Your trusty CN Helper got a chance to check out the July 25th, 2013 taping of ‘The Colbert Report’. I’ve got a little nugget of a special guest alert after the jump.
**Guest Alert at the Bottom of this Post**
My birthday was this past Wednesday the 24th, so I decided to take an unused plane ticket burning a hole in my well, inbox, and make a “comedy geek tour” with my New York friend and willing cohort Grace as a present to myself. She and I have an insatiable appetite for comedy in all of its forms, but mainly, we are epic Stephen fangirls, so he was at the top of our agenda, of course. We were able to secure tickets for the July 25th taping, making it a little less than three years since my last trip to TCR-land. This time, we had the red VIP tickets (because we just roll like that), so we missed out on the chatting it up with people in line thing that inevitably happens when gaggles of Stephen admirers congregate.
We arrived on time and cleared through security. Reading so many reporTs, I knew that the holding room had improved and was a lot cheerier than before, with lots of fan art of Stephen adorning the walls. I recognized the portraiture from Stephen’s art contest, including this one I really always liked, so I enjoyed it very much. The Fenix capsule was gone, though, so I was a touch disappointed to miss it. They still have the same old highlight reel playing! I think Stephen would rather us all think he looks the same as 2006 or something — anyways, I think it’s time to put a new one together, maybe some SuperPAC clips, or musical guest highlights, etc.
Chilling in the holding room was a lot better than I recalled the previous visit. They didn’t squash us like sardines, and the audience coordinators seemed more relaxed this time around. The one audience coordinator guy, wish-I-knew-his-name, was the same one as before, exhorting us to cheer as loudly for Stephen as possible “because he eats that sh*t up.” This is true – but cheering for Stephen really comes naturally to me, and I couldn’t help to be so excited to be in the belly of the fandom once again and ready to see our fearless host in person one more time.
Entering the studio was just a magical experience to my uber-fan self; I was like a kid at Disneyland. How many awesome, memorable shows have we experienced in this beautiful little space? What I love perpetually about the studio is how cozy it feels. It’s like a living room with cameras and audience seating. Its intimate ambiance mirrors the warm, close connection Stephen has with his viewers. I always like looking at the stuff on his shelf, marveling at Bill O’Reilly’s microwave (never to be legitimately used again, only to be mocked for the rest of eternity), the MLK Rally pennant from 1963. On the mantel over the “fireplace” were an Emmy and a Peabody, and the new portrait hung with this year’s Stephen proudly holding his latest book. The new Colbchella “COLBERT” light up sign is truly beautiful to behold in person.
There was a large group occupying the first two rows, so this time around, even though we were “VIP” we ended up in the fourth row, which is basically dead in the middle of the audience. However, I really do recommend the upper seats, because the cameras are not in the way and you have full access to Stephen gazing. There were Colbert Report pens on everyone’s seats, which was a sweet gesture that was new since my last visit. And my son has been enjoying playing with the pen, so thanks, Mr. C.
The warm up comedian was new (not the ones usually named in reporTs) I believe his name was Jared? (sorry!) Let’s call him that for all intents and purposes. Anyways, “Jared” came out and took a stab at getting us ready for concentrated, focused laughter-bursting. He was a really loud guy, practicing our cheering with us, saying, “Now don’t be a*sholes!” That was funny, then he went onto picking on whomever he could from the audience. The crowd was very young, but there was a group of older gents way up in the left corner who had been deposited at the studio by their wives who had gone on a shopping trip. As a result, they were messing around with Jared, giving him as hard of a time as possible when he was asking them questions. There was a lady from Israel in the front row, and Jared was encouraging her to go the M & M store and buy some of their fashionable clothing products. We rehearsed cheering a few more times, got the run-down from the stage manager Mark McKenna (the guy you sometimes see almost off camera with the rolled up script directing the audience to cheer), and then prepared for the Big Event of Stephen arriving.
Stephen did not deprive us of us presence for long – he came bounding out, throwing up his microphone in the air – and almost dropping it, but caught it at the last second. He looked a bit flustered at the prospect of smashing his Q & A mic into a million pieces, understandably. Luckily, it was just the mic – if he took a tumble like his did in the wrist shattering incident again I would just die. He started to take questions, and I raised my hand, but the gentleman behind me was faster. Darned! He asked Stephen something like “what was it like for he and Jon to be the face of democracy in our country today.” Stephen sat down at the foot of his desk, taking a very pensive, gallant pose, and said..”well…I’m waiting to have my portrait painted” or something to that effect. It’s sweet how he and Jon Stewart always deflect people’s attempts to assign greater meaning to their satire. It will always happen, however.
A sweet moment was when a pregnant couple in the front row asked him for parenting advice. Without missing a beat, Stephen asked, “is there any chance the baby is mine?” He then advised the first time parents to “get some sleep. Go watch a movie!” He then went to describe how his children’s pediatrician warned Stephen about not letting his wife get too sleep deprived with new baby, or she would sign his life away (something like that, sorry.) As a mother of two, I can say that this is really good advice – take some out before baby comes and “personal time” becomes a euphemism only. Then another man asked him a question about a reality show and threw out some names that no one seem to understand or recognize. Stephen tried to clarify what the man was asking a few times, but then just said, “oh! I am straight. I am married.”
