It was 2:30 a.m. when I set my alarm and crawled into bed, knowing full well that getting up at my-crack-of-dawn (which is not the same as the-crack-of-dawn) wouldn't be early enough to score a ticket to the last Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. Still, a few hours later I dragged myself out of bed (to the soothing sound of my Blackberry's Inspired Asian Morning alarm tune), put on my rain boots and jacket, and whizzed down the 101 toward Universal Studios.
I made my way to Gate 2 and queued up at the end of a long line that began inside a fenced area then spilled out onto the sidewalk of Lankershim Boulevard. The people at the beginning of the line were sitting in camping chairs snuggled under blankets. It was a cold 48 degrees, and soon started to rain. Every now and then a car driving by would honk in support, and a guy in a white SUV attempted to rally the shivering crowd as he yelled, "Coco, Coco, Coco..."
The Tonight Show gives out reserved (guaranteed) tickets online, and hands out 100 stand-by tickets on the morning of the show. The stand-by tickets are numbered so you can leave and return in the afternoon, lining up according to your ticket number. It was obvious that there were well over 100 people waiting for stand-by tickets and I wasn't getting in. (The guy behind me in line had driven down from San Francisco.) Eventually a staff member thanked the rest of us for coming down and announced that coffee and donuts would be coming out shortly. I was bummed...
The crowd converged on the street corner waiting for the crosswalk light and I saw a guy with ticket number 23. Out of curiosity, I asked him how long he had been in line and he said since 9 pm last night. WHAT?!! 9 PM?!! ...He thought that by 3 a.m. there were about 100 people in line. That actually made me feel better - I would have really been bummed to be in line since 3 a.m. (which I wouldn't do in the first place) only to have that 100th ticket handed out right in front of me. Some reserved ticket holders said they got their tickets in November and December. Imagine their luck... unaware that it would be the last Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.
So I stopped by Vons and grabbed a bottle of wine, and that night at 11:30 pm I turned on the TV and watched an amazing show with the best farewell ever. Here's Conan closing the show and playing Free Bird with Will Ferrell, Beck, Ben Harper and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons: