humor, TV Junkie

Who Wants To Be A Studio Audience Member?

I’ve lived in northern New Jersey my entire life, which means constant access to pork roll and Bon Jovi some pretty cool stuff, like the myriad New York City happenings, a mere 25 miles away.

It’s easy to take this proximity for granted; I’ve only met a few other people who leverage one especially cool perk: Television show tapings!

Babs (my mom) is one of those people.


That’s right, Chipmunks! On Monday, Babs and I saw a taping of The Daily Show! Okay, The Daily Show Lite. While Jon Stewart is off coloring or basket-weaving or directing movies this summer, John Oliver, a Daily Show correspondent, is hosting.

Watch out, Jon. He's good.
Watch out, Jon. He’s good.

“Nice!” you’re probably thinking. “Why doesn’t everyone do this?”

Hey, great question, you. Shows with studio audiences are usually desperate to fill the house 5 days a week, so tickets are easy to come by (with some exceptions).


While the tickets are free, they still have a price: Shows overbook, so even if you’ve reserved tickets, you have to [take off from work and] arrive early to pick them up – several hours before the taping begins. Then you have to return later, get back in line, and wait some more.

In any kind of weather.

I'm the moron in dark blue jeans in 90-degree heat.
I’m the moron in dark blue jeans in 90-degree heat.

And there’s still no guarantee you’ll actually get in.

The studio entrance.

Which is why it’s important to get drunk resourceful. For example, find a mom Babs who won a poop-ton of lottery scratch-off tickets from a radio station:


25 lotto tickets: $50. Post Scratch-Off Carpal Tunnel Meds: $80. Winnings: $4. That face: Priceless.
Booze: $30. Lotto tickets: $50 free. Winnings: $4. That face: Priceless.

I imagine this waiting game is similar to childbirth. You forget about all of that boring, painful, hot, sticky, gross stuff once you feel the love. (I bet it’s exactly the same, am I right, parents?) Cue the ice-cold studio and geeking out.


One of the only shows I've ever been to where they allowed pictures during designated times.
One of the only shows I’ve ever been to where they allowed pictures during designated times.

You also forget about all of that waiting when the audience warm-up act starts picking on your mother (note: the following is based on actual events, a la Rescue 9-1-1):



You DEFINITELY forget about that waiting when the host gives the audience a personal hello, sincere thanks, and answers questions.


And you totally, totally, TOTALLY forget about that waiting when you spot yourself on TV that same night:

Didja miss me? Okay, fine, that wasn’t really fair. Let me help ya out:

Especially epic since The Daily Show almost never features their audience on the live show.


Psst: If you’re in the New York City area and would like tickets to a Daily Show taping, check out this page.

Have you ever been to a television show taping? If not, would it be worth all of that uncertainty and waiting to you? What show tops your list?


77 thoughts on “Who Wants To Be A Studio Audience Member?”

  1. Ah, you went to a Daily Show taping, so lucky (and with John Oliver, yum)! I love that sign above the entrance door – brilliant.

    I’ve only been to a Conan O’Brien taping, when he was still filming in NYC. The long process in Rockefeller to get through to the studio was tedious (I recall the “hall monitors” being so strict about very quietly behaving yourself), but definitely worth it.

    1. Yes, the sign was great! I actually saw The Daily Show when I was 18 (I cannot BELIEVE that was 13 years ago… man, how long has it been on?), and they’re in a different studio now, which is much bigger. And Conan might have been my first show when I was 16! My brother was beside himself because he got to keep a cue card.

      And you are so right about Rockefeller center hall monitors, HA!

  2. Oh man, I was soooooo excited to read about this experience. I couldn’t wait to see you in my reader. I’m fascinated by the behind the scenes stuff. The set DOES look small! Do they serve alcohol? Is there an applause sign? Was Babs on TV too?? You’re famous, JD! Love how in one frame you can still see your smiling face.

    I would love to be at a Conan taping. Too bad he’s so far away now. I suppose I could go see Letterman but to be honest I haven’t watched his show in years.

