The long, sleep-deprived march to SNL tickets
Off-campus adventures can be exciting, disappointing, infuriating — sometimes even all three at once. We want to hear about your experiences off-campus, so email us your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org. To kick off the series, here’s Spec A&E writer Henry Green on waiting in line for SNL tickets.
The process of getting tickets to any sort of late night show is a great equalizer.
Sure, the VIPs get to slip in the door with no wait at all, but unless you’re very important – and, let’s face it, most of us aren’t – then whether Columbia student or father of four, you’re stuck outside braving the elements.
There is no way to buy tickets or pay your way in short of bribing the entire line, and realistically, you’re not going to bribe the entire line. Instead you will wait, paying for your ticket not with money but with time.
That time seemed a fair price to me and a friend from high school this Saturday, so around 3:30 a.m., we assumed our positions outside Rockefeller Plaza. Well, to be perfectly honest, I assumed my position – he didn’t arrive for another hour.
By the time we were both assembled, there were some ninety people in front of us, mostly in sleeping bags. Some, we were told, had been sleeping there since the night before, and it seemed plausible: near the front were squatters with setups to rival the world’s coziest camping trip, complete with air mattresses, blankets, and discarded snacks.
I, who spent most of the night trying to sleep in an underwhelming beach chair and had one dollar in my pocket for food, was jealous.
We were waiting for tickets to see the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. SNL, which in recent years has become less a comedy show and more a patchwork of sometimes-funny pop culture references, was not our main concern.
We were really waiting in line to see Frank Ocean, the man who recently released “Channel Orange,” far and away the best album of 2012. Frank was to be that night’s musical guest and Seth MacFarlane—he of “Family Guy” and “Ted” fame—the host.
Around 7:00 a.m., men in suits emerged and began distributing tickets. These—which we got with relative ease—were no guarantee that we would see the show. Saturday Night Live tickets bear a number that reflects your spot in line, and when you return later for the taping, they may or may not let you in.
My friend and I returned at 7:15 that night (we went to the dress rehearsal, which generally has less VIP guests and was therefore more likely to us) and began the anxious wait to see if our efforts had been for nothing.
As it turned out, we were in luck. Of the over 100 people there, we had tickets numbers 56 and 57, and quickly found ourselves being directed by women in suits through a metal detector, into an elevator, down a corridor, and into front row seats on the SNL bleachers.
We still weren’t VIPs, but as I thought back to the anguished faces of those poor souls in line behind me—the ones who hadn’t made it in—it was hard not to feel special.
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