Ok, I’ll spill. The suspense is killing me… My favorite thing I’ve ever done in New York City was attend a taping of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Now what made this experience so epic you may be wondering?
- Jimmy Fallon is hysterical
- Reese Witherspoon was a guest that day
- A blurry shot of my face was on TV
- It was free!
- Jimmy gave us a bunch of free stuff because it was around Christmas time! (I am the very proud owner of an Amazon Alexa…um, Echo, it’s called Echo…the gift that genuinely keeps on giving. Do you have one? Go on, ask her if dogs are allowed to eat grapes, I dare you.)
- Jimmy touched my hand as he high-fived the audience as they wrapped up filming
While I am sure every taping is magical, the free gift component definitely elevated the experience. I bring this to your attention because the time is fast-approaching to enter for tickets for this year’s holiday episodes.
How To Get Tickets
As a general rule, the tickets for tapings are released one month at a time. The waitlist for each month opens the first week of the month prior. For example, the waitlist for the December episodes will open in the first week of November. They also use this thing called Twitter to make announcements…I’ve never used it, but luckily my sister is a wizard (witch I guess…she’s a girl) and took care of my waitlist needs (@FallonTix).
When you sign up for the waitlist, you select the dates and number of tickets you require, and then, you guessed it, wait (I present to you the origin of the word waitlist). If you received tickets to one of the tapings you selected, you will be notified approximately two weeks prior to the date of filming.
Living in or near New York City make it easy to travel upon receipt of your tickets, but if you are from far away, it is not recommended you plan a trip for the sole purpose of seeing the show. A better alternative is if you are already planning a trip to New York City. Attempting to obtain tickets to a taping of a live show that corresponds with your travel dates may be a fun addition to your itinerary. From the folks I talked to in line, the latter was a common approach. Also worth noting, there is the standby acquisition method which involves waiting in line for hours on hours (arrive before 6am they say).
So You Got Your Tickets, Now What?
The planning and stress don’t stop I’ll tell ya. Just because you have tickets does not guarantee you a seat at the taping. What?!? That is why they do not recommend a trip solely to see the taping…there is the potential for severe disappointment. They give out an excess number of tickets to ensure enough people show up to fill each seat in the theater. Sad, but I get where they’re coming from. So, step one: arrive early! There will be a time range for admittance listed on your ticket. Arrive before the start time, but don’t just stand there and wait. You will be asked to leave. Mosey around, look at things, but keep your eye and ear on the prize. As soon as they start calling for ticket holders, you can be right up front.
This turns into a hurry up and wait scenario, but at least you are waiting in an orderly fashion in the order in which you arrived (cough, first, cough). DO NOT TAKE PICTURES. You will be kicked out. Don’t even hold your phone. It is not worth it. The NBC pages will be walking around offering to take your photos on an iPad, so you will have proof of your visit. Fear not.
However, it must be noted that this still doesn’t mean you have a seat. When the time comes, you will be checked in using tickets and an ID, and escorted to the Peacock Lounge for some more waiting! You receive a new slip of colored paper at check-in with a secret code in terms of a number or letter. You can spend the majority of your wait time trying to decipher if the handwritten “C” on your ticket is a ranking on your looks, an assessment of your bra size, or just shorthand for “cool.” Ultimately you will be called up by letter or number grouping, in a seemingly random order. Each group has a unique assignment. Despite being one of the first groups to arrive, we were one of the last groups to enter the theater which became nerve-wracking considering the ticket in hand still stated that it was not a guarantee for entry and the scheduled start time had come and gone.
The Show Itself
Ahhh, it was everything I wanted it to be. We were cued when to laugh and clap. Jimmy’s desk looked tiny in real life. He was fun and personable and chatted with the audience on breaks. It was fun to see him request retakes and when a prank-calling bit simply failed, he just said “we’ll cut that,” and moved on. He played this silly Virtual Reality Pictionary game. We were a part of the “12 Days of Christmas Sweaters” where a random seat number is selected and the person receives and ugly Christmas sweater. I was overcome with nerves at the possibility of having to introduce myself to Jimmy Fallon on TV. Alas, I was not chosen.
We were told to arrive between 3 and 3:45 (remember, arrive early, but don’t loiter). Taping was expected to begin at 5 and we should be finished by 6:30. The taping began late and consequently we ended well past 7. Keep this in mind in terms of dinner reservations! Should you opt to partake in a chance for standby tickets, that is a full day commitment.
I was on cloud 9 after the show! I cannot recommend this enough if you plan to be in New York City. And if you happen to score an aisle seat and a high-five from Jimmy Fallon, by the transitive property, it will be like we high-fived each other! Way to end on a nerdy, creepy note 🤦🏻♀️.
Have you ever attended a live taping of a show?