Note: This post has been completely rewritten, as it gets hit a lot by people looking for HIGNFY tickets. Information is below, but the title of this post is (probably) now wrong - tickets won't be available today unless you're very lucky. Read on for information about what to do for tickets, and when you're done I'd be honoured if you decided to explore, do leave comments if you find something you like.
First, the old information
Have I got news for You tickets should be available right now, from 11am today. (Note, no longer true)
Fingers crossed that I can get tickets again!
Here's the more up to date info.
Hat Trick have a mailing list. They email out to say that the tickets are available from a certain time and date.
To get on the mailing list you either need to get tickets, which will usually put you on the list (a catch-22) - or you do as I did, find some contact details and send them a nice email. These days, they have a website where you can sign up.
Every six months or so, they send an email. You note the information in your diary and set an alarm on the day. Typically you will have less than an hour to request tickets. Often less. Even then, they are sometimes massively over-subscribed and get back to you over the next few days to say 'you have tickets' or 'sorry'.
On the day, show up early. The queue is long, and gets markedly longer at about 5:30pm. They issue more tickets than seats. You should be okay turning up as late as 6:30pm (for a 7pm start) - but it isn't guaranteed.
I think that people who don't get in tend to get a priority entrance for a later show as compensation - but I wouldn't swear to that as it has never applied to me.
They sometimes check people's names against the list. If you asked for tickets and didn't show up, then you're probably going to be less likely to get tickets in the future. It'd be wise to email them if you can't show as they can then re-assign the tickets. It's also the nice thing to do.
On cold winter nights, I have known them to bring out mulled wine - however, this was exceptional, so don't expect it.
Once in, it's pot luck for seating. Some seats are great (directly in front of the camera which gives the establishing shot). I've never got these seats. The side seats behind Ian or Paul are good (some of those will be on camera, some not - to avoid being on camera, sit furthest from the chairman). The worse seats are in the main section, far left or far right - at the front. From these you simply cannot see the show direct and you see it on the monitors. This sucks, but you do get all the gags - not the edited version. Sometimes the bits left out are better that what is left in!
It really is pot luck - sometimes the best seats are filled last, sometimes the worst. It depends on the will of the guys in red shirts, how many invited audience members there are (friends of cast and crew) etc.
During the show, you can't get up and leave, so it's best not to drink to much and to try and 'have a squeeze' of the old bladder. The show is filmed continuously and then edited down. It can be quite quick, or quite long, depending upon the guests and host. The loo is near the entrance of the building.
The show starts with a warmup act. These can sometimes be good, sometimes cringeworthy (personally I loathe acts who start to talk to random audience members). The warm-up then introduces the panel and guest host. They all do soundchecks. Paul Merton tells a joke, it often involved two blokes digging holes and people who have been before groan as one. He has also been known to tell a gag about an old lady on a bus.
The lights darken, the credits role, and they do the show. Generally, the more used to autocue the host is, the quicker the recording. Contrasting with this, people such as Boris Johnson tended to have long (and very funny) recordings.
After the recording, they do retakes. This is usually where the guest host fluffed a line, or could not be heard over the audience laughter. You are asked to try to laugh as if you hadn't heard the joke before.
The retakes are often very funny. Paul Merton especially knows it can be a pain for the audience and tends to entertain.
Once everything is done, the guest host is thanked - people leave.
I hope this update was useful to you, please do stay and explore!