Jay Leno Is Real, I Can Prove It
Whenever you watch The Price Is Right, you always see that you can write in for tickets for free at the end of the show, right before Bob would tell you about the spaying and the neutering. Well, I was always suspicious of that. Free tickets to anything, much less a cool show where you can get A NEW CAR... mmm-hmmm. There's a catch. Well, yes, there is a catch. See, the guys at the hotel go out and stand in line outside the studios at ten in the AM so they can give you free tickets when you check in. So you tip them like ten bucks to make it worth it for them to have done that. And depending on how early you ask for these tickets, there's regular tickets and standby tickets, and that's just like the airlines; if you're standby, maybe you get in, maybe you don't.
So I found myself standing in line out front of NBC Studios with a standby ticket at four PM, right before the show goes live at five.
Couldn't quite figure out how a free show gets stood in line for twice, or how a show that's live at five goes on everywhere else at ten. Anyway, the studio filled up, and it didn't look good for us standbys until one of the runners grabbed me and someone else and said, "We got no more seats."
"Aw," we said.
"But we can put you in the sound booth if you want."
"YAY!" we said, and so we got to watch the show from where it happened.
Seeing Jay's desk in real life is weird. It doesn't look real from any other angle but the one you see on TV. There's a guy out front whooping up the crowd before the show, getting people onstage to do whatever they think they can do well, and it's usually not all that good. And the stage manager counts down, Jay (who is pacing and actually looking quite nervous) gets ready, the lights come up, and show happens. The booth where we sat is right in front of the band, and so we got a good view of them playing. The sound engineer was a gray-ponytailed guy who was very nice but told us not to touch anything, especially any of his thousand bobble-heads placed strategically throughout the booth.
Kevin Costner was up first. He talked about a new movie of his called Swing Vote, and told a story about how, during JFK, he got to swim at the White House and Oliver Stone didn't even get to go inside. A comedian named D.L. Hughley was after him. Ever notice how comedians are impossibly funny on talk shows? Like every damn thing they say is funny? Well, here's a thing I didn't know, and I didn't notice this until the segment was almost over: off to one side of the stage was a guy with cue cards, and after D.L. was through saying one funny thing, the cue card guy would hold up a sign that read ASK ABOUT KIDS, and Jay would say, "So hey, I heard your kids are growing up these days," and D.L. would go off on some dumb crap his kids had done. I mean, I'm not taking anything away from comedians, because you have to be funny to get on the Jay Leno show, but that sort of explains why it's rare for there to be an embarrassed silence on a show like this.
Then they evacuated us out of the studio, and corralled us in a place out back with a bigger stage. A smart person would have taken a picture of the stage. But you have me to deal with, and I took one of the mountains it was facing.
I had no idea what was happening (because I don't listen to things people say... they told us who was next seventeen times) until damn Morris Day and the Time took the stage. That's right. Jungle Love. OH-EE-OH-EE-OH. It's funny how you can be not really a fan of something and then when they put you in front of a stage where that thing is happening, you become a fan. These guys are very large black gentlemen, and their suits are as pimp as they wanna be, and they played two mash-ups of their greatest hits, and it was fantastic. I had no idea I knew the words.
They stuck a few pretty people from the audience into a Pontiac on a raised spinning platform, and then whenever Jay would remind us that he was being brought to you by Pontiac, the pretty people would wave and smile glinting smiles. The crowd-whooping guy also returned to toss us little plastic footballs that read THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO and re-whoop us.
Then when the show was over, they ushered us out of the back of the stage, which was onto the front of the street, and we all just stood there, dizzy and smiling, not believing that we'd just seen the Jay Leno show. Or Morris Day and the Time.
Kevin Costner.... I'd believe that.