Alan Cumming on Conan O'Brien 11/2/99
Very early on Tuesday, November 2nd, Linda and I traveled to the NBC Studios in NY to get stand-by tickets for the Conan show, where Alan was scheduled to be a guest. Here is my story.
We left home around 4:00 AM (yes, in the morning) to get up to NY
early enough. I was slightly paranoid that a mass convergance of the Alan
Cumming fan club would occur upon the stand-by ticket line, so I wanted to
get to NY around 6:30 to be the first people there. We found the studio
without too many problems, and found a line formed already for Rosie
stand-by tickets. We figured we'd try for those too and since we were among
the first 10 people there, we figured we'd get in. As we were waiting in
line, Florence Henderson (Carol Brady) arrived at the studio and walked in
(she hosts the Later Today show). (Celeb spotting number 1)
At 7:30 a Rosie person came out and had us all draw numbers to decide how we
would line up to get into the show. Unfortunatley, they do a lottery system
and we drew number 28. :( We then proceeded to the other side of the
entrance to wait in line for Conan.
Kami, Nicole, Linda and I had a wonderful time gabbing about Alan for the
1.5 hours that we waited out in the rain for the tickets. We saw Phil
Collins and his band arrive for their Rosie appearance. (Celeb spotting
Number 2) Fortunately, Conan does his stand-by tix first come-first served,
so we were number 4-8. We figured at that point that we'd get in to see the
show. We then headed in to see if we could get in to see Rosie. Kami and her
friend got in (they had drawn number 5) but Linda and I got cut out of the
audience by 6 people. Grrr... we all split up then and promised to meet back
up for the Conan show that afternoon.
By this time, Linda and I were tired and hungry so we headed to an
interesing cafe around the corner that served everything and anything you've
ever wanted to eat. We sat for a while and had some breakfast, lamenting our
bad Rosie fortune but feeling fairly confident that we would get in to see
Conan (and Alan!).
Linda and I weren't fully prepared to spend the day in the city. Our legs
were aching from standing in line for so long (its one thing to camp outside
a theater for tickets to see Alan's final Cabaret performance, at least you
get to sit!; we stood for 3.5 hours straight in heels), we didn't want to
wander off too far, it was raining and we had little money. So, we wandered
down to Radio City Music Hall and peeked in to see some of their new
interior. Then we found a CD store a block down that (a) Had a huge line out
front of people waiting to see a Mariah Carey performance there that night
and (b) had the Annie soundtrack! We happily found they had it set up so you
could listen to it so I put the earphones carefully on my head, not wanting
to mess up my hair, and gleefully skipped to track 10--Easy Street! I
excitedly jumped up and down when I heard Alan singing--his New York accent
is soooo cute!--and I could barely contain my joy as I realized: His singing
voice is incredible! It has improved so much since the early Cabaret days.
Its so strong and confident. AH!
We then decided to go sit in Barnes & Nobles for a while and relax. As we
walked in, I noticed a sign announcing that Frank Gifford would be there
from 12:30 to 1:30 to sign some football book that he wrote the forward to.
It was almost noon at this point, and there was already a line forming.
Linda and I went upstairs and found a nice little table that overlooked the
booksigning area and settled in for a while. Unfortunately, we realized that
he would be sitting directly underneath us, and we would have to go
downstairs to see him. So, we sat and read for a while, and then we went
downstairs to see Frank Gifford (celeb spotting number 3). We spent a little
over 2 hours in that store looking at books, taking brief naps, and glaring
at an evil man who came and took Linda's chair even after I told him not to
sit there. :|
We then headed back to the NBC building and found a mini-restaurant where we
sat and had a small lunch. As we were sitting there, Linda noticed a
commotion in the bathroom (I had my back to it). First, a security guard was
there blocking the door. Then, some more security people arrived. Then, a
man brought in a backboard and a medic bag. Then, 2 medics arrived with a
heart difilibrator. Obivously, this pretty much stopped the restaurant as we
all stared towards this tiny bathroom to figure out what was going on.
Slowly, each person started leaving one by one. Then, a girl appeared from
the bathroom, crying, and she left. And that was the end of it. We never did
figure out what happened...
We had been told to come back at 4 for the Conan show. At 3, we were bored
and tired so we went and stood with Nicole in the stand-by line. The
reserved ticket holders were already lining up too. Then an NBC page came
over and told us we didn't need to be there yet and to leave because
security wouldn't let us stand there. Um....ok. We gathered our belongings
and started to move, then she came back and told us we could stay if we
wanted to. Yeah, they're real organized at NBC. We decided to go to the NBC
store and we looked at the things in there and watched a little TV. Then, we
proceeded back to the line to find it about three times as long as when we'd
first been there. But, we posessed low numbered standby tix, so we went to
the front of the line :).
This is when I learned my very important lesson: even at this point, about
an hour before the taping, the pages were in the lobby BEGGING people to
come see the Conan show. They had all these extra stand-by tix and they
needed to get more audience members. Pish! I know next time not to come at
By this point, we were all pretty excited. All we could do was natter on
about Alan and discuss how loud we wanted to cheer for him, what he would be
wearing and what he'd talk about.
Finally, we were ushered upstairs and into the studio. The stuido itself is
very small. Which is good because we wanted to be as close as possible to
Alan. We had decent sight lines to the guest chair and we excitedly bounced
in our seats and fixed our hair and makeup (not that Alan could very well
see us anyway...).
The warm-up guy came out and got us laughing then Conan and Andy came out
and they both seemed pretty cool. The show started and we participated like
a good studio audience. We cheered as loud as possible every time we heard
Alan's name. As soon as Conan said that Alan would be up next and went to
commercial, we started trying to see around the curtain to see the man
standing back there. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of a man with dark hair
wearing something unusal. I let out a little screech and grabbed Nicole and
Linda. "There he is!" We spent the next few minutes sneaking little peeks at
Alan whenever the curtain parted. He looked so cute!
The interview is a semi-blur now. We all sat on the edge of our seats,
straining to be as close as possible to the stage. We laughed, we cheered,
we yelped, we clapped. We wanted Alan to know that he had some fans in the
audience! He seemed a bit surprised when we all clapped after he said that
when the goldfish died the last thing it saw was him standing there naked,
and that's not a bad way to go. The poor man: he sets himself up!
As I said before, the interview was far too short. I've heard the Tonka
story before, and I was really hoping he'd talk about Annie and maybe show a
clip. Something to note: Conan had a copy of "Out" on his desk, and I was
hoping they'd talk about that, but they never got to it. Then, it was over
and Alan left (not before waving at us).
We parted after the show and Linda and I met up with our friend Jim and had
a far too expensive dinner at a nearby restaurant. By this time, it was
pouring and we got so wet!
Linda and I left the city fairly early since I had to work today. :( I am
really glad I got to see the show, especially since I couldn't record it. I
guess I'll have to wait for the repeat....
[SOUNDS & VIDEO]