The Tonight Show Experience
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The Tonight Show Experience

What started out as a crazy "what if" became a reality

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The Tonight Show Experience
Anna Flauter

Stage One: Tickets

Link to my clip from the show right here!

If my best friend and I were serious about actually getting on The Tonight Show, we first needed to figure out how to get tickets.

We found the website 1iota.com, where fans can try and get free tickets to shows. However, there's a different one specifically for The Tonight Show, if you just click here.

My best friend and I both had to make an account, so our chances of getting tickets were just a tiny bit higher. Both of us then had to follow The Tonight Show on Twitter, turn on their notifications, and wait until they tweeted out when tickets would be on sale.

My best friend, my parents, and I were going to New York for our senior spring break in March. Ideally, we would need the tickets for the 16th through 21st.

The Tonight Show Tweeted out that tickets would be going on sale at 11:30 am, about a month before the show we wanted, so it was around February 16th.

That was during the school day of course, and during me and my best friend's business class. We set alarms on our phones for EXACTLY 11:30.

We got on the ticket website as soon as we got into class, and scrolled down until we saw The Tonight Show (we were both on our own computer).

Clicking on that we selected calendar at the top, and scrolled over to March, but of course, they weren't available yet because it wasn't 11:30.

Totally ignoring our teacher while she was teaching, our alarms went off, and my best friend immediately refreshed her screen and selected the Tuesday we would be there, March 19th.

I refreshed and did the same, except for my computer wouldn't load. I frantically started clicking, freaking out. My best friend grabbed the computer (they were crappy Chromebooks) and started clicking.

After two, very long minutes, she finally got it. I felt like I blew it, and if we got the tickets, it was because of her.

Two weeks before the date of our show, my best friend received an email during lunch.

I was in choir when she texted me, "OMG GUESS WHAT?" I replied back immediately, and that's when she told me that The Tonight Show emailed her saying that she had been removed from the waitlist, to actually being able to claim her tickets.

Everyone who tries to get tickets gets put on the waitlist, but it's actually being able to claim the tickets that are the hard part. The Tonight Show can only fit 240 people in their studio.

My best friend quickly claimed the tickets, filled out who was going and printed them out. Now, all we had to do was get there.

Stage Two: Arrival

We landed in New York the 16th, but the 19th came quicker than you could say "Jimmy Fallon."

The night before felt like Christmas Eve as a little kid. I couldn't sleep, and I was nervous that we wouldn't be able to get in. Just because you have the ticket print out, isn't a guarantee that you'll be able to get in.

We had to be at Rockefeller Center by 3:15 for check-in, but knowing me I wanted to get there at noon. Since you're not allowed to wander, and hangout by check-in, we decided that two would be a good time.

We were totally lost when we got there. My dad went up to I thought was the check-in desk (because there was a sign that said, "standby tickets for The Tonight Show here" and Jimmy Fallon's face was on a poster by the desk) and asked basically what we're supposed to do.

The lady at the check-in first asked if we needed standby tickets. She was a pale woman with dark brown hair. Those tickets were you wait in a line outside and if they have any open seats in the studio, you could get picked. We said no, and explained that we had tickets already. She explained that we couldn't wander and that check-in would start around 3:10-3:15.


My best friend and I were wandering around the entrance to "Top of the Rock" when a friendly employee (who we would eventually take out to dinner) stopped to help us.

We explained that we've never done this before, and he told us that check-in starts at seven 3:15, but we should start getting there around 3:10.

He pointed out to us that straight ahead to the left was the NBC icon, and that we would head over there for check-in. He then pointed to a pair of glass doors that we had to crane our necks to see and told us that behind those doors were the steps we would use to get up to the peacock lounge. Those steps were called the grand staircase.

We killed about an hour sitting on a bench in Rockefeller Center, fair away enough so we wouldn't get yelled at for wandering. My plan was to leave our spot at 2:45 and go talk to our new friend by the Top of the Rock.

That's exactly what we did. At EXACTLY 2:45, we bolted up the escalator and stood by The Top Of The Rock.

The whole time we were there I was freaking out that we weren't going to get in. I kept saying, "what if they turn us away at the door?" and "what if we're all the way in the back of the line?"

In the midst of calming me down, our friend/Rockefeller employee started to guide us over to check-in around 3:02.

As soon as I saw my phone switch to 3:03, people just swarmed check-in. Before I knew it, I was grabbing my best friend's wrist and we secured a spot in line in the front middle.

I had no idea what had happened, it was all so fast. I was confused about why so early, and how people knew it was okay to start getting in line.

