By Helin Jung
March 01, 2007 at 10:52 PM EST

PopWatchers, you wouldn’t have believed my excitement. I was jumping and hopping and skipping all over the place — I had just witnessed a moment in history, or something, and I was jazzed. By the time I got around to blogging about it, a mere few hours after it had happened, the edits had already been made on Wikipedia. So you know what’s up, and you knew all along that this would happen anyway: John McCain announced (though not “formally” — he’s doing that on The Tonight Show) on The Late Show With David Letterman that he is running for President of the United States in the 2008 elections.

I was there, way in the last row of the balcony, and I applauded mightily. It’s not that I align with Senator McCain’s politics, or find him a particularly appealing candidate. It just felt like a big deal to be part of this audience, listening to what he had to say (“You drag [the announcement process] out as long as you can”). It actually felt like a big deal to be there at all, seeing as how, unlike former fanatic Whitney Pastorek, I was a Late Show audience virgin until last night.

Joining a lot of out-of-towners and a handful of New Yorkers, my cube neighbor Sophia Asare and I stood in line and endured ARE YOU READY TO GET EXCITED ABOUT THE SHOW cheer time so that we could get our official tickets. Inside the great Ed Sullivan Theater, the audience trainer taught us silly monkeys how to laugh and clap and cheer appropriately. We got a few minutes of alone time with the CBS Orchestra, and then some fleeting, precious moments with Dave. By the start of the show, we were panting for more. The hour-long taping zoomed by, and I clapped the whole time.

I watched the show later that night on TV, and the feeling wasdifferent. My view was a lot better this time. I actually saw faces,close up, and it occurred to me that the show is more familiar thanfunny,  run by a bunch of geriatrics, guests being no exception(Senator McCain, if he wins the election, will be the oldest-electedpresident in history). I remembered the way the set got broken apart tomake room for the musical act’s equipment, or how the furniture lookeda little shabbier in the theater than it did on TV, the laughter not souniformly hearty. Whereas my participation as an audience memberallowed me to feel like I was a part of the production, the experiencealtered the way I viewed the show.

Do I regret having lost my V-card to the Late Show? No. Itwas great fun, and I recommend it to anyone living in or visiting thecity. Just prepare yourself for a meeting akin to seeing the Wizard, alittle loss of innocence, if you will.