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 Jon Stewart Intelligence Agency
    A n   u n o f f i c i a l   f a n   c l u b

We're fighting, apparently, with one of
Xena's web sites. It's a huge battle.

— Jon Stewart on the JSEB




The Fan Files
 Close Encounters of the Jon Kind
 TDS Tapings


Name: Sharilyn
Location: Canada
Encounter date: April 8, 2002
Note: This was originally posted on the April 22, 2002 newsletter. Make sure to check out the advice list at the end for people who want to attend TDS tapings.
Added: April 22, 2002

I'll Take The Cold Part: A Tale of Thrills & Chills on West 54th

I'm relatively experienced with meeting celebrities. I pride myself on being able to act cool around the creative and the famous. I have great stories involving me casually, calmly hanging out with people I thought I'd admire only from afar.

This is not one of those stories.

The day:
Monday, April 8, 2002

The place:
West 54rd Street between 10th & 11th Avenue, New York City

The mission:
a) Ask Jon a question during the TDS Q & A
b) Try to get a printout of my website about Jon's old show
( -- visit now, visit often!) into Jon's hands by way of a TDS staffer.

I had two countdowns going in April of '02 -- the countdown to my trip to New York, and the countdown to JON. The Daily Show taping was by far the bigger deal, and I was more excited than a kid at Christmastime.

After a few hours of primping and a few awkward minutes on the subway (knee-high spiked-heeled boots get plenty of attention, even in New York), I arrived at the Daily Show studios at 3:45. I'd been told that people start arriving at 4:00. The place was deserted. I paced up and down the street, tightly clutching the translucent blue plastic envelope containing my website.

My friend Brett arrived at 4:00, and we decided to start a line. The next person we saw, at 4:15, was Mo Rocca! Mo ran up the street, bounded up the steps, and slid into the Daily Show offices before I had a chance to even THINK about calling his name.

Five minutes later, we got some company in the line. A high school kid and his mom, both from Atlanta, joined us. We started talking, and Atlanta Mom began telling us her life story. I tuned out and let Brett smile and nod his way through it. How could I carry on a conversation when I'm leaning against the very building Jon Stewart was in?

I noticed a blonde woman walking down the far side of the street. I tried to look past the row of parked cars to see why she's walking so fast. It seemed like she was being pulled ... she WAS being pulled ... by a dog ... about the size of a pit bull!

I let out a very audible gasp. As she and the dog moved farther away, I scrambled for my camera. I got one shot of the woman and the dog ascending the stairs of the TDS offices.

I turned back to my linemates and was met with three sets of raised eyebrows.

"Jon's dog. Maybe," I explained.

Atlanta Mom: "Oh ... so his girlfriend walks it for him?"

"No, his wife is a brunette."

Up went the eyebrows again. I wasn't helping my sanity plea, clearly. Every time we saw a dog from that point on, all three would mock me, saying things like, "Is that Mo Rocca's dog?" Shut up, shut up, shut up!

By 5:00, we had a full ticket line and a full VIP line. At around 5:30, a woman in her late thirties with long curly brown hair emerged from the building with a stack of tickets in her hand. She fit the description I'd been given of the wonderful Teri, Audience Coordinator extraordinaire. She came up to me to start ticket-handing and list-checking.

"Are you Teri?," I asked.

"Yes I am!" was the cheery reply.

"Oh good, I'm hoping you can help --" She stopped me because she had to take care of the line, but she promised she'd be right back.

Well damned if they didn't let us in right away! We went into a cramped holding room with seats for about half the audience. Teri came in, and stood on a box wedged between the wall and the vending machine (where Jon has to buy his own sodas!).

She gave us her spiel on how to be a good audience member. No pictures until after the show. Once everyone's in and seated, there's one last chance for a potty break. Another 10 minutes or so in the holding room, during which time the smokers can go outside and come back in. The rest of us watched an episode of the Simpsons on a little TV on top of the vending machine.

I sat there, knee bouncing up and down, my excitement growing.

Our section was called. We pushed through the doorway, and there it was. The honest-to-God TDS set!