I'm just glad I was actually paying attention for once.

Stage Three: Check-In

There was a buff African American man who started explaining all of the rules to us. No glass bottles, no phones on in the studio, no pictures once you left the lounge to go to the studio, etc.

He told us to have our ticket print out ready so that the lady beside him could check them. Once we got to her, my best friend handed her the ticket print out, and she asked who was all in our party. I pointed to my parents behind us, and she gave us the go-ahead to go up the grand staircase.

At the top of the staircase, there was another employee who was checking ids. She was tan with blonde hair. You had to be at least 16 to get into the show.

As we were climbing the stairs, my jaw almost fell to the floor. There was music blasting, The Tonight Show logo all around the walls. They changed color, and they would be replaced with different pictures. It was like a really cool slideshow.

Once we got to the top, we gave the employee our ids, and she sent us to a line that was along with the changing logos on the wall. When we got into the next line, we didn't realize how actually close to the front we really were. We had to wait a really long time for everyone to get checked in and in line.

"Who's ready for The Tonight Show?" an employee yelled once everyone was either in the line to the left or right of the room. Everyone cheered, and I was screaming my brains out.

Some of the employees then started to explain that we would be going through security next. I didn't bring a bag, I only brought my coat, phone, and a portable charger. There are no backpacks allowed, only one small purse.

Security was on the other side of the wall, and the employees dismissed you one at a time from each side. It reminded me of airport security.

A man handed me a bin, I put my coat on, and took out my phone and charger from my pocket. The man was really nice, he asked if I was excited and tried to make conversation.

The man pushed my bin through the x-ray machine (the one that they use in airports), and another man retrieved it from the other side.

Then, I had to walk through the archway to make sure that I didn't have any weapons or anything.

There was a table that I went to, and I was handed a blue slip of paper with The Tonight Show printed on it and two letters on the back. Then, a white wristband was placed on my wrist.

We then got permission to go into the peacock lounge.

Stage Four: Waiting

The employees told us that we could have a seat to the right or in the middle of the lounge. It was breathtaking.

There were couches and chairs everywhere, pictures of guests that appeared on The Tonight Show, and employees taking pictures of everyone on their iPads. It was nothing like I've ever seen before.

Of course, we got our picture taken, by some guy with dark hair.

We got into the lounge around four, so we had to wait about 45 minutes before they started to call us to line up. Let me tell you, it felt like at least a decade.

An employee came to the center of the lounge and explained how the lineup process was going to work. People had cards with double numbers, double letters, single letters and numbers, and numbers and letters.

She stressed to us that the order we came in had nothing to do with our seating, and neither did the letters or numbers on our card. Once we got up there, it was all random.

They called single numbers, then double numbers, single letters, then double letters, and finally numbers and letters. We were letters and numbers.

I was so anxious. Why were we last? However, I looked back and saw there were a lot of people still in the peacock lounge. They were the standby people.

We formed our line after the double letters moved up out of the lounge. That's how it was with all of the groups. They had to wait until the one before them moved up out of the lounge.

Once we were out of the lounge, we slowly inched down the hall until a set of elevators came into sight. The employees were letting very small groups in at a time, and there was another employee who clicked the button for you on the elevator.

Once we got to the front of our line, and the employee told us to go, I started to shake. I couldn't believe that this was happening.

We approached the elevator, and the employee there clicked floor six.

"Have fun," he smiled as the doors closed.

The elevator took us up to the sixth floor, and right when you got out you saw a cute little studio with "6B" on the top. My eyes went wide. I felt like there was just so much to look at.

There was kind of like a hallway before you entered the studio. That's where employees collected your tickets.

Once I gave them mine, they pointed to four seats right in the middle for my best friend, parents, and I to sit in. No matter where you end up sitting, any seat is great because you'll be able to see the stage.

The studio is small, way smaller than it appears to be on television. There were cameras and digital signs that would tell you to applaud everywhere.

Once everyone was seated, a comedian came out and started hyping everyone up. He asked who was from out of the country and made jokes about this guy from Sweden.

At the end of his act, he said, "Alright who's ready for The Tonight Show?"

This was it.

