The Late Night Show Audience Experience


As I was in the midst of scheduling all these live audience experiences, Lance told me that I should try to get tickets for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. We were big fans of his show, The Colbert Report, and had tried, but failed, to get on the list for tickets.

Since The Late Show with Stephen Colbert wasn’t even on the air at the time I started this whole live audience experience quest, I figured we had a pretty good chance at getting tickets. I visited the website and at first tickets weren’t even posted, then when they were the entire month of September was already ‘Sold out’. (I have to use quotes here because technically nothing is being sold here. The tickets for all these shows are FREE).

Every so often I would check the website, hoping October’s dates would be posted. By the time I remembered to check again, October was up and every single day was ‘Sold out’ except one–and I immediately requested tickets for that day.

Filming for Colbert starts at 5 pm and then the show is aired that same night. We got into the city at 1:45 pm and the line for the show was already to the street corner. No employees were outside yet to guide the line, but most people managed to remain civil. Just as we were trying to decide which one of us should run into Steak n’ Shake to get lunch that we would awkwardly attempt to eat in line, five or six CBS employees began guiding the line forward. We were given a small unofficial paper ticket and a CBS stamp on our hand. They told us to come back at 3 pm and line up in the order of our ticket numbers. This was much nicer than the previous two shows because we now had about an hour that we could go sit an have lunch instead of attempting to do so in line.

The only problem was that when we returned to the line at 3 pm, they brought us inside, had us go through a metal detector and then made us wait inside in line for about an hour.

No snacks. No water. Not cool.

The Ed Sullivan Theater where Colbert is filmed is a legit theater. We ended up being in the fifth row on the right side by the band. Jon Batiste who leads the band “Stay Human” is clearly gifted, as are the rest of the band members. However, the real treat was the special guest of the band, Yo-Yo Ma. I started listening to Yo-Yo Ma when I was sixteen, so to be only feet away from him, especially for free, was an experience of a lifetime. When Colbert would break for commercial, the band would play, Yo-Yo Ma  taking the solo. He and Jon Batiste playing Ave Maria had me near tears and at the same time aggravated that more than half of the people in the room weren’t appreciating the beauty of the music before them. One of my piano teachers used to say that as a pianist you are moving wallpaper. No one really notices you right away unless you do something exceptional or something horrible. Yo-Yo’s performance of “The Swan” was especially meaningful to me, as I worked a few months last year on perfecting the same piece on violin.

Colbert’s other guests that night were John McCain and Misty Copeland. Earlier this year, we went to see Misty Copeland dance the part of Juliet, so it was another treat to be able to hear her talk about her dancing experience and then to see her dance as Yo-Yo Ma played a Bach cello suite.

I don’t think we could have picked a better day to be part of Colbert’s audience. It was also the perfect experience to end my live audience experience quest.

If you are looking for free fun in NYC, being part of a life audience is a great choice to add to your ‘To do’ list. Keep in mind the amount of waiting time involved. The first time it doesn’t seem to matter, but after two or three times, the hours of standing in line take away the appeal just a bit.



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