Daily Torture – More DNC Fun

The hottest tickets in town dropped in my lap at a business meeting. Tracy could barely contain her excitement and concentrate on the purpose of the meeting. She had just gotten her hands on tickets to a taping of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” I said, “I would kill to get tickets to The Daily Show!” There were two extra tickets! Tracy generously offered two tickets to me and my husband.

My fabulous employer told me to go and have fun! We tried to concentrate on the business at hand and all raced home to tie up loose ends. Unfortunately, Mike couldn’t get the afternoon off.

A friend who went the day before said we needed to be in line no later than 2:00 and assured me that I could bring a backpack. With permission to pack, I wanted to make sure I was ready for rain. I filled my backpack with the poncho from the media party, a pair of waterproof sandals so I wouldn’t have to stand around in squishy, wet shoes again, a phone charger in case I had an opportunity to plug-in and my iPad to pass any boring time in line. I wore comfortable walking shoes in case we had to park miles away but my mistake was to wear clothes that were way too hot to wear standing in the hot sun.

Trying to decide how to get to ImaginOn where the Daily Show was taping, we debated light rail, a bus or to just drive and see how close we could get. Because the clock was ticking, we decided on the latter, fully prepared to pay a lot of money to park. On Monday I had seen parking spaces near the Duke Energy building going for $40! We thought the price could be as high as $50 but easily slipped into a spot for $10.

In line at 2:00 pm, we snagged ticket numbers 397, 398 and 399 by 2:45 pm. Free to explore, we were told to be back by 4:30. With almost 2 hours to kill, we decide to go to the EpiCenter where MSNBC was broadcasting from and CNN had the VIP-only CNN Grill.

On the back side of ImaginOn, we saw Al Madrigal and Jason Jones shooting a segment for today’s Daily Show. I only really recognized Al Madrigal and later realized that the guy on the Segway was Jason Jones when I later saw the show.

Al Madrigal, Jason Jones and Daily Show crew

The walk to the EpiCenter was spent looking for other people we recognized. We passed many camera crews, delegates and vendors hawking buttons, t-shirts and other DNC related memorabilia. Every issue imaginable is represented, some with interesting handouts. I almost passed up this one but had to go back and get this trinket.

Once we got close to the EpiCenter things got crowded. Chris Matthews was on the air on the MSNBC stage. A good size crowd was hanging out watching the show.

The steamy heat was killing me. When I got dressed that morning, I didn’t think twice about wearing heavy jeans because I was planning on being in an air-conditioned office all day. Never did it dawned on me to change to something lighter before standing in the hot sun on a humid, sticky 90-degree day. It was killing me. So when a hawker was selling a souvenir hand towels, I jumped. I was sweating bullets.

Happily we decided that we would have a better chance of getting served faster if we went to a restaurant away from the EpiCenter, closer to ImaginOn. We settled on Asian food at SoHo Bistro. I got the spicy curry noodles with shrimp. Very tasty. Lots of veggies, shrimp, egg noodles and flavor.

Back in line at 4:15, we are lined up by ticket number. Numbers 1 through 200 get right in. Around 4:30 we get the disturbing news that they are going to have to cut some people but don’t know who’s in or out.

And so begins our torturous roller coaster ride.

With 349 people in the door, we are 10 people from front of line when we are rearranged again by number. Suddenly we are at the back of the 350-399 line. But at least we weren’t in the 400-427 line.

People without tickets keep going in. We know that the theater seats at least 550 people so we never gave it a second thought that ticket numbers just under 400 would be in peril of getting us seats.

Taping starts at 6:00 and we’re still outside at 5:15 feeling like the whole day was for naught. At 5:23 we are suddenly whisked through security, up a couple of flights of stairs to the last row of the balcony but at least we are center stage.

#425 drove 3 hours from Raleigh to be here. She was the last to make the cut. #426 & 427 were turned away.

A not very good comedian, whose name I immediately forgot, warmed up the audience before Jon Stewart came out to talk to the audience. After what seemed like forever the bad comedian left the stage.

A producer had told us to try to think of a question for Jon because he will take questions before the show gets started. The guidelines are that you can’t ask for personal things like autographs or pictures. And more than once, we were told that if our question sounded weird or offensive in our head, don’t ask it.

Once inside, cell phones, cameras, tablets and any other recording devices were forbidden. We’re told, “Turn everything off. Don’t take out your phone out for anything, even to check the time because it will be taken away.” Of course, some guy in the row in front of us thought the rules didn’t apply to him. He pulled out his camera for something and it was confiscated for the duration of the show. They took his ID too, presumably to identify him as the rightful owner after the show.

Jon told us that they had a hard time finding hotel rooms because the DNC snapped up so many of them. His crew ended up 25 miles away Hilton Garden Inn in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He joked that we were in the top Carolina.

There are monitors in front of us, which I try to pull myself away and look at the live action way down below.

Samantha Bee and Jessica Williams did reports in front of green screens. That’s what makes it funny, them pretending to be out on the street but they are really in studio. Tonight’s gag was how they kept getting stuck at security checkpoints. And being from Charlotte, we all knew the intersections they were talking about.

The bit we saw Al Madrigal and Jason Jones shooting also was spoof on tightened security. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) giggled through most of her interview and we giggled with her.

After they were done taping the show, we had to remain in our seats while Jon taped a different intro for the international version. Finally, we were allowed to take a couple of quick pictures of the empty stage before we left the theatre.

The two screens on the left and right were the green screens where Samantha Bee and Jessica Williams did their reports pretending to be stuck at security checkpoints.

The show was okay, not their best. I think it was one of the rare times they were off their game. Chalk it up to being on the road for a couple of weeks. Last week was Tampa for the RNC and now Charlotte for the DNC. I think they were a bit burned out. Still, it was a fun experience.

But I have to say that I am so done with the hot weather. Can we PLEASE have a real winter this year? Bring on the cold!

Here are a few other pictures of the day from the EpiCenter.

Outside the EpiCenter where CNN took over a restaurant for the VIP only CNN Grill.

MSNBC Stage at the end of this walkway in the EpiCenter.

The crowd watching Chris Matthews’ show on MSNBC.

Chris Matthews signs autographs after his show.

About Journeys By Jill

I have spent most of my adult life working in and around TV, film & radio production. As an avid traveler, I have a goal to visit at least 100 countries using the Century Traveler's Club Country List. At the moment, I have 54 to go. My favorite form of travel is to get off the beaten path and discover weird & wonderful attractions. Basically, I wing it. I'd love for you to come along for the ride.
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