Home > Taping Report > June 1st, 2011: The taping ReporT!

June 1st, 2011: The taping ReporT!

Hello, Hubsters!

Colbert Wall Nation

The wall outside the studio!

I’m fresh from a taping and ready with a ReporT! It’s going to take the place of an episode guide, as I have quite a bit to say.

This was my second time at TCR, so I pretty much knew the drill. I arrived around 3:30 and was #22 on line. I had a great time chatting with the folks near me, who were real bibliophiles and fans, so the time passed quickly. Once we were allowed to enter Stephen’s pearly gates , the staff seemed even more ebullient than I remember, and from the response of everyone there, it was pretty clear that this was going to be a really enthusiastic audience. I also have to say that watching those clips in the anteroom never gets old. (Eleanor Holmes Norton – yea! Green Screen Challenge: Fantastic!)

Colbert replica in anteroom

Mr. Colbert greets you!

Because I was by myself, I got a nice third-row center seat, a little blocked by the camera, but otherwise excellent. I’m going to skip all the stuff about the warm-up comic (who was very good) and go straight to the heart of the matter, when Stephen bounded out, ran around his desk several times and high-fived the first row. Promptly after his high-speed studio dash, he announced that he was sick, and had been ever since the middle of his boat trip. (Too bad for everyone who touched him!)  Then he started taking questions—quite a few this evening, one of which was mine. But more on that later.

The first question—asked by my one of my friendly neighbors from the line—concerned a trick Stephen can play with his ear, and whether he would do it for us. And he did, folding his lobe inside out; then, when he said “hello” to a female member of the audience, he winked and it popped out. (See this Letterman clip where he does it.). Someone  then wondered why Stephen had chosen particularly to participate in charities that combat autism. Stephen responded that Robert Smigel’s son was autistic and he wanted to help. The questioner thanked him and said that he had an autistic brother, and Stephen said something about being happy to help him, too.

Another one of my neighbors from the line got the next question in, asking whether Stephen would recommend Second City or another comedy troupe from New York (sorry, I forgot the name) to someone beginning her training.  Stephen asked her where she lived, and joked that it would be a long commute to Chicago. But more seriously, he went on to say that Second City was the best place to learn improv, rather than traditional stand-up, and Chicago the best place to succeed with this type of comedy. “If you can’t make it there, you can’t make it anywhere,” he stated.

Next up…ME. I mentioned that I had seen Old Times, and more recently Company,  and asked him if there were any theater, or any roles he dreamed of doing. Interestingly, he answered no, because TCR allows him to do anything he wants—especially as he’s the Executive Producer! He went on to talk about his start as a serious actor and the black turtlenecks and how he had given that up. (I thought about saying he might reconsider the turtlenecks because he really looks good in them, but resisted the temptation.)  So, in spite of the fact that he enjoyed working with Stephen Sondheim, he’s just not looking for more. So  that’s good news for fans of the Report, a little disappointing to us who would like to see more of him on stage. I have to say, though, when Stephen speaks to you, even in that audience, he really speaks to YOU. You get full attention. Wow.

The last two questions before the show began (he did answer one more at the end, but I don’t recall what it was) concerned South Carolina and the recent Charleston/Bermuda race. Someone asked him what he really thought of South Carolina and he said “it’s the most beautiful place on earth.” He would happily do the show from there, if he could, given that both his and his wife’s families are from there. (Stephen did admit New York is pretty darn good, since working from SC isn’t possible.)   And finally:  a woman asked him how many Swizzles he’d drunk at the end of the race.  (Recipe for Bermuda Rum Swizzles here.) Stephen responded by saying he’d had “Dark and Stormys”—many of them, starting at 8:30 in the morning and continuing for 36 hours! (Recipe for THAT, here.)

Then Stephen finally headed to his seat, the hairdresser played with his hair—and he smiled at her and played with hers back. The show was ready to begin. Well… not so fast. Know how Stephen doesn’t mess up too much? Remember that he’s sick? In any case, he blew it almost immediately on the “Table of Contents,” bursting into laughter when he went into the “mountains into molehills out of mountains” line. He had to re-record the entire opening!  And that was only the start of the fun. You saw two smaller character breaks—one with Jay the intern and I believe one with the chocolate Emmy. But there were four. He also had a problem with the large Emmy posters with attached DVDs that were not easily manipulable. So he had another do-over with the pulling out of the disc. And by the way, as I’ve heard he’s done on other occasions, he did say that no one had to know about the mistakes thanks to the magic of postproduction…as long as there weren’t any bloggers. Oops. Sorry, Stephen. My sincerest apologies, but too good not to share.

In between segments, Stephen was surrounded by four people, and they seemed to be discussing the script or the direction. One of those men was the very handsome, very talented Paul Dinello. It was fun to see him and just gaze. Also in the breaks: a sneezing and wheezing Stephen. I hope that man gets lots of cold medicine and rest.

I thought Stephen’s bit on Anthony Weiner was pretty funny, although as a supporter of Weiner’s I’m a little upset about all this and the fact that it could diminish the good work he’s doing. (Anthony Weiner’s very good friend Jon did a fine job with that topic last night, too…though Donald and the pizza really had me in stitches. I heartily recommend that.)  And he and Jay the Intern were pretty adorable pressed together cheek-to-cheek.  But will BFF Jimmy Fallon have anything to say about Stephen’s coattail accusations? I hope so. They’re so cute when they feud. And the Jon Emmy win and the bitter chocolate? Ha! But I hope that doesn’t prove prescient. We love you Jon, but didn’t you learn in preschool how to share? It’s Stephen’s turn to play!

During the last break before the interview, Robert Kennedy Jr. came in to take his place at the table and many people in the audience applauded even before the on-air introduction. That hadn’t happened the last time I saw a taping. Have any of you who attended tapings experienced this? I enjoyed the interview very much and fully sympathize with Kennedy’s cause. I also got a little choked up when he spoke about his father.

And speaking of which…I just remembered the last question!  After the strong applause for Kennedy (Stephen briefly left with him), and the sign-off, Stephen took that one final query:  “Who was your favorite guest?”  And it was Andrew Young—”because he knew my father.” I’m sure that was on his mind after Kennedy’s comments. On that touching note, I shall end this ReporT, with many thanks to Stephen for soldiering through, for answering my and many other audience members question, and oh well…for just being Stephen.

Cheers, all. What did you think of the episode? Which segment was your favorite? Let me know!

Stephen screen grab

Good night!

Categories: Taping Report Tags:
  1. colbaby
    June 3, 2011 at 3:42 AM

    Excellent reporT, Karenatasha! Thanks so much! Glad you had an awesome time, and color me green with envy that you got to talk to Stephen. (Great question by the way.) I loved his answer to the favorite guest question, because Young’s first appearance was my all time favorite episode.

    Sorry to hear he’s such a sickie at the moment. Hope he feels better soon.


  2. lockhart43
    June 3, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    Thanks so much for the reporT, Karenatasha! That was a great episode to attend. I love your picture of the wall outside the studio (Sidenote: I wrote “Noblet + Jellineck Forever” on that wall when I was there, but my pen was dying on me, so there’s a good chance it’s not there anymore.). It’s very cool that you got to ask him a question! And I think you’re right about getting full attention when he speaks to you – he has a way of making you feel like you’re the only person in the room.

    RE: Audience applauses for guests before the on-air introduction – that actually happened at the taping I went to last summer. As soon as Kevin Kline came out and began to sit down, all of us in the audience started clapping and cheering and gave him a standing ovation. He indulged us by standing up and bowing, and Stephen started laughing at the fact that we were cheering so hard for him. Then he said, “You’re going down, Kevin Kline!”. 🙂

    Thanks again for the awesome reporT! I’m happy you got to go!


  3. Katt
    June 3, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    Thanks for the great reporT karenatasha, I’m so glad you got to go!! It’s just what I needed to cap off a stressful week with.

    It’s a shame you didn’t get to meet the beard, which I believe has been dubbed “Tyrone” on the CN Boards, up close and personal. Though I do love the idea of him on a 36hr bender. I wish I were at that party!!


  4. June 3, 2011 at 5:45 AM

    Awww what a great reporT! I live through the posts of anyone who goes to these tapings and blogs. 😀 My favorite segment has to be the Kennedy interview because it put me into a state of awe, he looks just like his daddy!

    The Weiner segment was hilarious. It does bug me how big this is getting, but the whole “certitude” line is so soundbyte worthy that I really wished Weiner woulda just said it’s not him and moved on. Unless it IS him then…OMG YOWZA!


  5. gentoo3
    June 3, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    Yay, a taping reporT! I always love hearing about all the behind the scenes stuff. And yay that he answered your question! I’ve been to tapings twice, and never had that chance (well, the first time I was kind of in shock that I was actually there and couldn’t think of anything to ask!). Poor Stephen being sick since the middle of the boat trip. Hopefully he’ll get some much needed rest over the weekend.

    The whole Weiner bit was really funny, and I’ve been greatly amused by the subsequent tweets all day about things that may or may not be part of his body. Right up there with the whole Not Intended to be a Factual Statement takeover of the Twitter-verse.

    As for the audience applause for the guest, I was there for Cee Lo Green and he got a big ovation when he walked out. And then an even bigger one after his performances.


  6. karenatasha
    June 3, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    Thanks, all! It was loads of fun. And I was lucky to have Stephen answer my question; it would never have happened if he hadn’t generously answered as many as he did. I was about the 4th or 5th person, and I know that sometimes, because of time constraints, he takes fewer. And thanks for the comments on the audience reaction to his guests. I guess it depends on who it is. But interestingly, RFK Jr. is a less obvious “star” than someone like Kevin Kline or Cee Lo. It’s great that as an activist who does good in the world, he can elicit such an affectionate reaction, too.


