When you're watching your favorite morning, daytime or late night talk shows, you've probably noticed the hosts and guests interact before a live audience.
Whether it's in a studio, in Times Square or Rockefeller Plaza, people from near and far make up that group of happy, clapping fans who are wholeheartedly earning bragging rights that they saw a beloved show being filmed in person.
While many of these shows offer the possibility of access to tapings by just showing up or acquiring day-of standby tickets, in most cases advanced tickets are the way to go. Oh, and all tickets—and the websites used to acquire them—are free.
So if you're planning a trip to New York City, or are a local who wants to take part in watching some fantastic television get made, here is how to see some great shows that call NYC home.
ABC's Good Morning America
ABC's "Good Morning America", or "GMA," has been a staple morning news and entertainment program since its debut in 1975. Broadcasting from Times Square, anyone can be a part of the crowd so long as you show up outside the studio. For folks wanting to potentially appear on camera, the earlier you show up, the better, so you can get a spot toward the front.
Depending on the guests or segments, "GMA" does have audience members inside the studio. Usually, these audience members are selected from the people outside. However, when there are special guests from the performing arts community—musicians, singers, actors—or politicians, free tickets are available through 1iota.
During summer months, "GMA" hosts a Summer Concert Series, featuring popular top music acts. These concerts take place at Central Park's SummerStage at Rumsey Playfield. Performances are free to attend, but do require tickets, and SummerStage rules apply with regard to what can and cannot be brought into the venue. VIP tickets are available for select performances, so make sure to stay updated via GMA.
Rockefeller Plaza is home to NBC's "Today." On air since 1952, "Today" has provided viewers with human interest stories and enagaging segments about health and fashion, among other topics. Celebrity interviews and music performances are popular, especially with the Citi Concert Series during the summer.
There are no tickets required to be in the audience outside the studio or at the concerts, as these are free events open to the general public. There are a limited number of free "Fan Passes" available for the Citi Concert Series performances that allow passholders closer spots to the stage. These passes are available via digital lottery through the "Today" Citi Concert Series' newsletter.
Day-to-day, though, guests are always welcome to visit the Plaza. Even though no tickets are required, make sure to RSVP via the "Today" website and let them know if you're coming for a special occasion. Who knows—maybe you'll be on camera! The show tapes between 7:00 am-11:00 am, but you'll want to get there early. Wear comfy shoes and have your cameras ready, as you are encouraged to take photos and share them with friends, family and social media followers.
LIVE With Kelly
When you watch "LIVE with Kelly" how many times have you wanted to be that lucky studio audience member who wins a prize after the on-air caller answers the trivia question? Every time, right? Well, you can't win if you aren't in the studio audience, and for that you will need a ticket!
"LIVE With Kelly" uses 1iota for advanced tickets, but sometimes has standby tickets, on the day, on a first-come-first-served basis. Standby numbers are handed out as early as 7:00 am, and then one would need to come back to the studio at 8:15 am to see if a seat is available. Audience members get to watch Kelly at work, in addition to interviews with guests and/or musical performances.
The Rachael Ray Show
Rachael Ray has been doling out advice, interviewing famous folks and making people hungry as she shares her recipies on "The Rachael Ray Show" since 2006.
Although the audience doesn't get to sample the tasty dishes she masterfully prepares on the show, they do get to see her make them. Tickets are available through request only via the show's website, and ticket confirmations are emailed two weeks prior to taping, so plan ahead. There are sometimes standby tickets (aquired with standby vouchers) available on the day, an hour before taping. Standby vouchers do not guarantee admission to the show, though.
The Dr. Oz Show
Dr. Mehmet Oz is a doctor—more specifically a cardiothoracic surgeon—and plays one on TV. A former health expert on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Dr. Oz has hosted his own daytime program, "The Dr. Oz Show," since 2009.
Topics cover the gamut of health issues—including diet, fitness, mental health, sex, medication—and stress how to take care of yourself and those you surround yourself with. Tickets are available only through the show's website for upcoming tapings. There are in-person standby tickets you can get on taping days, though those are subject to availabilty.
The audience of "The View" is the place to be if you want to see Whoopi Goldberg (and Co.) free associate about what's going on in the world these days.
Topics range from entertainment to politics and everything in between. Celebrity interviews, music and theatrical performances, as well as the co-hosts lively discussions fill the hour. Tickets can be acquired through 1iota. The show welcomes large groups, so if you and a bunch of friends are looking to see something together, this would be an option. Standby tickets are sometimes available on the day of the taping, but that is dependent upon the advance tickets being "sold" out.
It's so easy to get hooked on "The Chew," what with all that yummy-looking food, cute crafts and a likable quintet of co-hosts; Chef Mario Batali, "What Not To Wear" co-host Clinton Kelly, author Daphne Oz, former "Top Chef" contestant Carla Hall, and "Iron Chef America" star Michael Symon.
Tickets are available through 1iota. Similar to "The View," "The Chew" loves hosting groups of 10-20 people. It's best to show up to your taping of "The Chew" looking fierce and ready to have fun—select audience members will get orange stripes on their tickets, allowing them seats at the front, which ensures they'll be on-camera and taste-testers for food made during the taping. Standby tickets on the day of tapings are subject to availability.
Late Night Shows
I'm going to let you in on a not-so-secret secret—late night talk shows tape in the afternoon or evening. So while a show may air between 11:30 pm-1:30 am, you'll be out of the studio hours before then.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Tickets for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon", as well as Fallon's monologue rehearsals are released through 1iota one month at a time for the following month's taping, though you must sign up to be a Tonight Show Member, also free.
These tickets go fast and usually are gone within minutes of being posted. There are standby lines for both the show and monologue rehearsals, though these are subject to availability.
Pairs of free tickets are also handed out on Thursday and Friday somewhere in NYC. Locations for those tickets are revealed via "The Tonight Show's" social media.
Late Night with Seth Meyers
Similar to "The Tonight Show," "Late Night with Seth Meyers" allows the general public access to its show tickets a month in advance via 1iota. However, tickets for Meyers' monologue rehearsals are handed out in person at the NBC Experience store in Rockefeller Plaza at 12:30 pm on days the show tapes. Standby tickets for the show do exist, though they are subject to availability and do not guarantee admission. Check out the "Late Show's" website for more information.
Late Night with Stephen Colbert
Reserving a ticket does not guarantee entry, as audiences are overbooked to ensure a packed house, so make sure to get there on time (or early!) to the ticket distribution. Unlike Colbert's Comedy Central show, "The Colbert Report," the "Late Show" focuses on more topics than politics, as he interviews actors, authors and musicians in addition to political analysts and governement officials.
Saturday Night Live
And, of course, there is "Saturday Night Live." Actually filmed live, "SNL" is a NYC establishment that has been satarizing popular culture and politics for over 40 years.
Tickets are distributed via a digital lottery. To enter, you must submit an email during the month of August to email@example.com with all of your contact information.
Should you be lucky enough to be chosen, you will be contacted 4-6 weeks before a taping and told whether you got a pair of tickets for dress rehearsal or the live show. Standby tickets for dress rehearsal and live shows are available on the day, but do not guarantee admission. Waiting in this standby line takes time and dedication.
Watching television being filmed may be a spectator sport, but obtaining a ticket to do so is the definition of "audience participation."