Standing outside the Tonight Show with Jay Leno studio, it’s obvious the crowds in Burbank, California have become bigger and bigger. The final weeks of Jay Leno being the host of the popular late night talk show are winding down. According to Fox News on Monday, the two guests that will end the two-decade run of Jay Leno’s show will be Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks. Between now and February 6th the chance of getting a ticket to the Tonight Show will be similar to winning the lottery. Giving a firsthand look at what the lucky ticket holders see for Examiner.com, we offer a final glimpse on how fans are giving Jay Leno a perfect send off.
The opportunity to be at the Tonight Show with Jay Leno show for this exclusive report is one wonderful memory we will never forget. Taking the afternoon to see the comedian in action, Jay Leno and the NBC crew treated us, along with the rest of the fans, with kindness and we got to watch a free show too!
Fans Gather at the Tonight Show Holding Area
Congregating in a big corral just outside of the NBC lot, people showed up with tickets and ID in hand. Lining up, the waiting began with some folks arriving as early as 9am for a 2:45pm call time. Everyone has one thing in common and that’s Mr. Jay Leno. From his comedy to funny headlines, the group of fans gathered to watch the show chatted up Leno’s ability to make people laugh.
The Tonight Show Staff Arrives
Once the Tonight Show staff arrived the fans became serious. The directions for the audience are simple. Don’t heckle anyone during the show, don’t bring in a camera, have your ticket and ID ready and remember you need to pass through security. Finally, the most important task. Make sure to have fun.
As fans passed through the security, everyone lined up again. For those souls who made it a mission to be first will get in the studio first. The rest of the fans were then filtered into the building and staffers pull off couples, individuals and others lucky enough to see Leno within spitting distance. They are the people who rush to give Leno a high-five when the show starts.
The Audience Duties
The cozy audience setting gives everyone a good seat. As the crowd got seated people could see Jay’s desk and the Tonight Show warm up man came out to give the audience instructions. Once again we were reminded there would be no heckling, clap when the audience sign comes on and laugh at Jay’s jokes.
Jay Leno Arrives
Before the cameras started rolling Jay Leno arrived to talk to the audience. He’s dressed in a blue jean shirt and jeans to match. Casual and kind he seemed relaxed before the show and gives a rundown on how it all works. Then he turns his focus to the audience.
“How are you all doing,” asked Jay Leno looking at the audience he makes sure to glance at everyone (or so it seemed.) The celebrity had people shouting at him from every corner of the audience looking to get his attention. Wanting to mingle, he offers to answer a few questions and gives a few unprompted jokes.
Then a few fans get to have a moment with the star. A couple of ladies from Utah want a picture. A flight attendant gives him a big hug and a deck of cards. One couple offers a congratulatory high-five on his career. Another person yells out that they will miss him when he is off TV.
The time with the fans comes to a close. Jay Leno thanks everyone and then reminds everyone to have a nice time. After all, he mentions, the tickets were free.
Tonight Show Countdown
Once everyone is settled, clock starts counting down. The Tonight Show band arrives only minutes before the show starts. The band offers music before the show and during the commercial breaks.The music is live and the smiling faces seen on TV are only feet away from the ticket holders.
The final countdown as the audience watching the scurrying, but there aren't any worries. It’s just the last minute prep for the perfect show. It’s the moment we have all been waiting for, the Tonight Show With Jay Leno begins.
The show starts with Jay Leno arriving on set dressed in a suit and armed with jokes. He reads off the cue cards and gives the fans an hour of entertainment. It doesn't matter who the guests are and Jay’s lineup doesn't need to be over the top, as Leno’s formula works perfectly and the Tonight Show viewers love it. While the star is performing for the cameras, the audience gets to see a side of Leno that isn't in the lens.
The savvy comedian is brilliant and he knows exactly what his fans want. His charisma is felt in homes across America because he relates to fans who are looking for a good laugh. People in the audience relate too and offer so much respect as they can see how hard the comedian is working to make everything happen.
The monologue, the guests and music are finished and the Tonight Show wraps up. The filming is done in one big segment which makes everyone wonder how it happened so quickly.
60 Minutes Goes by So Fast
Jay Leno thanks the audience and he returns to his desk for a brief moment. Waving to people in the audience who yell for his attention, the star quickly grabs a few personal items and heads out of sight. The taping is over and fans leave the building in an orderly fashion.
For those fans who want a piece of history a NBC kiosk has a few items for sale. Other fans keep the ticket that was given to them as a souvenir. The sixty minutes went by so fast and now sun is starting to set in Burbank.
Tonight Show with Jay Leno Comes to a Close
After watching the show live there was a certain sadness felt about Jay Leno leaving the Tonight Show for good. The comedian is extraordinarily talented and knows his audience well. His departure is an end of an era in late night TV.
Walking out to the car after the show we gave a smile at the building where we saw the Tonight Show live and said goodbye to Jay Leno out loud. Thank you for all laughs and the guests. Thank you for the jokes and the headlines. Thank you for an era of humor. Most of all thank you for caring about your fans.