It started with a ho-hum look at the Daily Show ticket reservation calendar, and with absolutely no expectations, not a hint of a hope there would be an open slot. Check out the calendar here and you’ll see the grayed-out dates of “no Daily Show for you!” into spring of next year.
Still, I visited the website.
And there! On the 18th of March! AVAILABILITY!
I clicked the date.
It was real. Really real. There were blank fields asking for my information so I could reserve tickets.
I filled out the form and received my confirmation and instructions (wear something warm; get in line between 3:30pm and 4:00pm; bring proper ID). The morning of the show – yesterday morning – I received an email asking if I was still able to attend, and requesting that I cancel if I couldn’t make it.
So excited to get to be part of the studio audience – something Ian and I have never done before, and during the taping of one of our favorite programs? Woohoo! – we left the house at 12:30pm to give us plenty of time to get there. We even took the Merritt Parkway into the city because it was faster than I-95.
That is, unless people who don’t know how to drive get in an accident that backs up the parkway – stand-still traffic – for almost an hour.
We had just passed an exit, but we weren’t close enough to it to dare reversing along the shoulder. So we waited. The cars moved, and they stopped. Our GPS, which had originally anticipated our arrival time as 3:01pm, slowly ticked to 3:05 pm. Cars moved. They stopped. Arrival time: 3:15pm.
“What’s going on up there?” Ian said.
“Can’t see around the SUV.”
No movement. It was not possible that the one day we wanted to get into the city for the one show it’s almost impossible to get tickets for, this accident would keep us from it.
The cars moved, and then they stopped. The GPS arrival time slid to 3:32pm, then 3:48pm.
But it was okay. We told ourselves it was okay. The recommended arrival time was between 3 and 4, and if we got there at 3:48, we’d make it.
When we reached the next exit, we left the parkway. GPS Lady: (with the tone of a sigh) “Recalculating.”
We got on I-95 and dodged and weaved our way into the city, and when Ian pulled up to the sidewalk where people waited in line, I got out and asked them if it was the line for the Daily Show.
I stayed there and Ian took off to park.
While I waited, a group of people hoping to get in on stand-by discussed the likelihood of getting in. They said one of the men who works the tickets said once the line gets back to where I was standing, it probably wasn’t going to happen. I worried, but not too much. I’d gotten there before four, after all.
At one point, a woman exited from the side door and crossed the street. Her long hair bounced against her back and she carried a heavy-looking bag on her shoulder.
“Was that her?” one of the stand-by-ers said.
“Yeah. That was her,” said another one.
Ian showed up and we waited. A guy came out to tell us what we could and couldn’t do – “The metal detectors we use are more sensitive than the ones they use at airports, so ladies, if you have heavy metal necklaces, or metal on your belts, you’re takin’ ’em off” – and when he left, we waited for the man who would give us tickets to the studio.
(The email confirmation allows you to get in line for tickets, but because they overbook to make sure all the seats are full, you’re not guaranteed to get in.)
After about an hour, we saw the ticket man, and he was coming closer. Closer. Six, maybe seven more people to go, and then it would be us.
“All right,” he yelled. “If I haven’t already handed you one of these white tickets, I’m sorry, but you’re not going to get to see the show.”
– – – – –
Sad, dejected, in a state of shock that after sitting in an hour of stopped traffic, finding a way around it, and making it to the studio in time to get in line we still missed it, we walked around the corner so Ian could step inside for a second, and I waited on the sidewalk where those who’d been there early held their tickets under the blue Daily Show awning and received instruction about how to act inside the studio.
“If you’re talking to your friend, if you’re chatting in there, if you’re making any noise that isn’t laughter or applause…” (…you’ll get in trouble.)
Ian came outside and one of the people working the door told us we could always go up the block to try to get in to see the Colbert Report. “I hear they haven’t been filling all the seats lately,” he said.
Since we had nothing else to do, we headed in that direction, lagging a little behind the others who hadn’t made it on time to get their Daily Show tickets.
Our walk was a hurried rush, and both of us were filled with optimism. We would make it. If the seats weren’t filling, surely we could get in. We had come too far for it to fall through completely.
We crossed the street and run-walked past two girls who’d been standing near us in line, then waited with the rest of the stand-by-ers. One of them looked at us. “Did you get your names called?” he said.
“They have a list. If they didn’t come by and call your name, you won’t get in.”
Ian got out of line to talk to the lady with the clipboard, then came back to me and shook his head “no,” pulled me out of line.
We walked slowly. Wandered in the direction of the parking lot.
“Well,” I said, “guess who I saw?”
“Yeah. She came out of the studio.”
“What’d she look like?”
“I don’t know. I only saw her back.”
“She had nice hair, though.”