Colbchella ‘012

Colbchella ‘012

Concerts, Comedy and Colbert

The flight deck of the Intrepid is an immensely popular event venue in the summer. The temperature is hot for New Yorkers, but the weather is generally more cooperative than the winter months, and the view of the skyline is unhindered by fog.

The Tour

It came as no surprise when Comedy Central approached us with a potential venue for a concert festival they were hosting in August.  When scheduling their tour, they gave no major details other than the date and event type, which is not uncommon as clients normally keep big events hush-hush in early planning.

As I’m giving the Comedy Central crew the full tour of the facilities—the flight deck, hangers, planes, and the lower decks—they slowly fill me in on the full story. Pepsi is sponsoring a music festival for them, with names like Grandmaster Flash, Santigold, Grizzly Bear, fun., and The Flaming Lips. Comedy Central specifically wants to televise one night of the festival for the Colbert Report. And, Stephen Colbert himself is hosting the event!

I struggle to hold in my excitement. Stephen Tyrone Colbert is my absolute favorite comedian.

The Setup

Picture this: it’s the middle of August in New York. It’s hot, it’s humid and the setup for Colbchella ‘012 is in full swing. We’ve got a crane over the Hudson River; we’re using the old bomb elevator to bring up sound equipment, cameras, and staging; and sound checks are running with the rest of the museum still open. It was chaos!

I’m trying to supervise and direct traffic as best as possible when the Comedy Central crew rolls out a GIANT inflatable hamster ball. They tell me it’s for Colbert to crowd surf in. Suddenly I’m instantly analyzing everything that could go wrong in that situation.

“Absolutely not. What if he gets rolled off the deck?”

I’m moderately annoyed as they laugh me off and continue unloading, but I make a mental note to add extra security personnel around the perimeter of the deck. Stephen Colbert is not rolling off the flight deck, not on my watch.

The Big Night

The cameras are set up, final sound checks have been done and the crowd is ready for a show. The Flaming Lips are almost finished with their set and it happens. Not one, but 2 hamster balls are rolled out with Stephen Colbert and the band’s frontman, Wayne Coyne.

I hold my breath, I’ve prepared for the worst that can happen, but all I can do is watch in despair and sigh in relief when they are rolled back to the stage. Whew. No one rolled off the flight deck—check.

The rest of the acts went down without a hitch and the night is almost over when I get a call from security about a flood in the dressing rooms—great. I rush down to figure out the details and I’m pointed in the direction of Colbert’s dressing room. Ugh, not only is there a flood in a dressing room, it’s in the dressing room of Stephen Freakin’ Colbert, my favorite comedian. I take a deep breath before knocking, not knowing what state the room would be in when the door opened.

It swings open and I quickly see that there is no such disaster, only a collected Colbert changing between sets. He wanted to thank me—ME—for the hard work that had gone into making the festival a success.

Check out some great photos of the event and performers at