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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Stephen Colbert Taping

Live performances have a certain special flavor, including feeling the energy of the room while also often being intentionally dramatic as compared to real life.  This helps explain how people continue to desire to go to them even with so many at home video alternatives as well as the price of many of these things. I saw this myself while watching a two person play recently (a Xmas gift, but even off-Broadway with fees was around $50 ... though you can find cheaper ones of that sort with care) and the subject of this post, which was free of charge.

An example of the latter is the somewhat amazing freeze frame look which we saw at the open of the live performance of Grease, one version being one or more characters in effect "freeze" in the background while action occurs elsewhere. On television, we would usually see only the people performing now, but of course there is a live audience that sees the whole stage. And, for whatever reason, the other cast members do not simply leave the stage. The other thing that impresses me is how people on stage in effect "look out there" as compared to a particular person. When I watch people on stage and are fairly close to them, fear staring at them or making uncomfortable eye contact. 

Last month or so, I checked again and there were tickets available for yesterday's show.  Wouldn't know upfront who the guests were and there was a small chance it would clash with my schedule, but well it's free. It worked out schedule-wise though the perhaps not hard "pick up by 3:15" ticket time turned out to be pretty close (got there around 3 -- my ticket was "281," and you are on line numerically).  The taping starts around 5:30 with a warm-up comedian and performance of the band earlier. So, it might clash with the normal work week.  Got my hand stamped and came back at 4:15, checking out the Rockefeller subway station underpass area -- bunch of stores there and an underground path connecting various buildings. Jimmy Fallon's taping is around here too.

The higher number meant a longer wait time, a delay occurring right about when my set of people was going in. We were given some brief instructions including not to scream things like "we love you Stephen!" and a guard with a big drug sniffing type dog was hanging around for some reason. Went in, had a bit of annoyance about the metal detector (why have me go in with a jacket with metal? belt also went off -- didn't take it off, this not being the federal courthouse or something).  The ticket translated into a balcony seat, which gives you a good view of things while being above the other seats, so it felt a bit strange. Where's the rest of it? Good view of everything though.

The warm-up guy -- had an image of Fozzy on the new Muppets television show -- was pretty good, a former lawyer (you know, like the guy behind Pearls Before Swine).  My worry in cases like this is the chance I will be singled out in the banter with the audience part and someone right next to me actually was.  But, that was avoided, other much more amusing sorts chosen, including two older sisters, one of which noted she was with her friend, who also was the ex-wife of her ex-husband.  One thing he focused on was making sure the crowd was energetic, since there is no laugh track, and it's important to have that added to the show.  And, the only sense of the audience -- other than a quick shot in the closing credits (was I visible? well didn't catch me in the flash of an eye shot we got) -- on the actual broadcast of this episode was just that sound.  The band came out and each member (including the sole woman) had a good solo moment.

And, then the big man himself came out for a personal audience introduction and to take some Q&A -- audience seemed a bit shy, but asked a few questions, including about his pets (turns out the family has a three legged rabbit, a result of an unfortunate incident).  The actual show started and we got a view of things behind the scenes, so to speak, including what happened during commercials (chatting with stage manger, touching up makeup etc.) .  The comedy bits were amusing.  The great guests (David Schwimmer, Joel Osteen, M. Ward [musical guest], but decent stuff there too.  The eclectic looking band members and as one person near me said "atmosphere" provided for the music numbers (one for the Internet and a bonus one for the audience) was more lively than the singer.  And, look! That old guy helping with the set-up is Pat Farmer from David Letterman!

It was fun and the price was right!  After the musical performance, Stephen (we are on first name basis now) taped a segment from which the actual toss to the next late nite host was made. He also re-taped saying a couple of words.  Watching the beginning of the show on television -- didn't see the whole thing -- a few things seemed a bit different, like they did some mild editing.  Not all of the graphics (like the shot of all the candidates, now with at least a couple more suspensions, out of date) was visible during taping. We also didn't see the animated opening.  Just a taste of all those behind the team guys and gals do. These blog posts are a decent comparison.  Imagine what a bit of flash and editing will look like.

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