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Meeting a TV idol

November 18, 2009

The author of a book I edited was slated to appear on the Daily Show and asked me if I’d be able to make it to New York for the taping Monday evening. As an editor of the book, of course I want to support its promotion, and as a friend of the author I want to support him, but in all honesty, I would probably not have made the arduous trip to New York and back in a day if it hadn’t been for my deep love and admiration for Jon Stewart.

Jake offered to comp me for a plane ticket, but from experience I know it’s faster, if not less painful, to take the bus from Boston to New York rather than deal with airports and the extra commute to and from JFK in Queens. The ride there was actually pretty great — the bus was brand spanking new, which is unheard of for any line operated through Greyhound, with tons of legroom, nice leather seats, and free wi-fi. Not sleeping whatsoever the night before means as soon as we were on the road I passed out (moving vehicles are the final frontier yet unconquered by insomnia), and woke up about half an hour before arriving in Manhattan. The hotel they put me at was minutes from Port Authority, which means we had time to grab a quick late lunch at Serafina, where I ate my first ever potato gnocchi. It’s been a long time since I ate or enjoyed Italian food (I’m not a pasta person), but le fritelle di mais was truly amazing.

A car picked us up at 5:15 and took us to an unmarked door in a dark alley. There was a long line of people just around the corner waiting to be let in under a “The Daily Show” sign, but it still looked shady. The driver assured us that this was the right place, so Jake buzzed the bell and a guy quickly opened the door and it turned out to be totally legitimate. He led us down a hall to a green room, which was filled with all kinds of fun stuff: a wire cow’s skull sitting on an end table, champagne with plastic cups, a huge padlocked plastic box stuffed with unopened board games, a giant bowl full of what I assumed was leftover Halloween candy, a gift bag full of booze and weird gift certificates, and a mini fridge containing every soft drink imaginable. A nice young lady brought us coffee, and we sat around for a couple minutes until the publisher’s two publicists and the acquisitions editor arrived. Hillary, the producer, stopped by for about half an hour, talking about the nightmare that Joe Biden’s appearance the next night was causing because of the Secret Service needing to be so involved.

Everything was running pretty late, but Hillary had to go after a while and said Jon would stop by. When he stepped into the room a few minutes later, I was definitely star struck. He was wearing heavy stage makeup and looks much slimmer in person than on TV, but nonetheless it was like the last ten years of watching the Daily Show flashed before my eyes in a moment when I saw his face. He shook everyone’s hands, introductions were made, and he was so genuine and sweet that my heart literally felt like it swelled up inside my chest and tried to hug my brain. It’s a really amazing thing when someone you greatly respect but only know from TV turns out to be exactly the person you admire him to be when you’re face to face and no cameras are rolling. He stayed in the green room chatting for a bit under ten minutes, I’d say, and after he left one of the publicists said he’d never stayed nearly so long with one of her clients before. That made us all feel pretty special.

Then it was time for the taping to begin, and we all sat around the live feed to watch what was going on on stage. It was really crazy to hear all the bad words without bleeps. In my mind, Jon doesn’t actually swear. I saw Samatha Bee stroll past after her segment finished, and she peeked into the green room and grinned back at me over her shoulder (everyone else was engrossed in watching the TV and didn’t see her). Jake did a great job during the interview and we were all proud of him, though it wasn’t surprising since he and Jon had had such a great rapport straight away.

Afterward, one of the publicists, the other editor, Jake and I went out for dinner at this highly recommended fantastic yet inexpensive Thai restaurant, Wondee Siam II. The yum ped yang (duck salad) is the best Thai dish I’ve ever had outside Asia, which is saying a lot considering how much Thai food I consume.

I caught the 7 a.m. bus back to Boston the next morning. The experience wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the first leg of the trip, but I made it to campus in time to teach, and then went home and immediately passed out. As as result, now it’s going on 4 a.m. and I’m guaranteed to be wide awake until some time tomorrow.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2009 6:19 am

    A lovely tale of our trip to New York. I didn’t even know you had a blog after all this time. Good luck in Israel. Congratulations on graduating and stay in touch. The second book may be coming out much earlier than planned and you will always be my favorite editor-for-hire.


    • December 21, 2009 12:47 am

      Thanks, Jake. Can’t wait to see a manuscript for book #2!

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