Friday Flashback: I’ll Bet It Wasn’t Like This in the Cool, Early 80s, Giant Jar of Mayonnaise Dropped Off a Building, NBC Days

July 22, 2005
I won’t be flashing back too far today kids – only to May of 2003, but I feel that this tale must be told.

Chad and I were on our honeymoon in New York City.

Here we are kissing on top of the Empire State Building! (Quick – everyone start hearing “Isn’t It Romantic” in your heads to make this moment shine!)

Anyway – Chad got tickets to Late Night with David Letterman. We were thrilled to be going to the show, having been fans of Letterman since the early days.

Little did we know . . .

Well – there were two omens.

First – We found out that on the very same day, Conan was going to have Christopher Walken as a guest. And he was going to be taping at the same time as Letterman. Conan AND Christopher Walken! Together! This marriage was almost better than our own, at least in Chad’s eyes. However, it was too late to change venues.

Second – I went into the famed “Hello Deli” where the famed “Rupert Gee” works (who is often on the show) and was served the stalest muffin I have ever eaten.

Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway so we arrive at the show at the proper time and proceed to wait in line. Letterman has about 12 or so “starving actor/artist/student” types who serve as assistants (GOONS) on the show and help get people “jazzed” before taping. (If only they were doling out Dexedrine!) Instead the put on a little show and made us all scream cheers every 3 minutes or so. This was okay maybe the first ten minutes! Then it was just ridiculous. They had this one little “goon” doing flips all along the sidewalk and everyone was supposed to cheer . . .

Anyway – the madness only escalated for the 3 hours that we waited to get into the damn building.

“HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO SEE DAVE???” one goon would yell.

And we’d all scream “WOOHOO” or whatever – over and over.

At some point, everyone seemed to absorb the idea that if we didn’t act AS ENTHUSIASTIC AS WE’D EVER ACTED IN OUR ENTIRE LIVES we’d be yanked from line and booted out of the taping.

Now – let me just say that this was never actually vocalized by any of the goons – but it seemed perfectly clear.

So when we’re finally inside the famous Ed Sullivan lobby – crammed in like sardines, might I add – we are given the rules.

Rule #1 – we can’t yell “WOO” – because it sounds like “BOO” on the air. Instead we can yell “YAY!” and nothing else.

Now – I don’t know about you, but I’m a “WOO-er” by nature. In fact, I think most of us are. So this added the first touch of artificiality to the whole thing.

Rule #2 – Laugh at everything. EVERYTHING he says is funny. Even if it’s not that funny, it’s still hilarious to us. Did we pay for these tickets? No we did not. And so we owe it to Dave.

So we’re filing into the theatre finally and one of the goons asked us for the millionth time if we’re “excited”. And for some asinine reason, Chad, who is normally a very calm and understated person, screams like that dude on the Jetta commercial (that gets excited when the car speeds up in the curve) and is all WOOHOO YEAH! He sounded like a MANIAC!

Well – immediately, 2 guards rush over and are like “Sir, you can’t be screaming like that during the show.” I think one of them may have grabbed his arm.

Well – they do let us in – but I notice that the guards are quite close to where we’re sitting –and every time I casually glance back –they are eagle-eying us like they’re just waiting for Chad to bust out with something insane. Great – he’s been labeled a nutjob.

Anyway – you can’t see this when you’re watching at home – but they station the goons throughout the audience. There was one –whom I’d consider “chief goon” right next to us in the aisle (most likely put there because of Chad’s crazy ass.)

And what they do is yell and scream and clap and prompt you do the same. And so with every joke – you laugh and then look over at them to see if they approve with their eyes. And they nod and laugh with you – but it’s all quite coerced. And then you look back and the guards are watching like hawks.

Needless to say – we were laughing like maniacs throughout the show – our eyes popping and glazed over. We were like robotic, laughing zombies. The whole audience was. And then that goon was right there – mouthing “Laugh guys! Isn’t he great?!? Wasn’t that funny! Yay! YAY!”

Towards the end- it was almost like that “crying laughter” you know – not the good kind. The – “Oh my God I’m about to be stabbed and for some reason I’m laughing” kind of laughter.

I walked out feeling as though I’d been violated in the funny bone or something. My sense of humor – assaulted.

Anyway – so that’s my experience with Letterman. I guess he knows all about the goon’s behavior. It’s a sad, sad world we live in, friends. I wonder if they do the same on Conan. If so – I don’t even want to know about it.

Anyway – a picture of the infamous “house of forced laughs”

And – ALL of the
honeymoon pics
if you’d like to look at them.

AND here is an article written by a dude who had a similar experience as a Letterman audience member.


11:13 a.m. ::
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