Taping Date: January 26th, 2003
Air Date: Live
Where to get tickets: https://www.nbc.com/tickets/pages/tickets-and-nbc-studio-tour#snl
Saturday Night Live…. one of the most sought-after audience tickets. It is a very hard show to get in to, and has been since it debuted in 1975. How did I get in, you ask? Please read my article about attending a taping of Late Night with Conan O’Brien for the answer.
Now to be fair, this wasn’t a traditional live show on a saturday night. In 2003, NBC decided to have SNL air a live special during the SuperBowl halftime. This SNL show was a longer Weekend Update segment with several skits mixed in.
Even with a flight home that night, we decided the chance to see SNL was too great an opportunity to pass up. We discussed possibly having to take an overnight bus home. No one wants to take a 12 hour bus ride, but we weren’t going to pass up Saturday Night Live. After showing up to Rockefeller Center, we passed through security and then were taken up the elevator to studio 8H.
Legendary studio 8H was originally a radio soundstage. In 1975 it was converted for television for a new NBC show called Saturday Night. Now 44 years later, the show is known as Saturday Night Live and still uses the same studio. The studio is long and narrow, and all the seats are in the balcony. During a typical episode, the sets for various scenes are set up all around the floor, with the balcony seats looking over. You will often see the host on stage and musical guests with audience members on the floor. Those seats are set up just for those segments, and then removed.
We were assigned seats at the far end of the studio. The Weekend Update desk was set up in the middle of the studio, in front of the main stage. There were several sets on the side that were used for different scenes as well. The entire show lasted about 25 minutes. While it didn’t feature a guest host or musical guest, I recall most all of the main cast appearing.
Getting to the Airport
Once the show ended, it was a very slow process to leave, as everyone has to go down the elevators. We were in a panic due to our flight time coming up. We asked an NBC Page if there was stairs or another way, and they said we had to wait with the crowd. Once we finally got downstairs, we had a lot of trouble finding a cab, but eventually did. We told the driver we needed to stop at our hotel to get our bags, and get to LaGuardia right away. At this point, our flight was already scheduled to depart in less than an hour, so we knew we were likely going to miss it.
Once we got our bags, we told the driver he could have whatever leftover US money we had as a tip if he got us there on time. He drive like a bat out of hell, going up on the shoulder and zipping around cars. When we arrived, we just took all our US cash and handed it to him. I’m not sure how much it was
Getting through LaGuardia
We pulled up to LaGuardia with about 15 minutes before our flight and ran to the Air Canada desk. Completely out of breath, I basically just shoved my ticket at the agent. She calmly looked up, took my ticket, did a double take, and said “you are on the OTTAWA flight?” My response was something along the lines of “yea” with a cough thrown in. She gave me my ticket, pointed to the right, and said “take your luggage and RUN”. And ran we did.
Before even getting to security, the gate agent had been notified and ran to meet us. As we went through security, he took our passports and ran to the gate to check us in. By the time we cleared security and got to the gate, he grabbed our bags, handed us our papers, and we walked down the jetway. Either they held the flight for us, or we just got very lucky with a slightly delayed flight. I looked at my friend and said “Only for Saturday Night Live would we ever cut it that close.”
Then we had to do the walk of shame as we made our way to the back row of seats. We passed the glaring eyes of all the other passengers. To this day, I can’t believe we made the flight, but even moreso, I can’t believe we saw Saturday Night Live!