‘Live from New York:’ Inside a Fan’s 90-Show Streak
Film enthusiast Christopher Bligh hasn’t missed a taping of ‘SNL’ in three years.
By Hattie Burgher, Amanda Furrer and Alexander Gonzalez
Christopher Bligh has a second home of sorts on W 49th St. between 5th and 6th avenues — NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Center.
The 40-year-old sits patiently in a green fold-out chair — the kind you’d use for camping — with a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke on hand. He purchased other snacks, including one of his favorites, mac ’n’ cheese, at nearby businesses to keep him fueled. He has dozed off throughout the night. Blaring lights and occasional honking from a busy street no longer bother him.
Bligh has been waiting for more than 24 hours in the standby line for “Saturday Night Live.” NBC hands out standby tickets the night before a live show to fill remaining seats. The tickets don’t guarantee admission.
Bligh has made this line for nine years and hasn’t missed a show in three years — that’s 90 episodes as of Saturday, Dec. 3.
“Three seasons and change,” says Bligh, who works near NBC Studios. He has not disclosed his job on the record for fear that he may lose it.
Bligh lives in his hometown of Staten Island in Pleasant Plains. His major life milestones often have a film or TV show attached to them.
Larry Bligh, Christopher Bligh’s father, says his family often talked about the movies. But his youngest of five kids took this interest one step further.
“He can tell you what shoe size people had in the movies,” says the 76-year-old mechanical engineer.
For Christopher Bligh, “SNL,” in particular, has cosmic significance.
“The ironic thing is that I came into the world six months after ‘SNL’ had started,” he says. “There’s always been a link of ‘SNL’ with me. Whether my brothers were watching it. If we had a sketch that made us laugh our asses off, we’d be quoting it.”
Bligh started waiting in line for “SNL” in 2007, after he met Louis and Jamie Klein, a married couple that has permanent tickets to the show. Louis Klein, 68, has gone to watch “SNL” since it premiered October 1975.
“If you yourself have been to the show, you know what you get hooked with,” he says. “And the same thing happened with Chris. He can’t thank me enough.”
Beyond “SNL,” Bligh is a film buff. He usually refers to actors, directors and producers in conversation — without help from IMDB. But scouring Manhattan’s film scene isn’t just an eccentric hobby for Bligh. He says he aspires to be the next Robert Osborne: a TV host with encyclopedic knowledge of the movies.
In the meantime, Bligh attends several screenings a week in specialty theaters — Metrograph in Chinatown; the recently opened Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Brooklyn; and the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. He prefers watching films in 35mm, which isn’t offered in Staten Island.
“If I want to see it digital, I’ll watch the DVD at home,” he says.
This pursuit for authenticity drives what Bligh calls a “passionate part” of his life. He continues to stand in line for “SNL”; he continues to watch movies several times in different formats; he continues to meet the stars that populate his excursions.
It’s all a ritual that keeps the “happy moments” coming.
“Is it worth it?” Bligh asks himself. “Yeah, I would say it’s worth it.”