The following article was written in April of 2008 recounting my experience of seeing a taping of Letterman.
My experience of travelling to New York City for the first time was boosted by being able to attend a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I thought it’d be cool to put it all down here for people to read. If nothing else, at least it helps me remember.
When I had made the decision to go to NYC to see DL, I did a lot of research on the internet to find out as much as I could. Turns out, at the time, you needed to request tickets at least 6 months ahead of time if you expected to get them at all. I sent for my tickets and knew I would have to plan my trip around when I was scheduled to see the show. As I recall, I did more research and discovered that the tickets they send you do not guarantee you a spot in the audience. They get your foot in the door so to speak, but not much beyond that. When doing my research, I discovered that basically, it’s first come first serve. They form a line at the studio, and then give you a number on your ticket. That number represents your seat, sort of. More on that later. So the idea is to make sure that you are at the studio early, so you get a good spot in line, guaranteeing you a good seat.
All the research I had done said that they start to seat you around 4pm and the show starts at 5pm. We wanted to be there early and some of the info I had said to be there around noon. We arrived there at 11:10AM. We were only there for about 5 minutes before more people showed up. Me and Cheez were in fact the first people in line. This would be pivotal later. We waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually there was a woman from the nearby restaurant who came over and gave us coupons for her place. We waited and then eventually around 2 or 2:30ish, a page (person who works for CBS) came out and got us to stand up and get in line. They began to number our tickets. It started with 1 and went sequentially forward. I had ticket #1 and Cheez had ticket #2. This pretty much guaranteed us the best seats in the house.
After we were all numbered, we were told we could leave and come back by 4:00pm. We did just that. We wandered around for awhile but eventually made it back to the studio in time. They gathered everyone up and formed a single line which was in the order that we had been numbered. The single line was slowly brought into the theatre where we were told about the rules during the show. No cameras, or video taping, cell phones, pagers, flashy signs, etc. At 4:15 we were ORDERED to take a piss break. They said that if we had to leave the taping at anytime, we would not be permitted to return so that we should MAKE SURE we didn’t have to go. Me and Cheez took our piss break and then returned. At 4:30, we were ushered into the theatre. Me and Cheez got front row seats directly in front of Dave’s desk. There are only 3 seats (as I recall) and we had two of them. It was a PERFECT spot to be.
We waited and got comfy and then they played a skit that Dave & Paul had done on a golf course. That lasted about 15 minutes. Then the band came out and played a song. Basketcase by Green Day actually. It was pretty cool. Then when the band was done, Paul introduced David Letterman who came out to talk to the audience before the taping. He seemed like a genuine guy and even cursed at us telling we were full of shit about something. He gave away a canned ham and then the music came up, he left the stage and the show began.
It was weird to be sitting there. He did his monologue and a comedy skit of some kind that I can’t really remember. I do remember James Caan was the first guest. The 2nd guest was some no name actress from a lame sitcom and the musical guest was someone I don’t remember at all.
I had brought my moose slippers with me in a bag and I was supposed to wear them during Dave’s monologue because me and Cheez figured if we got in the front row, and I had those on, he would see them and would have said something. However, as ballsy as I was during those days, I couldn’t get up the nerve to do it during the monologue. I put them on later in the show but went completely unnoticed which was ok.
When the taping was over, people started filing out of the theatre. Me and Cheez noticed the cue card guy down by one of the cameras so we went down and asked if we could have a cue card as a souvenir. He said sure and gave me and Cheez one. Not 10 seconds after we turned around to leave, more people were going down to him to get cards but he said no to them. We felt priviledged.
It was extremely cool to be at the show. I wish the guests had been better and I wish I had been more ballsy with the slippers but it was still awesome to see.
UPDATE May 20, 2015
In re-reading this, I remembered a few other things:
- Before we were assigned our numbers, someone tried to butt in line and me and Cheez made sure that wasn’t going to happen
- I remember wanting to put the slippers on SO bad but being chicken to do it
- My entire trip to NYC was centered around that day. The next day it rained and we opted to head home early
- Everytime I visit NYC, I try to get down to that theatre to see it and remember being inside
- Me and Cheez and lunch at the Hello Deli made famous on the show. The food sucked.
- Getting the cue card was my intention all along and I remember asking the guy for it and he said fine. Lots of others came down after spotting us and he wouldn’t let anyone else have a card. That cue card is sitting in a box in my basement