There is nothing more electrifying than siting in the audience for the live taping (no, not the dress rehearsal, though I have fond memories of that too) for Saturday Night Live. This comes after my friend and I by chance got tickets to SNL. We had previously camped out for the Maya Rudolph episode and made it into dress. After plenty of tears of joy and laughter, we promised ourselves that one day we would see a live show. Saturday the 14th was our day, and this is our story.
The Excitement Starts: Friday Night
Earlier in the day, we saw the Jimmy Fallon monologue and even saw Kate McKinnon.
My story starts here, though, Friday night, were one of the happiest moments of my life happened: meeting Kristen Wiig.
But more on that later.
We get to 30 Rock around 8 pm in hopes of meeting Jimmy Fallon. We meet some people from Forham and later meet up with our friends from Chicago again and wait for Jimmy.
Jimmy never arrived, but he was never the whole reason we were there (SNL cast members). Soon, a slew of amazing cast members from SNL started coming down. We met many of them again, such as Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharoah, Fred Armisen (I will forever believe that he is an incredible and kind human being)
Many of them we met for the first time, such as Kate McKinnon, John Mulaney (who waved - SCORE!), and KRISTEN WIIG. At first I wasn’t quite paying attention, but then Megan whispered Kristen Wiig! to me and I sort of snapped over and saw Kristen coming through security. She was surrounded by security but the second she saw us with our cameras she smiled and started putting on lipstick and we were like, score! Of course we were like, Kristen! We love you! Can we have a photo?! And she was like, of course but really quick because I have to get home. I used my Canon to take a photo of Megan and she goes, ooh high tech camera! and I just laughed of course, in some sort of total shell shock. Then Megan took a photo of Kristen and me and she put her arm over me and I literally could not stop smiling. Then we were like, Kristen you’re amazing! You’re incredible! You’re so funny and perfect! and she was like, aw thanks guys, thanks so much! I gotta run! And then she left. I should have told her that she was a brilliant genius and an inspiration to woman everywhere, but of course I didn’t think of this at the time. Go figure. But either way, I was so in shock and happy that I met her. Kristen Wiig is not only my favorite cast member, but one of those woman I look up to because of her talent and persistence and of course her ability to make anyone laugh. I could not possibly express it in words of any kind.
Megan and I kept waiting after that (it was only 1030 pmish, after all) and I was so happy and emotional and overwhelmed and thrilled that I started to cry and Megan was like, holy crap. We both just stood there, totally in shock, totally overwhelmed, and we could not believe anything that just happened. I still see that photo and get a mini heart attack.
Then Kate came down but had to run and refused to take photos. Too bad.
Jay Pharoah was the surprise of the night. Not only did he come down and pose and take photos, but he also talked to us for a half hour or so and just answered questions and did stand up for us. That man is ridiculously funny. He talked about his start in comedy - he’s only 24! - and did a few impressions, like Lorne (of course) and Obama (!). Then he told us his Denzel impression took him 4 years to learn and told us to expect some Kanye and Jay Z on the show, to which everyone got excited about. He answered a few more questions and then told us he had to leave. We all wished him a good night.
A few more people came and left before, at midnight, we were kicked out of 30 Rock. This was odd considering the previous weekend, I was there until 4 am. Either way, we took it as a blessing in disguise, went to a 24 hour diner, and then went to bed, too excited for the next day to even realize it.
Saturday Night Live
We were asked to show up at 10:30 to be seated. Naturally, we arrived at 30 Rock at 10 pm and sat around, nervously twitching and waiting for the clock to hit 10:30. Once it did, however, we went through security and were brought up to studio 8H. With our tickets, we passed the line and went to our reserved seats. For those of you that know the studio, we sat in the left wing by the musical guest.
I was thrilled with this - we would see every single sketch. Too perfect. All of this was too emotional because we had previously sat in what Jason Sudeikis lovingly calls the shit seats, where most stand by tickets a placed just minutes before the show.
Jason came up to the main stage and introduced the show and the rules. Much to my surprise, most people had never attended a tv taping. I was obviously not on the same band wagon: I always believe that we are the soundtrack of the show, as it should be, and we have a right to laugh as loud as we want. So I did. But more on that later. In the meantime, Keenan Thompson came out with Vanessa Bayer, Nasim Pedrad, and Abby Elliot to sing the opening song.
After that, feel free to enjoy the brilliance of Lenny Picket and the SNL band, who literally know every single song ever made and light up the studio with their music. Sets are built and positioned and props are put in place as the team prepares for the Cold Open. Today, it’s a bar set with a background Megan and I previously thought was the interior of Rock Santorum’s office. We got so lucky I couldn’t even believe it, with Santorum dropping out a few days before the show.
The Show Starts
Suddenly, the show is getting ready to start. Lights go dark and center on the stage. You see Lorne Michaels, the God himself, standing up front. He shakes hands with Jason, Keenan, Bill, Kristen, and Andy before the cold open. It’s a ritual rarely seen; it feels intimate and I can feel the support and family that is SNL. It’s beautiful and touching.
