Conan O’Brien in San Francisco

Conan O'Brien in San FranciscoIt appears that I was one of the lucky few (a minuscule 3,000 per show) who managed to get in to see Conan O’Brien while he has been doing a week in San Francisco at the Orpheum Theater. It was definitely a different experience seeing as how I’ve never seen television shot before. Plenty of films, yes, but the telly, never.
After a hour hour wait to get in to the show (broken up with a lovely lunch at Zuni Café), we got in and waited as they filled up the theater. Then the Max Weinberg Seven came out and got the audience going with a series of well-known songs. By the time Conan came out and said his monologue bits, people were really pumped up. Some of his jokes were a hit and others a miss. Not knowing how the rivalries played out with local teams created a bit of a downfall for him, but in general it was fine.
Then came the guests. George Lucas was a dud and made me certain that a great deal of editing was going to happen afterwards to make that play quickly. Will Arnett was funny and lively. Closing was Chris Isaak who did a pleasant number. Not a terribly amazing show, but not terribly bad either. Given that it was free, it was good.
The weirdness of it came in the little things. First was getting something I call “audience tone”. In film, we’ll record an area that we shoot in with everything dead silent so that we can lay that track down later to even out the scenes. We call this room tone. In this instance, they recorded the audience making a variety of sounds both for our audio and our video. I’m guessing that these are the bits they cut to on the show that always look a little out of sync if you pay attention where a person laughs as something or claps. After this was the fact that they’d show video pieces on the big projection screens. The catch being that I’d often keep watching those screens when they cut back to the live stage. It was like I was at home watching, but with the lack of refinement. Lastly was one thing that few probably noticed. They set out a coffee cup with what I must assume was water for Will Arnett. Nothing strange there, except that the stage hand set it down and then turned it just so, so that when Will picked it up for a drink in his segment, it properly displayed the Late Night logo. I assume they must do this with every show because it looked like a common staging.
To close, for those who are going to see the show in the last few days it’s in San Francisco:
– Be prepared to wait and have a book or something
– Find a line waiting buddy to trade off time with
– Blue and yellow lines mean nothing, just a way to break down the crowd
– They say no camera, but I got in with my Canon 30D. Just don’t shoot during the show and you won’t have any problems.