Arts & Culture Editor
“And here’s your host: Jimmy Fallon!” The crowd roared and clapped their hands feverishly as Fallon appeared from behind the blue curtain into the Studio 6B of NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City. This past Monday, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon taped at its normal time and normal place. This time it was different though because they had a Millersville student in the audience.
Getting tickets to The Tonight Show is tricky business. Eager fans wait impatiently online on the designated day to score free tickets to the show. Yes, they are free tickets and boy, do they go quick. Within minutes, all tickets were gone.
On the day of the show, ticket holders walk into NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center and make their way up to the Peacock Lounge, a waiting room before the show begins. Aligning the Peacock Lounge are floor-to-ceiling screens showing pictures of past Tonight Show sketches, guests, and musical performances. Among the pictures on the screen were Will Ferrell dressed up as “Little Debbie” from “Little Debbie Snack Cakes” and stills from the famous “Lip-Sync” battles.
After some waiting, NBC Pages, employees responsible for NBC Studio Tours and group events like this one, tell ticket holders to make their way to the elevators that will take them up to Studio 6B.
Once up on the 6th floor, NBC Pages direct ticket holders to Studio 6B. Walking in, about 300 seats wait for eager fans. On the floor, Fallon’s desk sits in front of a beautiful New York Skyline. To the right sits the instruments and stage for The Roots, a famous jazz, hip-hop band from Philadelphia. They provide all of the music fans hear when the show is on TV including the theme song of the show “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!”. Black Thought, or Tariq Trotter who performs the vocals for the Roots, actually attended Millersville University where he studied Journalism.
After a comedic opener warms up the crowd, Tonight Show Announcer and former Saturday Night Live writer Steve Higgins comes out and announces the special guests, the roots, and, finally, Jimmy Fallon himself. The pandemonium in the crowd grew as Fallon exited the blue curtain and took his place on the stage.
Fallon begins the show with a couple monologue jokes, similar to those heard on the Weekend Update on SNL. They usually poke fun at current news. Monday’s monologue jokes consisted of topics like Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos and Valentine’s Day. These jokes are read off cue cards and not a teleprompter. This tradition began on Saturday Night Live back in 1975. Even now, Saturday Night Live still uses cue cards instead of a teleprompter. When Fallon left Saturday Night Live in 2004 and began hosting Late Night in 2009, he took this tradition over to his own show.
After the monologue, the set goes dark and the cameras turn off. It’s a commercial break. The show is filmed in a “live-to-tape” process. That means they shoot the show as if it were live, including commercial breaks, and then air it that same night at 11:35 p.m.. Eastern Standard time. Usually, there’s no cutting off footage unless there’s a major delay with something.
While the cameras rolled, Fallon talked to guests Magic Johnson and Luke Wilson. Johnson, Wilson, Fallon, and Trotter then played a game of Roomba beer pong, like regular beer pong but the cups were sitting on Roomba vacuums that moved around the table. Finally, Roy Wood Jr., a comedian from The Daily Show, came out and performed hilarious stand-up for the crowd.
At the end of the show, Fallon says goodnight to America and to the audience. He then runs through the audience and hits the hands of audience members while giving out an occasional hug to some members every now and then.
Sitting in the audience of The Tonight Show is truly an experience worth attending. With tickets being free, there’s really no excuse. And hey, Jimmy Fallon will be there and what could be better than that?