A week before Saturday Night Live’s season finale with Fred Armisen, I received a random email stating that I won two free tickets to the live taping. I can’t recall ever entering NBC’s lottery except perhaps several months ago, so it came to me as a complete surprise. I texted my core group of friends to accompany me with my extra ticket, and Monica was the first to respond literally 2 seconds later.
Monica and I arrived at 30 Rockefeller Center just before 10pm and lined up along the mezzanine area. Large LED screens covered the walls and displayed guests and featured players from SNL’s long history, and judging from the screens’ weirdly curved edges and varying shapes and sizes, I can only imagine how fucking expensive these monitors cost. The line moved fairly quickly, and Monica and I were next to get these black wristbands to gain access to the studio. Suddenly, a production assistant stopped us and said, “No, give them the purple bands…”
We went through the atypical routine of showing IDs and going through a metal detector, just like you would in airport. Guided by a cheerful PA, Monica and I sat in a separate waiting area with other purple-wristbanded people — all of whom were young, fashionable, and attractive, and some of whom were distinguishable minorities (thank god I’m a young, fashionable, but not necessarily attractive Filipino-American). There was no cellular service in the waiting area, and photography was of course strictly prohibited. About an hour before the show, our group was led into an elevator and into the hallway of Studio 8H.
The exterior of the actual studio was very reminiscent of what I’ve seen in “30 Rock”: props and sets sat all over the place, and PAs and crew members scurried back and forth. Even the NBC pages were delightful chipper and talkative, so the parody of Kenneth is entirely accurate. The only noticeable difference was that it was dark as opposed to “30 Rock’s” bright, open hallways; it felt like I was at the Elks’ Lodge or some old-school steakhouse. We waited in line for about 20 minutes, until we were lead to our seats… the very front of the stage. I was surprised that we were seated so close, but then again — with those coveted purple wristbands — I think Monica and I were chosen for both our good looks and diversity. As bashful as I am, I knew we were going to be on live TV.
So here are some things I’ve noticed about SNL:
- It’s a mad rush between sketches and commercial breaks. Stage hands and camera crew are running around carrying both equipment and sets, piece-by-piece. It’s a shock that no one has gotten hurt.
- Studio 8H is cold; the A/C is on full, but that’s probably to be expected since I’d get hot and nervous if I was acting on live TV.
- The studio is also pretty small: there are three or four main areas where they do sketches and musical performances, but everything is so enclosed. I guess TV does make everything appear bigger.
- Everything is funnier when you see it in person.
That’s it, and here’s me and Monica in the opening monologue: