Saturday, April 16, 2011
Going to a television taping reminds me of the first time I went to see a Major League Baseball game. Although I can only remember the general event, I’m told that I was just like any other kid taking that famed walk from the concourse, up the ramp in the tunnel and into the stands. The anticipation builds as you walk further and when you finally break out into the open, your eyes are wide and you get goose bumps. I don’t know, but maybe I’m the only person that sees a connection here. Of course, a set in a sound stage is nowhere near the grandeur of a major league ballpark, but either way, it’s still exciting to see, in person, a place you’ve seen so many times on television.
Attending a television taping is A LOT of waiting around. By the time you move from the waiting area to the stage, you’ve heard the “no cell phone or else” rule at least a dozen times, you’ve gone to the bathroom (because they reminded you of the lack of bathrooms in the studio) and your excitement has built up to a point to where you just want to let it all out. That’s EXACTLY what they want. Television crews and producers have it down to a science. At live tapings, it’s all about the audience’s energy, because the host, the band and the guests all feed off of that. After everybody’s seated, a comedian comes out to warm up the crowd and lay some ground rules. Everything is pretty self explanatory: applaud when the “applause” sign lights up, laugh at the jokes, etc. What’s cool about late night show tapings is that they’re all live to tape. For non-Parkies, that basically means what you see is what you get. If a show has 42 minutes of content for an hour timeslot, than that’s what they’ll tape because little to no editing occurs before the show airs. This also makes for great television. Case and point: Tracy Morgan on Conan. If you didn’t catch the episode, it aired on April 5, ironically, the same day the west coast was shown a pretty messed up version of the broadcast. Myself and six other friends were at that taping and watched the hilarity unfold between Tracy and Conan. Tracy being the kind of guy he is, you just never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. But hey, the show goes as the show goes and unless profanity has to be censored or content cut down in the interest of time, what we see in person is what you get on television.
Conan was the last taping I would go to out here, unfortunately, but I'm glad the run ended with a bang. I could not have been more excited to go to the show. Conan has been the one host who I've followed ever since I started watching late night television, so it was awesome to see him in the flesh. And when seeing him in the flesh, you realize that yes, he is actually as tall as he looks on TV. One thing that sets Conan apart from the other late nights hosts is his amazingly loyal fan base, a trait that his show's producers definitely use to their advantage. When I went tapings of Jimmy Kimmel and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, both hosts came out before the show to talk to the audience and get them pumped up. Leno even has a staff member standing by with a polaroid to take photos of him with a few lucky fans. However, when I went to Conan, the studio audience doesn't see him until the cameras are rolling and he comes walking out from behind the curtain. So, of course, the audience goes NUTS, as you can probably see on TV. And that's exactly what they want you to see: people jumping up and down, clapping, screaming, and chanting "CONAN, CONAN, CONAN!" For the record, yes, I did wholeheartedly participate in that chant at the taping. It was well worth it, as was the rest of the experience. Yet another thing I can't wait to do again when I end up back in LA one day.
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