For the past 4-5 years, maybe even longer, I’ve entered the SNL Ticket Lottery that happens every year between August 1 and August 31. This year, NBC decided to switch it up and do something a little different: instead of just submitting your name and contact information, this time you had to submit a short reason why you think you should win. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to enter a few weeks after the announcement, not wanting to get my email hidden in the mass of submissions that were probably going to happen the first few days. I submitted a few pictures of the Saturday Night Live themed book I created this past spring. It totals around 80 pages. I spent over 40 total hours designing and building the book, with 26 of those hours in a single weekend.
And… somehow it worked. I won tickets! Around 70,000 people enter the SNL Lottery every year and somehow I won, which is super crazy! Chances of winning according to the NBC Pages are around 1%. ONE PERCENT!!!
I got the email on the morning of Thursday, September 28 telling me I won tickets to the October 7th episode featuring Gal Gadot (also known as Wonder Woman) as host and Sam Smith as musical guest. I reread the email about six times before it set in- I WON TICKETS TO ONE OF MY FAVORITE SHOWS OF ALL TIME! I never thought this would be an item I could check off my bucket list because it pretty much relies on chance or knowing someone who knows someone.
There are only a few ways to see SNL:
- Know someone with connections to the show.
- Wait for stand-by tickets for a few days.
- Enter the SNL Lottery (that’s what I did!)
My boyfriend and I spent the weekend exploring New York City during the day (you can read about that here) and headed back to the hotel around 5:00pm to get ready for the show. Around 7:30pm, we headed out to walk around some more before the show. It was fun seeing the city so busy at night. My feet were getting blistered from all the walking, so we headed to the NBC building and waited around. Around 9:30pm, we headed to the Grand Staircase where we were met by a couple of NBC Pages who told us head up the stairs. Once up the stairs, there are no photos allowed which is kind of a bummer, but I understand.
We got to the top of the stairs and they checked out I.D.’s and confirmation letter. There’s a lot of I.D. and ticket checking throughout this process. After the first I.D. and ticket check, we were told to wait in a line. There were two lines. The one we were in had about 15 people ahead of us in it, while the one to our right had two guys. I’m guessing this was some sort of VIP line. On the ticket confirmation, it says to ask for “Jen’s Line”. This is for people who’ve won the lottery. While doing some research, if you’re told to ask for “Brock’s Line”, you’re VIP and will probably get better seats.
There were a few people walking around looking frantic and busy. Some were dressed more formally while a few were more casually dressed. One of the women was carrying around a clipboard looking stressed and was making random checkmarks on the paper. I don’t know what she was doing, but it didn’t look super fun.
Once we got to the front of the line, another NBC page checked the confirmation page and photo I.D.’s. We were told to walk a little ways down to a desk where we handed over the confirmation letter and our photo I.D.’s one more time. This is where we got our wristbands for the show. There were two colors- black and purple. The purple ones seemed to be for VIPs and black ones were for those in Jen’s Line. Our names got checked off of a list and I got handed an envelope with two blue ticketsinside and the number 18 written in Sharpie on the backside of the envelope. We were directed into a security checkpoint where they scanned our bags and we walked through a metal detector.
From there we were met by yet another NBC page, who checked our I.D.’s and told us to sit in the middle of the Peacock Lounge (I told you there was a lot of I.D. checking throughout this whole process.). The Peacock Lounge had three sections separated by sheer curtains while we were there and most people were told to sit in the center. There’s bathrooms and drinking fountains that you can use while you’re waiting. Screens around the room play clips from past episodes of SNL. There’s a security guy that keeps watch on those trying to take pictures. He looked bored the entire time we were there.
At around 10pm or so, a large group of people comes walking towards the elevators near the Peacock Lounge. At the time I was wondering what that was for, but I think now it might have been the audience leaving from the dress rehearsal performance.
Eventually, one of the Pages makes an announcement letting everyone know that we’re going to be starting the seating process soon. At around 10:30ish they start the process. They started by calling envelopes with the number 8 on them, then letters, then more numbers. From researching, there’s no reason for this. Security does it this way to change it up and keep every one safe. I’m sure if they just ushered people in by numerical order every time, fights would break out.
We were towards the end of the groups to get called and were taken to the elevator down to the studio hallway. The Pages ushered 12 people into an elevator at a time. It brought us to a hallway that enters the balcony part of the studio. The hallway has pictures of past shows hanging on the wall. The left wall had mostly black and white photos from some of the earliest seasons of the show while the right side had pictures of shows from the last few years.
Slowly, we were ushered into the studio. If you’re looking down from the top of the studio, we were sat on the left side closest to the musical guest. We had a GREAT view of the musical performances. We had an okay view of the main stage and a not-so-great view of the stage where a few of the skits took place. Quite a few skits took place where the audience couldn’t see. Seating-wise, the two rows in front of us were reserved for VIP guests, as they were taped off with names on them. A few of them knew Sam Smith, as they were blowing him kisses back and forth (I didn’t see his supposed boyfriend though).
I felt bad for one girl who was sitting behind and to the right of us as she got what I think was a super bad bloody nose. A Page noticed right away and took her to get cleaned up. Her boyfriend stayed behind for that, but the girl eventually came back and said she had to leave. She told her boyfriend he could stay, but he left with her. Hopefully they gave her some tickets for a later date. That would super suck.
Eventually the seats started to fill up. A few of the non-uniform people went around moving some people around and triple-checking I.D.’s of some people that looked SUPER young. One girl seated near us looked 12 and they checked her I.D. again as well as this boy who looked like he was 8. You have to be 16 years old to see SNL, so I think they just like to be sure that nobody was able to sneak in.
It was almost time for the show to start…
Read part two,about the experience during the show, here.
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