With my Daily Show e-ticket at the ready on my phone, I left the Intrepid at about 3:15 pm. I had planned to stick around until 4 pm then start my walk the few blocks to the studio and arrive with more than enough time for 4:30 pm, as directed on the ticket. However, I left a little earlier than planned for a couple of reasons. First, I had been through the entire museum, including taking a 20-minute nap in the theatre, and there was nothing left for me to see. Second, it was starting to rain and I wanted to arrive at the studio relatively dry and before the rain got really bad, as it was forecasted to do later in the afternoon.
When I got to the studio, the line was already forming and I was eighth from the front, which worked out really well for me, but I’ll get to that shortly.
Being a part of The Daily Show studio audience includes a lot of waiting around. I arrived at around 3:40 pm and chatted sporadically with the lady in front of me, also a solo female traveller, until they finally started checking us in at 5 pm, including giving us numbered tickets according to our place in line. As I said, I got number 8. At around 6 pm, they finally let us into the building with instructions to use the bathroom now because once we were allowed into the studio, if we needed to go we would be escorted from the studio and not allowed back in. We all made a beeline for the bathrooms. Then we waited around some more until about 6:45 pm when they finally let us into the studio. We were lead into the studio in our numbered positions and once the VIPs, a US veteran and a disabled lady were seated, my line position put me on the middle aisle of the third row from the front, right in front of Trevor’s desk! Basically, I had the best view ever!
At about 7 pm, once we were all seated, we were given last minute instructions on how a Daily Show studio audience was expected to behave (no bathroom breaks, no photos, no filming, make lots of noise at the right times) and we were given an opportunity to win Daily Show swag by answering a few trivia questions. I won a Daily Show key ring because I knew why Trevor’s mom had named him Trevor Noah; read Born a Crime if you want to know.
Then the pre-show began. This was about 15 minutes of a comedian giving mostly funny jokes and basically warming up the audience. Then Trevor came out – to very loud cheers – and took a few questions from the audience. During the instructions part of the proceedings, we had been told that this would happen and that we should try to ask good questions. Thankfully, three people in the audience were able to come up with sensible political questions to ask him (I wasn’t one of them) and he gave very considered and smart answers.
Finally, it was time for the real show to begin. Trevor did his usual commentary pieces on the day’s news. The segments with correspondents were mostly pre-taped and clearly some rehearsal had taken place. There was an interview with that night’s guest. And we had a between-the-scenes moment, which is when Trevor spoke to the audience about something that was on his mind. On that particular night, he spoke about the strength of women in general and South African women in particular, since the focus of one of that night’s segments was the presidential protest marches around the US that had taken place the day before, in which hundreds of thousands of women participated.
At the end, Trevor had to re-take one small segment because he had flubbed his lines, but all too soon, the experience was over. We got done at around 7:45 pm. It was a short experience for all the waiting around that we had done, but I was supremely satisfied. It was exactly like waiting for three hours to get a seat at the best restaurant in town then demolishing your meal in thirty minutes but knowing that all that waiting around was worth the deliciousness that you got to experience in those thirty minutes.
When I exited the studio, the wind had picked up and it was steadily raining. I walked the 4 or 5 blocks to the subway station and got in on the wrong side, then had to exit the station and enter again from another entrance so I’d be on the right platform to catch my train. That caused me to waste $2.75 off my subway card but I really didn’t mind since I was still on a high, on top of which I had just had an absolutely wonderful afternoon and evening at the Intrepid and at the Daily Show for free. I had no cause to complain.
As I rode 2 trains and a bus back to Auntie’s house, then walked 2 blocks in the wind and rain, my smile and sense of satisfaction stayed with me. Even as I’m writing this weeks later, I still feel happiness over that day. My eyes were healing nicely, I had been on a submarine and a warship, had seen a space shuttle and learned quite a bit, and I had checked an item (studio audience) off my bucket list. And on top of that it was raining, which I love, even with wet toes from the rain seeping into my inappropriate (read: not waterproof) boots. I had every reason to be happy with my delightful, beautiful, really good, not-bad-in-any-way day!