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Live in the Audience with Jimmy Fallon

By: Karin Goodhue
By: Karin Goodhue

During a recent stay in New York, my group and I were able to be in the audience for the NBC show 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon'. What an experience!

For Memorial weekend 2010, my husband, best friend and I visited another friend in Hacksensack, New Jersey. Hackensack is across the Hudson River from Manhattan, making it very convenient to visit the City. We managed to score some tickets to see ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ while we were there. What an experience!

We were told to arrive by 4pm at 30 Rockefeller Center. The taping began at 5:30pm so we had some time to kill after getting our entry bracelets. We hit up the NBC Store and café. Working for a NBC affiliate (WITN), it was so awesome for me to see where these network shows are filmed. Of course guests aren’t allowed in the individual studios without a ticket, but it was euphoric for me just being in the building. Around 5pm, the staff started lining up the audience members by the number on their bracelet. Good thing we checked in early, because by the time we were led into the studio, we sat front row-center. Great seats!!

The studio was a bit smaller than it appears on television with the studio cameras clustered below us in front of the raised audience, the structure for the band lay to the right, the host desk to the left, and the curtain stage positioned directly in front across the not-so-large floor.

One of the staff members came out to warm up the audience by talking to us and cracking jokes. It was fleet week in New York City, so a group of sailors sat behind us in the second row. One of the sailors said his job onboard his vessel is “making water”…. you can guess how that joke played out. Ice Cube was the main guest. He came out early and rapped a song with the show band 'The Roots'. All the staff gathered around as well as the second guest Gemma Arterton from “Prince of Persia”. That led me to believe that pre-show songs aren’t a normal occurrence.

We didn’t see Jimmy until the open played and he bounded from the curtains. It’s so interesting to see a celebrity in person. They look the same…yet different. The staff member who warmed up the audience told us to try to find everything funnier than normal, but we didn’t have to try hard. Jimmy was very funny. And there’s something about being in his presence that just makes his jokes funnier.

His stage monologue and sit down “thank you notes” were great. It was a little hard to hear what he was saying because his natural voice was constantly drowned out by the surrounding laughter. But we got the idea. There were flat panel screens above us so we could see exactly what the nation would see later that night. The applause sign below the screens lit up as the show came in and out of commercial breaks, helping us to know when to clap. Everyone did a great job making the audience feel comfortable.

Jimmy first interviewed Ice Cube, and then Gemma. He showed a clip of “Prince of Persia”. I did not know who she was, but after the clip, I was impressed. Apparently, she had played the most recent Bond girl, but I missed that movie.

In between guests, Jimmy shot some promos for the NBC news affiliates to promote that night’s show. Since I work in Promotions at WITN, it was exciting for me to see these filmed. He first shot a normal 15 second promo, then a serious one with a monotone voice, he laughed through the third promo, and then asked the audience what he should do for the final spot. Lots of people screamed out accents, and as he tried to figure out the best way to portray a British accent, I yelled “Pirate!”. He liked that option, and brought out his best scallywag voice. I dedicate that to Greenville!

During the final commercial break, the band ‘Stars’ started to set up. A group of people were lined up behind the audience seats and we all wondered why they were there, but then they marched down to the set and grouped together in these metal barred platforms behind and above the stage. It looked weird in person, but amazing on camera. It really brought the band to life.

When the taping was over, Jimmy went up and down the audience aisles shaking our hands. When he reached me, I was impressed that he not only shook my hand, but he made eye contact too. What a gem! I would see him again any day.

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