Part 2 of 3.
Welcome to the second installment of my trip to New York. I previously talked about how I got into a taping of “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Let’s be honest; I got lucky. On Saturday I tried to get into the Seth Rogen episode of “Saturday Night Live,” but was unsuccessful. Here’s what you need to know about the intricate workings of attending a live show.
First, you read that right. SNL is live. It says so in the name of the show and when they begin every show with “And live from New York!” How do people still not get this?! Since I’m an SNL expert, people always ask me “Is it live?” Why are people so idiotic sometimes?
Secondly, I bet you didn’t know that the show does a dress rehearsal. Yes, this is also true! The cast, writers, crew, and producers put the entire show together in one week. They only practices the sketches at most four or five times, so Lorne Michaels was smart and put a dress rehearsal in place. The gang performs a longer show in front of a live audience so everyone can practice. Dress rehearsal is a vital part to SNL because they test out sketches and “Weekend Update” jokes in a live audience setting. If a sketch or joke doesn’t do well in dress, it is cut from the live show.
What a lot of people don’t know is that there are stand-by tickets available for both dress and live shows.
So, as a comedy super fan, as I got in line to wait for stand-by tickets on Saturday morning, I knew I wanted to go to dress rehearsal. One, because you get a longer show with more sketches and more jokes and two, not a lot of people know about dress. It’s another one of those hidden NBC secrets (see my previous blog).
I’m going to stop here to tell you that I did not get into the show. And there are a few reasons for that.
One, in the end I don’t think I got there early enough. Two, that damn Ed Sheeran. Let me explain: I should have gotten there earlier. I arrived in the stand-by line by 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. You read that right. And I already knew that I was too late because as I walked down the street farther and farther to get to the back of the line I knew there would be no chance of us getting in. If I do it over again, which I will someday, I will probably arrive earlier. Maybe take a nap and then get there by one or two in the morning. You might think that is crazy, but this is me, so maybe you shouldn’t be reading this if you don’t share a love of late-night comedy. The other thing I should have thought more about was musical guest Ed Sheeran. Ed is basically the sixth member of One Direction, so I should have known that lots of little girls and their mothers would be camping out to see him sing two lame songs. Damn them.
I’ll stop here to point something else out to all of you. If you are not a fan of SNL do not stand in line. Do not stand in line and ask silly questions that make us fans mad like, “Is the show really live?” My two biggest pet peeves in the world are when people don’t know their classic rock history and people who don’t understand how SNL works. If you’re not a fan then why do you want to see the show?
Anyways, after we got in line around 5:30 a.m. we had to wait until 7 a.m. for them to start handing out tickets. It wasn’t too cold, but there were teenage girls in front of us singing 5 Seconds of Summer extremely loud for 5:30 in the morning.
By 7 a.m. pages were out and about to distribute tickets. Just like with “Late Night” I knew that there were things they would not be telling us. So I put on my NBC page flirting face (something I am proud of because NBC pages love me). When our page came and asked us if dress tickets were ok I knew he was trying to secretly tell us something. I asked him what he thought our chances were with dress and he just smiled. When an NBC page smiles it means they know you are about to challenge them and they accept the challenge. He said “I don’t really know.” So I explained to him that I was a fan and I knew how things worked. He seemed to accept that and knew that dress tickets would be what I really wanted.
Once we had our stand-by tickets in hand we went about our day. We had to report back to NBC at 7 p.m. to get in line for dress, which starts at 8 p.m. When we got there the line was surprisingly not as long as it was that morning. That meant that some people gave up on their tickets, while others chose to go to the live show. Our chances seemed a little better to get in by that point.
Just like with “Late Night,” pages had us check in and then stand in line in the order of our ticket numbers. We were in the 260 number area. At this point I pretty much knew we wouldn’t get in, but I wanted to keep the faith. After all, this was one of my life goals.
They started counting us off and separating us into groups. The first group went through security and was taken away in the elevator up to studio 8H. Their lives had been blessed.
We were in the second group that moved up in line. We waited some more. 8 p.m. passed and I knew that above us they had already started. I knew we weren’t getting in. I took this opportunity to educate. A nice couple in front of me from New Jersey said they had tried several times to get into SNL and Fallon, but never got in. They said they had tried ordering tickets for Fallon online and were always unsuccessful. I explained the magic of stand-by and how to get tickets for Fallon or Seth. I told them all about my successful trip to “Late Night” and they seemed to suck in the info I gave them like a sponge. I hope I helped them. My late-night knowledge has to be good for something.
Finally, a completely new page came down to tell us the bad news. She looked like she was in pain that she had to say it. “Guys, I’m really sorry, but the studio is full and the cast has started.” How would you feel if you had to do that job every night? NBC pages are truly great people for the shit they put up with. There were groans and sad looks exchanged. I was sad, but I wasn’t going to cry. I knew I would come back to try again and maybe even someday I wouldn’t have to try at all. Maybe I could be up there with the writers.
The evening was a bust in a lot of ways, but I did get one satisfaction from it. There were just 8 floors separating me and Colin Jost. That’s a lot closer than the many states between NYC and Iowa. And that was the best part of the night.