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"The Colbert Report"

September 11, 2006 - by Sara

A while ago, fabulouslies and I requested tickets for the Colbert Report with the intention that whatever date we got, I would fly in and visit her in NYC. I was sad when I got notification that I had tickets for August 14th, since she would be out of town that date, and even more sad when Aug 14 ended up being the day that Jon Stewart came on the show unexpectedly. But soon after I got my notification she got notification that she had tickets for September 11, so with great joy at getting to see him, together with a measure of uncertainty over how they were going to handle the show on that day, I flew to New York for a long weekend.

fabulouslies had to work that day, so I took to the streets to wander around during the day, staying away from her office (which is literally across the street from the WTC site) and the no doubt throngs of tourists snapping egregious photos in front of the site. I made it to the area of the Colbert Report studios at about 3pm, and I walked by to check out the set up. There was already one girl in line, and though I am no stranger to waiting inordinate amounts of time in lines, I didn't plan to get in line until 4pm, so I decided to walk around and try to find the Daily Show studio, which I knew to be nearby. This maybe wasn't such a great idea, considering the amount I had been walking that day and the day previously, and I never did find it (turns out, it was South and I was looking North). I made it back and got in a fairly short line at 4pm (doors were at 6pm) and waited for fabulouslies and her parents to join me.

There was a lot more waiting when we got inside the "holding area", apparently they were running a little late, but eventually we were seated in the icy cold set. We managed to get in the very back row (only row 6, though), Stephen-desk side, but we were close to the middle so it wasn't that bad. In fact, we could see over the cameras most of the times, which I imagine could have obscured the view for those sitting closer. I noticed a net of balloons above Stephen's desk, pointing it out to [info]fabulouslies and thinking he must have "called it" at some point. After the show, I remarked that I called it that he called it, heh.

The warm up guy came out and said he had just run over from warming up the Daily Show audience. He was what I imagine to be your standard warm-up guy: not too funny, but garnering a few chuckles. He let a few select members of the crowd go up to touch Stephen's desk; I, most unfortunately, was not one of them.

The crowd had been pretty lackluster in their applause thus far, but what did you expect? But when Stephen came out we of course went wild. He seemed really excited as well, jumping around like a monkey and clicking his heels all over the place. He invited questions "that might humanize me before I get up here and say these awful things." Someone asked a question about when he was going to visit Canada, which he didn't really answer but pointed out that Martin Short is from Canada; the fact that we all knew these kids were from Canada became important during the taping of the interview itself.

Someone around that area had made a jacket that said "Stephen Colbert is my Jedi Master" on the back. He of course had to show it to Stephen, and when he raised his hand Stephen called on him, "Yes, Johnny Depp?" which was great because the warm up guy had previously commented on his apparent resemblance to Depp (I never saw him), so either Stephen talked to the warm-up guy, heard the remark from backstage, or that kid really looked like Johnny Depp. He also said that they'd do a Green Screen challenge in honor of it, but they didn't end up doing it.

Another person asked who he was wearing, which was a somewhat confusing question at first for everyone, but then once it had been repeated he answered Brooks Brothers, and asked who else could clothe him in American made attire? Someone of course shouted out American Apparel, and which made Stephen comment, "But they don't make suits! If we were shooting a porn ad, then they'd be appropriate."

At this point all the questions had come from the right side of the audience, so Stephen looked at the left side and asked "what, this side doesn't care?" Upon that challenge I of course had to ask a question, but not before someone else asked if he had visited Stephen Jr. when he was on the West Coast for the Emmys. He at first said he couldn't tell us anything, saying they were doing a segment on it on tomorrow's (Tuesday's) show, but eventually said that Stephen Jr. was gone when he got there, implying he'd been released. "It's like going to pick up your kid from camp and finding that they gave him to someone else," he explained.

I'd been trying to think of a question no one else would ask him since he does these Q&A things every night. So I asked him what his favorite dinosaur was, which took him by surprise and he asked me, "And how long have you been teaching preschool?" Some people have to go on national TV to get Stephen to make fun of them, but I got it right there, heh. The problem with being in the back row (among others), is that it's hard to have an actual conversation, and so while he thought for a minute I tried to come up with some rebuttle or explanation of myself and failed. In the end he answered a Brontosaur, "since that's the one that's not actually a dinosaur anymore, right?" I confirmed this, and [info]fabulouslies, who could not not talk any longer, told him that a theropod was the correct answer (since those are my favorite dinosaurs). Stephen repeated "Theropods are the correct answer?" which was interesting and unexpected because he used the plural when [info]fabulouslies had used a singular, confirming my suspicion that he really is a paleo nerd, heh. In any case, then he said something about "is somebody writing this down" and "saving footnotes for later", and then he fixed me with this crazy intense look as if he expected me to say something, but I didn't know what to say. It was no doubt no more than a few seconds, though it certainly felt longer.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure mine was the last question before they started the taping, and Stephen went to his desk to get ready. The antics that man goes through between taping blocks (during the "commercial breaks") confirms his utter silliness and made me fall in love with him all the more. Seeing the show taped live was amazing; it's ten times as funny, since once the first laughs start it's so hard to stop. They have screens all around to show the pictures beside him and for The Wørd of course, and sometimes you find yourself watching the video feed, and sometimes you find yourself watching Stephen himself. When Martin came out before they filmed the interview there was a brief interplay between them, which caused Stephen to sit back in his chair with his feet up on his desk, and then lower his chair to the bottom. He didn't pull it back up before they started taping again, hence the return from the commercial break with him sitting so low at his desk. Before the very end he was practicing clapping, and we couldn't decide if it was a clapping joke, or whether he was practicing timing; as it turns out it was our clapped lullaby.

After the sign-off he sat in the same position staring intently into the camera for a long time; the cameramen started filming into the audience, and I saw myself onscreen, but sadly they didn't air us cheering. Stephen finall broke his reverie and asked us, "So how did it feel to come to a comedy show on 9/11?" There were a couple of mumbled replies, but someone said "weird" and Stephen agreed saying, "yeah, it felt weird doing one too." He thanked us for laughing, then departed the stage.

It was such a mindblowingly amazing time; the show was great, the audience was great, and as much as I already loved him and the show, I love them so much more now. It kind of reminds me of my first TMBG show in that my love increases exponentially; may it be the first of many to come.

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