Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Daily Show

Monday Katie and I fulfilled every college kid's dream and attended a taping of The Daily Show. We snagged last minute tickets Sunday from their convenient online reservation system. The tickets were pretty much reservations, so they didn't guarantee us a spot inside. We were advised to arrive at the theater between 3:30 and 4. We showed up at 3:40 and were two of the last 5 people that were let in. At least 20 people gave up waiting at around 4:30, when they were told they definitely would not get in. Another 20 or so waited patiently until just around 5:15, when the tickets were handed out. They left empty handed as well. Most of these people arrived before 4. So take note folks, if you're planning on attending the Daily Show, get there earlier than the tickets advise.
We made our way into the building, passing under a fake Olde English sign reading "Abandon News, All Ye Who Enter Here." After going through an intense screening that included going through a metal detector and having our bags and jackets searched by burly security gaurds, we made it into the theater. Unlike most television studios, this one seems a lot bigger in person. It holds 239 people, way more than the Colbert Report. Some staffer messed up in his counting though, because there ended up being one empty seat, which was right next to me. This was quickly filled by a tweed baseball hat-wearing intern, who remarked, "This is a first." Someone on the staff really likes Fall Out Boy, because the only music played before taping, during commercials, and after the show was a mix CD of all Fall Out Boy songs. I felt like I was at TRL again.

Before the show Jon Stewart came out and hurried through a quick question and answer ceremony. One girl said her friend attended a taping last week and asked for his blue papers, which he said she could have, and was told after the show that they were thrown away. "She was pretty upset", the friend said. "How's she doing now?", Jon asked sarcastically, adding, "In a year I think she'll be completely over it." Before the show was over a staffer got the blue papers and brought them to the audience member. The crowd burst into applause. Jon said, "Those are from tonight's show. I doodled all over them. I doodle because I can't smoke (pot) anymore. I used to smoke a lot. Smoking is a lot more fun."

The show flew by. It's filmed live, so there are no cuts for edits, it's just a straight shot. No huge surprises during the show, since I had already seen all the guests live before. John Oliver was the correspondent for the night, reporting on British backlash in Syria. We saw him perform just a week ago at a little bar in the East Village and were blown away by his stage presence. Lewis Black, who I saw perform in Boston right after the Cheney hunting accident, did his "Back in Black" segment and stuck around to chat with Jon until just before they came back from commercial. John Kerry was the guest for the night, promoting his new book about environmentalists. John and I go way back (more on that another day). At 6:50 the show was almost finished. The feed to the Colbert Report came through during the commercial break, and Jon and Stephen exhanged some hilarious off-air dialogue about Stephen wanting to walk out on his audience. It was weird to hear Colbert's audience, knowing that they were only 2 blocks up and one avenue over. When the last commercial break was through Jon checked in with Stephen and that was that. We got our moment of zen, were out of the theater by 7:00, and home after an 8 minute walk. We didn't even give our comedy appreciating minds a rest. We went straight down to the Comedy Cellar to see Louis C.K., Jim Norton, Darrell Hammond, and Colin Quinn. Chris Rock did a surprise set in the show after ours. But hey, we saw Jon Stewart talk about doodling. Who can ask for anything more?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Guttenberg @ Gutenberg! The Musical!

Thanks to a post on the Apiary, I scored a couple of free tickets to last night's performance of Gutenberg! The Musical!, a hilarious Off-Broadway musical that originated at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. It's pretty much a musical within a play about two guys making a musical about Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1450. Sound unfunny? It's not. Before the show I didn't really know what to expect. I've kind of been spoiled by great improv and stand-up, and musicals aren't necessarily known for their groundbreaking comedy. But Gutenberg! The Musical! was amazing.

The show was presented in such an inventive way. The two characters are aspiring Broadway musical creators and they're reading the play through to the audience, so there are many asides that keep the show focused and interesting. They use barely any props: a squirt bottle for rain, a cardboard box with a sign reading "Printing Press", hats with different names on them to identify the characters (Gutenberg, Beef Fat Trimmer, Drunk #1). And I had really low expectations for the music and lyrics, but they were also top notch. There wasn't one bad song in the entire two acts, and many of the lyrics went unheard because the audience was laughing too hard.

I feel like I'm not doing this show justice. Just trust me. It's awesome. And if you don't trust my word, how about the word of Steve Guttenberg? That's right, he was at the show last night and he couldn't stop praising it. I met him after the show and he was ecstatic about how funny it was. And I know people say this about every celebrity, but he was really the nicest guy in the world. And hot. He looked younger than he did in the 80's. And he signed my copy of "Short Circuit." But I'm getting off track here. Gutenberg! The Musical! Run, don't walk!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


As many of my friends and family already know, Katie is feline barren. That is, she is incapable of producing cat offspring. I don't hold this against her, although some of my friends think I should. Instead, we figured out a way to get around this obstacle. This past weekend we went out to an animal rescue center in Brooklyn to adopt a kitten. His name is Chickpea, and he is the cutest thing since Elle Fanning.
Here he is playing with his favorite toy, a representation of the plight of Native Americans (always on the white man's string).
To provide some idea of how adorably small he is, here he is next to the critically acclaimed film "1 Night In Paris."And here he is last night after finding out that Sanjiya made it through yet another week on "American Idol."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

From the Set of "The Bourne Ultimatum"

I've been walking past "No Parking" signs on 8th Avenue for the past few weeks, alerting me that "The Bourne Ultimatum" would be filming in my neighborhood. So this past Saturday I ventured out with Katie and my best friend Taylor to the Port Authority to see if we could get close to any action. As soon as we got there we spotted some crews working on last minute props, so we knew we were close. We followed bright neon green signs that said "Set" and had arrows pointing us in the right direction. The signs led us to the 7th floor parking garage. Here's what we saw:
The crushed gaurd rails are props made out of a very flimsy plastic. The snow is also fake.
Here's a look at the action on the 5th floor of the parking garage. That's Matt Damon preparing for his big scene. We were standing next to the camera above as it shot the action sequences two floors below.
Prop windshield from Damon's Crashed Audi, complete with soft-around-the-edges bullet holes.

This woman was in charge of applying blood to Matt's head. She had a picture of him in blood make-up that she referred to for continuity.

The guy behind Matt is sprinkling glass shards on his shoulder. The guy he's talking to is about to shoot at him.

The Audi was raised up enough for Matt to climb into it, then when they started rolling he threw his bag out, climbed out, grabbed his bag, and started running, all while being shot at. The shooter wasn't in this scene, but they rigged the bottom of the Audi to spark and pop. Here's the money shot: Matt in action.
This was the last scene of the day at Port Authority. After the guy shot extremely loud blanks at Matt, he jumped over the edge and climbed down a chain link fence towards the car wreck. He was secured by a thick black cord that I'm assuming will be digitally removed in post production. The whole thing looked pretty intense. It was covered from all angles. There was a cameraman on the 5th floor laying down on a pad with the camera shooting directly up. There was another camera near the cars filming the shooter. Later, a camera on the 7th floor filmed from over the shooter's shoulder as Matt dodged the bullets.

After the shoot was finished, a really nice crew member came over and gave us these shell casings from the shooter's gun, "Souvenirs from 'The Bourne Ultimatum.'"