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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our Trip to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart!

It has been a FULL couple of weeks!
But before I forget the details of our surreal visit to The Daily Show, I wanted to get it all down.
I bid on and won 4 VIP tickets to the show back in March at the Philharmonic gala.  I was so excited because David especially loves the show.  After thinking through childcare arrangements and timing, we asked our friends Mike and Mary if they wanted to join us.  They were as excited as I was!
We planned our trip for late September, knowing that Jon Stewart was off this summer directing a movie in Jordan.  Of course, it would have been great to see John Oliver too.

The trip:
David and I arrived on Monday afternoon, but this post isn't about our wonderful 2 days in NYC - just Tuesday night, October 1st.
WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED that when we planned the trip it would be Day 1 of the Government Shut-Down.  We knew it would be addressed in the show.  And, we had no way of knowing who the guest would be.  I looked it up the night before - author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) discussing a book by a 13 year old Japanese boy with autism.  It was going to make for a great show.

The Daily Show is filmed in an unremarkable warehouse type building.  It's not a part of a larger studio complex like NBC at Rockefeller Center.  Comedy Central World News Headquarters just sits on its own next to a mechanics shop on 11th Ave.


We arrived early and it turned out there was no need, so we popped into the Subway next door and had a Coke.
Then we went back in time to get our VIP passes and head in to the waiting area.

Mary and me with our confirmation letter and our VIP tix
Lots of people waiting in the ticket line, hoping to get in
Next to the security scanner

In the waiting area

Daily Show employee giving us some instructions before we entered the studio

We were asked to turn off our phones and not take any photos while we were in the studio.  We were also told that we were going to have a chance to ask Jon questions and "if the question sounds creepy in your head, it will sound creepy to the rest of us, so please don't ask for a lock of Jon's hair, or a kiss, or a hug". 
We went in by number (we were numbers 7-10 so we sat RIGHT up front).  20 feet from the desk.
Once all 200 of us were seated (and it took awhile!), we were told that we could in fact take out our cameras and phones and take photos from our seats.  You don't have to tell me twice!
Distance shot
Close up shot

Normal shot - I was THIS close!

All of the non-VIPers

I was so happy to be there - it was incredible!!

Mike and Mary
See the guy in the light pants next to Mike - you can see up to him in the opening - but you can't see us next to him.

And then we were asked to put our phones and such away.
During all the waiting, they played the oddest playlist of music - REO Speedwagon, Backstreet Boys, Air Supply, etc.  I'm not sure if it was supposed to pump us up really.  It was rather odd to be honest, but it didn't dampen our spirits.
Then The Daily Show music started up and it got exciting.
Out came a blunt comedian who was there to warm us up.
He started with David and me (oh, fun).
We were holding hands and he jumped on that - how long were we married, what had David done wrong to make him want to hold my hand so sweet.  He was pretty benign with us thank goodness, but went straight to Mike and Mary - where he wasn't as benign.  But they handled him like the pros they are.
There was a gentleman in a wheelchair that the comedian also jumped on - giving him hell and the guy loved it.  They bantered and it was a lot of fun for everyone.
Lots of cheering and more instructions, then back to the playlist for several minutes.
Then ALL OF A SUDDEN, they announced Jon and out he came.
It was awesome.  He stood just a few feet from all of us, and welcomed us and said he was happy to take questions.  He answered questions for 15 minutes or so.  Very conversational.  It was great.
Q&A with Jon Stewart
Q:  Will he ever do another rally like the Rally to Restore Sanity a couple of years ago?
A:  No way (lots of laughs), they weren't prepared for the number of people who showed up on the Mall in DC, then he told funny stories about the Cat Stevens/Ozzy Osbourne/Alice Cooper bit that almost didn't go off. 
Q:  We just listened to some music, what songs does he find it impossible not to sing along to?
A:  Happy Birthday - he said he'd feel like a real heel if they were in a restaurant and they started singing happy birthday to someone - he'd have to sing along even if he didn't know the person.  He said music in general impacts him and he listens to music a lot.
Q: What was the most memorable part about being in Jordan for the summer?
A:  He said just how much of an outsider he felt (and the fact that there weren't any bagel shops - ha).  He said that it was extremely hot and men would wear next to nothing to cool off, but women were working constantly covered from head to toe.  He made a comment about how he felt the real disparity between men and women in the Middle East.
Q:  Most memorable interview
A:  The one with former Pakistani President Musharraf, with snipers on the roof, serious security detail, and a Kevlar cover over the front of his desk.  They were very concerned for the President, but when Jon said "what about me behind that desk", an American security person, clearly NYPD, said "you better duck".
There were plenty more questions.  David and I can't remember any others at this point!  If I remember one, I'll edit the post later!
If I had it to do over, I would have asked him how he got involved in Autism awareness.  He's been involved for years - hosting the Autism fundraisers on t.v.  I'm assuming a family member or friend has been diagnosed, but I don't know that for sure.  I wish I had thought to ask.
He sincerely thanked everyone, and the show started.
It was quick and it was happening!
The main topics were the Government Shut-Down & Obamacare as you would imagine.
And then David Mitchell was brought on.
I'd encourage you to watch the extended interview on Comedy Central.  It was really moving and clearly effected a few of us in the audience.  You can find the interviews here.
Jon Stewart - "this is one of the most remarkable books I think I've ever read"
"it's truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid"
"it is the most illuminating book I think I've ever read on the syndrome and the individual"
"I don't normally urge you - please if you get a chance, pick it up"
While this blog post is intended to remind David and me about our great time at The Daily Show, I can't leave out a couple of points related to the interview.
Tears sprung to my eyes in this part of the interview,
"the most heartbreaking parts to read are the parts where this child is very aware of the stress that the condition is causing on his parents",
"his low self-worth based on not being able to control these things that he knows you want him to control" - and the follow up discussion to this point.
By the end of second part of the extended interview, I was crying.
Mike or Mary handed me a handkerchief and I pulled myself together.
But not before I looked over and saw that Jon Stewart had looked over at me and we made eye contact.  It was during a quick break in the taping.  He gave me a little empathetic smile and I smiled back.  Mary saw it too so I didn't dream it.  He walked to the back of the set and wiped his eyes (or maybe just wiping his brow or something).  And then returned and went straight into The Moment of Zen and the end of the show.  I recovered and was ready to enjoy our last few minutes of the show.
Mary said afterwards that one of the crew squatting near us watching the show also had tears and was wiping them.
There was something magical about that interview and my being there.  I needed it.  And Jon Stewart smiled at me.
The show ended, everyone thanked us for being there, and out we went!  Just an incredible experience that I loved and felt so lucky to be able to be there.
And I loved sharing it with Daily Show superfans - David, Mike and Mary.
But the night wasn't over.
Mike and Mary treated us to an amazing dinner at Print.
Located just down the street from the Daily Show studio, we headed straight over after the taping.

We had drinks at the rooftop bar upstairs.  It was stunning, the weather couldn't have been more perfect.  It was beautiful.

The food at Point. is incredible.
We had wine, appetizers and entrees and no one could even think about dessert or after dinner drinks.
I had this kale salad that was absolutely amazing.  If I only could figure out the kind of dressing that was used.  It was unbelievable.

I also had a corn flan over edamame and vegetables.  So good.

David had salmon and it looked great.  All of our meals did.
I highly recommend Point.

We said our goodbyes to Mike and Mary and headed back to our hotel, just a block or two away.
But I didn't turn out the lights until I had a chance to order The Reason I Jump from amazon.
In fact, now that I've finished this blog post - I'm headed to read the book tonight!

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