My wife and I hate cattle drives. Cattle drives are where large groups of people all do the same thing at the same time. First Holy Communion is an example of where second graders are all lined up, marched into Church for an important rite of passage. There is never enough room in Church, so the families become part of the bovine experience; herded into Church just prior to the running of the elementary schoolers. Cattle drives take the fun out of events.
Valentine's Day is another one. Couples get dressed up to go to overbooked restaurants with over-priced flowers to be waited on by overworked servers and overstressed kitchens. Soooo, why not postpone Valentine's Day? Valentine won't mind.
Back in early February I was monitoring Twitter for free tickets online to see Jon Stewart taping The Daily Show at the end of March. I clicked on the link and was able to grab two tickets. We did the practical thing: made sure our schedules were clear, dropped off the grid for a day and planned to go.
After confirming, we got an email stating that we had to be at the studio at 2:30 PM to get in line for the physical tickets to get in. Ignore that. Thanks to a Facebook friend who has been through the process, be there at least an hour before that; otherwise the line that snakes around the corner will land you in the Hudson River. Since we are coming from outside of Philly, we budgeted about two and a half hours to get there.
We pulled into Manhattan around 1:30 and my wife jumped into line while I searched for a parking place. New Jersey was nice.
When we reunited in line, a very nice family from upstate New York was ahead of us and a couple from Norway was behind us. Yes -- THAT Norway -- with the fjords. The couple from outside Oslo talked about The Daily Show being the driving reason they got on an eight-hour flight to New York. The Norwegians knew more about our political system than we do. Their English could have been from Minnesota -- their media plays our programming straight with no overdubbing or subtitles. We talked for an hour about cars and how bad subtitles are when applied to Norwegians in our media. Their furthest right wing would be no match for our Fox-induced right wing. They look at our politics as entertainment. All I could do was apologize.
When 2:30 rolled around we were given numbered tickets and were told to come back in line at 4:30 in numerical order. The groups of people separated to find lunch and wander Manhattan. We arrived back at 4:30 to find the area outside the theater set up with little pens formed by theater roping. We were in the pen for those with tickets marked from 100-120; it felt so bovine.
Around 5:00 one of the theater guys gathered our attention to go thru security procedures. They have a TSA training program at Comedy Central. Remove your belts, metal, phones, etc. to go thru the detectors. Knives, maces and AK-47s will be returned at the end of the show -- so please check them in. Pictures may be taken only when we tell you. Violators will be beaten for fun.
Once you are seated in the studio, they play calming heavy metal music to settle you in for about 15-20 minutes. They make a few announcements then they bring out a warm-up comedian. The comedian played with the audience for a little bit. With my beard, I am a prime target. My wife -- who shuns the light as much I move towards it -- cringed. I was his first target. We bantered back and forth. The comic was cool and actually asked for my business card and advice on computers before finding other audience members. He did a great job warming the crowd for Jon Stewart.
Stewart came out in a very relaxed manner and continued to play with the audience. When a cell phone went off by accident he took suggestions for a new ringtone for the guy. He likes the song "Take Five."
The show started and he ran solo for the first two segments. It was cool watching his expressions from the chair with a camera about eight feet from his face, then looking up at the monitors to see a finished product. Everything was done in one take. Professional and smooth.
The third segment guest of all people was Arianna Huffington. She was doing the rounds for her new book. Jon Stewart did have some fun with her when she presented ideas in the form of legs on a stool and pillars. One of her suggestions was for people take electronics out of their bedrooms while having sex. Sounds good to me as I don't like getting shocked.
Within 10 minutes Stewart thanked the audience for stopping by and welcomed us to come again (after the six-month limit). Another five minutes we were on the street and walking towards New Jersey in search of the car and talking about memories of a really nice Valentine's Day.