Part 1 of 3
Do you ever have one of those moments of pure adrenaline when you just do something and don’t know why you’re doing it, but you know the end result will be great? That’s the feeling I had when I decided to say “yes” to “Late Night with Seth Meyers” tickets.
You’re probably wondering, as many people are, how I got said tickets. “But Steph, tickets to see NBC shows are next to impossible to get! You have to sign up years in advance for them. You have to put your name in a lottery and hope you get picked before you die or get too old to appreciate television. You have to basically sell your soul. How did you do this?” Well my friends, let me tell you the story of the stand-by ticket.
It’s a myth that you may have heard about, but never really knew if it was true or not. NBC doesn’t really like to explain stand-by tickets either. They don’t want to make things easy.
Luckily for me I am an obsessive NBC and late-night comedy fan. I have done years of research to prepare for my trip to New York last week. I needed to see one of these shows. My original plan was to try and get into “Saturday Night Live,” but was unsuccessful. It was nice out on Saturday so lots of people came out to wait in the stand-by line in the early hours of the morning and Ed Sheeran was the musical guest so lots of moms were already waiting in line for their daughters. Sigh.
Anyway, back to Seth. So, the first thing I did when I arrived in the city was head down to 30Rock. I sat in the plaza for a while and admired my favorite place in my favorite city. Then I decided to go into the NBC Experience store. I wanted to see if they had any new merchandise from the last time I was there and I wanted a “Late Night” shirt. This was the best decision I made that day.
After selecting my Seth shirt and bringing it to the checkout I started up a conversation with the girl working. She asked if I had been to NBC before and I said yes and that I was actually going to try and get SNL tickets on Saturday. She asked if I was a big Seth fan because I was buying a shirt and I said yes. She then asked me if I had plans for the night. I didn’t really so I said I was doing nothing and she responded with “Do you want tickets for the show?”
I immediately knew that there would be a catch. NBC is sneaky with letting people know how they do things. I couldn’t let NBC think they were in control here. After all, I know more about 30Rock and late-night comedy than I know about the women’s studies class I’m in right now. Or any of my classes really. I had to let them know I knew what was going on and I knew what I was doing. So I asked if they were stand-by tickets. The girl smiled. She must have been thinking, “Oh this girl is smart. She must have late-night comedy aspirations or just really has a big crush on Colin Jost.” Both are true. Next I asked if I would have to pay for the tickets. She said no, because, people, stand-by tickets and any ticket for a live show at 30Rock is free. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I then remembered something else. You can only have one ticket per person. I was with a group of girls from my college (Drake University) who are all magazine majors with me. Only a few were actually with me at the time and the others were doing something else so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get tickets for everyone. I told her I was with two other girls and asked if they could have tickets too. To my surprise she was pleasant and said yes. She went in back and got me three stand-by tickets.
Now it gets complicated. Now that we had the tickets we had to jump through NBC’s hoops to be able to get into the actual show. First, a stand-by ticket does not get you into the show. It only gives you a chance to stand in line and if there are open seats in the studio after all of the general admissions (people that don’t know about stand-by and got tickets from the website and sold their souls) then the rest of the seats will be filled by stand-bys. Some stand-bys may get in while others don’t. That’s what happened at SNL.
To continue to be a stand-by ticket holder, however, you need to check in with pages at various times during the day before the show. I think we went to two separate check-ins after getting the tickets. If you don’t show up at one of the designated ticket times you will be forced to give up your spot because fair is fair.
Once we checked in a second time we waited in line with a page explaining how things works. I would like to point out that NBC pages are the best people in the world and I love them. The shit they put up with everyday is crazy. For instance, a woman who was at the back of the line (you have to stand in the numbered order of your ticket) continued to get out of her spot in line while we waited and pestered the nice page with idiotic questions. When more people would arrive to get in line she would run out of her spot and ask the page “What number are they?! Does this hurt my chances of getting in? How much longer do we have to wait to find out?” Her questions were always answered with, “I don’t know. Please get back in line.” Pages never know the answers to anything. They of course do, but NBC doesn’t want them telling us too much. I understand that because there should be a little mystery behind everything in TV.