When I last attended in Sept 2010, Stephen was setting out the next day to testify before Congress. Stephen looked nervous at that time, and Fox & Friends were being really jerky to him about his appearance on the Hill, so things were a little weird. This taping, Stephen was relaxed and happy, when he came out he was immediately dancing and really receptive to the audience right away. In this way I felt like I had a more traditional taping experience, just a normal Thursday night show.
Before the show started Stephen explained that because it’s just him up there, he feels like there are really two people participating on the show, himself and the audience. “So have a good show!” He said this with sincerity, although he must have said it a million times by now. He explained that the planned “Table of Contents” would not be filmed because there was so much show, but that we would begin with the normal opening credits. While the theme music was playing, Stephen was drumming his fingers on the desk along to it. I thought to myself, “he is still as passionate about this show in year eight as if it were the first season.” He is still as in love with TCR as we of the uber-fandom are. With regards to his personal dedication to his work, he is completely remarkable.
Really, the show went off without a hitch. The town crier thing was hilarious, when I saw the big feathered hat, my Hubster nerdy self thought “screengrab!” I was glad that he covered the Detroit bankruptcy with guest Stephen Henderson, as it has been a topic I am interested in. Then the Steve King segment – I always disliked King from the time Stephen had to contend with him from his Capitol Hill appearance, and then that one time he created a replica border wall and presented it on the House floor to keep out those gosh darned illegals from streaming into our borders. His recent comments about Mexican immigrants were just atrocious, and I couldn’t cheer/boo loud enough during this segment.
The music during breaks is always good, and it reminds me what great musical taste Stephen has. He probably knows more about the happenin’ folks than all of us. Unlike the highlight reel in the holding room, the break music gets changed up frequently. (Like last time, the longest break occured before the interview; I think Stephen really tries to plan his questions so carefully, even up to the very last minute. Getting it right with the guests must be very important to him.) A lot of times we were bopping and clapping along during the breaks, as was Stephen, and I was thinking what he said about his mother’s influence: “singing and dancing were encouraged….” Stephen’s studio is just like his home, and personal expression is welcomed and fostered (as appropriate, of course.) There is such an amazing reciprocity of energy coming from him and from the audience – having been to other comedy show tapings, I can say with Hubster authority that it is completely unique to Stephen and his show.
Finally, guest Olympia Snowe came out. I was the first person to notice her enter, so I gave her a good yelp, as I do admire the rare creature of the Publicly Moderate Republican (endangered species.) The interview went very well, although Snowe couldn’t really get into detail in the brevity of time, so it was lot of platitudes about working across the aisle, etc. I realize three terms is enough to serve in the Senate, but it is unfortunate that politicians of her ilk are becoming so scarce – particularly in a country that is in desperate need of some political reasonableness.
After the show concluded, Stephen announced that he was going to film a special segment with Olympia Snowe. Here’s the guest spolier: Daft Punk is coming to TCR! Yay! I love them! And Stephen is doing some kind of bit where he dances to “Get Lucky” with various guests in preparation for their appearance. The interview area was cleared, and out came Ms. Snowe. Stephen had a little “discussion” with the wardrobe people who wanted him to change into something else for the bit, but Stephen, in stone-faced seriousness, said “I don’t think changing my clothes will serve the comedy in any way.” Something like that. Anyways, I was impressed that he was extremely firm, but totally not a jerk in the way he approached the matter. All I can say is, if Stephen is pursuing comedy, do not get in the way of said comedy. You want to keep a wide, comfortable berth between you and the comedy, and all will be well. Just a little pointer there.
Then he proceeded to dance with Ms. Snowe, who gradually warmed up to the dancing as it progressed, but was a little sheepish at first. “I didn’t know there would be an audience for this,” I heard her say. She looked like she was having a ball, having this young, handsome guy twirl her around to the delight of a hundred spectators, as we were all clapping along. I liked the dancing with her better than the interview. I like what Amy Sedaris says, “you can learn so much about someone by the way they dance.” Speaking of Amy, while Stephen was dancing with Snowe in this very deferential, gentlemanly way, I saw Stephen and Amy’s bestie Paul Dinello pop in – he motioned to Stephen some dance suggestions, (he must have thought the dancing was too tame), kind of a twerking move, and Stephen did a little twerk action at the end. Anything to serve the comedy, I suppose. It was a funny, subtle touch. Thanks Paul, and nice to see you.
So then, that was done, and Stephen took a couple more questions. A young lady next to me asked him about what it was like working with Maurice Sendak, as she was a big fan of his work. Stephen said something like, “he reminded me of what humans are like” – in that he was so authentic in his interaction with him. We all loved the Sendak interview, so I think we can all concur with that assessment. Then, to close, a lady who was like really into saving the elephants had to throw in her two cents to see what Stephen could do to “help save the elephant population.” Stephen was very nice to this woman, stating that he “really admired” her interest in protecting elephants, and referencing how he was forever banned wikipedia for getting Colbert Nation to screw up the elephants page on Wiki’s site. She said, “I urge you to do what you can on this issue.” And Stephen said, “I think I already have.”
He then left us after this, and we departed. I took one more look around, as Grace and I headed out into the summer night. A huge crowd waited for Stephen at the door by the office. I noticed the aluminum overhung door across from the studio has “Colbert” in big graffiti letters scrawled across it. This little section of a street in a tucked away corner of the Upper West Side has such a treasure inside of it, and his name is Stephen Colbert. It was such a great experience just to briefly grace this space once again; I was so grateful to be there.