Helen's Dave-o-rama

Helenís DaveCon 2007 Trip Report

II. The Big Show

This year the AFL group was split up and seated in groups of two or four sprinkled across the front of the theater. I was seated with Micah, over on the band side of the theater, about five or so rows back. Once the audience was all loaded in, Eddie Brill came out and welcomed everyone to the show. Then they rolled the Dave Works at Taco Bell video, which I mostly ignored because (a) I've seen it a million times, and (b) it's much more interesting to look around at the set (which is gorgeous) and watch the various staffers running around. After the videotape, Eddie came back out to tell a few jokes and remind us not to make that whooing noise (etc.). Then he introduced the band, and finally Paul, who came out and joined in at the end of the second song.

Then suddenly, before you expect it, here comes David Letterman running diagonally across the stage, a split second before Eddie introduces him. I've been to the show eight times, and that moment when Dave comes running out is still one of the highlights of the entire show -- of the entire day, in fact. Intellectually, I know that Dave is going to be there, but emotionally, it's a tremendous, thrilling surprise every time. I know, I know, it sounds dopey to get all worked up over TV Boy. I just can't help it.

Carl and Traci were seated in the center section, just a few rows back, which is prime real estate for getting called on during the pre-show Q & A. Carl was planning to tell Dave about his car getting wrecked on the way to the show, and ask Dave if he could hook him up with a rental car. That had the potential to turn into a bit on the show, with Dave at least talking about it. Who knows, they might have even made a call and had a rental car in front of the Ed at the end of the show. But, alas, Dave had a lot on his mind -- the ordeal with Harry breaking his nose, the ensuing surgical procedure, and having tubes put up his nose -- so there wasn't any time for questions. Suddenly, Dave got the signal that it was time to go offstage for his grand entrance.

On with the show. Tonight's guests: Turkey Callers, John Cusack, and Pink Martini.

I had a great view of the band from where I was sitting, and could even see Dave's face during some of the desk segments, which is not always the case. (Most of the times I have been at the show, my sightline to Dave at the desk has been blocked by cameras, that large black box that houses a monitor and clock, and Tony Mendez's ass.) During parts of the show when I could not see Dave (e.g., during the most of the monologue and the turkey callers), I took the opportunity to watch the band and the various staff and crew. Don't waste your time in the theater looking at the monitors; you can watch everything that is on the monitors on the broadcast when you get home.

After the monologue, Dave came down into the audience for Stump the Band. It was fun seeing Dave just steps away from where I was sitting, and I always enjoy watching Dave interacting with regular people. During STB several of us got on camera. Marilyn and Nick were in quite a few shots, Traci was clearly visible once or twice, and Micah and I were easily seen behind the second contestant, who came from our side of the aisle. The best part of Stump the Band was when Dave gave the second contestant her dinner for two, said they would change it to three so that her father could come, and then asked if anyone else in her family was there. A woman sitting in the front row (clearly a complete stranger) chimed in that she was part of the family, which got a big laugh, and Dave ended up giving her a gift certificate for dinner.

After the commercial break, we had a little desk chat and the Top Ten, which was something about Donald Trump's birthday. The show ran a bit over, so the Top Ten ended up getting cut, along with Paul's Carnac bit at the beginning of Stump the Band. During the desk chat, Dave said that in 25 years, nobody has ever given him a dinner for two. This led to what was one of the best parts of the show, most of which didn't air. As soon as Dave said this, Mike McIntee (who told us about it after the show) got on the phone to arrange for someone to give Dave a gift certificate. They worked out the details (where to send Dave, etc.), and had a big conference at the desk during the next commercial break. (All of this was unbeknownst to us at the time, of course.)

Back from the break, Dave started to introduce the turkey callers. Suddenly -- looking like he was having a spell, which was in the realm of possibility, considering the painkillers he was taking for his nose -- Dave stopped, turned to look at Gaines, and said "I was under the impression there would be an interruption." Gaines says yes, yes, wait a minute, and goes running across the stage and out the back, comes back a moment later and tells Dave to start over. So, Dave starts the turkey caller intro again, and Biff comes out. Dave makes a funny comment about Biff's timing, then they send Biff away and start over again. Finally, on the third or fourth try, we got what aired on the show, with Biff interrupting to give Dave a dinner for two at Tad's Steakhouse. I love it when they go off script like this and do something on the fly, and it was great fun watching all this fooling around in the theater.

The turkey callers, when they finally came out, were great.

John Cusack was a decent guest, but I was too distracted by the terrific sightline to Dave to pay a lot of attention to him.

Alan Kalter's puppet show freak-out: niiiice.

Paul and the band, throughout the show, and especially during the breaks, sounded absolutely fantastic. There was one song in particular, don't know what is was, where Chez was absolutely screaming, way up in the stratosphere of the trumpet's range. I was wishing I was sitting near Traci, who I knew would appreciate it.

Pink Martini was OK as musical guests go. I fast-forward through at least 90% of the musical guests when I watch the show at home, and I was glad that this was at least something mellow, even if it isn't anything I would normally listen to. The lyrics were kind of funny, and reminded me of the Flight of the Conchords duo earlier in the week, except that Pink Martini was actually serious (I think), whereas the Flight of the Conchords was meant as a joke.

It was a good show, and the AFL contingent did our job as audience ambassadors. I was a little punchy from lack of sleep and the excitement of being at a live taping, which made everything seem extra funny. Traci said afterward that she could hear me and Micah laughing all the way over where she was, and I definitely heard laughter and applause initiated by AFLers rippling throughout the rest of the theater.

Just like all the other times I have been to a taping, the show was over all too quickly. It really flies by when you are there in the theater.

Next page: III. The Post-Show Festivities