    1. Conan never does a retake and warms up his own audience. Letterman kept us there forever because he couldn’t get his lines right and he was kind of a dick. Paul warmed up the audience. Conan’s band plays through the commercial, ( they are excellent) but Letterman’s only plays a few bars right before and after.

      1. Wow, Susie, I think he’s been in the biz too long. I’ve heard his studio is one of the coldest ones, too. Cold like his heart towards his audience.

    2. Aw, DP, you make a bloggah feel good. I *wish* they served alcohol. …They should totally serve alcohol. No, they’re really strict at these things, actually! And I’ve definitely been to shows with an applause sign. Jimmy Fallon had one. At The Daily Show, one of the sound guys just raised and lowered his arms, and people obeyed his lackluster gesticulations in a truly impressive manner.

      I think Susie has effectively confirmed why I never had any desire to go to a Letterman taping.

      You come to NYC. We’ll hook you up.

  3. We have GOT to try for Jimmy next! (I just called and they’re booked til July 19th and not booking further ahead than that now.) I’m so glad you caught that frame with you in it. “Are you from Australia?” “Only if you consider Jersey ‘down under'”. Hahaha Thanks for all that boozy fun, Jules!

  4. Danny used to own a toy and school supply business and so I went to toy fair many times. He would work while I played!

    I’ve been on Donahue, (I know. I am dating myself) Oprah, and Letterma, but my favorite is Conan. He does an Elvis routine before every show! My friend got tickets for Oprah’s after the Oscar show where she ironically interviewed Jon Stewert , but for the rest I waited in line on stand-by.
    Very fun!
    I did see the new guy’s debut and he was funny. He let’s those f- bombs fly!

    1. Sus is back in action!! I should have known you’d have oodles of these experiences (that’s a pretty cool job that Danny had)!

      I think Conan was the first show I ever saw – 15 years ago!! (Gah!) He wasn’t doing Elvis back then, but he definitely came out into the audience. I was telling someone he gave my brother a cue card.

      Yes! He said “F—” twice on Monday – I was surprised!

      1. Thanks Jules! I am still sore, but trying to get back into some kind of rhythm… 🙂
        In his premiere, the new dude dropped the f-bomb a dozen times. He must have been “told..”

  5. I have been to TV show tapings, and I have given birth, and I can confirm that they are indeed EXACTLY the same. Apart from the blood and screaming and agonising pain (fill in your own comedy ending to that line).

    I haven’t been to any tapings for a long time, but I went to a few when I used to live in London. The first one I went to was when I was about 12, with a friend and her parents. When they were doing that pre-show bit, the host told us that when we laugh, we should kind of throw our heads back a bit so that the microphones above us catch the sound well. My friend’s Dad did an impromtu demonstration, and the host said “That’s right sir, could you show us again!” and he did, and everyone looked at us and laughed, and I thought that was the coolest thing EVER (I was only 12 remember).

    1. Thank you for confirming that my three hours of sweating on Monday was perfectly akin to giving birth. I just knew it. All those mothers out there? WIMPS. I’ve even taken a slushie to the face! Oh, what’s that? Do I plan on having kids? Um. No.

      I would have thought that was so cool, too! They told us on Monday to be really, RELALY loud, because the mics for the audience are only set at half volume. I was worried people would go too insane, but everyone behaved.

  6. Oh man. That does look like a ton of fun! I guess there are some perks to living in Jersey afterall! 😉

    Ok, my one taping experience was many eons ago when the hubs and I were in LA (that’s the city in California, not the state of Louisiana, FYI), and were at Griffin Park and these people were passing out these tickets to shows, trying desperately to get people to go. Well, the one they conned us into was The Roseanne Barr Show. Remenber that one? Yeah. Anyway, we had nothing else to do, so we figured it would be an interesting experience. We sat in line (yep, benches to sit on, yay!), outside of the stuido, then someone came out and actually PICKED the poeple they wanted to go in (based on looks?), and somehow we made the cut. So then we went in and waitied for a while until the show started. This was WAY before Tivo, so I have no proof of my appearance, but they did pan the audience quite a bit and I remember seeing us a few times. I was wearing a red shirt, so I was easy to spot. It wasn’t a great show, but it was definitely an experience, that’s for sure. I would much rather see the Daily Show or Conan or Jimmy, but I imagine those tix are much harder to get.

