Attending a live TV show taping can be a fun and inexpensive way to enjoy your stay in New York City. If you're a fan of HBO's comedy news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver—or you just want a behind-the-scenes look at a late-night talk show—follow these tips for how to get free tickets.
How to Get "Last Week Tonight" Tickets in Advance
You can request free tickets to see the news satire show through the Last Week Tonight website. They release tickets Tuesdays at 2 p.m. ET approximately one month before the scheduled taping. Be prepared to enter the lottery as soon as tickets become available because they can sell out within a matter of minutes. There is a four-ticket limit per request.
They ask that if you have already attended a live taping within the last four seasons, that you do not apply to win more tickets so other fans can participate in a taping. To give everyone a fair shot, they will also eliminate you from the running if you try to enter a lottery more than once.
Very rarely Last Week Tonight tweets about last-minute ticket giveaways; follow their Twitter for the latest updates.
You will need a photo ID with the name matching the reservation to claim your tickets. Note that you must be at least 18 years old to attend.
How to Get Standby "Last Week Tonight" Tickets
First off, Standby tickets are extremely limited for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; unlike Saturday Night Live, they distribute the vast majority of their tickets through their online system. However, it is worth a shot if you weren't able to snag tickets online. Want to try your luck? They request that you line up at the studio no earlier than 5:30 p.m. ET on the day of taping—but it's not unusual for fans to arrive at 3 p.m. for a chance to get into the show.
How to Get to the "Last Week Tonight" Studio
The show tapes at the CBS Broadcast Center at 530 West 57th St., between 10th and 11th Avenues. You can hail a cab or take a ride-share to the studio; traffic can be heavy, so the subway might be the most efficient option. To get there by subway, take the B/C/D/1/2 train to 59 St – Columbus Circle.
What to Do Nearby
The CBS Broadcast Center is a few blocks west of Central Park; arrive a few hours before the show starts to give yourself time to wander through the 778-acre green space. Later, meander over to Hudson River Park for spectacular views of the waterfront and Jersey City skyline.
If the weather is gloomy, head to the Museum of Modern Art for world-class exhibitions and works by the likes of van Gogh and Cézanne. Or, get a glimpse at another TV studio by joining a tour of NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center.
When you're getting hungry, the studio is just north of Hell's Kitchen, which boasts a diversity of restaurants sure to satisfy whatever you're craving. And if you feel like stretching your legs after the show, Levain Bakery's famous chocolate chip cookies are just a 20-minute walk north.
What to Know Before You Go
- The show tapes about once a week at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday evenings, and take care to arrive at least 40 minutes before then. You can expect the whole experience to last roughly an hour and a half.
- Large packages, shopping bags, suitcases, etc. are not permitted in the studio, so make sure to drop off your belongings at your hotel before you arrive. Small purses, however, are allowed.
- Smart casual dress is suggested. Bring a sweater or jacket if you're attending a taping—they keep the studios pumped full of refrigerated air so it does get rather chilly.
- Before the taping, John Oliver hosts a mini Q&A session with the audience—come prepared with questions!
- Photos are not allowed, so do put your phone away and enjoy. This might be your one chance to see a taping of Last Week Tonight!