New York: Late Show With David Letterman

Another item high on my must-do list is to catch the Late Show with David Letterman. I guess I must have been really lucky … it is because just a few days after I left New York, the Writer’s Guild strike was in full swing and all shows including David Letterman’s was affected.


A few weeks before I left for New York, I did go to and try to get myself a ticket through online request. I had a feeling that the chances of me getting it was next to nil, simply from the standpoint that I am in requesting from Canada and they have no way of really knowing if I am gonna turn up or not.

So, the first thing I actually did when I was in New York was to visit the Times Square Visitor Info Center and get more info about David Letterman’s show. I was given the long list of TV shows that is shooting in NYC. To me it was only the Late Show with David Letterman I am determined to catch.

I was told that I could either call or show up at the Ed Sullivan Theater. I decided that I show up and not take the chance by calling.


It was just a short walk from Times Square. The Ed Sullivan Theater looked really rundown and smallish for a famous show like the Late Show. It is located on 53rd and Broadway.

Getting on the show is such a big-big hassle. The entire saga started from 9AM until taping starting at 4PM. No, you don’t have to be there all the time but you need to be flexible enough to get to the Theater pronto when they call you.

There were 2 tapings that day … one at 4PM and another at 7PM.


Oh, remember one thing especially when you decide to make a In-Person Request … start queuing up only after 9AM at the doors. The warning is posted on the doors that anyone queuing before 9AM will be denied tickets. I believe they mean it.

He he he … I was the FIRST in line at 9AM on the dot! Within a few minutes, about 20 people appeared from nowhere in an instant to get into the line. It amazing how obedient everyone was to that no-queuing-up-before-9AM rule.

The door swung opened at 9:30AM … it was freezing cold waiting out there. What came next was really unexpected … they really really really screen the guests. First, I had to fill in a full page form with my particulars and request. And then they checked my IDs … and then, they actually subjected everyone to a 1-on-1 interview!! Gosh … I had to walk around over the screened area to meet a guy (heavens know who he is). It was like a real job interview … it was so totally unexpected. Anyway, it was a short interview. He asked where I came from and took interest of the fact that I am from Canada. And then he asked that million dollar question, the question that I think will make or break it. He asked … what time does the Letterman show shows in Canada? I had no freaking idea! (I told him that I think it’s about 10PM or 11PM).

Next thing, he said was that he will submit my name to the computer and then let the computer pick names for the show (oh yeah … computer my foot!). He took my form and put it into the top of a 2-layer tray. Since I was the first to be interviewed that morning, I had not idea if the top tray is “reject” or “accept”. He told me that … “don’t call us, we’ll call you if the computer selects you”. (Oh yeah … computer my foot again!).

Before I left the building, they got batches of people together and tried to get everyone all excited by making every cheer and yell. Oh, come on … for heaven’s sake, it is 9:30AM in the morning.

I thought I botched it …


Since, they said that they will call by 1PM after the computer (my foot!) had completed its selection, I went to the Central Park. I had an amazing day in the Central Park which is the subject of my next 3 days of blogs.

Then I got a call on my cell … from area code 212!! No siree, it was definitely not from the office at work … it simply had to be from the Late Show! I returned the call and was told in very clear terms that I MUST be back in the Ed Sullivan Theatre by 3PM — to which they added that 3:01PM is considered late. Oh man … those guys are like Nazis, I thought.


I got there at 10 minutes before 3PM and I was shocked that there were already a long line of people stretching around the block already.


I finally got it … a ticket … number 139! That, my dear, is NOT the seat number. It is just the sequence of getting in and for them to quickly determine if there are any no-shows. Everyone was pumped, I could see … lots of happy faces around and people were so friendly talking with each other like they had been friends since birth. Waiting in line is entertainment by itself.

Laughter and enthusiasm is a BIG thing here. It is printed in the tickets and the helpers stressed it over and over again. I remember them telling us several times … “don’t look shitty or you will get shitty seats!”. As best as I tried to look enthusiastic, I got a “shitty” seat on the left section. I guess the good seats were by the aisle as that’s where the cameras are most likely to swing by.

Rumours were flying around as to who the celebrity guests for the night were. It was not revealed until we got into the theater. The guests were Jerry Sienfeld and Joe Torre! I could not believe my luck. I had caught a live Jerry Sienfeld show in Vancouver once before but seeing him again on stage is simply amazing.


David Letterman was bigger in life than on the TV. With everything going on on stage, he sure projects himself right, front and and center. The pre-show events by itself was just as entertaining. I enjoyed every single second in the theatre and being able to see the entire set and witnessing how a taping was done was great. The taping was done at 4PM and by 11PM, it was already on TV. Those guys sure worked fast.

Jerry was there promoting his new Bee Movie and Joe Torre had just announced his rejection of the new lopsided contract with the Yankees. I did not take any pictures in the Theatre as no cameras were allowed.

After the show, I saw a lot of people milling around the exit by the side of the building. Then I heard a commotion and before I knew it, there were dozens of cameras shooting up from people’s head and started firing away. Instinctively, I did the same and had no idea what everyone was doing. He he he … all my pix came out blurred and the best was just the one below. It was later that I realize that it was Jerry Sienfeld getting out of the theater to his car. Shoot, I missed my paparazzi moment!


People ran after his car. I half wanted to chase after his car especially I realize that his car is likely going to stop by the traffic lights. I did not … too much equipment to run after him.


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  1. Jessica

    That is soooo cool!!!

    I think they do security screens cuz Dave had a stalker that broke in to his house all the time (she killed herself) and someone planned to kidnap his baby a couple years ago.

    Did you get to shake Dave’s hand or anything?

  2. Ben

    Hi Jessica: No, I did not shake Dave’s hand. He appeared from the backstage and disappeared into it immediately after the show.

  3. Chris

    Interesting!! I’d have gone but we had the kids with us and the show doesn’t allow under-16. This summer we were able to get into Live with Regis and Kelly(kids allowed) was great fun! They are very friendly and walk ard to talk to everyone in the audience. They are also more than happy to sign autographs and photography is allowed when the cameras aren’t on.
    Love your blog!

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