    1. Get OUT! They picked the people. For the Roseanne Barr Show. That disturbs me on so many levels.

      The only tickets that are hard to get now, that I know of, are for SNL – but then, they have so few nights to fill. Back in the day, Rosie was REALLY hard. We only got in because my sister wound up knowing one of the people who managed the studio audience!

      1. Damn. I just saw what I did up there. GriffiTH park. Not GriffiN. I don’t know where Griffin park is, but that’s not where we were. Ok, I feel better now. Carry on . . .

  7. My aunt does travel for many of these silly shows and gave us tickets to see one of them that’s in Chicago. I can’t remember which one it was, maybe Ricky Lake? Anyway, the fucktards in line were really pushing my buttons. I guess the dumber you act, the more likely you’ll get to be in an audience participation segment? They told us that once we were in some holding room that there was no turning back and since we’d waited as long as we had, we went into the holding room. Well there were more of those idiots in there than I could handle and, now that I think about it, this may have been during the period of my life when I went temporarily crazy. When they gave us grief about trying to leave I nearly tossed some woman with a headset out a window. “You can’t leave, you can’t leave” she said, like we were in prison. So I finally had to get my badge out and explain to her that if she didn’t let me go that I’d have to call my friends from the Chicago PD to come help me out and then sue her for false imprisonment. I don’t remember the details, but suffice to say that my tantrum was epic so we were allowed to leave. I missed the show but had more fun getting tanked at Haray Caray’s anyway.

  8. Hey! I saw you on the television – you’re famous!

    I went to one taping of a TV show in Chicago. It wasn’t Oprah because I figured she would always be on so I could do it next year ;( It was Jenny Jones, remember her show? I went with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and we had no idea what they were going to talk about that day.

    The producers came in to warm us up and said “Today’s topic is “In-laws you love to hate.” Who has a juicy story?”. I looked at my MIL on my right, and my SIL on my left and said “Nope. We’re good here.”

  9. I have TWO famous friends now! JUST last night I watched my best friend from high school appear TWICE on the ABC show Nashville (I hulu-ed it). She is a nurse and it was a hospital scene – she was on for about 9 seconds total. It’s really weird to see people you know or yourself on TV! She said taping took HOURS – she was there one day for 18 hours straight.

    I have so much to say about this post –

    1. How many radio stations does Babs call in one day?
    2. Tell me more about this Babs’ hazing by the Daily Show. Do you think she’ll be a regular now?
    3. You look like a tall drink of water in your jeans, and I’m sure you wished you had one as you stood there baking in them.

    1. That’s awesome, R-Poo! And yeah, those filming days are lonnnggggggg. You sit around and wait and then it’s suddenly go-go-go, then wait some more. Good training ground for being a studio audience member, though.

      1. You’re the only person who picked up/commented on that! She seriously wins 2-3 things a year.
      2. Babs detailed her experience in a later comment just below. If The Daily Show knows what’s good for them, they’ll hire her as a special correspondent ASAP.
      3.I actually had ‘tall’ in that caption but deleted it. Are you psychic?

    1. What’s hilarious is that she held up both hands, and the guy said “Ten guys?! Julie, your mom’s a slut!” and I only just found out (from a comment Babs just left) that she was holding up her hands as if to say, “Stop! Don’t ask me that!”

      Because we all know there’s another 0 at the end of that number.

  10. That’s so, SO awesome!

    The only taping I’ve ever been to is Anderson Cooper’s talk show. It was not funny. The topic was wives who find out their husbands are murderers (or whatnot) and I was a newly engaged, bright-eyed doe.

      1. Ha. I seem to remember him getting pissed because there was a problem with the teleprompter and then they were Skyping some expert and the Skype wasn’t working. That whole episode was pretty much a disaster. Not sure if it even aired.

        1. You know, that makes me realize in all the tapings I’ve been to, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the celebs ‘act out.’ Maybe THAT’S the real impetus for having a studio audience. They’re like a free conscience.

  11. Three friends and I went to a taping of the Jenny Jones show in Chicago in the early 90s. We were all unemployed and saw it as a great opportunity to pick up chicks. It didn’t work, but I blame the unemployment.

