Getting to The Daily Show in 3 Easy Steps

The Desk

First, a confession. I don’t watch a ton of The Daily Show. I think it’s funny and I’m happy to watch it with others, but late night shows in general have never been a trend that’s caught on with me. But when a Facebook friend posted that there were tickets available, I didn’t hesitate. Boyfriend’s a big fan and I thought it would be very cool to see Jon Stewart live. It was a great show and I want to share how to enjoy this very New York experience for yourself. Here’s how to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in three easy steps–

1. Most important and most difficult — score some tickets. Tickets to The Daily Show are free but hard to come by. Usually when you go to the website you see this message:



I don’t even know how tickets were available when I got them. I was lucky to see a friend on Facebook mention that there were tickets and I reserved mine right away. You can reserve up to four. I took four, knowing that it wouldn’t be difficult to fill the seats. Reserving tickets is a two step process. You enter your information, receive an email from The Daily Show, and follow an enclosed link to confirm your reservation (you must confirm within 48 hours!).

If there are no tickets available, you can enter your email address to be notified when tickets are up. I don’t know how reliable this is. Boyfriend says he’s entered his email twice and never received any info about new tickets. I just signed up for notifications, so I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

We're smiling because it's December and 58 degrees!

We’re smiling because it’s December and 58 degrees!

2. Show up to claim your tickets. Just because you’ve reserved tickets doesn’t mean you have them. The studio seats about 200 but they overbook to make sure it’s a full house. Reserving tickets just guarantees you the right to wait in line for them. They start giving out tickets at 2:30 but recommend you arrive early to guarantee you get them. We arrived at 12:45, which was probably earlier than we needed to be there. There were forty people ahead of us and not a lot of people filled in behind us until about 1:30. If you show up by 1:00 you should be fine, but I’ve only done this once so the line could be more crowded on different days.

Important things to bring with you to claim your tickets — your confirmation email (the one that says “You must bring this email with you to the taping”) and a government issued ID. I didn’t read the fine print and therefore didn’t tell everyone in my group to bring their ID, but lucky they did anyway. It would be a bummer to take that time off work or school and spend all that time waiting and then not get in. Dress appropriately! We lucked out and had a warm December day, but I was prepared to buy hand warmers.

After this, relax — you’ve got a ticket! (Which is seriously just a piece of colored paper with The Daily Show logo and the date stamped on it. Nothing fancy here, folks.) You have a couple hours to kill before the show starts. There’s not a ton to do on 11th Avenue, but if you walk over to 10th you can find a coffee shop or a dive bar with darts.

Showcasing the very professional and fancy tickets.

Showcasing the very professional and fancy tickets.

3. Come back at 4:30 and enjoy the show! Your ticket has a number on it so when you come back to the studio at 4:30 you line up in numerical order. Then starts the slow process of screening everyone and getting them into the studio. If you drank a ton of coffee or beer during your break, use the bathroom before you go through security. Once they seat you they don’t want you standing up again.

As you enter the building, look up above the door for the sign — “Abandon news, all ye who enter here.” Loved their self-deprecating humor!

Security screening and loading into the studio goes a little slow, but the crew have it worked out and well organized. I’ve never worked on a TV show but from working on films I’d just suggest that you listen to the crew and be polite. They have to incorporate 200 random people into their job every day. It makes their job a little unpredictable. There are absolutely no cell phones allowed except for a short time to take pictures once everyone’s been seated. Play nice and wait until then to take pictures. Otherwise they might take away your phone and you get no pictures to brag with.

There’s more waiting here but you can relax and enjoy the 90s music they pregame to. You get a chance to take some pictures (this is a new thing they’re trying. They used to be anti-pictures completely). A crew member comes out and outlines the procedure and warms up the crowd. Then Jon Stewart himself comes out and does a Q&A with the audience. I thought this was awesome — he really gets to show off his comedic chops (though by now he’s probably perfected his answers to some of these questions) and he gets a little personal. He told us how he got fired from his first job — by his older brother.

Then the show starts! Because it’s a taped show, you might have a camera blocking part of your view. Don’t worry — there are tons of monitors everywhere and the cameras shift after each segment so you could get a better view later. Jon did a solo show, no correspondents, and really knocked it out of the park. It was so fun being part of the audience. Jon does a great job — even though it’s a TV show, you really feel like your part of the show and that Jon’s doing it as much for you as for the cameras.

You could get really lucky and get an awesome guest — we missed Sir Ian McKellen by one night. We got to see an interview with Jared Leto, who was promoting his new film The Texas Buyer’s Club. The interview was a little stilted, but I was slightly distracted by how amazing Jared Leto’s hair is.

And then, after about a half an hour, the show’s over. Jon was very gracious and came back out after his taped exit to thank us. They herd you out of the studio (no pictures!) and you’re out by 7:30.

Bragging Rights picture

Bragging Rights picture

Would I, as a casual Daily Show viewer, recommend a taping to someone else? Absolutely. It’s definitely worth the time — it’s a lot of waiting, but it only takes an afternoon and then you’re free to enjoy the city at night. The difficulty is definitely reserving tickets. If you’re a non-native I’m not sure if you’d be able to sync it up with your New York trip. If you’re a New Yorker I’d recommend signing up for ticket notifications and checking the website every once in a while. Let me know if this method works for getting you tickets!

We had a great time at the show and have been inspired to check out the other taped shows here in New York. We’re thinking about making trading cards. Colbert Report, anyone?