Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My "Late Night" Experience - Story from Conan O'Brien Live Taping

Late Night with Conan O’Brien

PG Ignacio, TwoCents Staff Writer

For my 30th birthday my wife was kind enough to obtain tickets for me to attend a live taping of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. She called NBC several months in advance to make sure she could get tickets to the Friday (Jan 11th) show immediately following my birthday so we could spend the weekend in New York City. It was a great weekend.

We arrived at 30 Rockefeller Center before the required check-in time of 4:15 PM. Our party of four, the maximum allowed in a group, checked in, received a paper bracelet, ticket, and lined up with the rest of the crowd.

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12 comments:

  1. Late Night with Conan O’Brien

    PG Ignacio, TwoCents Staff Writer

    For my 30th birthday my wife was kind enough to obtain tickets for me to attend a live taping of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. She called NBC several months in advance to make sure she could get tickets to the Friday (Jan 11th) show immediately following my birthday so we could spend the weekend in New York City. It was a great weekend.

    We arrived at 30 Rockefeller Center before the required check-in time of 4:15 PM. Our party of four, the maximum allowed in a group, checked in, received a paper bracelet, ticket, and lined up with the rest of the crowd. After the reserved groups with tickets checked in at 4:15, those who obtained standby tickets that same morning were then given tickets. The audience was then separated in to two lines. Each group in one line received numbers and the other groups in the second line were given letters. Our group was #25. They then put us into elevators and shuffled us into the studio, keeping us in our groups of four. We did not get to keep our tickets as they were collected when we entered the studio.

    We were seated in the middle section of the audience with a great view of the entire set without obstructions. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, but obviously the closer the better. The set is pretty small compared to how it appears on TV. During Conan’s monologue he is about 8 to 10 feet from the band. When he is at his desk there is one camera about 8 to 10 feet from him with 3 or 4 others pointed from different angles at him and his guests’ chairs.

    A gentleman, who I assume is a comedian, warmed up the crowd and gave us some tips for being a great audience. Applaud when the applaud lights flash. Don’t continue yelling like a complete idiot and also no photography, among other things. That saddened me because I was hoping to leave with some great pictures. People that did take out their camera or cell phone to take pictures had them confiscated.

    Conan then came out and welcomed the crowd and really got us ready for the show. He exchanged some playful banter with a member of the audience in the front row and even gave him a hug. He told Max to give him a hug as well and Max also kindly gave him his drumsticks. At about 5:30 the show started.

    At this point I thought we would be in store for a show that would be much longer then what we usually see on TV, needing to stop and start again, kind of like a sitcom. I was wrong. They did the entire show in front of us as if we were at home watching. When they stopped for what would be a commercial for viewers at home, we listened to the band continue to play until they came back from commercial. We also saw them prepare the set, quickly talk to each other, and fix Conan’s makeup during the breaks. When the show was done, Conan sang a very short “this is the end of the show” song and thanked us for attending. The show was completed in exactly an hour and we exited the studio. I was very impressed. It was like we were in attendance for a live broadcast of the show.

    Conan’s guests were Brian Williams from NBC’s Nightly News, mixologist David Wondrich, and musical comedy team Doyle & Debbie.

    PG’s TwoCents: It was an amazing experience to see a celebrity of his status, someone I highly admire, perform in person. The entire operation from checking in and being seated by the pages, watching the show take its course, and exiting the studio was top notch. His guests were entertaining – watching him exchange funny stories with the usually straight-laced news host Brian Williams, imbibe unusual alcoholic drinks from the mixologist, and the hilarious musical performance by Doyle & Debbie. We were also lucky to experience one of Conan’s German lightshows. The best part was being able to see Conan perform live with the Max Weinberg 7. I’ll never forget that day.

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  2. OMG! I am sooo jealous! I am a HUGE Conan fan and that is such a dream of mine, to see the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller and then to see a taping of Conan. Good for you!!

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  3. Sounds like fun...I have planned the same trip for my boyfriend's 30th birthday! We will go in Febraury....one question though, was it possible to meet Conan and take a picture or two? I was thinking of bringing him a small gift from our hometown....hoping that would score us a chance to take a pic. What do you think?

    Also, how much earlier than 4:15 were you there. We are flying in for the day for this and I don;t want to be late yet I don't want to spend hours in line. Thanks!!!!

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  4. ANNA - We did not have the opportunity to meet Conan. I brought a gift for him and some of his other staff too. The timing of how you give the gift may help you meet him. I'm not the pushy overbearing persistent type, so I gave my gift to one of his staff before the show. Nothing is impossible, so give it a try. I might be blogging about the gift I gave soon, so stay tuned for that.

    We drove in and got there an hour early. If you've never been to NYC then you want to give yourself enough time to travel the streets, especially if you have to go from the airport to 30 Rock. You never know what traffic and public transportation is going to be like on any given day there. Getting there as early as you possibly can is better. There is alot to see, eat, and shop around 30 Rock. Don't leave yourself little time and end up rushing around. It's not a good feeling to have. Don't worry about spending hours in line if you already have a confirmation to attend his show. Did you get a confirmation email already or are you going the standby route?

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

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  5. Hey~ thanks so much for the reply! We are flying on on a 7:30am flight and won't be leaving until 11pm on a flight back home. So...I am planning to give him clues as we go, at the moment he has no idea that we'll even be flying out of town for his b-day gift.

    Since we have both been to NYC numerous times for shopping/dining/entertainment purposes, I have planned a quick trip in the morning to the Statue of Liberty. Neither of us have done the "touristy" things in NYC. Then, we'll head to the show, and I booked booked 7:00pm tickets for the Observation deck atop of Rock Center. We should be good to do this by 7-right? Thanks again for your help and looking forward to hearing about the gifts you brought to Conan & Co. Thanks!

    ~Anna

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  6. ps- I have the confirmation already for show tix!

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  7. ANNA/ANONYMOUS:

    February is approaching!!! Wow, I'm excited for you and your boyfriend. NYC is my all-time favorite place. You will have a great time.

    In the past shopping is about all my wife and I did when we visited NYC, so I made sure during my 30th b-day weekend we would see sites I've always wanted to. If you would like to see pics from our trip, head over to:

    www.myspace.com/picturegilbert

    As far as your tour Atop The Rock at 7:00, you should be fine. Late Night ends exactly at 6:30PM.

    Have a great time and a safe trip. Let me know how it goes!

    Sincerely,
    PG

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  8. Hey, the pics look great!!! Is that the diner from Seinfeld? Where is it located? I am trying to find a good diner near Battery Park. Or somewhere near Rock Center, my boyfriend loves diner food so that is a must. Any ideas?
    ~Anna

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  9. ANNA,

    Yes, that is the diner from Seinfeld. It's a little further north than where you'll be for Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien.

    I'm not completely familiar with Battery Park, it's on the southern-most end of the city. I'm sure if you asked someone that works for the city of where you'll be for Statue of Liberty, they'll recommend a good place.

    There's tons of places to eat near 30 Rock. If you're in a rush, there's food in the lower level of 30 Rock (this is where the restrooms are too, good thing to know). If you're looking for a well-known place - The Carnegie Deli is one street over from 30 Rock, on 7th Ave, and 6 blocks north, between W54th and W55th. It's an easy walk. I haven't been there yet, but its suppose to be great.

    If you're on MySpace, throw me a friend request. Let me know how the trip is and if you have any other questions.

    Thanks for reading and visiting TheTwoCents!
    PG

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  10. I live in Australia and watch Conan O'Brien (also Jay Leno) every week night. We get the show around 8 hrs after it airs in America. I'm planning to go to America next year and want to go to a live taping. Only prob is how do i secure a ticket all the way in Australia? Oh well guess i'll worry about it when the time comes. Great rundown on what goes on.

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  11. Has anyone purchased Conan O'Brien Tickets from the website http://conan-obrien-tickets.doitbigtickets.com/

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