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Live From NJ: I went to SNL and here’s what happened

For the past few years, I have feverishly stayed up on Saturday nights to watch Saturday Night Live at 11 p.m. God forbid I fell asleep—which happened more than I’d like to admit—I’d find the show on nbc.com and watch it while eating Sunday morning breakfast. 

So, it was the best surprise when my friend, who attends NYU, called me Friday afternoon with the news that she had won SNL Dress Rehearsal tickets for the October 16, 2021 show. 

After screaming for a bit, going back and forth about what we were going to wear and setting plans to meet each other, I hung up the phone, still shocked.

To get tickets to the SNL Dress Rehearsal, you have to enter a lottery and answer the glorified question of why you want to attend SNL. Whether you are a die hard fan or you simply want to see Pete Davidson in the flesh, only (roughly) 250 people get picked to sit in the studio. 

After meeting up with my friend at Port Authority around 5 p.m., we walked to the NBC Studios. We went through lines of security, vaccination check, and ticket confirmation before we were settled in the “Peacock Lounge.” A large room with blue lights and a montage of stills from older SNL skits lit the room and we were offered drinks and a place to sit until it was time to move to the show. It was only here that we were allowed to take photos, so that is exactly what we did. 

SNL has established itself a cult fan base since its start in 1975. It was not surprising to me that when I walked into the Peacock Lounge there were people who probably watched the show in the 70s standing alongside the few kids under 21. 

By 7 p.m., we were starting to be called up by the sections that were written on the backs of our tickets to walk into the studio. It was an anxious wait that seemed longer than it actually was. My friend and I heard the words “letters A to F” and popped up from the couch and into the line. 

From there, we took the famous NBC elevators with the peacock carpet and walked the halls that so many of our favorite celebrities and comedians did before us. The walls were lined from iconic sketches with hosts new and old: George Carlin, Carrie Fisher, Timothee Chalamet, and Adam Driver. Then, we found our way to our seats, which was the front row of the mezzanine. 

I stared into the studio, which was smaller than I expected, and watched as people wearing all black, adorning headsets and makeup brushes and papers in hand rushed to get everything and everyone ready for air. The host and musical guest for the show were Rami Malek and Young Thug. I’m a fan of both, so that made the whole experience even more exciting. 

The show started and before my eyes I saw my favorite people that I’ve watched on my screen for the past few years. Aidy Bryant, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Bowen Yang, Mikey Day, Pete Davidson, Heidi Gardner, Chloe Fineman, Colin Jost, Michael Che, I could go on forever listing the amazing cast. 

Together, my friend and I cried tears of laughter and utter shock as we watched the show that would air live in just a few hours unfold for the very first time. The dress rehearsal entails all the sketches that were written for the host to its fullest. The live show that airs on TV will be adjusted and cut based on audience feedback during the dress and time. 

My favorite part of SNL every week is the ‘Weekend Update,’ a segment hosted by Michael Che and Colin Jost. It was surreal getting to see them read the jokes for the first time and getting choked up trying to keep themselves from laughing and being utterly offended by each other. ‘Weekend Update’ and all the other sketches from the night can be found on YouTube.

The coolest thing, besides literally watching the whole show with my own eyes, was watching what goes on in between the sketches. As soon as one ends and the audience is wildly applauding, the cast members run off stage in order to make their quick change for their next skit. We watched Rami Malek get grabbed by hands and rushed off stage like it was a burning fire. 

The musical guest Young Thug was unreal to see live. The best thing about musical guests on SNL is that they always get more creative than their own live shows. SNL gives them the platform to dress up in clothes that are their style but also a little more out-there and perform songs to expand their audience. I’ll bet that half the audience did not know who Young Thug was. It was also really sick to see Travis Barker, a drummer who plays for some of my favorite artists, in person. 

Going to SNL was something I never thought I’d get to say that I’ve ever done. Now that I’ve gotten a taste of it, you best believe I will be submitting my chance to win the lottery week after week and even camp out for standby tickets. If you are a fan of SNL, this is something you must do, a top contender for anyone’s bucket list. There really is something magical about sitting in old Yankee Stadium seats in Studio 8H watching live comedy unfold right before your eyes.

Annabel Park

Rutgers '25

Annabel is a freshman at Rutgers University NB! She is majoring in Marketing with a minor in Journalism. Besides writing, she enjoys baking, going to the gym, poetry, and walking around NYC hoping to run into celebrities. IG: @annabelpark3
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