Tickets for this TV show filming are free. Sounds good right? Not so fast. These tickets are so free they are close to impossible to secure. However, my cunning plan to stay up to date with this allocation paid off and I was directed, thanks to facebook, to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart website and prompted to pick a date.
With no bookings penciled in my diary for Wednesday 28th September I eagerly clicked, while simultaneously calling and texting (don’t think too much about how I did this with one mobile phone) friends and acquaintances to get them mouse tapping with me; maximising our (my) chances of success.
The email confirmation arrived soon after and as I gasped for a quick shot of air at the utter joy of this triumph, I scribbled the event in my diary, clearly in pen.
Then on Tuesday 27th September, approximately 3 months later, it was the eve of the show, my show. One is always encouraged to plan ahead in the lab and it is certainly for moments like these. Jon Stewart shoots his nightly comedy news show at 4pm and guests need to be collecting their tickets at 2:30pm. Not optimal when most non-tourists are supposed to be at work. However, my next cunning plan was brewing and I set my alarm for 5:30am. If I completed my daily tasks in good time I would not suffer the wrath of gut-wrenching work-related guilt. But as with all best laid plans, a wicked bout of bad luck struck at the last moment. At around 5:45pm I received an email from my collaborator that a sample from the clinic would be winging it’s way to me at some time on Wednesday afternoon.
NOOOOOOO……. I hear you scream. (Don’t panic. This would be a poor blog post if the punchline was me spending the rest of the story in the lab. Now wouldn’t it?)
Deflated and motivated to play the game as originally planned, all I could do was hope for an early delivery from the hospital. Usually samples arrive in the late afternoon, in which case my chances of making the show would be well and truly scuppered, but miraculously at 11:45am the email arrived. The samples were ready. Fate? Almost definitely. The stars were clearly aligned, hidden from view by heavy cloud cover, for myself and Jon “the wit” Stewart to meet.
However, we had one more obstacle. The Daily Show gives out an excess of free tickets and so if you are not prompt, your free email confirmation printout would mean zilch. And you would be all the way on 11th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen of all places, with absolutely no chance of getting up close and personal with the man himself. So Plan B. Send a messenger to secure tickets and plough through the sample processing, jump in a cab and hope for the best.
Any hiccups in the experiment and all would be lost. Again.
OK so now I am in the cab. A car in front is being loaded up with a buggy and shopping so that all traffic must remain at a standstill until this painfully slow procedure could be effectively completed. I have just purified mononuclear cells from an umbilical cord blood sample faster than this guy opened the back door of his 4×4.
But again we are on the move. Lights change to red more often than not and it seems the whole city is out in force, clogging up the streets in an effort to defy the stars. But as we all know, the stars are greater than you or I. We will succeed. And the only way to do this would be to hop out of the cab and sprint the last 15 blocks. So I did. And it was. The only way to see Jon Stewart “do his thing” was to run full pelt across Manhattan Island. And boy was he worth it.
Once seated we were delighted that there were no bad seats in the house. First up, a comedian came out to warm us up. Not that I needed any extra heat, as I brushed the sticky fringe hair off my glistening brow. Once warmER he introduced out host. Out he came looking magnificent and funny, he proposed we ask him any questions we wanted and so without thinking my arm shot upright. I was just so excited I could not control myself and really from the look on my face and me wriggling more than enthusiastically in my seat, it must have been clear to Mr Jon Stewart that is was in everyone’s best interests to let me speak.
Who is your favourite correspondent? (which was to be followed by “Is it Jon Oliver because he is so lovely and British?” But alas the comedian in him cut me off.)
“No idea, I have never met them. We don’t share the same washroom. I am in the executive bit” (everyone laughs)
And basically this is how it goes for the next 10 minutes or so. People quiz him rapidly and he responds at quickfire speed. Impressive is a word not effective enough to describe my respect for this man. Is there nothing or noone who can put him at a lost for clever wordplay? Not in this audience at least.
Typically the show is shot in 3 sections. The first covers the main source of news and they mock the likes of Palin or simply any Republicans for a good 10 minutes. Stewart is word perfect. Every nuance is performed to perfection and the audience roars with appreciation. Next up are further skits on political candidates and often includes a VT piece from one of his correspondents, again using the medium of comedy to make their serious political point. For example, tonight Samantha Bee compares a family to a corporation to make the not so subtle point that corporations get a good deal of leeway in certain areas such as paying tax. The camera not currently on Jon Stewart, we can see him giggling away, happy as a clam with his team and his job.
And finally, the interview portion of the night. We are lucky enough to see the ridiculous, yet surprisingly articulate Bill O’Reilly. Historically these two sparring partners have always offered interesting dialogue for the viewer, whereby Stewart commonly brings down the Fox Channel host in his usual faster-than-light witty manner, and Bill O’Reilly, with his conservative ideals, ends up looking like a fool. But tonight I was impressed. The rapport between these two men was one of respect and O’Reilly was quite amusing too. He still came out with insanities. In answer to why he thinks the rich should not be taxed too much he offered up a story of how, in a recent Federal Government conference, 250 muffins were ordered at $16 a piece. He suggested that between that muffin madness and the huge sums of public funding being pumped into renewal energy industry, in particular solar, he had lost respect for the government for mis-spending his well-earned Fox bucks. He then suggested if cocaine cartels were taxed appropriately then the US would have more in the coffers. Yes Bill. Illegal drug running is a taxable resource. Obviously Stewart had a field day. And we all laughed loud and long.
At the end he left us and the light went out. Not literally, entirely figuratively. As he exited the studio my full heart emptied and although there was significant residual joy able to propel me home, mostly skipping, I was hungry for more Jon Stewart time. That man is electric.
The new Alec Baldwin???