I went to a taping of the Daily Show today! Long story on how I got the ticket, but I did, and it was a "VIP" ticket, which means that you are on a separate line and get seated first. Of course, this doesn't matter a ton in the long run, because you are put in seats by the interns, and have about as good a chance of getting a front row seat by chance if you're on the long line. The first section is closer to Stewart himself; the others probably have better views. I'd say the audience size is around 400, maybe less.
After waiting on line outside forever (you're supposed to be on line by 4:10pm), you go through security (metal detector; guard digs thoroughly around in your purse) and get penned up in a tiny lobby, which is probably great if the weather's bad. There you wait even longer, till we actually got let into the studio well after 5:30pm. Then, of course, you wait for everyone else to be seated, which takes a while because once the lobby is clear, they have to let people through security and then into the studio. A producer comes out to warm you up, which sounds idiotic but the cheering really does get louder as he exhorts the crowd. Then Jon Stewart came out and took a very few questions before taping started.
These questions ranged from the dumb (What's your favorite diner in NJ?) to the weirdly funny. One woman asked about Berlin's longitude on the wall, which reads W rather than E. She thought maybe it was on purpose. Stewart grumbled, "I hate it when the audience is smarter than me," and then deadpanned, "Yeah, it was on purpose. It's a really funny joke we put in for... cartographers."
Great show today, but you can see that just from watching it on TV (Rob Riggle's last Beijing report, Ben Stiller). What you can't see is that before the check-in with the Colbert Report, Jon and Stephen kind of screw around over the satellite link. Today's conversation was mostly about Stephen's little boy, who is coming back from his first summer camp. It's one of those fancy camps where they can look at photos of the kids online, but no cell phones. They are allowed to write home, though "apparently he hasn't," Colbert observed.
Last highlight: one older lady shouted at the end, after the show, "Just elect Obama!" Stewart looked at her and said, "Ma'am, I don't elect people. How would that work? 'I elect you,'" and mimed a magic wand or knighting ceremony gesture.
Taping was very quick, not quite real-time but almost. We were out before 7pm, after Stewart thanked us sincerely for standing outside for "like eleven hours. Really, we should just beat you with clubs when you come in here. Wouldn't that be great?"