Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Journey to Late Night Stardom

Have you ever watched a program on TV, and wondered just what it looked like on the other side of the lens? Of course you have. I remember watching several of my comedy idols on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Comic Strip Live, and Conan O'Brien, imagining what it would feel like to actually shake the host's hand. As a 15-year old kid, little did I know that it I would do the same thing one day.

Mark Angelo Shaking David Letterman's Hand
Every show, from America's Got Talent to Good Morning America needs interesting content to share with the world, and it's a challenge for them to deliver it every single day. That's why they have employees that constantly search for it on YouTube, direct submissions, and even other shows. Personally, Marlo and I went directly to the Late Night website to find Ryan, their go-to guy for finding talent. We sent him a video of a variety of tricks, all involving ping-pong balls, as it is a bit of a specialty of ours (I even recently broke a Guinness World Record using them). The producers loved it, and we were slated for the very next Stupid Human Tricks segment - a few months after our submission.

We all know what an iconic New York institution the Late Show is, and would expect very high standards from them. Well, everyone who works at the Ed Sullivan Theater reinforced that expectation. From Biff Henderson (yes, that guy with the headphones on) to the hair stylist to the guard at the back door to the theater - everyone took extreme pride in their jobs, but were also friendly and accommodating - more of a family than coworkers. And really, if you have the dream-job that these folks have, why would you be anything but happy?

So Marlo and I do a "tryout" to see how we perform under pressure, along with the other five prospective acts. Some went well, others did not. We nailed ours in one take. Even though we've been doing it professionally for many years, and that it was not surprising that we succeeded, it doesn't get more high-pressure than being one step away from getting on Late Night.

After tryouts, we broke for lunch. I personally couldn't eat - the uncertainty of the producers' verdict made it impossible to manage more than a salad. We found ourselves, two hours later, back in the greenroom, to discover who was going on stage for the taping. Two New Yorkers were chosen, and the final spot went to us! So really, all that was left was to meet Dave and the audience, and not say anything too dumb.

Up to this point, we'd met many of the people involved with the show, but not the man himself...Dave. We all took turns going out and doing our bits, and when Marlo and I stepped out to meet the audience and Mr. Letterman, the passage of time got a little warped. Everything seemed to move both at a faster and slower pace than normal - a combination of vertigo and Special Relativity. It's a good thing that we had our task in front of us to keep us focused! When Dave uttered his trademark phrase, "Take it away, kids!", we fell into our "show mode", and it became easy. One, then two Ping-Pong balls flew from me to my wife, then off her paddle and back to me. A final catch and flourish, and it was all over.

All in all, Marlo and I couldn't have hoped for a better result. Great footage for our promo reel, a credit for our resume, and we had a wonderful adventure in the Big Apple...both in and outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Until next time, make sure you make the most of the big moments!

Watch Mark & Marlo play Ping-Pong without a table on the Late Show.

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