Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
For our second trip to Manhattan we decided to do something we’d never done before: attend the live taping of a late-night talk show. Tradition holds that such shows may air in the wee hours of bedtime, but they’re recorded before a live studio audience that day’s afternoon. Sadly for our chosen week, most hosts were either on hiatus or already sold out by the time I thought to look them up. I found a few TV shows that we could have attended, but none of us three had any remote interest in either Maury Povich or The View. Fortunately there was one man who’s airing new episodes this week, who had tickets available, and who wasn’t the complete opposite of us.
That man was Stephen Colbert. That show was The Late Show With Stephen Colbert starring Stephen Colbert. These are the results of that time we showed up to watch Stephen Colbert record the July 11th episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert starring Stephen Colbert.
At the end of our extra-length Day Three, I typed up the preceding entry into the wee hours of that night as quickly as I could while our Colbert experience was fresh in mind. For background noise I had our hotel TV turned on while the episode aired. Listening to a series of performances we’d just watched in person added a surreal edge to my exhausted state of mind.
From Chinatown we took the D train from the Grand Street Station up to 7th Avenue and arrived around 1:15 to find several dozen ticketholders already in line, getting a head start on their sunburns. Mind you, this wasn’t the line to see the show; this was the line to redeem our online tickets for actual show tickets, scheduled to film later in the day. Getting on TV is an involved process even if you’re only playing the part of Seat Warmer #216.
A bit after the line began moving at 2:00 toward a lady with an iPad and a stack of real tickets, we received our share (see lead photo from that previous entry) and found ourselves with a couple of hours to kill. We were worn out from Chinatown and Wall Street, but our hotel was a bit farther away than we would’ve liked. For attempted relaxation we headed south toward 51st Street and visited one of the second-tier stops on our to-do list: Ellen’s Stardust Diner.
The restaurant’s major gimmick is singing waitstaff, a team of young Broadway hopefuls honing their craft at the top of their lungs while you’re trying to eat, talk, or think. For anyone who loves the old, idealized, Hollywood image of New York City as a series of nonstop musical numbers, the Stardust Diner does their part to realize that image for at least one Manhattan corner.
The food was largely standard American diner fare and unfortunately made for an underwhelming second lunch. Anne wasn’t hungry; my son and his sandwich had issues; and my would-be order of yucca fries smelled, tasted, felt, and looked like the potato variety. Meanwhile around us, the strains of “Holding Out for a Hero” and a Moulin Rouge medley tried to encourage us to forget the food and enjoy the show.
We paid and tiptoed out during yet another ditty, then wandered down toward Times Square, which we knew would use up some of those unnecessary minutes before showtime. Among the usual array of neon lights, scintillating ads, aimless crowds, and cosplayers, we stepped inside Hershey Chocolate World for a few moments of air conditioning and sweet chocolaty scents.
On our way back to the theater, we were accosted by a group of wannabe musicians trying to hawk their demo CDs to anyone who’d brake for them. Remembering our contentious 2011 rap CD incident, we paused and humored them for a minute. I gave them a fiver and accepted only one CD with personalized autograph. Anne did the same but gave them a fake name. My son cut short one persistent sales pitch by taking out his wallet and proudly showing the zero dollars it contained. A few days after we arrived back home in Indianapolis, my son and I listed to bits of them in the car. Mostly just a bunch of aimless beats, very little in the way of vocals. Disappointing, 3/10 probably wouldn’t brake for again.
The previous entry recounted the salient points of the Late Show experience itself. I don’t believe Episode 173 is available online in its entirety at this late date, but most of its segments are still on YouTube and linked below if you’re interested in reliving our experience in order of filming, each of which were filmed without retakes:
1. The brief cold open costarring three Chicago Cubs
2. A pre-monologue serious response to the Dallas shootings and other tragedies of the previous week while Colbert was out of office
3. Gag segment about his new version of Pokemon Go
4. “Stephen Takes the Gloves Off“, in which we’re reminded Trump isn’t the only 2016 Presidential candidate with a history of accuracy issues
5. Interview with big guest Bryan Cranston (right there in the studio! in person! but no photo ops! Rats!) — Part One and Part Two, plugging his new film The Infiltrator (which later flopped in theaters but hits home video October 11th
6. “Too Much Exposition Theater“, sketch in which Colbert and Cranston play British thespians who talk like ’80s Uncanny X-Men characters
7. Interview with Busy Philipps, plugging her costarring role in HBO’s new sitcom Vice Principals (two months later we also saw her as guest judge in an episode of Chopped Junior)
The aired version of our episode ended with Blink-182 performing “Bored to Death”, but that was recorded for some other audience on some other day. Instead, we were treated to an early taping of an occasionally tense interview with comedian Bill Maher, who was scheduled as the main guest for the episode airing Thursday, July 14th. (Part One; Part Two.)
After we arrived home, the episode was still available On Demand and via CBS All Access. Thanks to the magic of time-shifted viewing I was able to capture non-HD pics of us in the studio audience as a trio of blurry Sasquatches. Not until the end credits would the cameras turn for any sustained period toward our direction…
Despite our fifteen nanoseconds of fame, so far we have yet to receive a single reality-TV offer. That’s okay. We ain’t mad. We see how you are, Hollywood, pretending you’re finicky about your casting choices. Keep telling yourself that. You change your attitude, we’ll be here by the phone waiting for our plum roles in the inevitable “Too Much Exposition Theater” reboot.
To be continued!
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