The first thing I noticed is how NICE the set is. Some studios are made from cardboard and cotton balls and look like a million bucks on TV. This looked like million bucks in real life! Shiny, perfect, and exactly as I imagined it.

Teri was inside (she gets around!) and directed everybody where to sit. We made our way to the 2nd row in the section nearest the couch and settled in.

If I was going to pull of this website thing, figured I should get myself back over to Teri. She was definitely my in, my connection, my messenger. She just didn't know it yet.

She was talking with an Old Guy in a uniform, perhaps working some dual security/page job. I explained to Teri where I'd come from and that I had this website, and was there any way for me to get this printout to him?

Part of me hoped that she'd say "Sure, I'll take you back afterwards and you can give it to him yourself". No such luck. Instead she said, "Well, you could give it to him during the Q & A!"

Now, this had been my original plan a month ago. But a wise Jon fan had pointed out that it might be a little awkward for Jon, and he wouldn't be able to play off it a whole lot. It would be me basically saying, "Look, I've devoted insane amounts of time to you!" I absorbed this advice and bounced it around my brain for a while. I played out all the possible scripts for the situation in my head, but none of them seemed quite right. I felt I had no choice but to scrap that plan about a month prior to the show and set my sights on enlisting Teri as an accessory to my crime.

So it was quick decision time. I thought about it for half a second before telling Teri my main reason for not wanting to do it that way. It was actually that, plus not trusting my Jon interaction improv skills. I would have been going into it completely unprepared! Besides, I had a good question all worked out for the Q & A.

Teri said it was "very sweet" and told me she'd give it to him after the show.

I ran back up to my seat and looked back in her direction. I saw her showing it to Old Guy, and not in a mocking way! She almost looked, dare I say, impressed. Bonus!

Our warm-up guy, Paul, came out for 10 minutes of audience interaction. He's a writer on the show and was very funny. I couldn't even bring myself to loathe him for keeping Jon away from us for so long. He tossed out the famous 5 foam balls (blue stress balls with the show's logo on them) randomly into the audience. I almost got one!

The moment was approaching. My heart was beating so fast I expect it to tear through my chest, grow legs, and start running around the studio. Yeah, you could say I was excited.

And then it happened - Paul introduced Jon. He ran out. The crowd went wild!

I tried to scream along with everyone, but realized that no sound was coming out of me. I couldn't catch my breath. Dammit, I was hyperventilating! And worse, I started feeling dizzy! All these months of JOKING about fainting at the sight of Jon ... it almost happened. So much for being cool.

I realized that if I were going to ask Jon my question, I'd have to pull myself together and calm down REAL fast. I started wishing I had a paper bag to breathe into.

Jon thanked us all for coming and immediately asked if anyone had any questions. A guy in the other section - where Jon was looking - raised his hand and asked if he used to tend bar at some place in Trenton. Jon said yes and asked the guy if he was from there. He was from some town nearby, he said, and somebody in our section yelled "Me too!". Then the girl in front of me yelled out that she was from some other nearby town. Jon was freaked out by this, and was like "What is this? The show where everyone grew up within three miles of me?"

Before Jon was even really done with question #1, the guy across the aisle from me had his hand raised.

"I saw Smoochy last night and ..."

Jon interrupted the question. "I'm sorry, here, you should have your money back," and dug into his pockets for non-existent cash.

The guy finished his question. "Where did you get the character from?"

Jon's answer: "Gelman. It's Gelman."

Explains the hair!

My hand shot up.

Jon looked at me. (Gulp)

"Yes ma'am."

I was now breathing normally, and I managed to keep my cool long enough to ask my question with confidence.

"What do you have against Canada?"

Now, before all of you get indignant, I am very aware that Jon has nothing against us Canucks. This question was carefully crafted as a springboard for Jon to launch into one of his bits. Genius move, if I do say so myself.

As planned, Jon went into standup mode. He started moving around the stage, playing to both sections of the audience.

"I have nothing AGAINST Canada. I just think it's cute [funny? odd? I don't remember!] that there's a country we could just take over. I mean us, in this room. We could just get up, walk to the border, and kick `em out."

