Jimmy Fallon Shenanigans

Hello, everyone! Happy New Year! So far 2016 has been off to a great start; even though it's only been six days, I can already tell this year has lots of good stuff in store. I know this because I spent the first Monday of the year on a trip to New York City with my best friend. We got the opportunity of a lifetime and attended a taping of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which was one of the best experiences on record. If any of you get the chance to attend a taping, do it. Even if you end up spending more time on a bus than in NYC itself (like we did) it's 500% worth it.

So, where do I start? It's crazy that the whole experience was over in just about an hour, because the build-up was so long and occupied so many of my thoughts in the weeks leading up to the actual taping. About five or six weeks ago, a coworker told me that tickets to the Jimmy Fallon show are completely free and just require you to request seats and to have a little bit of luck on your side. The tickets get released about once a month at a certain time, and you're able to request tickets for a maximum of three tapings. For the month of January, the tickets were released on the first Friday of December at 11 AM on the nose. Thankfully for me, I don't have Friday classes and didn't have a morning shift at work that particular day, so I diligently waited on my laptop for the top of the hour to strike. From 10:45 to 10:59, I was feverishly refreshing the page, anxiously waiting to snatch up any and all tickets I could get my hands on. Now, being a student at a university of approximately 20,000, I'm very accustomed to this type of fast-paced process: getting tickets was very similar to enrolling for classes every semester, which at this point is something I'm pretty well-versed in. So at 11 AM sharp, I requested tickets for the first date available: January 4th, 2016. I asked for two tickets and found myself put on a waitlist. That's how it works: everyone who requests tickets is added to a waitlist, and in the weeks leading up to the show, you may be given a ticket or you may be told to try again next time. Either way, after I requested the tickets, I didn't hear anything for weeks. The disclaimer from the website stated that if you don't get feedback within fourteen days of your requested taping, assume you didn't get tickets. Basically, no news is bad news.

Thankfully final exams, presentations, and portfolios were of pressing concern while I waited to hear from Jimmy's "people," because otherwise I would've been obsessively checking in on my status every hour. I'm not going to lie and say that the thought never crossed my mind; I did find myself checking in every few days, but more than anything I was starting to lose hope. I told myself not to get too excited and to assume it wasn't going to happen; I made peace with the fact that I'd have to try again another time and just chalk it up to experience. As time progressed, it was about two weeks before the taping and I'd yet to hear anything, so I officially resigned hope. That is, until one day when I was sitting on my mom's bed, chatting with her while mindlessly surfing the Internet. In between anecdotes, I heard a ding from Gmail, with a new message entitled "Tonight Show Ticket Request: Status Update." In short, Jimmy's people pulled through. We were moved off the waitlist and given a ticket. I called my best friend Ashley immediately and told her to clear her schedule. We were going to see Jimmy.

Now, because we're broke college girls, we didn't have the capitol to make a weekend trip out of the taping, so we just went into the city for a day. Basically, we were in the city from 12:30 to 7:30, with a five hour bus ride and multiple Ubers on either end. We spent more time in public transportation than we did in New York, but that's the type of thing we'd do for Jimmy Fallon. We love him; when we were roommates freshman year of college, we bonded over our love for his goofy and fun-loving attitude. In fact, when he took over The Tonight Show, the first episode aired while we were living together, and I vividly remember watching it in our teeny tiny dorm room on the TV that sat on top of our shared dresser drawers. But anyway: when we got into the city, we met up with Ashley's aunt, who took us under her wing and treated us to lunch in the Comcast Building at 30 Rock, where the NBC studios and offices are housed. I was completely unaware that the ground floor had so many tiny shops and lunch spots; honestly, I didn't know how confusing and gigantic the entire building was! Once we found a place to eat and bid her aunt adieu, we had about two hours until our taping. We braved the cold and walked around Fifth Avenue, ogling the designer shops and billion-dollar buildings. We stayed within two blocks of 30 Rock, though, because the last thing we wanted was to get lost or miss our call time. We both don't have the best sense of direction, and I'm hopelessly neurotic, so we didn't really want to leave anything up to chance.

Finally, finally, it was time to line up and get the ball rolling. We waited in a large crowd with all the other ticket holders as we were escorted up the Grand Stair. Admittedly, there was a lot of waiting involved, but we didn't mind; we spent the time getting antsy and fantasizing about what it'd be like to have front-row seats. From reading a few blog posts about others' experiences at Fallon tapings, I knew that seats were given out seemingly randomly, so at that point we had no idea where in the studio we'd be placed. We would've been more than happy sitting up in the rafters, to be honest, but we had also heard the rumor that the better seats were often given to the most enthusiastic audience members. Not that we had to pretend to be excited or anything, but we definitely made sure to wear a permanent smile and make sure that everyone we came across knew how stoked we were to be there. We were pleasantly surprised when we got to the front of the line, when the guy handing out tickets said, "you guys seem really excited!" We were then taken to the Peacock Lounge, where we were to sit and hang out until it was time to enter the studio. While we were sitting, I saw that on the back of our tickets was the letter C. From my previous research, I knew that audience members were seated in alphabetical order according to the letter on the back of their tickets, which was a tidbit I shared with Ashley with an excited squeal.

After waiting around and talking with the NBC Pages, who took our picture and chatted to us about the experience, an usher announced on a microphone that audience members with tickets lettered A through H could now line up to enter the studio. I noticed as we lined up that each party was given its own letter, so the group of us that gathered up was only about twenty people. We were then ushered onto an elevator (I know, a lot of ushering) which would take us to the famed Studio 6B. Once we made our way down the hall, another NBC page waited at the studio door to collect our tickets and pass us off to be seated. The party in front of us was split up, as the fourth member of their group was asked to wait for the next elevator, (they were super strict about the 13 person max capacity) so they were asked to step over and let the next party be seated. We were the next party! Aka we were the first audience members to enter the studio, which was surreal to say the least. The page who seated us lead us down to the front row, instructing us to sit in the very center, about ten feet away from where Jimmy would deliver his opening monologue. As she said "you'll be sitting here!" I couldn't help but blurt out "NO WE'RE NOT, YOU'RE LYING!" We giggled and screamed and acted like a couple of giddy preteens at a One Direction concert. No regrets.

I won't bore you with the pre-show logistics, but basically as the rest of the audience filed in we watched a reel of footage from previous episodes and were instructed of safety logistics and all that jazz. Then The Roots took their places and warmed up the audience with some music. Then Steve Higgins, Jimmy's announcer, took his place on set and I knew it was show time. Sitting as close as physically possible to the blue curtain from which Jimmy would soon emerge, Ashley and I got out our last minute jitters and whooped and hollered as Steve began announcing the guests for that evening. The Roots were playing the opening theme and the audience was going wild, and finally we heard the words we had been waiting to hear all day: And now, here's your host: Jimmy Fallon!

And there he was, just a few feet from where we were sitting. He ran through his segments with ease, only pausing to restart a joke or fix technical issues once or twice. It was so cool to see all the behind the scenes stuff, to watch as Jimmy's team of producers, technicians, cue card holders, camera guys, and makeup artists worked in tandem. In between segments, Jimmy would get his makeup touched up or his wardrobe adjusted, still being personable and greeting everyone he worked with by name and being totally present. It was a good reminder that even our favorite celebrities and media personalities are real people, and it's nice to know that some of them are totally down-to-earth and just as cool as they seem on TV. As the stage was set up for the musical performance of the evening, Jimmy went into the audience to chat with us and have a Q and A session. Most of the questions were as to be expected, ("What's your New Years Resolution?" and "What's it like being friends with Justin Timberlake?") and even though I'm sure he gets asked the same questions night after night, he was really kind and gracious with his answers. After the musical performance, as you might know if you're familiar with The Tonight Show, Jimmy wrapped up the episode by running through the audience giving high fives. Ashley didn't know this was a tradition, so as he came toward the crowd, I quickly said to her "HE'S COMING HE'S COMING PUT YOUR HAND OUT!" She was the first member of the audience to get a high five, and I don't think that's something she'll forget any time soon.

After the show ended and we were escorted from the studio, it was time to board the bus back home. Again, I wish we could've spent more time in the city, but we had such a great time anyway. I'm so happy that my best friend and I were able to share such a special experience and that we were lucky enough to not only get tickets, but to have the best seats in the house. We would've had an equally great time if we were in the back of the studio, but to say we had had floor seats only adds to the special memory. I'll add some pictures below, though none of them are super great quality. I hope you all enjoyed reading this, whether you're a future audience member looking for an inside scoop or just a friend or family member who wants to keep up with me. I hope you're all having an amazing 2016 so far, and we'll talk soon!

Obligatory picture in front of the marquee, since photos in the studio were strictly forbidden.

Here we are in the Peacock Lounge. We couldn't take pictures on our own, but NBC Pages were walking around with iPads and offering to take pictures for us. We added in the mug because the actual mugs in the gift shop were about $20, so this was the next best thing...



There's Roomie (Ashley) mid high-five with Jimmy on ACTUAL TV. We got back home just as the end of the show was airing and managed to catch this bit!

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience! I had a similar experience with Jimmy Kimmel several years ago sitting in the front row, and actually getting to talk with him during a break. I understand the excitement. I have tried to get Fallon tickets since day one, and today was the first time I was actually put on the waitlist ... so here's hoping!

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  2. What is the website for the pictures the pages took? I can't remember!!!

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