I go to school in Southern California. Except, I hadn’t exactly been living the California dream. I hadn’t seen any celebrities or been to any cool events (except for the Lauv concert). Sadly, unlike some of my friends, I was not lucky enough to see Antoni Porowski on the streets or Darren Criss in the seats right in front of me at a theater production. The first semester of college kept me busy, and Los Angeles is not as accessible from the city of Claremont as I thought it would be. I spent much more time in my room this semester than I would like to admit. However, it wasn’t for lack of trying that I was predominantly on-campus. I had been requesting tickets to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” all semester, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. So, one could say “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” was my rebound show.
I requested tickets for after my finals were finished when I had a few free days to do whatever I wanted before I went home. Initially, I was put on the waitlist, but 10 days later I received an email from 1iota Productions, the company in charge of handling tickets for “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and other shows such as “The Voice” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden”: The email stated that my status had been changed from “Waitlist” to “Accepted.” With priority check-in. I was so excited that I immediately messaged my friend if she wanted to come with me and excitedly started planning logistics.
I didn’t have time to think much of it during the next three weeks, but the thought of attending “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” powered me through the end of the semester. It gave me something to look forward to. The weekend before it’s filmed the show’s guests are revealed for the week; Margot Robbie and John Kasich were the guests for my evening. I didn’t know much about them other than John Kasich was a former Ohio governor. My hallmate told me that Margot Robbie is an incredibly gorgeous actress. Come the day of, I printed out our tickets and worried about what constituted “nice casual” clothing before the 90-minute trip to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood.
My friend met me there, and we waited in line at an alley between two buildings adjacent to the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” studio. We arrived about 30 minutes before check-in actually began, so we had some time to chat and relax. We had absolutely no idea what to expect. A couple of minutes early, they took the first group of people through security check. Like an airport, they checked our bags, we went through a scanner and had a pat down. Additionally, they locked our phones in sleeve-like bags. “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” was understandably strict about no cell phones; they wouldn’t want any media getting out about the show before the TV broadcasting and the YouTube clip uploading.
Upon entering the studio, a nice guy dressed in an ugly Santa sweater directed us to our seats. He led us through a session about audience expectations. While much of the laughter and applause was authentic throughout the show, we were constantly encouraged to essentially exaggerate our reactions. There were signs that would light up when we were supposed to applaud and stop applauding, though there were several times when the audience initiated the applause. If something sounded like it was a joke, we were supposed to laugh regardless of our understanding or if we thought the joke was actually funny. We were helpfully instructed the three times in the show that we should stand up: when Jimmy Kimmel comes out and when the two guests come out.
Before the show started, the audience director jokingly threatened to replace us with another studio audience if we weren’t loud enough, especially since this was the last taping of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” for the decade. Apparently, according to Dom, there were 50,000 requests for 200 spots — somehow, I was one of the lucky 0.4% to nab a ticket. However, I felt annoyed that I was being told what to do and shamed for not doing it well enough. His humor didn’t strike me as funny.
However, nothing could dampen the otherwise ethereal experience. Kimmel started with a short monologue about Donald Trump’s impeachment, including a new edition of Drunk Donald Trump. The Chanucorn “interrupted” Kimmel, as he has for the past six years, with an amusing Hanukkah twist on classic Hallmark Christmas movies. Next, came a shocking surprise. It took me a few seconds to realize what was happening, but Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus made an unannounced appearance to promote their new movie, “Downhill,” which comes out on Valentine’s Day.
During the break before Margot Robbie’s appearance, Kimmel interacted with two audience members from Australia who were on their honeymoon. One of the pair was an analyst for the Australian government and somehow, as he always does, Kimmel managed to say something funny. It was impressive to see Kimmel’s talk show skills in use during an improvised conversation.
The last two segments of the taping were the two scheduled guests: Robbie and Kasich. Indeed, Robbie was a very pretty actress but also extremely personable. Other than talking about her new movie “Bombshell,” she shared that she had never seen Star Wars and a surprising incident about her waking up in a bathroom stall the morning after the Logie Awards, which is comparable to the Emmys. Kasich talked about his views on impeachment and climate change as one of the few Republicans who support impeachment as a promotion for his new book, “It’s Up to Us: Ten Little Ways We Can Bring About Big Change.” The scheduled musical guest, White Reaper, had taped a few nights earlier.
I was truly taken away to another world for two hours of my day; I didn’t worry about anything from the past or upcoming in the future. I was just there in the moment, enjoying “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” with my good friend (shout out to Isabel who also contributed ideas for this article). The live show isn’t much different from the YouTube clips. There were commercial breaks between each segment during which the band would play music and the audience director would speak to us. However, what made the experience was the audience’s energy, real and manufactured. I guess that’s what the California dream is all about. I feel lucky that I had the chance to experience it. You can request tickets to “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” here.