Monday, June 15, 2009

Live Audience Diaries: The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien

Zac and I were lucky enough to score tickets for The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien for Episode #11, which taped a few hours ago. We've been to precious few live tapings, and this was the first time either of us got to see Co Co live and in person.

Warm-Up: Comic Jimmy Pardo, best known for his "Never Not Funny" podcast, did a little crowd work and presented all the legalese regarding emergency exists. He also started to ferret out potential attention whores, one of which was ejected later in the evening. Pardo's quite the talent. If you go to the taping you'll notice that either Andy Richter is a giant or Jimmy Pardo is a member of the Lollipop Guild.

The Guests: Tonight, we saw Spinal Tap, Will Arnett, and some old guy from some sport which was quaint thirty years ago. (Joe Torre, LA Dodgers manager.) Tap played "Heavy Duty", Arnett basically goofed around and quasi-plugged G-Force, and Torre I tuned out. Sorry, I hate baseball. Due to the band playing, there's zero chance of you hearing what Conan is saying to the guests during the breaks, or your own child scream. It turns out Weinberg runs a tight ship and an extremely loud band.

The Swag: You get a little note card that beckons you to go to the official site, give them your name, and then you can post this to your blog.

The main purpose of which is apparently to get you poor suckers to go to the Tonight Show web site.

What You Don't See At Home: Local affiliate teasers are made after the show ends, which aren't particularly funny. But they're there. Before the show, there's a fairly energetic opening number with the band, in which we saw members of the former Max Weinberg 7 (now "The Tonight Show Band" with 8 people) go through the audience and generally get people worked up. The band also plays between segments, although sometimes they'll stop and switch to pre-recorded music, going back to live music right before "coming back from commercial." Aside from Max Weinberg's musical circus of fun, you really don't miss much as a home viewer.

Should you go?: If you like Conan on TV, you'll like Conan live. Tickets are free and available from NBC's web site. Parking, however, is not-- expect to pay about $10. It's just down the hill (a steep hill, I might add) from Universal Citywalk, where you can go after the show for overpriced mall food and $18 mugs. Zac brought up a great point-- tapings of shows like this one are great date materials, so you can ferret out undesirables for much less than the cost of other comedy venues. There's just enough live stuff at the taping that you'll probably be glad you went, particularly if the guests are good-- and ours largely were.

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