The First Day: The Only Time You Can Use The Excuse “It’s My First Day!”

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I’ve finished the first day at Late Night, turning the big crank in the scripts department. Unsurprisingly, it’s very tiring. Also unsurprisingly, I bumbled my way through the day, making three (3) faux pas! I might be overcritical, but what would Late Night be without self-deprecation?

Strike the First

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Never Eat An Apple While Handling Equipment!!

Apples are delicious. I don’t think many people will dispute this fact. My diet regularly consists of either pure cane sugar or carefully filleted animal fat, so it was a rare treat for me to have packed a lunch, and a healthy one at that. Despite looking colloquially charming, eating a juicy apple is actually an unsanitary practice. As it approached the time for me to take the script supervisor’s laptop from the offices to Studio 6A, doing so with one free hand and an apple core in another is not what Late Night considers “professionalism.” The script supervisor looked on warily and with disapproval as I steadied the laptop with the one hand in the balancing act I’ve done a thousand times before, with my sticky fingers splayed to prove that I was contaminating her laptop with natural juices.

This, to me, was a big deal in terms of our working relationship, considering she’ll hardly see me during the day and any black eye will heavily outweigh the hundreds of little feathers in caps that I may accumulate in my everyday activities. Its a bad precedent to make, especially the first day. The bar had been set.

Strike the Two:

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Never Do The Work Of A General Production Intern!!

At around two, the show comes together for rehearsal. There’s a decent bit of work for us scripts interns, because streams of rewrites come in and are needed for redistribution. But seeing as there was four of us there (due to a scheduling mishap both me and the other new guy, Bill, started today), one veteran interns was showing Bill around while I sat on call with my veteran counterpart. In comes someone for production, who needs someone to stand in for La Bamba to fix a mic problem for tonight’s “In The Year 2000” sketch.

We were told specifically to politely decline any requests for help on the grounds that we are in scripts, and need to be on beck and call for any changes that may arise. Well, the person that told us this was the same person who ok’d us to go and help the sound people.

As an aside, I want to note that this was one of the two most exciting parts of the day today. Although I was simply talking into the mike, repeating “two and counting from one to ten, I was then asked to take a stab at La Bamba’s falsetto “In the Year 2000,” and delivered a real crowd-pleaser!

When I returned, the person I’d already annoyed with my apple antics was none too pleased with the fact that we left rank. Another black eye! The bar moves further.

Strike the Last:

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Never Fawn, Never Hover. Observe Professionalism and Distance!!

I can’t really make a sweeping generality about television production, but it seems to have some idiosyncrasies to it that turns it into an almost mystic process. It transcends just the mere making of the show, but in every facet down to the people themselves. It’s hard to adapt new inductees into the system. These fresh variables, untrained in the ways, often aggravate the process, like sand in the gears of some perfect comedy machine. For the most part, I managed to only slightly bruise the teeth.

Here comes special moment #2, a moment that we were prompted before, but was nothing can prep one for the mystique. Like the majesty of a football team rallying in the locker room before the big game, Conan will gather with scripts people, writers and cue card-ists in a moment of unbridled energy and ?É©lan. Conan runs through the cue cards, carefully choosing the wording on the cards while his card-ist works to make the corrections under the extreme conditions of the show is starting in five minutes.

Fortuna’s Wheel spun down for me today, as leaving the control room last and being the one to first mount a task asked of me left me as the man who supplies the white tape for corrections in this process. Now, I’m accustomed to being a right-hand man, someone who’s on constant standby with my job at Temple. Apparently this same style is not acceptable when it comes to this situation, as I was slightly pulled aside to tell me, in the confusion, that I was being a slight overzealous.

What I have learned, though, from these little foibles, is that working in television takes a certain zen practice. It’s something that is either learned right away, naturally, or must be attained through practice. I fear that I fall into this latter group, but I think that one of my skills is that I’m receptive to my surroundings and easily adapt.

Despite my gaffs, if I can clear my mind of them, the whole process is almost too unbelievable to enter it into the realm of mundane. That I will be able to take part in that circle before the show, to essentially help pump Conan up for the evening, is astoundingly awesome beyond words. I’m running out of synonyms!

Everyone seems very nice, and Bill seems very much like me, and hopefully we’ll be able to establish a good working relationship in the next few weeks.

When my stepdad overheard about all my bloopers, he responded, “At least they’re not paying you.” I guess I can take solace in that. The worst thing that can happen is that I’ll never work in this town ever again.

And that’s the News from Studio 6A.

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