My Experience as SNL's Biggest Fan
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My Experience as SNL's Biggest Fan

What it was like to attend the greatest show in New York.

My Experience as SNL's Biggest Fan
NBC Studios

A couple of weeks ago, Saturday Night Live announced that they were conducting a contest with the intention of finding their biggest fan. If selected, you would receive tickets to the show. I briefly considered not entering just because of what a longshot it seemed like, but thanks to some good, old-fashioned peer pressure from my roommates, I ultimately did enter. I wrote in explaining how I was the show’s biggest fan, hiding a myriad of SNL references throughout my composition and confessing how tired of my obsession with the show my friends and family are. Apparently my extensive knowledge of SNL payed off.

Being officially recognized as SNL’s biggest fan was a surreal experience, but it also just sort of made sense. My excitement was uncontainable, so I immediately called all my friends and family to share the news. I decided to invite my dad to tag along since he first introduced me to the genius of SNL, and he’s a longtime fan of the show. I basically floated on air for the next few days. Saturday morning, my dad and I took a train into New York and did some sightseeing before heading to 30 Rock. I made sure to see the United Nations and the Waldorf Astoria. When we arrived at the NBC headquarters, we waited for a few minutes and then were told to go up some stairs. This waiting area had huge projections of past performances on the walls, and the first thing that drew my eye was a giant picture of the Spice Girls. We went through a metal detector and talked to some NBC pages who were all extremely friendly and funny. We were then directed to a room with couches, curtains and more projections. Gilda Radner seemed to be everywhere I looked, and it was glorious.

Then there was some more waiting. This waiting period was more exciting than the last because John Hamm and Steven Spielberg came by. Soon we were being escorted up an elevator and when we emerged we could hear the studio 8H band. I was practically buzzing with excitement by this point. We walked down the famous hallway lined with photographs of past sketches and hosts. We were guided to our seats which were on the front row of the far right side. I was immediately struck by how small the studio was. Set pieces and props littered the corners and crevices of the room.

Soon Michael Che emerged and did some stand up and went over the studio rules with us. He then introduced Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer and Sasheer Zamata. The girls all came running out in matching dresses and took their positions at microphones while Kenan led them in singing Gimme Some Lovin’ to pump the crowd up. They easily accomplished this mission, and then dashed off stage to get changed for the cold open. Around this time, Chris Rock came into the studio and waved to me, and we subsequently got into a staring contest. He ultimately won.

Watching the crew assemble sets and stages so quickly was definitely a highlight of the night. Only Weekend Update actually takes place on the studio stage; all other sets are built in corners of the room. Following the monologue, cast members ran to change clothes and hit their marks for the Cheetos sketch which took place just a few feet away from us. Before the show returned from commercial break, Cecily began asking how her leaf blower bit looked. Aidy Bryant and Alec Baldwin tried to reenact it for her and describe how perfectly executed it was. Melissa Villasenor looked extremely nervous, so Cecily leaned over to her and said, “You’re going to be great!” and Aidy began making silly faces to ease the tension. Lorne came out to check the set just before they went live, and he shared a few words with Cecily. Seeing Lorne Michaels in the flesh was somewhat of a dream come true. He smiled and nodded at us later in the show.

Seeing all of the behind the scenes aspects that go into making this show was nothing short of awesome. Seeing the cast members tweak lines in real time to make them funnier was especially cool. The studio was always teeming with hectic, crazy energy as everyone ran around trying to hit their marks. Kenan Thompson always appeared nonchalant and at ease, which makes sense since he is the show’s longest serving cast member. Kenan even changed on stage behind a sheet to save time. Watching Kate McKinnon prep for Weekend Update was also particularly interesting. She had a makeup team buzzing around her, and she did vocal and facial exercises to help hone her Elizabeth Warren impression. Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett shared a very warm, heartfelt hug before the sketch that they were in together. Ed Sheeran prayed before his first performance. Lorne emerged before every sketch to give his final approval. Alec Baldwin had to leave the People’s Court sketch early to accomplish a quick change.

The crew worked tirelessly to pull this show off. Often times they only had around thirty seconds or so to assemble a set and secure all the props. They were extremely adept at their job, and their level of efficiency only comes from years of experience.

As the episode began winding down, Lorne came out once again and stood by the stage as the cast filed by for the goodnights. When Cecily came by, he hugged her and they exchanged a few words. He did not hug anyone else. I have always read that Lorne has favorites within each cast, and I have always suspected that that title currently belongs to Cecily Strong, but Saturday night confirmed that suspicion.

During the goodnights, not only did the cast all hug each other and celebrate, but behind the camera the crew were all also embracing and cheering. Throughout the entire episode, but especially in that moment, it was striking just how historic and monumental of a tradition I was sitting in on. Suddenly I thought about every cast member who had ever bade America goodnight from that stage. My heart swelled and surged with the knowledge that people like Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Phil Hartman, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Andy Samberg, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler and so many more iconic stars had been in the exact room in which I was currently sitting.

I nearly lost my voice from laughing and cheering so loudly during the show. SNL is far from perfect, especially here lately, but its mission is pure and commendable. It just wants to make us laugh, and it succeeded with me on Saturday night. I will forever be grateful and glad I had the opportunity to attend this show and witness the magic firsthand. Plus, I will always be known as SNL’s biggest fan, and I’m pretty proud of that fact. Almost as proud as I am that Lorne smiled at me.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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