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Conan O'Brien


     I have been a fan of Conan O’Brien since he hosted the Late Show with Conan O’Brien. On March 21st 2011 I got the chance to be an audience member for his new show Conan on TBS. The episode was called Ninjas Don’t Wear Corduroy and Conan’s guests were Sarah Silverman, Biz Stone, and comedian Pete Holmes. This was the first time I have ever been to any taping of any show and I'm sure it won’t be the last. I had a fantastic time and the extra entertainment that the audience gets along with being there for the show was amazing. The picture below shows where I was sitting in the audience along with my sister Tomasina and her friend Tina.

     First, I want to mention the line/wait to get into the show. I was too late for reserving tickets online for the date I had in mind so I had to get in line for standby tickets. If you're going to try to get tickets for Conan through the standby option, then plan on this show taking up your whole day. First you need to get the standby ticket in the morning at 10am. Then you need to come back at 2pm to see if you can get an actual ticket to be in the audience. The show starts filming at 4:30pm and ended at about 6:00pm. Besides lunch, I spent most of my day waiting to get into Conan. The hour and a half show was well worth the wait though. I got to see so much that the camera doesn’t show, plus there was additional entertainment for the audience that isn't broadcasted.

     This entertainment includes music from the Basic Cable Band (shown in the picture below), a standup comedian before the taping starts, a special song from Conan at the end, and other various antics. I don’t want to reveal too much, because I think if you are really curious you should experience it for yourself and go see Conan live. Just know that it’s awesome. But what I will go into is what I learned about camera tricks and some of the other tricks that go into the filming of the show that I noticed.

     Until I actually stepped foot in the studio I had no idea how small the studio actually was.  The positions of all of the cameras make it feel like the studio is so big, but it's not. I would say that the stage was maybe sixty feet wide at most and perhaps thirty feet deep. One thing that trips me up when watching on TV is how long it seems to take celebrities to walk from the curtain to Conan’s desk. The time it takes makes the studio seem much larger. I'm also somewhat puzzled as to how they fit some of their live skits in the area with the curtain. For example their recent Angry Birds skit seems like it would require more room than is permitted. The set for Conan's Angry Birds skit is shown in the picture below.

     One interesting thing to note is that when Conan is giving his monologue, the stage with his desk is pushed back. During the commercials between his monologue and his skit at his desk, the stage with the desk rolls out towards the audience five to ten feet. Then they put a TV in front of the stage so Conan and the guests can keep track of what’s going on. The picture below illustrates the stage before (right) and after (left) his monologue. If you look where the yellow arrows are pointing, you will notice that the stage is further away from the audience in the picture on the left and closer in the picture on the right.

     Jeff Ross, the producer, holds up time cards so Conan can keep track of when they need to take a break.  

     As an audience member it is sometimes hard to hear what is being said because the audience sounds are so loud. I understood a lot more when I went back and watched the episode on

     While video skits are playing everyone breaks from their stage persona to either concentrate on the video or to take a break before the camera comes back on them. I just thought this was interesting to note because for some reason what they are doing during videos never crossed my mind before. During the commercial breaks Conan and his guests do talk to each other like the camera shows as is pans out.

     There was one more bonus to seeing Conan live that I did not expect. You get a quick tour of the Warner Brothers lot. Conan’s studio is located further in so you get to walk by a lot of stuff on your way there. For example I walked past studios for The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and Lopez Tonight. The Big Bang Theory had cars parked in some of the celebrity’s spots so I assume they were working. The studio for Two and a Half Men was empty as would be expected. Then there was Lopez Tonight. As we were walking out of the lot after Conan’s taping, Lopez Tonight was just starting and had some open spots in the audience for people who did not mind standing. Unfortunately I did not go, we were exhausted and hungry. But for the amount of time spent waiting for one show, we could have gotten to see two shows which is a good deal.

     Well, that's all I have to say about seeing Conan live. If you ever are in LA and have time to go to a taping of Conan I highly recommend it!



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