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Posting here on behalf of @Symbolman:

tonightshowticketsWho needs teleprompters when a studio can simply insert canned laughter?

I've dealt with sound engineering for 30 years, as a film maker, interviewer, musician, working with master reel to reel tapes/decks at EMS Music in Seattle in the 80's as a sound duplication engineer, or setting sound levels for my and other bands in live situations at shows. I won a Hollywood award for animation in 2000. I know sound. And it's my opinion that audio portions of Sarah Palin's March 2nd appearance on Jay Leno's Tonight show were added or amplified, edited before broadcast to make it appear that Sarah Palin was more welcome than she was.

I know. I was there.

They added laughter where there was none during uncomfortable portions. Well, there was some laughter. Mine, of derision. During those pregnant pauses in her performance I was laughing long and loud, couldn't help myself as much of what she was saying was utterly surreal, ridiculous, hypocritical - nonsense, spewed platitudes, pushed buttons. I was seriously thinking of leaving as it was getting hysterically unfunny.

After sitting through the taping of the show in the studio I can recount many portions where there was little or no laughter or response, but at the later broadcast they are smoothed over with applause and laughter that WERE NOT THERE at the taping. Groans, hoots, grumbling, or just dead silence - all missing.

Soon after leaving the studio I basically tweeted, "Hey, was in the belly of the beast, attended taping of Palin on Tonight show, she bombed." Retweets abounded, let folks know that they could listen to my jeering laughter during dead spots in the interview, jokes no one laughed at, etc, and many folks cursed me for making them think about watching her on Leno that night. We all had a good chuckle - but I wasn't laughing at the broadcast, because selective miking during a "live edit" or later additions made it appear as if I'd lied nearly as much as Sarah Palin does.

(In the interest of disclosure my wife and I created a parody "Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring & Activity Book" and have sold many copies. It was featured in the Washington Post, AP, The New York Times, Buzzflash, Entertainment Tonight broadcast the cover repeatedly pre-Christmas, and in general it's been happily received. Even right wingers have purchased copies, and loved them.)

But we had never attended a Palin "event", and decided it was time to see her in person, so we flew 6 thousand miles round trip from the east coast to be in the audience as a sort of mellow protest, wave copies of the book to freak her out, hand them out to staff & audience at the Studio. Security waved our copies on through, and folks there were reading it during the show and cracking up at the humor. Even the camera guys.

Well, not the one Security guy during the show who told my wife to sit down, she was dancing and waving our book, and to the shows credit we weren't expelled nor did they confiscate the books. I wouldn't have cared if they did, we've been activists for a long time, and I've been ready on many occasions to go to jail for making folks aware of lies and distortions by media and govt, mostly during the GWBush years, when was an intregal part of the protest scene. Some folks have credited us with the invention of the online Flash political attack ad. Millions enjoyed my political animations from 2000 on, before the advent of YouTube.

From my seat to the right of the stage, by the band, I could tell that an average of 70% of the audience did not like Sarah Palin. Many literally sat on their hands. This is LA and I wondered when we went in, just how many people would be into Palin here. C'mon, this is LA, man! Make no mistake, the national figure for nutjobs were represented, the same insane 30% of the country that always believe in racism, GWBush, War, Torture, the Libertarians, Teabaggers were there too, and quite vocal. Throw in a shotgun microphone and you've got yourself a laugh riot with these guys.

Before the show they brought out a cheerleader, ginning up the audience, telling jokes, dancing around the stage. Having been a sound engineer I knew that this comedian's secondary use was setting the sound levels for the room ahead of time.

"Okay, now everyone on the right side of the room, let's hear it!!" "Left side of the room, applause! Give it up! Don't let those on the right side of the room beat you!" "Now everyone, squeal like a piggy, WHEEEE - Loud!"

Behind us the sound man was tweaking levels for all manners of amplitude, to reduce murmur, bottom end rumble, they use all sorts of filters to keep out unwanted levels of noise, chatter, etc. Straight to the sound booth, who make sure there's no "crunchy" or overamped audio, no overpowering of VU meters. Set up compression, all the good stuff.

Jay came out to raucous applause, hell, we clapped too, I like the guy, not as much as Letterman or Connan but I'm a comedy fan, and some of the show as funny. Shaun White was way cool, funny, authentic, there multiple ovations, and Adam Lambert ROCKED the house, as the latest and future incarnation of David Bowie. Lots of fun.

But when Jay brought out Sarah Palin, she was completely nerved. Watch the video, check out her breathing, she's Freaked and talks a mile a minute. Both my wife and I agreed - when you actually get close enough, she's just plain Creepy, and those yech vibes filled the room. Nevermind the applause sign - something that's a staple of late night shows. My brother in law used to say, "You know why they add laugh tracks? So you know it's Comedy." Folks did as they were told, hooting, clapping, having a good time, hey, that's why they were there. Me too.

The basic rules for the studio audience were simple: NO Eating, NO drinking and NO shouting anything out. Other than that, knock yourselves out, have a good time. Yet, judging by the Security surrounding the stage where Palin brought the Silly, shouting out, "Hey Sarah, How many wolf puppies have you gassed?!" would have been suicidal.

Nothing in the rules said that Laughing at all the Wrong Times would be a problem, the wrong times in this circumstance were when she was bringing the crazy that no one wanted to touch, or call her out on. And Jay, while he chided her, didn't really put down the hammer. Ratings. Shame.

