of losing half that formula is troubling; you hate to hold back a talented guy, but selfishly I wanted Colbert to stay put and not mess with my routine.

When Stephen Colbert takes over The Late Show, one would have to assume that he is taking over the show as Stephen Colbert the man, not Stephen Colbert the character. I don’t see a major network , especially one that happens to be CBS, wanting him to do the same political stuff that he’s been doing over at Comedy Central. That character works for that particular format, but doesn’t really make sense in the more traditional talk show structure that the late night programming on the major networks has assumed. The focus is more on guests and performances; even though Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel are doing some fun and interesting things in the first 15 minutes of their respective shows, it still more about the celebrities that come on to promote whatever it is that they are working on. In some ways there will be more of Colbert – he now has twice as much time as he did before – but in many important ways there will be less of Colbert as well, at least the Colbert that we all know. He can still do political jokes, but they are going to be limited to his monologue. He’ll just be doing a very different show. To me, that’s a net loss – I’m sure Colbert will be great, but there are a lot of people that could be great hosting The Late Show; there are a much smaller number of people that can do what Colbert has been doing on his Comedy Central show. He’s so good at what he does now that I think his departure from Comedy Central leaves much bigger shoes to fill than Letterman’s departure at CBS. I just hope that Colbert’s talents aren’t wasted in such a generic format; we know he is capable of more.

I also worry that the jump from the more innovative Comedy Central to the more conservative CBS will impact Colbert’s artistic freedom. He can get away with a lot over at Comedy Central that just won’t fly over at the major networks; part of what I love about him is that he can be very edgy and isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers. The recent #CancelColbert incident on Twitter is proof of that. He’ll most likely be dealing with less hot button issues on The Late Show, but I am still concerned that working for CBS may stifle his creativity and comedic voice. Working at basic cable may not be the dream destination, but it does come with its privileges. Most networks probably wouldn’t let you air a cartoon where President Obama and the KKK team up, especially during Black History Month – but Comedy Central did (and it was HILARIOUS).

It’s also kind of a drag that given the opportunity to increase the diversity of late night that it once again went to a white man – even if that white man is pretty great. I was skeptical that CBS was going to really shake things up, but until they made the announcement today there was still the possibility that the job could go to a woman or a person of color. With Chelsea Handler reportedly ending her talk show at E!, the late night landscape will become exclusively male and, with the exception of Arsenio, very white. It’s not necessarily CBS’s responsibility to change that, but with so many talented people that could have possibly brought a different voice or a new perspective it is kind of a disappointment that they went with the default option of “white guy” for host. Of course, there is a lot diversity within the “white guy” category; Jimmy Fallon has a different comedic sensibility than Stephen Colbert. I didn’t really expect CBS to do anything radical – that’s not their bailiwick – but the idea that they might do something different was an exciting premise.

I have been fortunate enough to see Stephen Colbert out of character and he’s still tremendously funny; I don’t worry that he isn’t up to the job, even if this will require a different kind of act than he has mastered during his long tenure on Comedy Central (fun fact: his time as a correspondent on The Daily Show actually predated Jon Stewart). I’m happy that he’ll arguably be in a bigger sandbox, though The Late Show with David Letterman and The Colbert Report have attracted approximately the same ratings, but I worry that this promotion will come with too many stifling restrictions. He’ll make it work, but I hope that some of what makes Colbert so wonderfully fantastic doesn’t get lost in the process. And, of course, I worry about my man Fallon – he’s been killing it since taking over The Tonight Show but I don’t like the idea of two of my favorite performers battling it out in more direct competition. I am thrilled, however, that it appears that The Late Show will stay in NYC. #EastCoastRepresent

This is all really a moot issue until the takeover happens in 2015; for now, my primary concern is making sure that I get myself a taping of The Colbert Report sooner rather than later. I now have a deadline. And while this answers one question, there is still the speculation of what Comedy Central is going to do with their 11:30 time slot. The possibilities there are far less limited – they could try to do another show like The Colbert Report as a companion to The Daily Show or they could go in an entirely new direction. The network is far more likely to do something innovative and they certainly are not risk averse; the options are kind of exciting. Perhaps once I finish my sitcom pitch for NBC, I should work on my development ideas for Comedy Central.

What do you think about the announcement of Stephen Colbert as the new host of The Late Show? What do you think Comedy Central will do with their newly vacant time slot? Sound off in the comments below.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Everything Old is New Again Edition

Hollywood is all out of ideas; that is the only conclusion I can draw from this installment of pop culture odds and ends, as the links are littered with stories about reboots and spinoffs. Original thought just doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Chances are if you loved something in the last 20 years, you’ll get to experience it all over again with a new version for the next generation. I’m not necessary against the idea of recycling ideas, but it is happening way too frequently now. Is nothing sacred?

While I sound like a crabby old lady and tell some kids to get off my lawn, enjoy your biweekly roundup of pop culture stories that you might have missed.

  • Marvel has announced that they will develop four original series for Netflix that focus on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, followed by a The Defenders miniseries.
  • 21 new characters will appear on Game of Thrones this season. Here’s the list and the actors attached. *spoilers*
  • The NY Times has a story on Fallon taking over The Tonight Show in February. He says he has his first guest in mind; I’ll be happy to do it Jimmy!
  • A local sports anchor did his entire segment as Ron Burgundy for Halloween:

 

  • Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang is 20 years old. We’re getting old, pals. But Wu
  • Notre Dame alum Regis Philbin re-enacted the Janitor’s speech from Rudy:

 

  • Adam McKay wants to make a movie about Ron Burgundy’s dog and kid going on adventures. I would totally watch this.
  • Dave Grohl played with the Zac Brown Band at the CMAs.
  • A study found that PG-13 movies are actually more violent than R movies.
  • Kate Upton may be the female lead in the Entourage movie. I didn’t think it was possible for me to want to see this movie any less. I was wrong.
  • Oh man – I love these Comedy Central spots featuring Loki:

 

  • Ali G is coming to FXX as part of a deal with Sacha Baron Cohen.
  • Hear The National’s song from the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack:

 

  • Lorde covered Tears for Fears for the soundtrack as well:
  • The History Channel is remaking Roots. 10 years ago I would have thought this was maybe an OK idea, but now that the History Channel lineup features shows about aliens and Swamp People, they have lost all credibility.
  • Bruno Mars released a new Gorilla remix featuring R. Kelly and Pharrell:

 

  • If you looking for some clarification about the ending of Thor: The Dark World, Slash Film has got you covered. *SPOILERS*
  • Jimmy Fallon let Harrison Ford pierce his ear. For reals:

 

  • The Fifty Shades of Grey movie won’t be released until February 2015.
  • Miley covered Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness”

 

  • A new initiative tries to get people to read and recite the Gettysburg Address. Plenty of politicians have participated, but so have Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and Louis C.K.
  • I liked this sweet LEGO commercial:

 

  • The wrecking ball sculpture at GVSU will be reinstalled; it was removed after students rode it to parody the Miley Cyrus video.
  • Ylvis’ hit “The Fox” is going to be a children’s book. I’m guessing the same will not happen for their follow up song “Massachusetts.” Definitely not for kids (NSFW either):

 

  • HAHA….sorry Packers, but Dawson delivered a pretty good burn:

Screen-Shot-2013-11-11-at-1.07.23-PM

 

  • Beyoncé fans have started a petition asking her not to attend Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding. For the record, I would totally attend a Kimye wedding.
  • What in the HELL did Lucky magazine do to Kerry Washington? Step away from the Photoshop.

kerry-washington-lucky

  • Rumors that a certain actress wouldn’t be appearing much in season 2 of Orange is the New Black may have been exaggerated.
  • Pitbull will host the American Music Awards.
  • Oscar the Grouch and Grumpy Cat hung out. The opposite of hilarity ensued.

 

  • The future for an Ender’s Game sequel is unclear.
  • Lauren Manzo from Real Housewives of New Jersey is engaged.

Trailers

  • A teaser trailer for Looking on HBO.

 

  • Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Trailer:

 

  • Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe in Winter’s Tale:

 

  • How I Met Your Mother is doing an all rhyming episode. Here’s a sneak peek:

 

  • The new Robocop trailer:

 

  • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones:

 

  • A Case of You with Peter Dinklage, who frankly deserves better:

 

A teaser trailer for Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent:

 

As always, we end with the supercuts and mashups:

  •  Cats remake The Hunger Games:

 

  • I shouldn’t have found this M.C. Thor “Hammer Time” rap as funny as I did.

 

  • Jimmy Kimmel re-cut Thor: The Dark World to be a romantic comedy (Thor Actually):

 

  • Sherlock gets the Friends opening credits treatment:

 

  • And finally, David Hasselhoff “sings” the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song:

If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

Happy Wednesday!