    1. Valiant effort, though! I wonder where all the classy studio audience ladies went now that Oprah’s off the air… You could have just told them they’d won something, and they’d have been PUTTY in your hands.

  12. This is awesome! I’m so jealous! I’ve never been to a taping. Tried to get my mom to go to Oprah with me a few years ago, but that fell through.

    I’m with Darla. I’d LOVE to see Jimmy Fallon. I like the way he laughs so hard at his own jokes. It makes me laugh along with him. And it’d be awesome to see Conan too. Letterman sounds like a deuch-canoe. Too bad.

    1. Ooh and you can totally rub that in now. “Toldja Ma. We shoulda gone when we had the chance. This is just like the time you NEVER BOUGHT ME THAT AMERICAN GIRL DOLL!!!!!”

      Peppermeister and I saw Jimmy Fallon last year and it was SO fun! Conan was the first show I ever went to! Both great. And yeah, big-time PASS on Letterman!

  13. I will chose to call this post: “The Time Jules was on The Daily Show.” Also, Babs needs her own column here. Perhaps monthly. She’s gold.

    You’ll love this–the only live TV show I’ve ever seen filmed was the Bozo Show is something like 1982. For real.

    1. I will choose to call this post: “The Time I Found Out My Mom Was A Great, Big Slut.”

      The Bozo Show. Very nice. This is juuust the kind of blackmail ammo I like to stockpile…

  14. I once went to a taping of Dini Petty (hella famous in Canada in the late 90’s) and they asked the audience some ridiculous math question, which was right about the time the camera panned on me and I am looking toward the sky calculating in my head. I literally looked like I was having a seizure. This was my moment of fame. I own it. If you’re only going to have one moment on TV, you’ve got to make it a good one either way.
    And I LOVE that you and your momma bear do so much together. It makes me so warm and happy inside….apparently unlike David Letterman.

    1. Wow, I’m a’gonna have to Google Dini Petty. Mainly to find out if she’s known for this type of cruel and unusual punishment. Math?! Geesh. Why didn’t she just waterboard her audience? I’m having a seizure just thinking about it.

      One of these days, Babs is going to start a blog, and then everyone is going to forget about me. I go on these trips with her because you know what they say: Keep your enemies closer.

      *looks over shoulder*

    1. My Hub Peppermeister’s first question when he read this was, “Did you hyperlink ‘pork roll’?” Psh. What do I look like? Some kind of amateur?

  15. Visited my mom when she lived in New York. In late November of 2000. She tried to get us tickets to SNL but it was sold out. So of course she suggested we camp out…all night…did I mention it was November? So we did. We were third and fourth in line. I was excited because the host was Val Kilmer…did mention it was 2000? And the musical guest was U2. After freezing our asses for over 12 hours we got put on a “list” and told to come back, which we did. They ended up not letting us in. That’s the closest I’ve come to a show. *We did get to meet a lot of the cast members plus Lorne Michaels, so that was cool.

    1. Wow. Mad respect. SNL and Rosie O’Donnell were the two hardest shows we’ve ever tried to go to. We only got into the dress rehearsal of SNL, but that wound up being awesome because you got to see the stuff they cut.

      You met Lorne Michaels?!?! He scares me. In the good way.

  16. Imagine putting your hands up in front of you, palms out, like you were saying, “Whoa. Stop the bus” . That was the motion I was making and meaning (stop!), when Paul the warm-guy asked how many guys I’d slept with. He goes, “Ten? Hey, Julie, your mom’s a slut! Cool!”
    He came back to me again because the next guy he talked to had some kind of bad cancer (I couldn’t hear him) so it was, “Ok. Babs, about those pot-smoking days…”
    Then he teased a woman about her woman parts, realized that her kid was sitting next to her, (bad enough) and then found out that the kid had a cast on his arm because of some sort of collision he’d had due to his cerebral palsy.
    From across the room, “Babs?”
    Yeah. It really was a LOT of fun! I probably should have been embarrassed but that’s the joy in having lots to drink; I wasn’t!

Leave a Reply. Because I Love You.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.