Note: This information was accurate as of May 24, 2016.
In case you’ve been out of the loop regarding the success of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the storied late-night program has been scoring with viewers since it returned to its New York City roots almost a year ago thanks to sketches, parodies, and of course, celebrity interviews. With the wry and ever-giddy Fallon at the helm (not to mention his stellar backing band, The Roots), the show promises something for veteran viewers and youngsters* alike. In short, it’s the perfect addition to any tourist’s NYC itinerary. Here’s how to score free tickets to TV’s top live audience tapings in both New York and Los Angeles.
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Tickets to the hottest late-night show in town are released one month at a time, typically during the first week of the month prior. You can check out the availability of tickets on this calendar. Should you manage to find an available date (at first glance, we couldn’t), we’d recommend pouncing on it, and hoping for the best. You can always check back later, since tickets are released in blocks. In New York, standby tickets are also available on taping days — the hotline at 212-664-3056 can let you know when those are. You’ll have to show up to the NBC marquee at Rockefeller Center (on the 49th Street side) before 9 a.m. to try to get a ticket.
Still can’t snag a ticket to the show? In 2017, Universal Orlando will debut a new ride called “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon,” during which guests will be transported to the show’s studio and go on a virtual race against the comedian, with some New York City sights serving as the backdrop.
Saturday Night Live
Thanks to a notoriously difficult ticket-procuring process, some die-hard fans have been known to camp out days ahead of the taping to snag standby tickets. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then our suggestion is to wait until August, when the annual SNL ticket lottery takes place. To enter, simply send an email with your contact information to email@example.com. The only catch? You can’t specify the date; if you’re selected, they simply assign you two tickets to a random taping at some point in the upcoming season. This can prove maddening for fastidious trip planners, but then again, we’re talking about a chance to be an audience member of America’s most hallowed TV institution — surely you can shift a few dates around?
Late Night with Seth Meyers
Like Fallon, former SNL head writer Seth Myers got plenty of practice goofing around in front of an audience as anchor of Weekend Update. After leaving behind SNL, the comedian seems to be doing just dandy with his Late Night with Seth Meyers gig. You can score tickets to the show by requesting tickets online; like The Tonight Show, tickets requests for each month begin the first week of the month prior to tapings in Studio 8G at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Another way to go is with stand-by tickets, one per person, at no later than 9 a.m. on show taping days at the 49th St. NBC marquee. Can’t get your hands on tickets? See if you can get admission to see Seth’s monologue rehearsal the day-of by showing up at the Shop at NBC Studios at 12:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Though the ginger jokester has been known to take his show on the road, traditionalists can apply for free tickets to his Warner Bros. Studio taping in Burbank, CA (a half-hour drive from downtown). Check the online calendar to see what dates are available and fill out the ticket request form. Alternatively, there are standby tickets: call 818-977-3056 between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. PST on the day of taping you want to see. Who knows, maybe the late-night gods will smile upon you.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
A few doors down from Conan, daytime TV queen Ellen DeGeneres tapes her show four days a week (Monday-Thursday) at the same Warner Bros. Studio. If you’re vacationing in the City of Angels and are looking for an impromptu excursion, it is possible to receive “day of” tickets by calling 818-954-5929 before noon PST on the day of the taping. Should that fail, you can always head on over to Ellen’s website and submit a formal request for a future taping.
*For all of the shows listed above, no one under 16 is allowed as an audience member.
Want even more ideas for daytime shows filmed in NYC? Check out this list.