Thursday, May 1, 2008
The Daily Show
Waiting for the Daily Show is probably the worst wait of any show in New York.
This is the first reason:
Standing in line, a comedian named Paul Mecurio came by and explained how hard-working he is and how hard it is to make it doing stand up. I do not doubt that. He says he had free tickets to his upcoming show. Cool! All you have to do is sign a form that asks for your name, address, email, and phone number. I just gave my email. They'll contact me, he said, when the show's near, and then to redeem my free tickets, all I have to do is pay $10! Plus, they're special tickets, either better seats or cheaper or something. Later, he called out for me by name: "Kevin! Where's Kevin? You forgot to put your phone number!" I didn't really want to give it, but he promised not to abuse it, and I sheepishly finished the form.
Second: Not one, but two guys came out and addressed the audience as the Head of Daily Show Security. One of them gave this tirade:
"Expect airport security. If you are carrying any guns, knives, mace, nunchucks, etc., you must give them to me. Go to the bathroom now because you will not be able to when you enter the studio."
"When will we enter the studio?" I asked.
"I don't know, so everyone go now."
I correctly guessed that we would not enter the studio for over an hour after he said this. This guy does this same thing, we must assume, every day at the same time, five days a week.
This is the second-and-a-half reason.
Several adults in bright, orange-safety colored vests led a large group of children to the street corner where I stood. Breep! went their whistles. Breep breep! Then they crossed the street. Then they turned 90 degrees counterclockwise and crossed that street. Breep breep! They just made loop after loop. Apparently is was "let's practice safely crossing the street" day. Inadvertently it they made it also "let's annoy Kevin with incessant shrill noises" day.
Then, a van drove up, stopped at a stoplight. "Jon Stewart's dead!" he said. "But it's not his fault!"
Undetterred, they finally allowed us inside. Our warm-up guy was no other than Paul Mecurio. This is his style:
"All right, all right! Let's hear you go crazy!"
Those in the audience who are prone to the power of suggestion go woo a lot.
"That was not enough energy. Let's hear you go crazy!"
The same people repeat the same level of woo.
"You know what? I like this guy."
He goes to a guy in the front row.
"What's your name, sir?"
The guy mumbles.
"'Bluh bluh bluh bluh?' That's not a name. Why don't you speak up? Three hundred people are trying to hear you."
"My name's Robert Thompson."
"What do you do, Robert? Are you in finance, or a lawyer?"
"I'm a banker."
"A banker! Did I call it or what?"
Mecurio looks to another person in the front row.
"You, young sir. What's your name?"
"Peter, what do you do for a living? Or is wearing a shirt that ugly your full-time job?"
"Haha. Actually I'm...I'm unemployed."
Mecurio walks to Robert.
"Peter needs some money, Robert. Give him a dollar."
Robert is hesitant.
"Go on, Robert, you've got tons of money! Give him a dollar. Don't be a scrooge. Give him a dollar."
Robert gives him a dollar.
Robert does not want to hug anyone. Mecurio grabs Peter, puts his hand on his back to guide him, and the two awkwardly hug. Mecurio addresses the audience.
"Are you ready for Jon Stewart tonight?"
The audience woos.
"Don't be surprised when you see him come out."
His voice drops to a whisper and he puts his hand out flat, about three feet from the ground.
"He's this tall."
That joke would be funny, I guess. But I went to a taping of the Daily Show about two years ago, before this blog was a twinkle in my eye. And I don't remember who the warm-up guy was, but I remember him being this abrasive. And I remember that same joke.
The audience didn't seem to hate Mecurio nearly as much as I did, but surely at least some were being polite because they were afraid of being called out.
Finally, Stewart came out. I breathed a big sigh of relief. He entertained some questions from the audience before starting the show.
"Will this show air today, or do you do several shows a day and have a backlog of them?"
"Miss, are you familiar with the name of the show? Do you ever wonder how we're so topical?"
Stewart really is a professional. Not that I expected any less. He was still chatting with us as his producer counted down to roll tape, seemingly unaware, and then switched at the blink of an eye into total performance mode. I know this is a few years old, but Stewart's the real deal: