It was a tough call, but we decided to sleep in a bit this morning rather than head back into the city at first light. (Yesterday we got into town at least half an hour before dawn.) First thing this morning, Michelle Franzen gave a tour of the NBC studios to the Dudley family, whom she also interviewed on The Today Show, and who also happen to be in the area now. We were invited to come along as well, but (a) we were exhausted from our activities yesterday, and (b) duty called and we had to get online and catch up on some work before going anywhere today.
Finally we caught the bus into town in mid-afternoon (the rain had let up by then) and took the short stroll back to Rockefeller Center. The huge Christmas tree which was supposed to have been here yesterday had finally arrived and workers were busy erecting scaffolding from which to hang the decorations. This is a monster of tree, standing about 75 feet tall. The tradition of having a tree in Rockefeller Center, by the way, dates back to the (not so) Great Depression, when someone donated such a plant for display at the Center, then under construction, which greatly helped lift public spirits in tough times. And it’s been a yearly event ever since.
We caught up with Dave Dudley, but the rest of his family is back across the river. They’ve been having a real ordeal to deal with the last couple of days because their truck was towed from the parking lot of a shopping center where they were shopping. The reason offered by the tow company was that Dave, who was driving, went to a store across the street, rather than in the complex where he parked and where the rest of the family was shopping. Someone saw him leave, and immediately the tow truck was brought in. It cost them over 600 bucks to get their truck back. Does this sound like a racket to you? We’ve seen all too many businesses that prey on travelers during our years on the road, and we do our best to warn people about them.
Even after getting our VIP tickets,we had to wait in line for about 45 minutes to get into the studio where “Late Night” was being recorded. Then after we were seated, one of the assistants (we’re not sure exactly what his title was) came out and warmed up the audience in a grand fashion. His spontaneous interaction with the crowd was in fact the most hilarious thing during the entire program – and there were some pretty funny moments in the rest of the show as well.
The program began with the host, in the grand tradition of comedy show hosts, coming through the curtain and doing a monologue. Then, during the commercial break, the five cameras were reoriented in a seamlessly choreographed routine, and prepared for the next bit, which was called “slow-jamming the news”, done with the assistance of the band. We were surprised to see that they used old fashioned hand-written cue cards rather than a teleprompter for these segments.
Next came segments with guests: first actress Kate Walsh, then magicians extraordinaire Penn & Teller. In interviews as onstage, the short, puckish Teller doesn’t speak. (He does speak in daily life – we’ve talked to him.) They performed a “trick”, which was really more of a comic routine playing on the techniques that magicians often employ. Then the show ended with a group performing hip hop, which is not a genre that we are particularly fond of. This was the one thing in the show that, for some reason or other, had to be taped twice.
At the end, host Jimmy Fallon raced into the audience giving out high fives. And we said goodbye to Dave, and headed back to New Jersey.
And then at last we began driving south for the winter.