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My Experience at SNL: A Behind the Scenes Look

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

During the last week of October, my roommate and I received the most unbelievable news that led to the most exciting experience of my life, winning tickets to a dress rehearsal of SNL. The SNL ticket lottery is notoriously hard to win. The only method of getting tickets is through entering the lottery during the month of August prior to the start of the season. I had entered using my email, my roommate’s email, as well as other kind family and friends that would let me use their emails. After not hearing anything during September and much of October, my hopes were pretty low, and I had honestly forgotten about the potential of winning. We received the email that we had won on October 28th, and the show was on November 6th, giving us about a week to make the arrangements to head to NYC and see the show!

On the day of the show, we headed into the city in the morning to walk around and take in the holiday sights. After getting dinner at around 5, we headed over to the NBC studio in Rockefeller center around 5:30. The email advised arriving at 6:15 pm, but when we arrived roughly 30 minutes earlier, a pretty lengthy line had already begun to form. We then waited to reach the first NBC workers, who asked to see our IDs, COVID vaccination cards, and email reservation that we had won tickets. They then led us up a large staircase to another line where we waited amongst photos of old SNL casts and skits. The process of showing our materials occurred about three more times before we had to put our bags through a metal detector. After retrieving our bags, we were put in one final line for entry, after which you spoke with a worker at one of the desks. It was here that we received our official tickets, each with a letter or number on the back, which indicated where you will be seated for the show. Our tickets initially had the letter “A” on the back, but after speaking with the ticket official, she changed it to the number “8” (much to our luck, we later learned.) She also handed us our wristbands, which indicate whether you are or are not twenty-one. Then, we were led to the peacock lounge, where those who are 21+ are offered an alcoholic beverage, with everyone else given sodas or water. They played music, and there were more pictures of previous SNL sketches and casts, with many people taking pictures and talking excitedly about the show. After about 45 minutes, we were told we would begin seating, and they called us by section. Section “8” was called first, and we were led to the elevators to be brought upstairs.

When we were brought upstairs via elevator we stood in line for approximately twenty minutes. It was all starting to hit me when we see a smaller, red-headed man walking by surrounded by a group. I then stopped breathing, realizing I was within TEN FEET OF ED SHEERAN. I then proceeded to do the most embarrassing wave my roommate claims to have ever witnessed, to which HE WAVED BACK. I would not believe this happened if I wasn’t the awkward witness, but it was one of the coolest things to ever happen to me by far. Cast member Bowen Yang also walked by and waved to us, to which my suspicions were confirmed that we were definitely going to have nice seats. After the twenty minutes passed, we were led into Studio 8H, and I was seated in the third row from the stage. Studio 8H is a very compact studio, with only 6,102 square feet and over 300 people in the audience. There are lights and cameras constantly moving around the studio, often resulting in crew members moving audience members on the stage level to get their equipment by. Before the show got underway, Michael Che did a stand-up routine to warm up the crowd, and Keenan Thompson sang a song with three female cast members singing back up. When the show itself got underway, it was hard not to squeal from excitement when Pete Davidson passed by me on the way to play Aaron Rodgers in the cold open or when Colin Jost walked by on the way to do the Weekend Update. Ed Sheeran also performed on the side stage, a mere few meters away, and I think I passed out for a second. The dress rehearsal, which features significantly more sketches and character breaks than the live show, lasted about two and a half hours. After which, we were directed out of Studio 8H and back into the NBC Studios gift shop. The entire walk back to Penn Station, I was in a state of shock, and I honestly still haven’t recovered my bearings a week later.

Some advice I would take away from my experience at the SNL dress rehearsal would be to dress nicely (but still in something comfortable to be sitting in that long) and in basic, neutral colors. The cameramen seemed to choose people whose clothes would not distract from the camera when choosing who would sit at the stage level. The younger the group you are with also seems to make an impact in where you are seated, with everyone sitting at the stage level seemingly under 30, with the majority probably being under 25. Getting to NBC studios as early as possible is also advised at least 45 minutes before, with the chances of getting a better seat increasing. The most important advice I can give is to not lose hope as it is not impossible to win the lottery, and I can only hope to be able to experience the magic of SNL in person again!

Hannah Lynch

Providence '23

Hannah is a junior at Providence College majoring in Political Science and Business Economics. She enjoys traveling, running, reading, baking and spending time with friends!
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