I Went to “The Kelly Clarkson Show” During the Pandemic, Here’s What it Was Really Like

Taylor Fox
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Kelly ClarksonNoam Galai/GC Images

“Kelly Clarkson has arrived in New York City!” The Kelly Clarkson Show returns for season three on September 13, just one week before the season premiere of The Voice. This season, the live audience will return to the tapings after a year of virtual audiences due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We went to a taping of the show in New York City, and it wasn’t as easy as it used to be.


As anyone who has ever attempted to attend a show taping in New York City will tell you, it’s nearly impossible to get tickets (yes, even pre-pandemic). You start on the 1iota website by requesting tickets to the event you prefer. As these tickets are always free, the wait lists can be impossibly long.

Luckily, Clarkson usually tapes The Kelly Clarkson Show in Los Angeles, which I suspect is why I was able to snag a “pod” for one of her few tapings in New York last week in the first place. The first week of her third season takes place in NYC to honor “everyday heroes doing extraordinary things in their communities,” according to a news release.

Waiting Lists, Appointment Schedules, Covid Tests, and More

“We can’t wait to kick off our third season of The Kelly Clarkson Show celebrating New York City,” Clarkson said in the release. “A city that is known for its energy, resilience and the arts that have been inspiring me since I was a kid! Now I warned people last season that mama would show up if I kept getting invited…well, no take-backs, here I am New York!”


After requesting tickets, I received an e-mail to schedule a mandatory Covid-19 test. Not just any Covid test would do, we were required to schedule an appointment and get tested at a facility specified by the show. Keep in mind, at this point we were still not guaranteed tickets.

We were required to head to the specific Covid testing site at our appointment time (all tests were held between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET two days before our scheduled taping.) As soon as we entered the building, we were greeted by the facility staff with the big question: “The Kelly Clarkson Show?”

Before getting tested, we showed proof of vaccination. Once completed, we got the quick and painless nasal swab and were off on our merry way. We were in and out of the testing site in less than 15 minutes. While it was a quick and painless process, I will say the timing requirement alone essentially means out-of-towners could not participate in the taping unless they’re really skillful at time management.


Less than 24-hours later, our tests came back negative and our pod was “cleared to attend.” We verified that we would, in fact, attend the taping and our tickets moved to “priority.”

Spoiler Alert: Tickets Are Never Guaranteed

Now, you might think: we went to their required covid testing site, tested negative, confirmed our attendance, and received virtual tickets, Woo I get to go to The Kelly Clarkson Show! Oh no friends. What we learned on Thursday morning after arriving at Jazz at Lincoln Center at 8:30 a.m. for the 10 a.m. taping, is that 1iota overbooks tapings to guarantee a full audience for any given show.

Not so lucky for us as we made it to the front of the line and were told the audience was “full.”

Clearly having to deal with this issue all the time, the staff were prepared. They allowed us to write our names down in a very casual notebook that “guaranteed” us a seat for the afternoon taping.

Again, we were lucky that Clarkson usually tapes in L.A. A normal show would not have two episode tapings in one day, so we would have been S.O.L. if the audience filled up before we got a seat.

My pod-buddy and I spent the two hours waiting in the Starbucks around the circle and showed up extra early for the afternoon taping. We still weren’t the first people in line. We were told to show up around 12:30 p.m. to get preferential seats for the 2 p.m. taping. When we got there at noon, we were about twenty people away from the front.

The Secret to Attending a Live Taping: Patience and Energy

The casual notebook list of people bumped from the first show did in fact come through and get us in the first group to head up to the holding room. Yet after waiting four hours to get access, we were more excited for the goodie bags than anything else.

One hour of waiting in the holding area with extremely enthusiastic Clarkson fans all dressed in vibrant colors later, we finally made it into the studio.

The 1iota team called us in group by group and they sat us, I assume by order of how stylishly we were dressed and how much camera time we would receive. I’m happy to report that the Talent Recap pod was in the front row, right in the middle. Flips hair.

While I take this seating as a compliment, it also meant that for the better portion of the following four hours, a camera was pointed in our direction, and I had to control my resting b*tch face while woo!-ing like I was back at sorority recruitment.

Kelly, I see you girl. Your job is not easy. Bless you for being as perky as you are for upwards of 20 hours a day.

Mask On, Mask Off

Clarkson began the taping by performing a Kellyoke, which was just as impressive in-person. Moving into interviews of her special guests, the audience was directed to take our masks off while cameras were rolling and put them back on during breaks. The in-house hype man joked on multiple occasions, “Covid disappears while the cameras are rolling I guess.”

While in New York, Clarkson’s guests included Ariana Grande, Amy Adams, Selma Blair, Angela Bassett, Kristen Bell, Kandi Burruss, Kathy Hilton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Leslie Jones, Demi Lovato, LL Cool J, Chris Martin, Seth Meyers, Julianne Moore, Tracy Morgan, Nelly, Maury Povich, Ben Platt, Dan Reynolds, Sarah Shahi, Amandla Stenberg, Hannah Waddingham, Bowen Yang, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Trisha Yearwood. In addition, she included special segments of average New Yorkers doing good in the city.

While 1iota recommends show guests bring layers and comfortable shoes, I’d add to that list. If you ever manage to get to a show taping, especially while Covid regulations are still in effect, bring snacks and bring masks! With all the taking on and off and having nowhere to put my face mask, I ended up losing one and had to resort to the plastic mask the show provided in my goodie bag. Inhaling that beach ball was the least pleasant part of the entire day.

The Kelly Clarkson Show‘s new season will premiere in two weeks, be sure to tune in to catch our close-ups (and of course, see the star-studded episodes.)

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