I’m going to take a break from writing about my vacation to tell y’all about my pretty sweet Monday this week. I finally got to see one of my favorites Stephen Colbert live in action… And. It. Was. AWESOME. Oh, and Mindy Kaling (!!!), who was a guest on the show that night. My gurl. Gary Owen and Sum 41 were other guests. After I snapchatted my excitement waiting in line to enter the Late Show with Stephen Colbert (LSSC) theatre, many people asked me how I got to do this. Shout out to my gurl Mallory ;-). It is so easy, but time consuming in the sense that you line up/wait for hours for a 90-min experience. Definitely worth doing at least once in your life, because Stephen is just an incredible human being and of course, always interesting to see a show production (with a chance of getting on national TV). Unfortunately, we were not allowed to do the STEPHEN STEPHEN STEPHEN chant.
You can request up to 2 free tickets at https://colbert.1iota.com/show/536/The-Late-Show-with-Stephen-Colbert per account. He has tapings Monday – Thursday (Thursday has 2 taping times as they film Friday’s show as well). So yes, I had to skip a half day of work for this, unless you’re a teacher in NYC and have Jewish and Muslim holidays off (you lucky biscuit). I’m also lucky I live in NYC that I have more flexibility on which date I want to attend, which honestly, if you’re a NYC transplant living here for only X amount of years, take a sick day and do this (DISCLAIMER IF SOMEONE FROM HR IS READING – I AM KIDDING AND DON’T CONDONE ANY NON-APPROPRIATE WORK BEHAVIOR PLZ DONT FIRE ME). I requested mine about a little less than 3 weeks in advance around 8:00PM and received a notification to confirm my tickets at 7:00AM the next day. You have to log in again to claim your tickets. Easy peasy.
When I went to LA last summer, I got to see CONAN (check out my experience here) and ended up with front row seats and experiencing 15 seconds of fame. It was awesome and a check off my bucket list. That was because of (1) luck, and (2) being prepared by reading tons of Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews on the show where people talked about when to get there. So obviously I did that for LSSC. Unfortunately, they changed their line up procedures very recently apparently so many reviews were kind of useless. Also, their procedures are different than what I experienced at Conan too. But a few things that remain true..
Depending on what ticket type you have, you may not be guaranteed to get in. Obviously, since the shows are free, they overbook the seats to ensure a full audience… so, especially if you have General Admission tickets, you may not get tickets if you don’t get there earlier.
There are three types of tickets I read about – VIP, Priority, and General Admission. IDK how you get VIP tickets or anything about them, but I’m assuming they have first priority. Some people said that 75% of people are given Priority tickets and they are at random. No official source of this information though. Priority tickets have priority over general admission, meaning even if you were first in line with a GA ticket, someone with a priority ticket who shows up hours after you (but before priority check in deadline) will still take precedence over you.
If you want to increase your chances to be in the front row, you’ll need to get there super early. The GA check in deadline for our show was at 4:15pm and Priority deadline was at 3:45pm. We had no intention of trying to get front row seats because we didn’t want to wait that long and already experienced that goodness with Conan, but arrived in the area early around 1:50PM, and decided just to check out how long the line was already. There was about 20 people in line already, and also a standby line (standby tickets given at 2PM). I read online that people start lining up at 1PM. However, I think it’d be a real shame if the 75% priority ticket thing was true, because you might get screwed over as a GA ticket holder even though you arrived first.
We had priority tickets so our check in deadline was 3:45PM but they recommend arriving 30 minutes before, 3:15PM. Instead of waiting in line, we decided to walk around Central Park. We came back to the line around 2:45PM. If you get there before the LSSC people are out directing line traffic (they say 3:15pm check in starts but for me, it was around 3:05pm), there is only one line. It doesn’t matter what ticket type you have. When the LSSC people come, they take the GA people out of the line, give them a number and stamp them, then tell them to come back at 4:15pm. Priority people stayed in line. Around 3:50pm, I was able to “check in” with my ticket and government-issued photo ID. I received ticket #157, which I guess meant that I was 157th in line. After I checked in, I went through a security scanner. They say they don’t allow big book bags or suit cases and such. You can check these in with the staff and it’ll be available for pick up right after the show. After security, we had to wait in another line inside. While you wait on line, you can take a picture and post it on Instagram or Twitter with #lateshowlinecrew ; if they choose your photo, you get upgraded to front row seats. Inside, there are TVs playing clips of the show, which is nice but the volume is low so you can’t really hear much. At 4:27pm, an audience coordinator gives instructions (can’t use your phone, no cameras, yada yada) and by 4:33, they were letting us in. You can’t choose your seat as they file you in row by row. We got to sit in the 7th row on the main level (there is also a balcony). They say that there are no bad seats in the theater.. I don’t think that’s absolutely true, but there are many good seats.
There are bathrooms inside. You can go to the bathroom before the show starts (once you have a seat) and during commercial breaks.
A comedian also known to be the warm-up guy, Paul Mecurio, comes out and does a bit with the audience. Then the house band, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, comes out and plays. Then, Stephen comes out to do a Q&A for a few questions! I think that is super nice of him to do; definitely shows appreciation to his fans. Then, the show starts. Since I didn’t have my phone out as there was a big security guard near me, I guesstimated that pre-show stuff took 30 minutes.. and the actual show filming was about an hour. We got out of there at 6:50PM.
Comparing this experience to Conan, I would say, the whole waiting game and pre show for Conan was better than LSSC. Maybe it’s the space limitation, but I felt like Conan’s line up procedures were a lot more enjoyable than LSSC. However, I enjoyed the LSSC jokes and Colbert’s delivery of them a lot more. I felt forced to laugh at Conan’s jokes many times when I didn’t think it was funny, but I didn’t have to at Late Show – it was all hilarious. (I still enjoy Conan’s bits and love his Jordan Schlansky clips.) I also loved that Colbert did a Q&A before his show and felt like he actually tried to connect to his audience a lot more. In between takes, he would acknowledge the audience and once while he was waiting for something, decided to sit on the stage to talk to a couple on their honeymoon in the front row. You da king Colbert. STEPHEN STEPHEN STEPHEN!