Sure, it’s much easier to write jokes about President Trump than about President Obama (and that’s not even an alternative fact!), but we take no comfort in knowing that the easy target of our wit and humor is making life difficult for so many fellow Americans.
Laughter is still the best medicine, and every American is covered by a policy that allows for free treatment from Dr. Cashman and his dedicated team of comedy experts.
As part of the quest to make America laugh again, The Nite Show went on a road trip yesterday to Westbrook, Maine. While the people of southern Maine can watch The Nite Show every Saturday night on TV, this was their first chance to ever see it live.
And I think we arrived just in the nick of time!
As soon as I stepped inside, I felt tiny, and it made me realize that we would probably be playing to the largest live audience in the show’s history.
That instantly got me excited, and then a little nervous because I remembered that I would be up there on the stage, in front of a huge crowd, doing the cue cards.
I normally help to greet and seat the audience at The Gracie, but since I was doing the cue cards for this taping, I spent most of my time backstage and onstage. This allowed me to work in close proximity with the amazing NESCOM crew.
It’s no accident that I chose a photo of the NESCOM team to kick off this post. Most people don’t realize that The Nite Show’s crew is made up almost entirely of college students. They are amazing at what they do, and when you watch the broadcast, there is no way to tell that there isn’t a team of seasoned professionals working behind the scenes.
When I work cue cards, Katie is the Floor Manager. She makes my job very easy because she tells me exactly where I need to be, and then chats with me and makes me laugh to prevent me from getting nervous.
I tried to sneak a quick picture of Katie during a commercial break, but she is so shy and turned away from the camera just as I took the shot.
Luckily, she never turned away when I needed her last night, and she did an incredible job of keeping the show running in an unfamiliar setting with a much larger audience than usual.
While backstage, I also got to chat with the guests. Jameson Smith, a producer of PBS’ “Mercy Street”, was on the first show and we talked about the fact that we both went to NYU. A native Mainer, he was genuinely impressed with how a tiny late night show from Maine could lead the charge in making America laugh again.
The first time I entered the dressing room, Danny told me he was putting one of my jokes on a cue card. Sure enough, a witty quip about my favorite politician, Maine Congressman Bruce Poliquin, was literally in the cards for tonight’s audience.
When I went out front to check on things about a half hour before the doors opened, I discovered that the holding area was already packed with people who had arrived plenty early to get good seats for the show.
This was definitely going to be the largest audience ever for a taping, and we were going to have a golden opportunity to make America laugh again. Having seen the script for the shows, I knew that our chances of succeeding in our patriotic quest were very high.
There were so many highlights over the course of the evening, but one of my favorites had to be a hilarious little incident at the start of show two.
One of the fun things about attending a live taping is that you get to witness all the nonsense, bloopers, and bizarre moments the audience at home never sees.
There was a complicated bit in the monologue poking fun at Mayor Ethan Strimling (remember that name) that required me to provide cue cards for ten different people, all in rapid succession. Three were on the stage, while the other seven were seated in the front row of the audience.
I worked out with Katie where I needed to stand so that all ten people could see the cue cards as needed, and then we had to choreograph it with the camera operators so that I didn’t end up wandering into the shot.
Joe, the announcer and Danny’s sidekick, was supposed to read a joke off the cue cards. I went over to discuss with him where I’d be standing, and to see if he could read the card from that distance.
Joe assured me he wouldn’t need the cue cards because he had memorized the joke. Regardless, I was ready with the cards when the cameras turned to Joe.
He did the joke three times, each time talking about Mayor Phillip Strimling. Now remember, the Mayor’s name is Ethan. The audience knew it. Heck, Mayor Strimling was sitting right behind me in the front row and laughing hysterically each time poor Joe called him by the wrong name.
I’m standing there, repeatedly tapping my finger over the word “Ethan” on the cue card, in hopes of getting Joe’s attention. The camera operator next to me was chuckling because she saw me pointing to the name, which Joe was simply ignoring.
Katie stopped the taping. Danny explained to Joe what he was doing wrong. I stuck my finger under the name on the cue card to emphasize it. We rolled again.
Joe once again told a joke about Mayor Phillip Strimling.
The audience went wild, the Mayor was probably laughing loudest of all, and in that goofy blooper, The Nite Show had achieved its quest.
We made America laugh again. And it felt great!
I wasn’t able to take as many photos as usual because I was a little busy with the cue cards, but this was my favorite, which I took during a commercial break…
Normally, Danny and Joe would be sitting on either side of her to keep her company, but they had both gone off to do something during the break.
I saw a perfect photo op and then posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Miss Maine is looking for someone to sit next to her. Should it be the handsome Cue Card Guy?”
I couldn’t believe how many of my friends commented on the photo encouraging me to go for it, sit next to Miss Maine, and chat her up. If only I had checked my Facebook instead of working so hard to help make America laugh again…
Other quick highlights from what was definitely an amazing evening…
Danny’s friend, who was wearing a Patriots jersey, commented on the Patriots joke in the first show (see the cue card at the right). Danny told her I had written it, and even though he knew it would get boos, he had to use it. Danny then said to me, “That’s a testament to how good that joke was. I just had to use it.” The boos were because it mocked the beloved hometown Pats, not because it was a bad joke!
I got to meet the charming Marcia, who works at NESCOM and came down to witness first hand as we made America laugh again. I introduced myself by saying, “I’m Austin”. She thought I’d said, “I’m awesome”, and called me Awesome Austin for the rest of the evening. For the record, when someone that attractive calls me Awesome Austin, I apparently blush every darn time!
Danny started and ended the monologue of the first show with jokes I’d written. I knew that in advance, of course, because I was holding the cue cards. It made me very proud to be the writer of the jokes that started and ended the process of making America laugh again during the opening monologue.
Fifth Freedom rocked the Westbrook Performing Arts Center with an awesome performance to end the evening. I’m sure they had their amps cranked up to 11.
The Nite Show, however, rocked America’s funny bone in a way that no politician will ever be able to undo. No matter how bad it gets, true patriots will always be able to crank the humor to 11 or even higher.
Whatever it takes to make America laugh again!
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