Behind the Scenes of Late Night TV

Behind the Scenes of Late Night TV

To most at-home viewers, late night TV shows appear relaxed and entertaining. But was the live show as effortless as it seems onscreen? I’ll share a little secret that I learned when I attended Thursday’s taping of Late Night with Seth Meyers: it’s even more fun than watching it from the couch.

Tickets were extremely easy to come by. All guests need to do is call into the NBC ticket hotline (212.664.3056) about a month in advance. After a quick phone call, I was sent a confirmation email that allowed me to obtain a ticket on the day of the filming.

There’s a catch, though – the confirmation email does not guarantee admittance to the show, as producers overbook every taping to ensure the studio is filled. To increase chances of getting in, visitors should arrive about an hour and half early.

After receiving my ticket, I got in line and was then escorted into the studio. The experience of seeing the studio in person would have made the effort worth it. I also got a peek at the SNL studio, right next to Late Night, on my way in.

The first thought I had when walking into the studio was, “Wow, this is tiny!” It is amazing what camera magic can do to make a small space seem big, but in reality the stage was much smaller than I had anticipated. We were treated to tunes by the house musicians, the 8G Band, before the show and got amped up for the taping by a pre-show comedian, Ryan Reiss.

After much anticipation, Seth Meyers walked in and welcomed us to the show. Then, the taping began. Every time a segment ended, cameras would rush to a different position, staff would scurry on set to prepare things for the next bit and Seth Meyers sat at his desk, calmly tapping away to the tunes of the 8G Band.

One of the segments during the taping I attended involved a bit about a psychic in the audience who had telekinetic powers and kept making objects float on stage. In setting up for this bit, staff rushed on stage and began attaching all sorts of objects to invisible strings to make them appear to float. They even had a person, playing the role of stage manager, attached to rigging that made her look like psychic lifted her into the air.

It was interesting to see that behind the cool, collected appearance of the show on TV is actually a mass of people running around behind the cameras switching, changing, rigging and preparing different pieces of the set.

Luckily for guests who visit the studio, the fun doesn’t end with taping. One of the best parts for me was going home, watching how the episode turned out and spotting myself among the audience members on TV.