The cold open is going live soon. Jason is Mitt, Andy is Santorum. It’s not the typical one man cold open I expected, but I’m intrigued by what is to come. They are sitting at a bar like two old friends. It’s going live soon. You hear the countdown and ….. ITS LIVE. it’s really live. The sketch is about the each major GOP nominees path on the race. When they break into song, it dawns on me that it’ll be one of those cold opens that the world remembers and I’m just sitting there crying because I’m laughing so hard. You can’t miss Kristen Wiig’s newsweek face as Bachman. It’s great to see all of the cast as their GOP characters.
QUICK! Once it’s over, people clear the stage while the opening credits role. Josh Brolin comes out and does a monologue. It’s not the best, but it’s quick, packed with a few jokes, and even has Jay as Will Smith. I know now many people were expecting the real Will Smith, but for better or for worse, I really like how Brolin gave Jay the chance to shine. It’s nice.
Alright, the monologue finishes and it’s a digital short. The second I see those words I just freak out. LASERCATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s literally unbelievable because I could have sworn the sketch was dead (and the people around me know it because I’m next to yelling it in all their faces in case they couldn’t recognize the momentous occasion).
Next comes the best sketch of the night: The Californians. I watch as they prepare and run through cue cards during the commercials and digital short. I can’t tell what the sketch is, but the second I see Fred Armisen (one of the goddam BEST cast members of all time) and Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig all in one sketch, I’m sold before it starts. It’s so fascinating, watching them set up the sets and run through cue cards with the cast while putting on last minute make up and prepping. It’s like this whole other world of things that run on a last minute basis. It seems like too much fun.
The Californians sketch is a big hit and it’s dead obvious. I can’t see the cast when they move deeper into the set, but I then read the cue cards. Watching them go up to the mirror is hilarious! I remember just sitting there and howling. Everything is too funny to handle. Once Bill and Kristen start breaking, everyone in the audience loses it. Bill breaking is too funny to handle - he’s just standing there trying to resist everything but so obviously failing that everyone is crying they’re laughing so hard. I’m no excuse. Even Kristen starts to break and I’m just thinking to myself - is this the new Debbie Downer?!
Next we’ve got a Games of Thrones digital short. At this point, I’m convinced that I’m watching one of the best episodes of all time. I’m laughing so hard when I see Taran Killam and now Andy. Oh God. Too good to believe. Pretty sure the people around me are wondering what maniac they’ve got sitting next to them.
Next up: America’s Next Top Parody Artist. This is a brilliant sketch that I know I love from the first song. Let’s put it this way: Who doesn’t love the cast singing? I am not one to say no to a little Fred and Kristen singing! Also, Jay as Jay Z is great - his impressions are so nuanced and precise that it really works. We can see every detail of this sketch perfectly, thank God.
Next, either Gotye performed or Weekend Update happened. Let’s go with Gotye. Gotye was INCREDIBLE. Hoyl Crap. He was so much better live, and really emotional as well. You could tell he was into his music and he sounded phenomenal in the studio.
Weekend Update: The Midnight Mark
Weekend Update: This was one of the highlights. I could see everything (unlike the last taping I went to), and Seth Meyers is great. He really is. Such an interesting news anchor to watch. It turns out Weekend Update was awesome. I love watching Seth Meyers walk up to his podium and take a seat.
My friend points out that the crew is rolling three chairs to the Weekend Update desk. Without missing a single beat, I turn to her and go, it’s going to be Garth and Kat. I know it’s going to be Garth and Kat.
Let me explain: I love Garth and Kat. So much. It’s a perfect fusion of improv with that I’m-having-fun mood we love to see and Fred and Kristen are, for me, the two most talented cast members currently on SNL. Garth and Kat was one of the first sketches I saw once I started watching SNL regularly and when I started watching full episodes (aside from all those random sketches everyone has seen). I love everything about Garth and Kat and even possibly seeing them would have been a highlight.
Then I stop watching Update the second I see Fred and Kristen in their costumes. It’s Garth and Kat. They. Are. Actually. Doing. Garth. And. Kat. Holy. Holy. Moly. Crap. I freak out. I squeal. The whole eighteen yards. No one is more excited than I am. In fact, people get excited about Garth and Kat because I’m excited for Garth and Kat. People around me legitimately worried about me because I was freaking out so much.
I will never forget how loud I screamed and how easy it is to recognize my voice that episode. I was thrilled. I watch with tears of happiness in my eyes. It’s hilarious, possibly one of the best of all time. With Kristen hugging both Seth and Fred at the end, it feels as if they’re finishing up the sketch with that hug for the last time. Maybe Kristen will be leaving SNL after all….But that’s too sad a thought for the time. I’m busy crying because I’m laughing so hard.
When they leave, I watch Fred and Kristen silently mouth to each other. I love most of all seeing how the cast is all best friends with each other. Fred and Kristen joke around and have to be taken away to the back to change. They’re laughing at each other.
After Weekend Update, a bulk of sketches come. I love how Josh Brolin stands back to let the cast shine. I love watching the sets move and the process of putting on the live show. Watching the cast move around and run from set to set and change and hurry to make their marks is so fascinating to me. It’s rare that anyone watching at home thinks about how much more there is to SNL than just reading cue cards - there’s also sets, costumes, writing, making sure everyone is ready, make-up, and so much more. They’re on a tight timeline and they’re live. Messing up will cost them millions.
The Piers Morgan sketch comes on, which is quite interesting to watch with the green screen. I like how I can see Taran (who, surprisingly enough, gets less screen time than usual) becoming a character with last minute make up before air. It’s interesting how they use different areas of the studio so fully. Every inch of space truly is always busy.
The second musical performance is moving in a way the first performance wasn’t. It’s emotional and lyrical and Gotye sounds fantastic. His voice is raspy but strong. At the end, he barely looks up at the audience, as if he thinks he somehow shouldn’t be here. I’m taken aback by the whole performance. He just sounds better live.
The musical guest means only one thing: the last sketch of the night is here. Once that moment dawns on me, I get teary-eyed. No. No. No. No. No. Don’t make me leave. It’s a horrible thought, to think that this once in a lifetime two hours in the SNL studio is over. It’s a horrid thought. Horrid.
Here comes the last sketch: Prom. Jay Pharoah is a RIOT! He’s a great and I remember laughing so hard at his character. Too good to be true. Josh Brolin also makes a great appearance, comedic and hilarious as usual. The whole sketch is on home stage, which makes me sad to think about. Home stage. aaaah SNL.
Goodbyes: A Bittersweet End
Now, the happiest and saddest part of the night - goodbyes. I love watching SNL goodbyes because at home or sitting in the audience (especially the audience) because you see friendship. You see a family right there - no characters and no impressions, just a cast celebrating another great show and another week with almost no sleep.
Josh Brolin said something that could not have been more true: thanks to Lorne Michaels for creating the greatest show on TV.
He is right. Watching SNL always reminds me that there is really nothing like SNL. It’s been on the air for over 35 years; it’s been shaping political views and culture for over 35 years. It’s a hallmark of comedic perfection and shining talent that no other show can or will ever be able to offer.
Watching the cast say goodbye reminds you that this is all a family of friends. To be honest, sitting there watching them hug each other and celebrate a great show like they do every Saturday, makes me want to join them. It’s the warmest and most touching moment of the entire show. It’s family, and sitting in the studio, you feel a little bit like family, too.
Slowly the cast makes its way out of the studio. I want to run down and join them. Megan and I have to face the inevitable, the moment we’ve been dreading - leaving our seats to leave the studio. Cameron Diaz, who was sitting in the front row (but almost sat next to us!), leaves the studio. She almost walks out next to us. Megan and I basically are the only people who notice her.
As we walk out through the hallowed halls, Bill Hader is standing to our right. Just standing there. I want to run up to him and hug him but I can’t. Sadly. Instead I just smile at him and stare for a bit and keep walking. He is one of the most talented people. Ever.
We take the elevator down and leave studio 8h.
We decided to stay at the 50th street stage door. Previously, we’d stayed at the 49th street door and met most of the cast and even had Amy Poehler wave to us, but always wondered what happens on the other side.
We are one of the few that stand there. Cameron Diaz runs off faster than you can say her name. We wait a while and realize nothing is going on here. Megan and I go to the 49th street door and meet Higgins and a few other cast members - again, Fred is too incredible. Then we head back over to the 50th side.
Here, we see Jorma Tacone with his wife. Can I just say that a beard looks good on him? Still, he’s rushing off and no one recognizes him but me so he goes off without any interruptions. Still, I’m in shock - JORMA. Jorma. Oh my god.
That’s the last excitement the night brings. We wait around until 3 am before walking back to our hotel (with a brief pizza stop). It’s longer than necessary, but it’s part not wanting to go home and part endorphin rush, but when we finally make it back, we both crash and sleep until the next day. The next day, we take a bus back to Boston. The weekend was perfect. I will never forget a minute of it.
Every time I watch SNL live (which has really only been twice), it changes my life in some way or another. It is one of the most magical and inspiring things a person can do. Thank you, Lorne, for creating such a magnificent show, and thank you cast and crew for putting it on without fail almost every Saturday.
# my experience # nbc # personal # saturday night live # snl # snl live blog # snl liveblog # kristen wiig # jay pharoah # jorma tacone # bobby moynihan # Fred Armisen
- bimm likes this
- flyfarawayfromhere likes this
- thunder-ant reblogged this from oncriticism and added:
- oncriticism posted this