My life is fairly quiet. I read, I write, I take care-a MYYYY kids, I go to concerts as often as I can, I conquer the Laundry Mountain every week, blah de blah. But every so often, rather absurd and amazing things happen – things that make me smile and shake my head. Want to know how I – ME -- ended up in the “Tonight Show” audience at NBC yesterday? READ ON, BROS AND HOS.

If you have been reading regularly, you will know that a very short time ago (July 10th to be precise) I just had this RANDOM IDEA to write a fun song about Jack Rebney, the subject of the new movie, “Winnebago Man,” after offering to do some very modest street-team promotion for the movie in Seattle.  The song came together extremely quickly, or as quickly as I could write a set of lyrics and make up the music and then play and sing each piece once into my computer and mix it along with some famous “Winnebago Man” lines – a few hours. I am not anything more than garage-competency, so to attempt it more than once is kind of useless overkill. I passed the song on to the Winnebago Man’s Facebook page, and received  nice compliments from Joel Heller, the movie’s producer, and Keith Gordon, Jack Rebney’s best pal who appears in the movie. I was very glad they liked it and got a smile, and continued on with my laundry and such. (After I did a similarly-garage-competency Lego video for it, of course.) I was heading down to Californee soon for the L.A. premiere of pal Geoff Edgers’ Kinks-themed “Do It Again” documentary and was prepping for that trip. (More on that in the next day or two.)

THEN. THREE DAYS LATER, a Twitter came by:

 @WinnebagoMan: Jack Rebney & director Ben Steinbauer will be guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno July 22nd! DM us if you want to go to the taping.


@mariannesp: OMG! On 7/22 I'll be in L.A…! I would love tickets to Tonight Show taping w. Jack & Ben! What a great day!

A few days passed, and then I heard back that I had two VIP tickets reserved for me. WUT. I wasn’t expecting A THING and then I get the “rattle your jewelry” seats? MAN! ME? SOME DORK IN WASHINGTON STATE? WELL, ALRIGHT!! The 22nd was shaping up to be SOME DAY.

We were given very explicit instructions of what to do to be in the right place at the right time and the right words to say to get the magic tickets, and I didn’t want to do anything to screw it up by going to Culver City instead of Burbank or getting kicked out of the studio because I wore a t-shirt that said “F*CK! SH*T! SH*T! F*CK!” on it. About an hour before we were show up at Guest Relations, we headed out. Thanks to the damn lag on the GPS woman’s voice, we wasted precious minutes going towards Culver City, as feared. “RECALCULATING” she said, and I told her she was a retarded.  I HATE BEING LATE. The ride towards NBC in the red rental ‘Stang was a pedal-to-the-metal affair by now.

Parking? HA HA HA. Walking a LONG WAY from where we needed to be in heels that were causing massive multiple blisters on my feet? HA HA HA. Tick tick tick tick. 15 minutes to “lose your tickets and lose total face” time. Do we go here, we asked at a gate. No, you have to go ALL the way over THERE, and THEN go over ALLLLLL the way THERE. Sh************t. My feet were telling me how stupid I was as I hobbled along, like a dork from Washington. I spotted a security person in a golf cart. Desperate and sweaty and pale with no sun exposure for months, I approached her.

“Oh my goodness, I will give you 50 BUCKS if you would please give me a ride over to Guest Relations! I am so afraid I am going to lose my tickets to the Tonight Show.”

The woman regarded me as one should, with some pity but more suspicion. I wouldn’t be the first lame tourist on a TV lot.

“I can’t take no money from you but you’re in luck. I’m on my break. Hop on.”

I was so grateful I hugged her and offered to start a small but powerfully-influential cult in her name. Hello, Guest Relations, with five minutes to spare.

