|Me with my SNL wristband, post-show!|
A dress rehearsal sounds 2nd-best to the live taping, but there is one big benefit: you get to see an extra half-hour of material that they end up cutting from the live show. (Of course that half-hour is composed of the sketches deemed too clunky for TV, but it's still fun to see how it's made). It's also interesting to come home and watch the live show to see what got cut, how jokes were tweaked, and whether the host wore his bow tie on air (he didn't).
The dress rehearsal starts at 8 p.m., and they run it exactly as if it's the live show: set changes happen swiftly in the time it takes for a few commercials. It's amazing to see how the dozens of crew members work together to build sets and then strike them in seconds, and cast members run off dressed as one character and come back after commercial as another.
Like with all live tapings, there's a great deal of waiting involved: first to get your precious tickets, then to go through security, then to take the elevator up to the ninth floor at 30 Rock, then to get into the studio...
I wish I had taken some sneaky photos, but they are no joke at NBC about shutting of your phones. Ryan actually took his battery out because his Blackberry malfunctions and he didn't want it to come to life and get us ejected from the best night of 2011.
Every moment of the show is super fun, even the "turn off your phones, there are the fire exits.." announcements, delivered by cast member Jason Sudeikis, one of my favourites. The band keeps the energy up during set changes and commercial breaks. I wish I could remember what song it was that Keenan Thompson sang to warm up the crowd (with the female cast members, excepting Kristen Viig, who was in the cold open sketch, as back-up singers). Mmmm, something Motown? He's really good (which we already know from "What's Up With That?")
Jason Segal was the host, and since he's currently promoting the new Muppets movie, we knew Kermit and the gang would be there. And even though we watched the stage be set for the monologue, and could see the puppeteers huddled around the back end of the the piano where Segal was to perform, it was still so delightful to see them pop out. It was one of my favourite parts of the show. My other favourite sketches were the Casting-Regis'-Replacement sketch and Andre the Giant Orders and Icecream sketch, which was funny even before it began.
There's something truly enjoyable about watching a cast member lose their shit and laugh during a scene. Fred Armison, who has been on the show for nearly a decade, rarely does this. Which made it extra funny when he couldn't stop laughing during the Vogelchek sketch (otherwise known as the "family that makes out with each other"). Seconds later Paul Rudd and Jason Segal wildly made out — also so much more fun to see live.
While we were waiting in line Ryan saw Jon Huntsman (the other Mormon who wants to be the Republican candidate for president of the U.S.) walk by with a few of his staff members and security, apparently on his way up to the studios at NBC. Ryan guessed he was going to appear on SNL, but I scoffed: "Nobody knows who that guy is!" I said. It's too early in the campaign for SNL to start featuring politicos, and anyway, he's probably being interviewed on the nightly news, I thought. It's was 6 p.m.
To his credit, he didn't say "I told you so," but I think that was the high point of the night for Ryan, when the stagehand pushed Jon Huntsman out from the wings in a rolling office chair for his segment on Weekend Update.
I feel so lucky that we got to see the show and I totally recommend seeing a taping if you can. But it's not so easy: to enter the lottery for tickets to a taping, you must email firstname.lastname@example.org in the month of AUGUST ONLY. All you do is provide your contact info. You're not allowed to request a specific date or taping. Or if you've got time on your hands, you can line up for stand-by tickets the day of the show. They hand them out at 7 a.m. (a lady in the line-up told me she queued up twice — beginning at 2 a.m. — and didn't get tickets, so the lottery is the sensible alternative, really).