Roni Goes to The Daily Show

Alok, an occasional DWATG contributor, hooked me up with a ticket to The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart.  I got a call from him at 2 PM, telling me to be there by 3 PM.  I confirmed the tickets online, stuffed a few things into my pockets for the night at Joe’s place in Brooklyn and headed to midtown to wait on line.

I don’t want to bore you with every step along the way, so here are the pre-show highlights.

  • Waited on the line for a while, chatting briefly with some Danes behind me, Canadians in front of me, and a few Bostonians.
  • Over the course of the wait, which lasted until around 5:15 PM, various interns and staff came and barked orders, such as no cell phones allowed in the studio, no photography or videoing allowed, info about the metal detector, etc.
  • They handed out the tickets around 4:30 PM, distributing them to us outside, on the line.
  • A woman in charge yelled “Look around you, if there’s any garbage by your feet, I will *not* let you in.”
  • At about 5:15 PM, we started getting shuffled into the studio.

The set itself is gorgeous and fairly spacious for a TV show.  Not much difference from what you see on TV, except you get a sense of where the green screen is (to the audience left of the anchor desk).

Music played for a while, before Paul Mecurio came out to do the warmup.  I was a bit surprised to see him, as I knew him from years prior as a doctor character on the show.

At first, he didn’t do a routine at all, just having the audience yell if they were excited to see Jon Stewart.  It went on so long that I wondered if that was all he was going to do.  I also questioned whether or not it was actually Paul Mecurio.  After a while of commanded screaming, he introduced himself, to which I was the only one that cheered.

I found it a bit odd that I am the only one who actually recognized him (or saw fit to be excited about it).  He asked why I was excited.

“You’ve been on the show before.  You’re good.”

He was flattered.

Mecurio went on to do some schtick with the audience, talking to a guy named Hans Bach, a Dane.  He talked to couples, to which the audience went “Awww.”

Seeing me taking notes, he asked why.  I said that I blog. He said he hoped I would say nice things. I shrugged. The audience laughed.

When he asked a couple how long they were married and they responded “40 years”, I figured this would be an awww moment. Turns out, it wasn’t, as I was the only one who said it. And loudly.  Mecurio said, “You’re a little off.”

After a while of pot jokes and chitty chat, I raised my hand at a point that was never defined as Q&A.  Mecurio seemed a little surprised, but willing to take the question.

“Didn’t you used to go by Paul Michael Mercurio?”

Once again, he was surprised.  “Yeah, I did.” Pause. “Wow, I’ve never had a stalker before.”

He explained the whole deal with not having two actors in the union with the same name and someone beat him to the punch by a couple months.  After a while of people having trouble with three names, he dropped the ‘r’ in his last name.

Within a reasonable time frame, Jon Stewart was introduced.  His demeanor was pretty much the thoughtful version of him that you see on the show.  It was his room and he knew it.

We were told to have questions ready, so I did.

“What are some of the funniest words in the English language?”

Stewart thought briefly. “Cantaloupe, (unheard), platypus.  Did you have any?”

I knew he might turn it back on me, so I had three: gander, doily and vintner.

“Doily, yeah. Vintner. Vintner.”  He then did vintner with a funny voice, ultimately agreeing.

People asked about Chris Matthews, smart/stupid interviewees (he was surprised at how little Harry Reid seemed to care about his own autobiography), which FOX News anchor he identified with (Megyn Kelly, because “I have hot tits and ass.”)

Later, on before prefacing his own question, a guy threw his two cents into the funny word conversation, saying, with a raised index finger, ‘underpants’.

Stewart explained that this wasn’t the game, as the word, by definition, not only by sound, is funny.

He continued, “You couldn’t say scrotum. It’s a funny word, but it’s also the bag under your penis. Anything that it was called would be funny.  It would count if scrotum is what we called tangerines.”

He answered a question about his Passover, saying that he had a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.  I figured I would see if I could ask him if he thought the Tea Party was good in any way, to spread the discussion and allow for third parties, but I knew I wouldn’t get a second question.  He called on someone behind me by saying, “Behind you, with the words.”

The show was all right.  It was a bit odd watching it live, because you do the same thing that one does at a sports game, getting distracted by the TV monitors.  The big difference is that for TDS, you need to see the screen to see the captions to get the jokes. Plus, you have a whole segment that is pre-taped.

I also found that once the show started, I felt relatively cut off. Stewart was audible, but quiet. I wasn’t so close to the front, so maybe people further down had a more intimate feeling, but in the end, I felt a lot more removed than I had anticipated, something that I didn’t feel at Colbert. Which will be covered in the next entry.

To see the episode I saw, April 12, 2010, and try to hear my guffaws, go here.

My Colbert Report experience can be found here.

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