And while NBC Sold Palin, she sold her body, jiggling, teasing, pushing the cutesy-pie, what we used to call in the military, a "prick tease". She short circuits brains, deflects the fact that most of what she says is nonsense or hateful, as lizard layers of right wing men's brains hum a sexual fantasy tune, and women who have thrown all sense of propriety to the wind, watching her strip, want to be just like her. Rich. Stupid. The sweet "Bite Me" bitch attitude she's honed to an art form. No, she doesn't just "wink" - she uses her whole body to sell the package. Turn off the sound, just watch her body language. I find it whorish, repulsive, and I'm no prude.

At at least four points in the show she was getting so far out in screwball territory, or was just so damned unfunny that I couldn't help but laugh when no others were, at the absurdity of her statements. Literally biting off yards of tongue, because at home I'm ready to throw bricks at my TV when she's on. The TV, not Her, let's be clear.

One: She was so happy to back John McCain's bid for re-election in Arizona, at least for now, left the audience puzzled, confused. I Chortled with great vigor. Not in the broadcast.

Two: During the monologue when she made a crack about No Tomatoes being allowed, even the Teabaggers in the audience didn't want to touch that one. The Sarah Sucks crowd, my people, said nothing. Crickets. The whole audience seemed stunned, and again, I howled. Not in the broadcast. Nothing. Nada. (You may recall that after someone threw a tomatoe at her in a mall, at the following Costco Book signing ALL Tomatoes were removed from the store prior to her entrance.)

I was sitting by the band. They don't mike the BAND? C'mon.

Three: Explaining how it's cool to write on her hand. She lied about what was on there, then sails to pluto with, "my dad, a teacher, used to come home with notes (answers?) written all over his hands..." again, dead air. No ONE was buying it, it was just too bizarre. The answer? Just ADD canned Laughter. A lie.

Four: Was directed at US. (Of course this joke was written long before we were in the audience, and hey, she kills moose, so, it's kind of an obvious one) The Moose Joke. We feature a layout in our book of a whole, cooked moose on a platter surrounded by vegetables as a Palin "recipe". I wrote copy about her getting beauty sleep in a crashed plane, stealing canoes from natives, packing 800 lbs of moose out after plugging it, sitting on its body as it dies, all just to get back and feed her family.

Now, If you watch the video, Palin looks hard Left, right at us, pauses, as we wave our coloring books. Don't look for footage of the coloring books being bandied about like a prize bass, you won't see that. And I'm not saying that was edited out, audience video is very controlled, not everyone gets seen, though they try like hell - but she looked us in the eye. Sarah doesn't like us much. We expose many of her anti-environmental policies in our book, her cruelty to animals, destruction of ecosystems, being in the pocket of the oil companies, all in a humorous way. Don't get me wrong, I've eaten moose myself, lived in Alaska for 12 years. I know Alaska. I've crashed in helicopters in ANWR. She's not the Alaska I know, and doesn't represent those fine people, or their ways.

She's a fraud, and I was beginning to think she knows it, deep down inside, when my wife said, "She's Very Competitive, and she's not about to give up. We may have actually spurred her on with our antics and the book." Oops. We'll spur her on with some more in the next one.

But Sarah Palin is vengeful. She ever gets into office again, she might have us sent to Siberia, or worse, Wasilla.

Hold me.

The real heroes of the night were Shaun White and Adam Lambert - the audience was delighted, all of it, and blew the roof off the place when they were mentioned and appeared. Meanwhile, Leno's show used the ambience to give Palin Cover. They sold her. Her book, her body, her celebrity, her future, all of it. And 70% of an audience weren't buying it, but you can't tell from the broadcast.

I know. I was there.

They should bear some responsibilty for hawking a defective product. This is corporate shilling in the worst way, not only to raise Leno's ratings, but to push Palin on a crowd with fake laughter and applause. The applause sign is one thing, an american institution. But INSERTING Laughter for Sarah Palin? Try to realize that while you may be laughing at the things she says, because she's a train wreck, the corporate powers that be are ADJUSTING the laughter so it appears APPROPRIATE. I worked in a mental institution. The very basic definition of insanity is "inappropriate laughter". WHO decides what's "appropriate"? Apparently, corporations. Not you.

Your reality no longer belongs to you. There is at this time no way of telling if a crowd actually backs a person or not. (Enter Twilight Zone music here, or Outer Limits, your choice.) Because...

Your reality has been hacked.

But not mine. I was there.

I wanted to say that Leno has earned his ratings, that he's funny, and he is at times, and deserves his talk show.

Can't. Not now. Sorry to say, The Tonight Show is a lie, more than ever a corporate shill that's performing a cultural engineering service. Selling garbage, that is literally ruinous to our nation and women's rights. That destroys the fabric of our society. It's real.

I saw it. I was there.

I need a stiff drink.You?

Activist Micheal Stinson aka Symbolman, former Alaskan, Founder of is an author, satirist, animator (and gonzo tweeter @symbolman) who has appeared on FOX's O'Reilly, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and CNN cable shows, as well as numerous radio shows. His wife, Julie Sigwart, is the brilliant cartoonist behind the hit parody "Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring & Activity Book"

Micheal can be contacted at

Originally posted to TBTM Julie on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 07:35 PM PST.

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