The rest of the people with VIP tickets – maybe 50 people? – sat or stood in the small Guest Relations room, until we got the physical tickets and moved towards another room past security and a metal detector. We were seated in three rows on benches covered with slightly-sad-looking red shag fabric, and waited until we were instructed to walk single file out of the room and outside toward the Tonight Show studio. I didn’t look at my feet because I thought I might be embarrassed by what surely by now must be rivers of blood pouring from my damaged soles. I could always claim stigmata, I suppose.

We incredibly-important folks were led past the long and sweaty line of people who had been waiting in line for hours to possibly get a seat to the taping. I felt like telling them, “Really, this could have been you for sure, if you were just that much more dorky,” but I just kept hobbling and trying to make it look like I was walking down the red carpet rather than on the burning coals of hell.

Into the studio, the whoosh of delicious cold air was greatly appreciated. We were directed to nice blue seats in the 4th row to the right. I had a great view of everything – the band, which was right in front of me, the main stage where the guests come out and Jay Leno does the monologue, and the desk and guest couch. The musical performance area was far to the left of me in a room that was closed off like a box until the band appeared. There were LOTS of cameras everywhere, including a Steady Cam that looked like some complicated robot villain. There were also lots of wide-screen monitors for the audience, some of which were raised and lowered quickly by whirring servo motors.

The industry-guy sitting next to me was on his own, so I asked him how he got his ticket. Turns out his wife was a friend of Joel Heller’s, and he had already had a chance to meet up with Jack Rebney and Ben Steinbauer, the WM director, earlier in the week. He was very friendly and we chatted about the studio-goings-on, the old Tonight Show music clips being played to the waiting audience, how I came to be there, our families, the movie he was working on, etc. Oh, Hollywood.

What an efficient machine “The Tonight Show” is, and has to be. Day in and day out, a live-to-tape show must run with precision in order to get it edited and out to affiliates in time. Everyone – and there are a lot of everyones, from the people telling us what to do and what not to do (“don’t yell out gibberish at Jay, which means all words and sentences”), to the extremely-competent band, floor managers, the security people who flanked the stage at every break, the guy holding the prompt cards, etc. – does their respective things. There is no chaos, or even a sense of urgency. It’s all very smoooooth.

The Jay Leno that chats to the crowd pre-show is a bit of a different guy than Jay Leno, “Tonight Show Host.” Off-camera he is noticeably more relaxed and sharper in wit, making some good cracks at some audience members’ expenses. I got the feeling that he prefers to be an off-the-cuff stand-up sort of guy. Coming on in jeans and saying what he wanted rather than reading the scripted monologue seemed to be more his thing.

The taping started a little after 4PM and ended at 5:10PM, including the show promos, which had to be done four times because jackasses from the audience spoke gibberish. Comedian and actor Wanda Sykes was the first guest, wearing a very nice sparkly skull shirt. She seemed very at ease and we learned that she doesn’t appreciate the French language all that much. Then it was time for Jack and Ben to come out. I was initially thinking that the Tonight Show audience would only be minimally familiar with the whole Winnebago Man phenomenon, but the audience response was so enthusiastic and warm,  I was proved otherwise. People love the Winnebago Man clip, and love Jack. He is so real and personable and such a character.  Jack is a prime example of an older person who has stayed sharp as a f*ckin tack, because he has refused to shut his mind off and accept status quo. He and Ben did a great job, like they were already talk show pros. I clapped my hands off and went WOOOO WOOOOOO and smiled and giggled and guffawed. Awesome. Here are a couple of clips:

After that, 3OH!3 performed an energetic popular pop music song, but I didn’t really pay attention because the dude next to me and me was a chattin’ about how well the Jack segment went down. Sorry, guys.

After the promo shoot was done, that was that and we were instructed when and how to exit the studio. I stood outside for a bit and marveled the distance between my bedroom closet where I sang a song about a guy who couldn’t get his mind to work right one day, and a big-time Hollywood TV show.

Thank you, Winnebago Man, for a wonderful experience I shall not forget, and kindness shown. I have ten Band-Aids on my toes and feet.

Seeing the actual MOVIE tomorrow!