What It’s Like To Win The SNL Ticket Lottery

(I’ve been meaning to post this, and figured that the day that next season’s ticket lottery opened was as good a day as any!)

I don’t want to forget this experience. It’s already been several months since I went! And maybe this will be useful to other people. So I’m ~blogging!~

On May 7, 2016 I got to see a taping of Saturday Night Live. (!!!)

It was so meaningful to get to see SNL. I’m a huge fan. I have a growing collection of SNL books and DVDs. Plus, I finally got a DVR this year (shout-out to time shifting!), so I’d seen every episode of Season 41.

To enter the SNL ticket lottery, you send an email to NBC during the month of August. I heard that I won tickets to the May 7 dress rehearsal a week and a half before the show. Fortunately I live a short bus ride from NYC, so I was able to attend with that last minute notice.

They had us meet in the NBC lobby, and gradually moved us closer and closer to the studio every half hour or so, so the wait didn’t seem that long. Especially because we got to entertain ourselves with clips from SNL sketches on the walls, both photos and videos, which definitely skewed on the older (and, yes, better) side. I don’t have any pictures, because we weren’t allowed to take any. I was able to keep my wristband and ticket envelope (although not the tickets, which they took), although I secretly took a picture of the tickets in the bathroom (shh).

The studio itself — Studio 8H! — is really small. There were only about 24 seats right in front of the stage, which I assume are reserved for guests of the host and musical guest (and maybe some cast members’ moms because it was the Mother’s Day show!), and then about 150 seats in the bleachers above, where lottery ticket winners sat, as well as people who stood in line for tickets. (These numbers could be totally off, because I’m bad at estimating, but the point is, Studio 8H is way smaller than it looks on TV!)

The cold open, monologue, and Weekend Update all were set up on the stage, in front of Lenny Pickett and the Saturday Night Live Band. The musical guest performed on another stage next to that one. The rest of the sketches were set up in different places all around the studio. Some of those sets were facing away from our seats, so I watched those sketches on a TV screen above us, in addition to the pre-taped bits. It was fascinating to see how they make the show, and how they set up all the different sets for the sketches around the theater, and how fast everything came together and then came back apart, and how many people it took to make SNL happen.

The dress rehearsal went from 8–10pm, two hours (with time built in for commercial breaks) instead of the live show’s an hour and a half, so I got to see a few sketches that were cut. One of them came back the next week on Drake’s episode the following week, and another was released as a cut for time sketch after Drake’s episode. In the hour and a half between dress rehearsal and the live show, they also cut some of the lines in sketches and Weekend Update.

I honestly loved every minute of it, could not stop smiling the whole time, laughed a lot and had a lot of fun; it was an experience I will never forget!

Now that it’s August, you too can enter the SNL ticket lottery! (I’m entering again too!) You never know — last year was only my second time entering the SNL ticket lottery, and I won tickets! (Plus SNL is always so good in an election year. [insert Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton GIF])