The very first thing I did when I got to New York last month was attend the taping of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. I landed at JFK at 2.30pm, jumped on the LIRR, dumped my bags at my hotel room on 33rd at 4pm, and made my way uptown to the CBS Broadcast Centre on 57th getting there exactly on time. It was a bit of a stressful way to start my NY mini-break but I would have regretted missing the taping.
I applied for a ticket as soon as the schedule was updated three weeks before. The confirmation said that I’d hear within 5-7 days, and if I didn’t hear anything before 5pm the day before, then I’d not got a ticket. I didn’t hear anything so I forgot all about it.
And then at 11pm the night before, as I sat on the beach in Florida, I got the confirmation email. I. Was. Excited. I hadn’t booked my NY flight intending to go to the taping, so I was very lucky the timing worked out for me. Slightly breathless from my JFK trek, I was just super happy that I made it at 5pm on the dot. You’re asked to get there between 5 and 5.15, but there were already about 20 people in front of me – I’d suggest the earlier the better.
As it turned out, being in the “fan line” was still no guarantee that I’d get to the studio. I first joined a queue to get through security – they advise you not to bring large bags, food, drink, or cameras (you also have to wear “camera friendly clothes”). You do get searched and have to go through a metal detector, so I only brought the essentials. After the security queue, you queue to get in a holding area, where your name is ticked off on a list and you’re seated in a windowless room (with Wi-Fi though, so it wasn’t all bad). Everyone sat in rows in the order we arrived, and we were given regular reminders to go to the bathroom, and worryingly that we still weren’t guaranteed a seat. I had a horrible feeling that I wouldn’t get in, especially as the time ticked away and the email had said the taping would be over by 7ish.
It felt like we waited for a really long time, but it was about 45 minutes overall, the room filling up and overspilling into another. The woman in charge kept telling us that they were waiting for the ‘proper’ guest list people to get seated (there was another room full of those people apparently), but then we were ushered out of the room and through the corridors to the studio upstairs. I could not stop grinning as I entered the studio and saw the iconic set. I was sat on the right side of the audience which was already about 2/3rds full as I sat down. Once everyone was seated, we waited for a bit more and then Allana Harkin came out to warm us all up. Still feeling a bit giddy from the conference, I put my hand up when she asked if anyone was from outside NY and after she found out that Full Frontal isn’t shown in the UK, she had a good reason to yell at a producer about why not (I had to explain us Brits watch it on YouTube). There was someone from Australia in the audience, but she’d been in New York for a month, so that didn’t count. I was promised merch for travelling so far, but sadly that didn’t pay off.
Talking of merch, I’d hoped to get a Nasty Woman or Feminist t-shirt, but there isn’t a shop there. Allana (and later Sam) threw out some t-shirts and tote bags, but only a few people got those.
Suitabley warmed, Allana introduced Samantha. It goes without saying that she was hilarious, but I wasn’t expecting how under control everything was. It was filmed exactly as it was shown, each segment in one take and with only a short break between to reset the cameras. Ashley Nicole Black came on to present a segment she’d filmed on Black History Month – I don’t know if the other contributors are always at tapings, but I loved that I’d been able to see both Allana and Ashley.
When all the segments had been filmed, Samantha checked to see if anything needed re-filming (it didn’t – she’d nailed it) and then we were done! I can’t believe how little time it took – we were out of the studio by about 7.30, leaving me plenty of time to get back to my room, find TBS, and watch the show again at 10.30.
An amazing start to my NY trip.