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After the last Sunday show Jameson and I drove out to Burbank and got a hotel near the airport.
The next day, we went to see a Conan O'Brien taping!!!

Jameson had planned the whole thing. He got the tickets online for free, and figured out the travel timing. After reading some reviews on Yelp from people who'd done this kind of thing before, we decided to show up several hours early to reserve a place in line, then go find something to eat.

We drove up to Universal Studios and parked at Gate 8, and quickly found the Conan holding area. Jameson presented his e-tickets and we went through a bag check, then got our hands stamped and were given a wristband. We waited on some benches with a few other people, and after a while a staff member came out and had us line up in the order we'd checked in. We were given numbers to hold our place in line (we got #19) and were told to come back around 3:30pm to walk to the studio.

We left the holding area and went in search of lunch. There was a place called Taste Chicago that had Chicago dogs and personal pan deep-dish pizzas, so we hit it up. Delicious handmade stuff here if you're ever in the area!

After that there was time for a few errands, then we hoofed it back to the parking garage to get in line for the taping! There were a LOT of people waiting in the holding area this time; shows like Conan will often overbook to guarantee that they get a full crowd. We were glad we'd showed up early!! Being in the first 20 groups, we were among the first to line up and start walking the eight blocks to the studio.

On the way we passed lots of studios, each one marked with a plaque that listed notable films that had been shot inside. We even passed the star trailers for The Big Bang Theory! We were moving pretty quickly so I couldn't stop to take pictures, but I did manage to snap a quick one as we reached our destination.

Inside the studio, we were each given a piece of candy, yay! (I figure this was either to compensate us for calories burned on the way over or to give us a sugar buzz for the taping). Then we were walked into the studio and shown to our seats. Jameson and I ended up about 4-5 rows back all the way to stage right, right next to the Basic Cable Band. AWESOME!!!

When the guest interviews started, the stage moved forward to give more depth (photo shows the stage before it moved forward). Above the blue tvs hanging from the ceiling, there were "APPLAUSE" signs that came on every once in a while, though we rarely needed prompting!

Before the show started and during breaks the BCB played for the audience. Jameson and I were thrilled to be in a spot where we could see what the band was doing, how they were reading charts and giving visual cues, etc. September 14th is Rosh Hashanah, so to celebrate Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg was given a "shofar" by the props department to "ring in the New Year". It was actually a slide trumpet with the bell hacked off and replaced by a shofar horn, and it sounded...special :D (CLICK HERE to see a clip)

(screenshot taken at teamcoco.com)

The taping went very smoothly, pretty much just like the show once it airs. Conan came out first and after his introduction/latest news rehash, had a little banter with Andy Richter. After a break or two and a few comedy sketches, the main guest came out: Jim Gaffigan! He was hilarious as always! Apparently he's performing for the Pope soon(!), good luck with that buddy!!!

After Jim came Chelsea Peretti. I'm honestly not familiar with her, but she was funny and it seems like she leads an interesting life :) And after her, a band called Blackberry Smoke performed. They were good, not my favorite style of music, but the vocalist had a really great voice and I enjoyed hearing them play!

To see the full episode, CLICK HERE and look for the "Monday 9/14" episode.

The taping only took an hour. Afterward everyone started filing out, but we wanted to say hello to the band. My facebook friend and fellow trombonist Andrew L. had put me in touch with Scott Healy, the BCB keyboardist. Scott found us right away and came over to shake our hands, then brought Richie over as well. I hadn't expected the pleasure of conversation time with these guys...my mind was crowded with way too many geeky fan questions! We exchanged pleasantries for a bit, just general stuff like where we're from, where we went to school, comparing gigs, etc. I was amazed that both guys had heard of my hometown, a tiny little place in Northeast PA :P

The band had to split and the studio crew was packing up, so after a few minutes Scott showed us out and we found our way back to the garage. It was a real pleasure to meet Richie and Scott. Thank you both for your time, and thanks also to Andrew for putting us in touch. We had a blast!!

The whole Conan experience was really wonderful and fun. If you get a chance to attend a taping, do it!

We started driving in an attempt to reach the train by midnight. Around 10pm we got word that the train was not yet spotted due to a derailment in the Sacramento yard, so we decided to book a last-minute hotel. The next morning we drove the remaining two hours to Sacramento, stopped at Walmart for groceries, and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

Wednesday was a dark day. I did a lot of cooking: rice, devlied eggs, and meatloaf. In between I wrote on Quora and watched the internets :)

Thursday was opening day, rehearsal went well and so did the show.
Friday was similar with only one show at night. I'm sure I did stuff during the day but it must not have been very interesting, because I can't really remember anything besides taking a nap :P

Saturday, typical three shows. I heard from someone that some folks from Circus Vargas came to see our show. Awesome! Thanks for coming out y'all!!
Otherwise is was a pretty normal day, and another laid-back week. A button fell of my work shirt, I sewed it back on. The guys found a pool table nestled among a bunch of furniture, dragged it out, and had a game. Pie Car made some great pork roast. Crowds were good :)

Sunday, two shows. The ringmaster float broke down at the end of the first show, but that didn't disrupt the show at all. Whatever broke must have been easily fixable because the float was back with us for the final show. These things happen sometimes!

After the last show we drove to a hotel a few hours away. Sacramento was our last California city. It's been fun, CA! Can't believe the year is almost over! We only have EIGHT CITIES left before the winter break. Wow!

Next up is Salt Lake City. But before that....
Jameson and I....
are going....


Other stuff:

Jameson almost squished this praying mantis as we were making our way to the Conan taping. It was on the handrail in the parking garage, pretending to be a leaf.

Here at the Sleep Train Arena there is a special tunnel. It was originally built to connect to another nearby structure, but the plans were abandoned and the tunnel remained empty. Traditionally the clowns set up their dressing room (Clown Alley) inside the tunnel, and over the years clowns from both units have made their mark on it inside and out. Now it's a beautiful piece of circus history.

(photo courtesy Lindsey AM M)

Boss clown Taylor giving an interview at U92FM, a local radio station.

(photo courtesy Taylor A.)

Adria (handler) has been working with Mable (elephant) to create some spectacular blow-paint art! Here's a little something the two of them made for Jameson. Nice work ladies!!

(photo courtesy Jameson)