Saturday, May 10, 2008

Jay, James and Me

My brother is in town on business--but carved out a bit of time to visit with me as well. This time around I requested and received tickets to participate in a taping of The Tonight Show. James was super psyched. The show tapes at 4 pm, but you have to be in line by 3. They recommend you call in advance and check on the taping times so I did that this morning. The guy on the line told me Harrison Ford and Carly Simon were appearing on the show and that to ensure good seats, we should be in line by NOON!

So we left around 10:30 am--hoping we'd get to Burbank early and have time to take a studio tour before cooling our heels for 3 hours. But when we got on the 405 North, there was an alert that there was an accident at Ventura Blvd. blocking the two left lanes. About this same time I realized that while I made sure to pack the tickets for the show and directions to the studio, I left my wallet with my ID at HOME. So we had to turn around and go back. By that time the traffic from the accident had kicked in and it took 20 minutes to reach an exit to get off and turn back around.

We took Sepulveda Blvd. going back since the freeway was clogged in both directions. We made decent time and one hour after we started out initially, we were back on the road. Unfortunately our plan to bypass the traffic on the 405 by taking Sepulveda going north was a plan shared by many other Angelenos. It took almost an hour to get back up to the 101 freeway. So we weren't going to make a tour--or even be in line before noon. By the time we got there, figured out where to park and where the line was forming, it was almost 1 pm. Fortunately, the line wasn't too long. But we still had a two hour wait.

Around 2:15 pm, pages started counting us, checking our ID and tickets and getting us ready to enter the studio. When we finally got into the studio, the pages directed us to where they wanted us to sit. James was directed to sit in a seat on one side of the aisle with me sitting in the end seat on the other side. I looked at the page askance, "We can't sit together?" I mean, seriously, why ask how many in your party if you're just gonna separate us? The page relented and we were directed to seats one row up. James pronounced the seats we were given "the best in the house" and we did have a spot on view of Jay and the interviewees.

While the audience was being seat, clips of past Tonight Show musical acts were shown on a big screen--Fall Out Boy, Rob Thomas, Keith Urban, Queen Latifah. It was fucking FREEZING in the studio! I wish they had a warning about that--I would have brought a blanket! When everyone was pretty much seated, who should come out to greet us but Mr. Leno himself! Jay was dressed in a denim shirt and blue jeans and was very sweet and gracious--cracking jokes and taking pictures with various audiences members. While he went back to get dressed for the show, John Melendez (aka "Stuttering John" formerly of The Howard Stern show) came out to get us pumped up and enthusiastic. He tossed t-shirts to the audience and had people come up and tell jokes or otherwise entertain us.

Jay came out and did his monologue. The loud hunh, hunh, huhn laugh is my brother James. Then there was a set-up audience "question" session--although the punchlines were still funny. Especially the Botox Mother's Day bouquet. Between segments, the band played to keep us entertained. I've seen rock guitarists twist their bodies into contortions as they emote while playing, but there was Kevin Eubanks--sprawled out in a chair--just wailing on his guitar without breaking a sweat.

Harrison Ford got a lot of love from the audience although it was pretty clear he was uncomfortable with the whole interview schmoozing thing. He was fairly incoherent, but thanks to Leno and Company, came out looking a lot more funny and charming than he actually was. William Moseley, the young cutie from the Chronicles of Narnia movies, was bubbly and delightful. Carly Simon sang a song from her new album, accompanied by son Ben Taylor who is a ringer for his daddy. The song and performance were pretty forgettable--save for an off-key note Carly hit at the end. Ouch!

Between the traffic and the waiting and the freezing, it was a pretty grueling experience. Three things made it all worth it: 1. Jay Leno seems like a really, really nice guy and 2. My brother (who is a really, really nice guy) got to live a fantasy and 3. Now I'm his hero.

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