There are three different ways to get free tickets to the Jimmy Fallon show. You can blindly request them months ahead for a certain date without knowing who the guests or musical performer will be. Or you can try and get standby tickets the day of the show, which I understand is a pain, and a far from a guarantee that you will get tickets. The third way is by submitting for “band bench” tickets HERE.
With the band bench tickets, you can pick which band you would like to see, and then get to stand on one of three stage platforms—one above the band on the right, one on the left, and one directly behind the band—during the musical performance. I have won band bench tickets twice now, and would highly recommend it.
If you win the tickets, you can expect an email from NBC roughly around noon the day before the show, and then a reminder phone call the morning of the show. You are expected to check in at Rocefeller Center (49th Street between 5th and 6th avenues) no later than 3:45 pm. The easiest way to get to the check in location is if you go through the main entrance on 49th (with the skating rink to your back), and once inside the building go immediately to your left where you will find a staircase. Once up the staircase, the first doorway on your left will be the “digital café” where you check in. Make sure you are definitely there before 3:45 though, because they strictly enforce the deadline.
After checking in, you get a ticket and a wristband, and you are told to meet back on the main floor at 4:15, though the second time I went it was pushed to 4:30. In the meantime you can stroll around the area or go to the underground concourse and get food or coffee. Perhaps you may even get lucky and see Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, and Alec Baldwin taping a scene for a 30 Rock episode, as I did the second time I attended the Fallon show.
When it is time to meet back up, you are led upstairs to a waiting hallway, where the audience members are sorted into several different lines. Band Bench winners go the right, and all the way down to the end of the hallway. When you originally check in at the digital café, a number is written on your ticket. The first time I went, we were put in line in the order of our numbers. The second time, we were not. However, regardless of where you are in the initial band bench line, it really comes down to luck as to where your platform placement will be, so don’t stress over line position.
The band bench line is the last one to be escorted to the studio. You are guided back downstairs where you go through a metal detector, and then put in an elevator. The elevator takes you directly to the studio, where you are then seated. Unfortunately, the band bench winners have to sit in the last two rows of the studio until the band performance at the end. The last two rows are also wooden benches rather than the cushioned chairs the rest of the audience gets to sit in. While some people might be really disappointed with the wooden bench at the back of the studio, I really didn’t think it was a big deal, and being close to the band at the end makes up for it. It could be worse too, the third to last row is also a wooden bench, but the people sitting there still have to remain in their seats during the musical performance.
The taping begins around 5:30 pm, but both times that I went; there was a bonus musical surprise. The first time, Gary Clarke Jr. sat in with The Roots (Jimmy’s house band) through the whole show. The second time, Bon Iver came out and did an off-screen performance with the roots before taping began. The Roots continue to play songs for the audience during the commercial breaks, and put a lot of energy into them.
When it is time for the musical guest to perform, the band bench winners are led down to the stage, and directed to the three different platforms. Once again, it really is luck where you are placed. Then the band comes on and plays their song, literally right in front of you. If you are lucky, you may even catch an eye contact or smile from one of your favorite musicians. Once the show is over, and you take the elevator back down, you are on the sidewalk by 7pm with plenty of time to get home to look for yourself on national television behind the band.