  7. anais0509
    June 3, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    Great taping reporT, Karenatasha! It was a fun episode to watch, and I’m sure it was extra fun for the audience (plus you) to see it and Stephen live! I loved everything about this episode, definitely an iTunes keeper. I hope our intrepid sailer gets over his cold soon, although I guess, still being a newbie fangirl, I can’t quite distinguish between a normal “Stephen” and a sick “Stephen” (that doesn’t count the sick episode from July 2010 that I know of). That Q&A session has got to be one of the most intimate and time-stopping moments you can ever get, when it feels like it’s just Stephen and you, for a few slight seconds. Just the thought makes me quiver with both good and bad emotions, if I’ll ever be brave enough to talk to him. You can definitely count me in as one of those who’s disappointed that Stephen’s not interested in more theatre roles. Having missed anything else he’s done plus “Old Times” and “Company”, I was hoping that he would do more roles, but I guess it’s all for nought.


    • karenatasha
      June 3, 2011 at 8:35 AM

      Don’t give up hope, Anais! Just as he did two plays this past year, he may be tempted again. I don’t think he’s one to resist a challenge. And you would ask him a question, I think. Just prepare. He’s so kind and warm, you would.


    • karenatasha
      June 3, 2011 at 8:35 AM

      Don’t give up hope, Anais! Just as he did two plays this past year, he may be tempted again. I don’t think he’s one to resist a challenge. And you would ask him a question, I think. Just prepare. He’s so kind and warm, you would.


    • lockhart43
      June 3, 2011 at 11:19 AM

      I’ll echo Karenatasha in saying that you’d ask him a question if you had the chance. He’s so nice and approachable that he automatically makes you feel more comfortable. I thought I’d be nervous when I asked him a question (at Two River) but then as fate would have it, I asked him a question and made him laugh. And then my legs felt like jelly, but still. Just say it over and over in your head so you’re prepared. When it happens (I’ll say “when,” instead of “if”), I guarantee you that you’ll surprise yourself. So don’t sell yourself short. 🙂


      • anais0509
        June 5, 2011 at 7:02 AM

        Thanks a lot, guys! Your unwavering support and belief never fail to lift my spirits. 🙂 I’m really grateful how, when I have any uncertitude about Stephen that none of my friends or family can fully understand, I can just come here and automatically be surrounded by people who are major Stephen it-getters like me and immediately rise up to give support to one another. It’s a lovely feeling being around you Zoners/Hubsters (are we officially calling ourselves Hubsters now, or is the term “Zoners” an allowable term of affection since that’s how we all met each other?). I feel deep down that I would ask Stephen a question, as long as it’s a good question and I can put the jitters aside as much as possible. If anything I want to be in that aura of warmth and kindness that anyone who’s been lucky enough to talk to Stephen has experienced and to be able to look into the eyes of my greatest inspiration. Someday that day will come…


  8. susan209
    June 3, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    That was a great reporT, Karenatasha! Your descriptions were very vivid and I almost felt as if I was there, seeing everything you described. I feel the same way that you do about Anthony Weiner — I keep hoping it’s not true, but I think if it wasn’t, he’d have simply said so. Fortunately, I can think of worse things than having a picture taken in one’s underwear, although I suppose it depends on who’s taking it and why.
    I absolutely loved your description of the answer to the last question about his favorite guest. I’m so glad you included it in your reporT. It was such a bittersweet comment. Just think of it. We all admire Stephen and look forward to hearing from people (like yourself) who’ve interacted with him so as to feel closer to him somehow. But his desire to connect with people who’ve known his father, and to be so honest about it, just makes me ache. I love that everyone who describes their interactions with him (including yourself) comes away with the same feeling of warmth and openness.
    And I agree with you yet again about him doing more theater in the future. I’m sure he’s burned out right now (tired, with a cold, etc.) but given a little time, I think he’ll be treading the boards before we know it. (I may be a vegetarian, but I know that some hams cannot be kept in cans! And I don’t think the show lets him do quite everything… He’s way more dimensional than he’s ‘fessing up to.)
    Thanks again for that wonderful reporT!


    • karenatasha
      June 3, 2011 at 3:28 PM

      Thank you, Susan! I appreciate it.

      Re theater: I think what he probably meant is that he isn’t working toward doing theater or actively looking for something to do. But if something of interest comes along, or if he can help someone as he did with the performance of “Old Times,” I suspect he might do it.

      Actually, while I would have loved a fully staged version of “Old Times,” I think it actually is a good way for him to do some theater without burning himself out with rehearsals etc. Obviously, as long as he has TCR, he can’t rehearse as one should for a full run.


  9. Roseha
    June 5, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    Thanks from me too for the reporT Karenatasha! To add to the above thoughts, I also hope, and suspect, that someday Stephen will accept another serious or comic role if the right one were to come along. He really is an amazing actor so I hope he can fit something in down the line.


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