Apologies for not blogging yesterday. We set off from Buellton in the Santa Ynez valley yesterday morning travelled via an outlet village (deep joy) and spent the afternoon on Santa Monica Beach. We set of for our hotel (on Sunset) but we put the wrong address in and ended up at the wrong hotel, hence the reason we only arrived at 10:30 last night.

Anyway, this morning we went well, touristy. We drove to Hollywood boulevard and walked down the walk of fame. (the stars in the pavement). We spent the next couple of hours going “ooh, ooh, never heard of them, never heard of them, ooh”. Now the thing about Hollywood Boulevard is even though it has the Chinese Theatre (but no Pink Panther in his Panthermobile) and the Dolby (nee Kodak) theatre where they have the Academy Awards, basically it’s a seedy little road. Maybe when the plaques were originally put down the street was different, but now Marilyn Monroe’s plaque is outside McDonalds, Frank Sinatras outside “The Suit Clearance Sale” and Billy Bart (yeah, we had no idea who he was either) was outside of a Liquor store. One other thing about this street is the number of people asking “want a tour of the stars houses?” I assume they meant they were just bus tours, otherwise they were very blatant and confident burglars if they were willing to take passengers when they broke and entered. Now in these situations I just find it easier to grunt and not engage in eye contact (actually that’s how I cope with most social situations). Karen on the other hand is chirpy and friendly and responded to one of these people with a cheerful “no thanks , we don’t need one thank you”. Perfectly reasonable you may think? This chap had other ideas. “Well get off my Hollywood then”. We did. Quickly.

In the afternoon we went to a recording of the Tonight show with Jay Leno. The Tonight show is a TV institution in America. Johnny Carson did it for like 100 years, then Jay Leno has taken if over. It’s a late night chat show which airs at 11:35pm, but is recorded as live at 4:00pm. The experience was (as footballers say) a game of 2 halves.

Our tickets told us that we had to be at the studio by 2:45pm at the latest; we had to bring photo id and make sure we didn’t have any recording devices. We had to go through security (which, surprise, suprise, I set off). We turned up at 2:00 and found ourselves at number 172 in the line (they like to turn up promptly these Lenoites). You line up outside the studio in the 80 degree heat. However if you are in the first 150, you get to sit under a canopy and have spray misted on you. Did I tell you we were number 172. Exactly.

The line is managed by the NBC Paige’s. If you watch 30 Rock then you will know all about these. Basically they are 12 year old storm troopers in badly fitting grey suits who have clipboards…and an attitude. 3 times before we even set foot in the studio we were told:

No recording devices in or around the studio
It was 60 degrees in the studio, make sure you have a jumper
Turn your phone off, off, off
Don’t heckle Jay or his guests (even in a good way)
Turn off your phones, not on silent, not in flight mode, off!
No food, drink or gum is allowed in the studio.
If you take a photo on your phone you will be asked to delete it
The only restrooms are the porta cabins in the parking lot, so go now!
And finally, turn off your phone

We eventually got in at 3:45, with the pages faffing about. At this point I had my doubts that these people should not apply for any jobs described as “party planners required for local brewery” but that all changed. In 15 minutes we had been briefed by Jay (who is actually very funny) and been nicely warmed up by an unannounced warm up man. The show starts at 4:00 on the dot (as it is relayed by satellite to New York) and it is seamless. Admittedly they had crew of hundreds (I wont bore you with all the details) but I was staggered how they managed to keep a studio audience of 300 who they have baked for 2 hours, chilled to sub zero and still get us to applause, whoop and scream on cue.

The oddest sight of the afternoon was in the ad break when the band kicks in and keeps the audience amused. Throughout the course of this Jay was deep in conversation with his guest Amy Poehler (google her if you don’t you know who she is) oblivious to the fact that 300 people where doing YMCA just a few feet from them then.

As we were despatched back into the parking lot, a lady was trying to persuade us to return the next day, but we would be in the guest list, so no queuing. A nice thought, but we are planning to be in San Diego by then, so sorry, no thanks. As we left the NBC lot, another man was trying to convince us to attend a taping of Wheel of Fortune. I just grunted and failed to engage him with eye contact.

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