He did his "Knock knock knock ... get out. And they'd be like 'okay'." bit. He did his "We'll take the cold part" bit. All throughout, I kept a look of mock "How could you?" disgust on my face, just in case he decided to watch me. But he was in a zone, and I was ignored until he wound down his rant..

He returned his attention to me.

"Are you from Canada?"

Now, this was the question I knew he'd ask me. I'd prepared for this exchange, ran it over in my mind a thousand times. I was going to give him a coy "Maaaaybe", as if to say, "Whatcha gonna do to me?" But my brain kinda went "uh ... line?" So I gave him an embarrassed "Umm, yeah," instead.

"You see, they look just like us. You can't tell."

Jon got some good pre-show laughs out of my question, and came alive when he saw the opportunity to do bit of standup for us. I was proud to be of service!

On with the show.

Lauren Weedman was on, in front of the green screen talking about Sean Connery marching in the Scottish parade. Matt Walsh had a few minutes in front of the green screen as well, "Reporting from the Middle East." Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see either of them because of where I was in relation to the green screen. But hell, what was I gonna do, take my eyes off Jon? Not bloody likely! Mo Rocca was also on at the desk, doing a "travel" report ("thinking about going to the moon?").

Whenever a video clip was playing, Jon stared intently at the monitor in front of him. He's such a producer! Madeline Smithberg came out during the commercials, and she and Jon went over their notes with a level of seriousness you'd expect from CNN.

We got no interview. Yep, we got screwed by the magic of pre-taping. I wasn't terribly disappointed about missing Tony Danza, but it did mean less Jon. I knew something was up when warm-up guy Paul said nothing about that night's guest!

After the show, the studio cleared out pretty fast. Except for me, of course, because I felt the need to rip through an entire roll of film and shoot every angle of the studio. I put my camera away and wandered towards the exit. The Old Guy from earlier walked out with me.

"I handed Jon that envelope for you as he was going down the hall," he said.

"Really?! Did he look afraid?"

"Nah. He seemed to know what it was."


I was stunned. What did this mean? Old Guy vanished before I had a chance to probe him any further. But my website made it into Jon's hands! This was very good news!

I wanted to catch a concert that night, so I didn't bother trying to get to Jon. I'd long decided that I would be very satisfied just to see Jon in the flesh and that meeting him wasn't a necessity. Brett and I left the studio and made our way to Ned Kelly's for dinner, the pub made famous in the New Yorker article. I munched on my cheeseburger and eagerly watched the door just in case Jon himself walked through it. No Jon spottings, but Ned Kelly's was excellent!

The rest of the night was a disappointment for reasons I won't bother discussing (those of you on the Arena already know). I spent more time fuming over a non-related incident than I did thinking about my Jonny boy, so I was left feeling a little empty.

Over the course of the next two days, I continued my tiring whirlwind tour of New York. Every so often I'd stop and think about how I could possibly justify leaving New York without trying to meet Jon. I was terribly busy and exhausted, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't put some effort into it.

On Wednesday afternoon, I went on a lame touristy cruise around Manhattan. It ended at 5:30, about two miles from the TDS studios. I made the decision to get off the boat, get dinner, and stalk Jon.

I arrived at the studio around 6:30. I killed time wandering up and down the street. At 7:00 a young, funky chick came out of the office with a red leash in her hand, walking a very familiar-looking pit bull. It was either Shamsky or Monkey (I can never remember which is which). I was tempted to start a conversation with this girl, but she had a cooler-than-thou, my-platform-shoes-are-taller-than-yours air about her so I decided against it. Gorgeous dog, though! Shiny brown and black fur, sweet little face, and a well-worn collar with American flags stitched along it. He came over and sniffed my leg. This made me happy -- if I didn't get to meet Jon, I thought, at least I'd be able to report back that I "met" one of the famous pit bulls.

Girl and dog went back inside. I keep wandering, wishing there was a place to sit. My feet were burning with pain. The sun started setting.

At 7:30 the audience finally trickled through the doors. The staff started leaving with them.

Teri came out of the studio doors, and I said hello. I told her I was there to meet Jon when he came out.

"Whenever THAT will be," she laughed, rolling her eyes.

I told her I was prepared to wait as long as I had to, unless Jon had some sort of secret exit.

"Not that I know of," she said.

Whew! This was good to know. I'd feared a hidden doorway would lead into the parking garage next door, and all I'd see of Jon would be the back bumper of his Jeep disappearing into the night.

Lewis Black emerged from the studio and left in a cab after talking with a group of fans. Madeline Smithberg raced out of the office and into a waiting vehicle. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to meet her, but she seemed in a hurry.

It was almost 8:00 and practically dark at this point. Fewer staffers were exiting the building. I was getting colder, and beginning to regret my thin rayon miniskirt.

I decided to stand a reasonable distance from the office door so security wouldn't come out to investigate.

8 pm. Dark. Alone. In Hell's Kitchen. I moved closer to the office door so that if there were an attempted mugging or raping, security would come out to investigate.

8:10 pm. Security came out to investigate.

"You waiting for someone?," he asked.

"I was hoping to meet Jon."

"He's going to be a really long time."

"That's okay."

I defiantly put my gloves on and sat down on the office steps. Security guy went back inside.

8:15 pm. Security guy came back out.

"Jon left, I think. I just went upstairs and he isn't in his office."

"Are you sure?", I asked, certain that he must be mistaken.


That Little Voice in my head starts singing "Liar, liar ...," remembering a missed opportunity to meet Henry Rollins years ago because of a lying security dude.

"Well, I'll give it a few more minutes. Thanks, though."

8:20 pm. Another employee came out. I asked him if Jon was still in there.

"Nah, he's gone. I think I'm the last one out."

"... pants on fire ..." the Little Voice in my head continued.

That Little Voice in my head has served me well over the years, but I had to start questioning it at that point. Little Voice told me it was okay to be hanging out on a deserted street in Hell's Kitchen, alone, at night, wearing a miniskirt, freezing my ass off. Little Voice could've gotten me killed, Brain told me.

I benched Little Voice and let Brain take over. I started thinking that maybe I somehow DID miss Jon. I sat there, Fuji Quicksnap in hand, wondering how this could have happened. How I was going to tell all of YOU that this happened.

I contemplated leaving. This is stupid, Brain said. I shouldn't be here. I should get myself to the subway, pull my notebook out of my bag, and start coming up with cheesy melodramatic phrases to use in my tale of woe. I was about to stand up and walk away when the office door opened for the hundredth time. I craned my neck around.

I saw a dog. Attached to a leash ... attached to JON!

Oh God oh God oh GOD!

I looked up at him in all his Jon-ness. Wisps of his gorgeous graying hair escaping from his baseball cap. The streetlights casting a deep orange glow across his face. And the leather jacket ... oh God, that leather jacket. Wow.


"Yes?," he responded cautiously as he descended the staircase.

I peeled off my gloves and extended a now-frigid hand, which he took.

"I'm Sharilyn. I just wanted to meet you. I was at the show Monday night. I asked you what you had against Canada?"

"Oh, right!," he said, with a slight bit of trepidation still in his voice. He waited for me to say something.

It was clear by this point that Jon had absolutely no clue what to do with me. No wonder he always bolts right after his standup gigs! He's not very good at this. =)

I sputtered some awkward sentence (actually, I doubt it was even a sentence) about my website and how I'd given the printout to Teri. He gave me a totally blank look. Not what I had expected!

I said something flaky like "Well, it's probably floating around in there somewhere. Anyway ...." I can only hope that an hour later he smacked his forehead and went "Oh, THAT website!"

So now I had no idea whether he'd seen it, whether he hadn't, whether it went in the garbage, whether it was in that famous 60 Minutes stack of crap in his office. And worse, that was what my conversation with him was supposed to be about! I had no backup. I had to *improvise*. God help me!

"Can I get a picture?" I asked.


The security guy had followed Jon out of the building (what'd he think I was gonna DO to Jon?) and was put to use as photographer. I thanked them both.

I looked down at the puppy at my feet, and decided I had a 50/50 chance of getting the name right.

"Is this Shamsky?"

"No, no," Jon said, not offering up the name.


