More on our trip to see Jimmy Fallon’s taping.

Lot of minutia and details.  So, I’ll try to focus on the important parts.

Officially, the trip was 35 hours and 59 minutes from departure of the Amtrak station in Syracuse until the arrival the next night.  But the hashtag is easier to use. 🙂

My beloved and I had never been on a train other than a short commuter, including the WMATA in Washington, D.C. and the VRE (the Virginia Railway Express).  So, Amtrak, officially, was on the bucket list.  And it was a treat.  Sure, we could have made the trek into Manhattan by car, but with tolls and parking, it actually made more sense to take the train.  For the record, Thursdays are a nice day to travel.  For the record, Fridays are not, particularly in the afternoon over the summer.  More on that later.

We arrived around 1pm and had only a few hours to drop our bags off (we backpacked, including my CPAP.  That’s all.  Would have been nice if I was about 80 pounds lighter, but, hey.  What can you do?) about 12 NS blocks and 1 EW block, get to NBC by 5 (3 NS blocks and 2 EW blocks) and get lunch somewhere in between.  We ended up with some overpriced pizza and a sauceless calzone from a shop a few blocks from the studio.  Officially, 1 block NS is 0.1 mile while 1 block EW is 0.3 mile.  You just learned something – so did I!

So, the pages at NBC… not cool.  And, evidently, getting into The Tonight Show, once you have reservations, is not challenging.  I figured there would be a line forming.  Nope.  So, after lunch, we got to the NBC Experience store (gift shop) around 3.  The kind pages told us to come back at 5.  So, we bopped around looking through stores including the Lego store and Build a Bear Workshop, until around 4:45, heading back to NBC for 5.  The page at that time (different page) was snooty, telling us that our reservations said to be there at 5:30.  I’m still in shock that there was no line forming!

So, we headed upstairs past the page at 5:30 when they told us we could go.  Another line.  Upstairs, we received our tickets and wristbands.  #13.  Seemed to be a row number, but more, unbeknownst to us, lines…  We also received the secret instruction.  “Come back at 7 to this location in the building,” meaning we had another hour to kill before we would wait in yet another line for about 45 minutes.  At least we didn’t have to be there at 6:30; there were people who had to be there that much earlier.

With the hour or so we had, my bride had observed none other than Johnny Galeki (Big Bang Theory) walking rather rapidly for a man of his limited stature.  Yes, he is not all that tall – coming from my 5’7″.  He was hustling down the sidewalk.  I’d be walking that quickly too if I had just signed a cool million dollars an episode for a 30 minute studio-taped sitcom.  Nobody approached him and he walked alone – perhaps as millionaires might do.  Figure 23 episodes a year, that’s about 11.5M.

Not bad, Mr. Galeki.  For making people laugh, as long as you still love what you’re doing?  Well done, Sir!

Sparing the details of the 7pm line, we got to our seats around 7:45 and watched some old Fallon sketches from Late Night and The Tonight Show tenures.  Our show was episode #104.  A comedian working for NBC came out, warmed up the audience and reminded us that we were taping a Friday night episode (on Thursday night).  Yes, they have “Applause” lights under monitors, but we really did not need them often.  The show was that funny.

While we didn’t get to see Justin Timberlake (who, with Jimmy, puts on a great show), we did get to experience the famous sketch Thank You Notes (every Friday) and see James providing the music for Jimmy’s sketch.  Before the show, though, the Roots provides some jamming funk music to keep the energy up.  After all, we’d been up since 4:45am, so I’m betting others were just as tired.

The show was nothing short of fabulous and we still had some energy to spend in the “City that Never Sleeps”, so, after dropping off some merch at our beloved hostess’s apartment, we headed back to a diner we passed.  The diner was none other than Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which inspired The Spotlight Diner on Glee.  After a brief wait outside (less than 15 minutes, seriously), we enjoyed about 45 minutes of a burger for each of us and the incredibly talented singing waitstaff.  Check it out at 1650 Broadway (51st Street corner).  The experience is worth it – and it’s just a lot of fun.

Friday morning, we walked a while and took photos in Central Park, where my bride opted to ride on the carousel off 65th street in the middle of the Park.  After the park, we had enough time for bagels and omelets for breakfast and a hustle back to Penn Station beneath Madison Square Garden.  On the way, we ran into the Naked Cowboy and several characters as we passed through Times Square.

Friday’s travel included what is evidently “family day” on Amtrak.  Families leaving the city to go “upstate”, which they define as anything north of the city.  The train was “sold out”, so finding 2 seats was a challenge, but we did it.  And the kids…  And people talking on their phones.  As another dear friend suggested for next time.  “Quiet Car”.  Duly noted.

The trip would never have happened without a dear friend who lives in the heart of Manhattan.  Her generosity is a gift to me and my bride.  I have not named her in order to keep her confidence, but her friendship is appreciated and her creativity is not to be stopped.  So, to my downstate friend, I thank you.

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