Anyways, back to our annoying woman. Another page soon came down and started counting us. Yes, you do kind of feel like you’re a cow they are trying to sell. She was simply counting to see how many of us there were. Once she got past counting annoying woman, annoying woman began to freak out. Here is the caution of my tale; do not ever freak out in front of the NBC pages. You will look like an idiot and, well, that’s pretty much it. Just don’t embarrass yourself. Act like you know what you’re doing. Annoying woman began freaking out and saying “Yes! Yes! I made it! I made the cut! I’m going to see Seth!” The two pages exchanged a look that said, “Ugh. Not this shit again.” They remained calm but firm. I commended them. One page said “This means nothing. We are just counting to see how many people are here.” Annoying woman was confused but did not look like she regretted her freak out.
They then took us upstairs. I do not know where, but I knew it was not the 8th floor where both SNL and “Late Night” tape (SNL technically doesn’t tape. It’s live. Why is it so hard for people to get that?). They lined us up again. The pages then left us there and said they would be back soon. Annoying woman made annoying comments about how she hoped she would get in. I resisted the urge to punch her.
About five minutes later the pages were back and this time they looked happy as opposed to their previous “The annoying woman is driving us crazy” state. They then announced the good news. There was enough room in the studio for us all to see the show. I didn’t look back in fear of what violent act I may have committed, but annoying woman voiced how please she was with loud, obnoxious noises.
After we were sure we would be seeing the show they made us go through security checks and then stuffed us in an elevator up to the 8th floor. Because Seth’s studio is at the end of the hall we had to walk through the SNL studio and hallway. I was dying. The definition of fangirl really. I’ve seen the studio before during tours, but that was during the summer. This was during a time when the writers were just floors above us writing for Saturday’s show (Rogen did a really great job this weekend too!). Life was good.
When we finally got to sit down in Seth’s studio I noticed three things right away. It’s much smaller than it is on TV, Fred is a lot taller in real life (very weird I know), and there are, in fact, little signs that tell you that you might want to laugh.
Here are some things that are untrue about TV though: You can laugh whenever. You don’t have to listen to the signs if you don’t want to. They are just suggestions. You can’t just laugh cold. They have a comedian who you will not know help warm up the crowd. He is funny and kind of rude, which means I absolutely loved him (and got his business card). You are not allowed to take any photos. Ever. You may get your ass kicked and you will definitely get kicked out of the show. Also, “Late Night” films at 6:30 p.m.
Seth came out before the show to say hi and explain how things work. And yes, to answer all of your burning questions, he is THAT adorable. He’s so adorable and sweet that I had to fight back tears. Tears of joy, of course. His monologue was funny and, as I’ve said before, I like how he still has his “Weekend Update” delivery of jokes. There was a lot of fun interaction with guest Dennis Leary and the weird band he had on that I had never heard of wasn’t bad either.
While the band was setting up for their performances Seth came out into the audience. He said since we had some time to kill he would let us ask him questions. The room suddenly got very excited. People would raise their hands and ask their questions. Some were good questions. Most were stupid and since I’m such a huge fan of Seth’s I already knew most of the things people were asking about him. One young girl asked him how he knew his wife was the one. He got really awkward when trying to answer. And it was adorable. Then a bunch of other women asked him things about his wife. Then he started calling on the other side of the room, which meant calling on people who wouldn’t ask about Alexi (his wife). That was mainly men. One guy asked if he could get a picture with Seth. He answered with “Um… no.” because that wouldn’t have been fair to the rest of us. The best questions and answer was when someone asked him who his favorite SNL cast member of all time is. His answer? Amy Poehler.
Someone also asked him what the differences between “Late Night” and SNL were. He gave a very honest answer. He said it’s weird having his own show. He said he missed SNL and was still adjusting to things. And he said that he still gets nervous before the show each night. This makes me think that Seth is pretty down to earth and maybe that’s how a lot of NBC people are. I like to think so.
Even though I was already fangirling at this point, I realized just how much of a late-night comedy nerd I am when I realized that down on the stage with Seth were his producers. Two men, Mike Shoemaker and Alex Baze, were on the floor giving Seth suggestions and pats on the back in between segments. Shoemaker and Baze are Seth’s producers and they also work at SNL. Is it weird I fangirled over them? No. I have no shame in my late-night love affair.
So, now we come full circle. I got my first taste of live late night. It was beautiful. And I want more. And from reading this I hope you get some good information on how to work the NBC system. If nothing else, just sweet-talk the pages. They are lovely.
Stay tuned for my next two blogs about going to New York City. I’ll write about how I didn’t get into SNL and how my trip has impacted the way I’m thinking of my future career.