This past weekend’s trip to NYC was the greatest example of planning and pure luck, a combination that absolutely maximized the “awesomeness” (for a lack of a better word) of the experience. Typically, when I go to New York, there’s some sort of catalyst that defines why I’m going and when I’m going. Often it’s a show that I really want to see. This round, I had acquired tickets to go to a taping of the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show – not an especially difficult feat, since tickets are relatively easy to come by with just a little planning.
Here are my tips if you want to see Jimmy Fallon:
- First, visit the website to learn about the process.
- Start calling daily about 7 weeks in advance of the week you want to go.
- On the day of the show, all tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis regardless of whether you have a confirmed ticket. Get there before 2pm, even though instructions say you must pick up before 3:15pm. Tickets for the show I went to, I heard, were completely distributed by approximately 2:30pm. Once you’re in possession of the tickets, you don’t need to actually be at the building until 3:30pm.
- Try to sit on the aisle because Jimmy will come up and down the aisles after the show to shake people’s hands and say thanks. I should know – I was on the aisle!
The show was extremely entertaining! The warmup act was a comedian, Seth Herzog, who was hilarious. There are some standup acts that choose to make people laugh by making fun of the audience. Most of the time, this style bombs and comes off as arrogant and offensive. Seth was able to do it with finesse and really came off likable. After his allotted time, The Roots came out and played a warmup song. Then Steve Higgins, the show’s announcer, came out to prep the audience for the introduction of the show and for Jimmy Fallon. So funny!
The episode I watched had guests Howard Stern and Alyssa Milano, with musical guests Anamanaguchi. It is also the start of Gaming Week, and Jimmy had a list of video games that never should have been made that had the audience cracking up, then later he tested out the XBox 1 due out in November. Jimmy pulled off a flawless monologue that was entertaining in multiple ways – if only you could see what he was doing while running the clip of Miss Utah’s horrible pageant answer from this weekend’s competition. Howard Stern came of as a huge jerk, when I think he was trying to be funny. Don’t get me wrong, I like Howard Stern, but he needs to understand times when he’s not in charge of the show and is just a guest. I actually was sitting across the aisle from two of The Howard Stern Show’s “Wack Pack” groupies – High Pitch Eric and Mariann from Brooklyn (sadly, I recognized Eric from when I used to watch the show on E! 14 years ago. The woman I didn’t know until she introduced herself to me.) Alyssa’s time was brief due to Howard dominating more time than planned. Anamanaguchi, a band recognized for their use of video game sounds, didn’t win over me as a new fan. You’re not supposed to take any photos, but I snuck two blurry ones of Jimmy and The Roots after the show. Shh don’t tell!
While Jimmy Fallon was the catalyst for the trip, I seized the opportunity, while in NYC, to also see two Broadway shows and some improv at Upright Citizens Brigade. I have several people who have recommended that I see Newsies, so I caught the Saturday night show. Very entertaining show overall, but not a whole lot of individually memorable songs. The dancing was great, though. And I’m always a sucker for a handsome leading man.
Sunday matinee time was spent seeing the Nora Ephron play, The Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks. The cast also included Maura Tierney (ER), Christopher McDonald (Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore), Courtney B. Vance (Law and Order: CI), Peter Scolari (Hanks’ “buddy” in Bosom Buddies), and many other recognizable faces. The show was surprisingly humorous, about the rise of a star reporter in the New York tabloid scene. Tom Hanks was exactly what you think he would be – Tom Hanks. Great actor! The stage door mob was too large for my liking, so I opted out of getting the playbill signed.
Sunday night was spent at Upright Citizens Brigade (307 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001), the improv theater that has produced very successful alumni including Adam McKay, Amy Poehler, Rob Corddry, Jack McBrayer, Ed Helms, Aziz Ansari, and many more currently on popular sitcom TV shows. UCB’s longest running troupe is the longform ASSSSCAT 3000 team that performs every Sunday night at 7:30 and 9:30. This troupe often has special guests come and perform with them from Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, The Colbert Report, and The Office. And, of course, this is Amy Poehler’s troupe, and I heard she typically performs in the summer performances, but there are no guarantees.
You can get tickets in advance to the 7:30pm show for $10, just watch the website for details. I missed the window and the show was sold out. The 9:30 show is free but no reservations are accepted. Instead, a line begins to form outside the theater around 5:30pm. If you’re not there by 6:30pm, your odds are much lower for getting tickets but you may still get in for the standing room only areas. At 8:15pm, all tickets are distributed for the 9:30pm show, then you are able to wander for an hour before coming back by 9:15 to line up based on the number on your card. The house is U-shaped open seating, and if you want, you can even sit on the floor in front of the first row. The ASSSSCAT 3000 show I saw had Gavin Speiller, Anthony Atamanuik, Chris Gethard, Chad Carter, Adam Pally (Happy Endings), plus two other female improvisers I didn’t recognize. The format of the show is “armando,” where a suggestion is given by the audience to the guest monologist who then tells a story, mostly true, based on the suggestion. This monologue serves to “paint the scenes” done by the improvisors that follow. The guest monologist on Sunday was W. Kamau Bell from Totally Biased on FX.
Now that I’ve covered the comedy and the theater of the weekend, the adventure came when I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time. I’ve admired it in photos and marveled at its construction story while watching history documentaries on TV, but in all the times I’ve visited New York, I’ve never seen it up close. The walk takes less than half an hour, depending on how much you stop to take photos or read plaques. If you start from Manhattan, the entrance is across the street from City Hall near Chambers Street. I wish I had the time to explore more of Brooklyn while I was over there, but it just didn’t work out. I had actually hoped to join a walking tour that covered the bridge and Brooklyn Heights because I’m a sucker for walking tours, but just couldn’t ensure I would make it in time to my 8pm show that night. Maybe next time!
Last but not least, one more run in with Mr. Luck. As I got back from Jimmy Fallon, I overheard a dad on the hotel elevator talking to his son about how Times Square was such a mess with the World War Z movie premiere. My ears perked up because World War Z meant Brad Pitt. So, I grabbed the dog from the hotel room (for his walk – two birds/one stone), and headed the half block to Times Square. I wish I had thought to grab my good camera with the zoom lens as well, but alas I was stuck with the iPhone for photos. This is the best one I got (below and cropped), from about 100 feet away from the platform amongst ridiculous crowds of people doing the same thing I was trying to do, snap a photo, except I was trying to do it while also holding a dog who could care less about Brad Pitt. Dogs lead such simple lives, right? Brad is the half face being hidden by the poofy blond interviewer. When did Brad grow his hair out to early 1990s Brad hair? I didn’t wait around long after taking the few photos (only full face one was blurry) I took. The crowds were just insane, and the police were making getting around very difficult. Still, you have to love those moments in life where you were in the right place at the right time to witness something you don’t see everyday.