"Yeah. We've got lots of `em."

"He's beautiful!"

I resisted the urge to reach down and pet Monkey, thinking that might weird Jon out a bit. I kept my focus on Jon. He looked up at me, his mouth opened, and he said, "It's time for a pee."

What the ? -- oh, right, the dog. Okay.

I decided I should concentrate on letting Jon go. And letting Monkey "go". Poor doggie, probably looking up at me with big brown "Why won't you let me piddle?" puppy eyes.

Jon and I made small talk for about another minute. Things actually started going a lot better. Jon seemed way more comfortable during the second half of our little conversation, which is surprising considering I'd just established myself as an obsessed stalker who knew his dogs' names (wouldn't YOU be scared?). Maybe he took pity on me. Maybe he was glad I didn't ask for an autograph. Maybe it was some tricky psychology maneuver he learned at William & Mary that he thought would get rid of me.

Looking back, I could have easily talked to him for a few minutes longer. But my Brain and that Little Voice in my head had already held a meeting and agreed that we'd leave him alone.

I said something about coming from Winnipeg, and that it was great to finally meet him, and that I should let him go.

"Winnipeg, wow. I hope you had a good time at the show."

"I had a fantastic time!"


And then I did something I'm not terribly proud of in retrospect. Somehow the spirit of the Estrogen Brigade entered my soul, shot and killed Little Voice in my head, bound and gagged Brain, and took over. Without warning him -- or even asking -- I stepped forward, gave him a little good-bye hug, and said, "It was a total thrill to meet you." It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, I swear!

I'm not sure which of those things is worse -- the physical assault on Jon Stewart or the lame-ass comment -- but any way you slice it, I'm a wanker. A wanker who got to {cough} press my body against his and {ahem} breathe in the scent of that gorgeous leather jacket. But a wanker nonetheless.

It didn't seem to faze Jon a bit.

"It was nice to meet you too."

"Have a good night!" I waved and started walking away.

Jon's last words to me were "You take care."

Aww, Jon wanted me to be careful! He loves me and he didn't want anything bad to happen to me! He's so sweet!

"Thank you. You too!"

And with that, I turned and walked away, my hand covering my mouth in disbelief. I practically ran to 10th Avenue in search of a payphone so I could call my friend Dana and scream in her ear.

If I could do it over, I'd change a lot. Almost everything, actually. But hell -- I TALKED to Jon Stewart! I TOUCHED Jon Stewart! I slid my trembling fingers across that soft, leather jacket! The same one he'd just worn on Larry King. Which is actually brown, not black, and has little worn cracks in it when you look close, and it's really really soft.

I love New York!

*****TDS Tapings for Dummies*****

-- If you're calling for tickets and you get a woman on the phone, that's Teri. If you get the guy with the thick NY accent, brace yourself -- he's a dickbag.

-- There is no need to get there before 5 pm.

-- There is no advantage to being in the VIP line. Don't bother being jealous of them.

-- There are no bad seats. The green screen is actually in kind of a hallway (you'd never know it from watching the long shots into breaks), so not a lot of people get a good view of that anyway.

-- If you want a picture of Jon on the set, be FAST with your camera at the end. He leaves immediately.

-- You need to be 18. They do check ID.

-- You need to walk through a metal detector on the way in, but it's bull. I think it's set to "firearm". My load of camera gear didn't even set it off. No bag searches, nothing. It might be different if the guest is a politician or something.

-- There is a stage door exit on street level, where the correspondents and guests will leave from. There is an office exit beside that, up a set of stairs, which the staff and Jon will leave from.

-- Plunking yourself near the stage/office doors will be the only chance you get to meet anyone from the show.

-- You're on your own for autographs. There were reports that if you took a copy of Jon's book with you, it would be collected by Teri, signed by Jon, and returned to you at the end of the show. This did not happen.

-- If you find yourself really early at the studio and need a drink, go to the 10th Avenue Gourmet at the corner of 10th Ave and 55th Street. It's a little convenience store right around the corner from the studio, and Mo Rocca and Matt Walsh were both spotted there the day of the taping I attended.


Compiled by Melly.

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