Stage Five: Show Time

There was a countdown starting from 30 on a huge screen above the audience.
The whole time I was gripping onto my best friend's arm, we were both so anxious. My stomach was doing flips like a gymnast, I've never been to anything like this. Everything was insane, the atmosphere, the employees, everything.
When the countdown got to one, Jimmy Fallon's band, The Roots, started to play him in.
“And here's your host, Jimmmmmyyyyy Falloooonnnnn," his “wingman," Steve Higgins said.
The blue curtain open, and he came out all smiley and happy.
My best friend and I were screaming our heads off, and the applause sign kept flashing.
Once he got everyone in the audience calm, he started with his opening jokes.
Spring was just four days away, so he made jokes about allergies and how he was “breaking up" with the season winter. Then, he went into all of his political jokes, like his impressions of Beto O'Rourke.

Shortly after that, he announced that he was going to play presidential charades. He asked the audience who wanted to play. I thought he already pre-picked the fans, but so many people raised their hands, and he called on this one girl from Connecticut.

I wasn't even focusing I was holding my right hand up with my left, determined to be the one he called on next.

The girl from Connecticut got the answer wrong, (she thought Trump was talking about his big brain but he was really talking about someone's ears) so she got a pair of hand clappers that were glued together.

"Alright, who else wants to-" Jimmy Fallon started to ask who else wanted to play, but before he could finish, my hand shot up.

He pointed at me. "You want to play?" He hopped up the stairs to my row and motioned me to come down.

Well crap, I didn't think he would actually pick me. I wasn't prepared for this.

I pointed to myself, asking if he meant me. He nodded enthusiastically, and as soon as I stood up, I started to shake. My best friend was literally in shock, and I swear I saw tears in her eyes, even though she denied it.

I literally had to climb over all of the people in my row, including my parents. Once I got to him, I couldn't speak and I was still shaking. I didn't know what to do with my hands.

"Hey, how are you?" he asked.

"Uh, I'm good how are you?" I squeaked. He gave me a hug and I almost passed out. Jimmy freaking Fallon hugged me. Sadly, they got it out of the show. I didn't know if he would give me the microphone so I was moving my hands around like a mad man.

"Here hold this," he smiled handing me the microphone. "What's your name and where are you from?"

"I'm Anna and I'm fro St. Louis." As soon as the crowd started to cheer, I felt comfortable. Jimmy talked about March Madness in St. Louis for a little bit and then pointed up at the screen. Then, my face was totally serious.

He asked me what Trump was doing in his arms, he was like doing a swimming motion. The only answer I remember is the right one because I guessed it, and it was him imitating El Chapo swimming through the sewers.

I cheered when I got the answer correct, and I got a pair of hand clappers that weren't glued together. He gave me another hugged, thanked me for playing, and just like that it was over.

"OH MY GOD, YOU JUST FREAKING HUGGED JIMMY FALLON," my best friend squealed once I got back to my seat.

The show went on and he brought out the guests. Kobe Bryant, Aidy Bryant, and Natalie Morales. Then, there would be a performance by FLETCHER.

During one of the commercial breaks, he took questions from the audience.

My hand went up, and he pointed at me and said, "Yeah, what's up, pal?"

I asked him if he could sign my hand clappers and he said, of course, he would. A crew member handed him a sharpie and he scribbled his name on there.

Before I knew it, the show was over and she slipped out a door right by his desk where he sits at on the show. That was after he ran through the audience and high fived everyone.

I was getting my stuff ready to leave when crew members came over to me and asked me to sign some sheets, consenting that I could be on television. Of course, I signed, and then a younger girl pulled me aside and asked for my name. She was another crew member, and when I told her my name, she texted it into this big group chat.

That was on our way out of the studio. The elevator ride down was really depressing, because I know I would never get to experience something like that again.

I immediately called my grandparents and told them to stay up just this time to watch the show. They had no objections. I texted everyone I knew.

All of us ran to go find our friend that we met before the show, the employee at The Top of the Rock.

He was on the bottom floor and gave me the biggest hug when I told him.

"Girl you were worried for nothing!" he laughed.

The funny thing was, I was still anxious even though the show was over. I think I was just overwhelmed and felt like I was in a dream still.

After our friend got off work, we all went out to dinner to end the most exciting day known to mankind. I finally had my appetite back because I was so nervous before.

After going out do dinner, we were shown around New York by our new partner in crime it seemed like and heard his stories about Rockefeller Center.

Eventually, we had to separate when we got to the subway station. He went home to Statin Island, and we went back to our hotel in Manhatten.

We watched the show from that night back at the hotel, and I cringed at myself the whole time. My dad videoed it, and so did my best friend. We watched the rest of the show after my one minute and nineteen seconds of fame.

The next thing I knew it was 11:30 at night and the show was over, and so was my moment of fame.

It was only one minute and nineteen seconds, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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