Find fun things to doin the Atlanta, GA area
Posted: 2:01 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, 2013
By Rodney Ho
I attended the first of four tapings of "Conan" at the Tabernacle yesterday featuring actor Seth Rogan, stand-up comic Earthquake and a surprise appearance by former Atlantan and "30 Rock" star Jack McBrayer.
Conan O'Brien had told me last month he chose the Tabernacle because of its personality as a former Baptist church. (Steve Koonin, the Turner Entertainment prez, said the Fox Theatre was tied up with "Mary Poppins," so that ideal option was out.)
The set designers decked it out a little like a church with wood columns and muted stained glass, plus some fake organ pipes in front of the real ones. The band was placed on the lower balcony due to lack of space on the main stage.
Despite the venue's austere beauty, the building's HVAC system couldn't hack it. The place was already stuffy by the time we got in just before 4 p.m. for the 5 p.m. taping.
You didn't need to wait in line for hours since each ticket was reserved. You just need to be in the building no later than 4:15 p.m. They provided wristbands with Conan's signature logo on it as well. Parking was not a problem near the venue either.
Inside, they were able to fit about 1,400 people. (Some space was eaten up by cameras and the band. The floor was not general admission but filled with chairs, which reduced capacity as well.)
The warmup comic Jimmy Pardo entered the stage at about 4:35 p.m. and gave us some limited instructions (no video, no photos during taping). He brought out a producer to get folks to tape extra cheering and laughing that may or may not be need in post production. "You are not a bunch of hillbillies watching Honey Boo Boo," he intoned.
He parried with a couple of not terribly funny folks in the front rows before giving way to Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band, who warmed up the crowd with some tunes before Conan jumped on stage.
A sampling of jokes, mostly non-topical and all targeting Atlanta:
"My bosses at TBS here in Atlanta told me I could do a week of shows anywhere in the world so I told them Paris, France. They said, 'Atlanta it is!' "
"We've gone from the town that makes hundreds of movies a year to the town that makes hundreds of Tyler Perry movies a year. They made three as I was saying that joke."
[Andy Richter: "They just wrapped 'Madea vs. Godzilla!' "]
"Atlanta's number one employer is Delta Air Lines. In honor of that, tomorrow's show will be delayed by two hours."
"I will not leave this city until I get into a fistfight at a Waffle House." [Echoes of Kid Rock, eh?]
"The Tabernacle has a non-functioning organ which explains my wife's nickname for me - The Tabernacle."
He then ran through a series of local sports team jerseys: Braves, Falcons, Hawks. When he wore a UGA shirt, there were scattered boos. "I got some bum info for that one."
Richter wore a Duluth High School girls volleyball jersey and received even more cheers. "We finally found the team that unites," he said.
He ran a video of him joining a gospel choir in Decatur's Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church. The choir then joined the show live.
Next, a tan McBrayer pops up to tell an April Fool's Joke about in the hospital from a boating accident. You'll have to watch the video to get a full feel for that one. It's funnier than it sounds. He also showed a Letterman-esque video of a life-sized figure of William Tecumseh Sherman dropped off a 20-story Turner Studio building. (O'Brien is a Civil War buff.)
During commercial breaks, the band played while a makeup woman would check O'Brien's makeup. His producer Jeff Ross was a common presence on stage. Over the hour, the stuffy space clearly was bugging O'Brien. By the end, he took his jacket off to show armpit stains readily apparent on his blue shirt.
Rogan came on to tell some funny stories about being high and hung over on a plane and the flight attendant thinking he was having a seizure because he was sweating so much. And Earthquake did a rather tired set focused mostly on Obama.
One observation my wife made: Andy Richter, outside a couple of funny asides during the monologue, didn't contribute much during the taping itself. And she found the Georgia Peach vs. Florida Orange rumble more stupid than funny.
Good news for anyone attending the rest of the week: the show airs in real time and will be finished almost exactly at 6 p.m. Traffic leaving downtown Monday was not bad.
My colleague and AJC Buzz expert Jennifer Brett is attending today's taping featuring Paul Rudd. "The Walking Dead" star Steve Yeun will be on tomorrow. Darius Rucker and Charles Barkley are other scheduled guests later this week.
I saw Turner chief Phil Kent as I entered the building. "Top Gear" cast member Rutledge Wood was four seats down from me. And my former AJC colleague Richard Eldredge was in sight, too.
Here's the vantage point from the stage, courtesy of TeamCoco.com's Tumblr page.