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Up-close and personal on the set of SNL

By Kevin Pacione
On January 15, 2012

"Saturday Night Live," lovingly known by the abbreviation SNL, is one of the most well known live comedy shows. Now in its 37th season, it's a better time than ever to sit in on a live taping of the show.

The DePaulia had this once-in-a-lifetime chance over the holiday break, and we want to tell you all about it.

Comedian, talk show host, and SNL alum Jimmy Fallon was the host, and popular jazz singer Michael Buble was the musical guest, who sang two songs off his new chart-topping Christmas album.

DePaulia writer Kevin Pacione managed to get into the live show of this recording and takes the readers behind the scenes of SNL and the process of seeing one of the live recordings of this magnificent show.

It can be said that SNL is one of the hardest live shows to get in, simply because of popular demand.

While it may be difficult, it's still always possible for anyone to get in with either an official ticket or standby ticket. Obtaining an official ticket is more difficult than obtaining a standby ticket, because it involves an email lottery.

For this, hopefuls send their information (name, address, phone number, etc.) to and the lottery system randomly selects 1,500 people for a chance at only two available tickets.

It may seem like a lot, but it's only a small percentage, as over 50,000 people sign up for the lottery each year.

However, anything is possible and it's always worth a shot to try every year, but going for an official ticket is not the only option.

Standby tickets are a much easier and viable method, however it doesn't guarantee admission into the show, you can only watch if there is free space.

To earn a standby ticket, people wait in a line outside of Rockefeller Center until 7 a.m. on Saturday, the day SNL comes on.

While this may be a more practical option, it's still just as competitive as the SNL lottery system, but there is a bit of leisure depending on who the host and musical guest is that week.

Tons of people camp out in line as early as 48 hours until the tickets are handed out. Like we said before, it all depends on how popular the host or musical guest is.

If it's someone like Justin Bieber as the musical guest, people can expect a ton of screaming fan-girls waiting in line wearing "I heart Justin Bieber t-shirts."

One by one, the standby tickets are handed out, meaning that the people towards the front of the line get the lower numbers.

This just determines the order that they line up when they come back at night to wait in the standby line in hopes of getting in to see their favorite stars. When actually receiving a ticket, there are two options for tickets: live show and dress rehearsal.

Dress rehearsal has every single sketch the cast rehearsed and is twice as long as the live show, which is only one hour and 30 minutes, but has most of the good content of the show.

Beginning to wait 16 hours before the standby tickets are handed out to the Jimmy Fallon and Michael Buble episode, there were about 60 people in line already waiting for the ticket.

Most people had their sleeping bags with them, as well as their winter coats and such to keep them warm for the next 16 hours out in the cold.

Spotted in the back of the line was someone with a blow-up mattress and backgammon to keep occupied.

Every couple minutes, someone passing by asks what this line is for, which goes to show that a lot of people in New York are tourists.

At around 1 a.m., Jimmy Fallon stops by for a minute and heads into Rockefeller Center, probably to get a good nights rest for the show he's hosting that night.

Naturally, almost everyone attempted to bombard him and take photos of him.

However, this hype died down when he left. Later that night, he ordered over 50 boxes of pizza for all the people waiting in line to keep them cool-minded.

Hosts of SNL sometimes do this to show their appreciation for the dedicated fans. Overnight, it's the same waiting game, everyone sleeping until the SNL usher annoyingly wakes everyone up at 6 a.m. to tell them to stay standing up in line, as the tickets are going to be handed out soon. At 7 a.m., an NBC player comes out and begins to distribute tickets. Reaching the front of the line, the ticket number The DePaulia obtained was number 29. Those odds seemed decent, because that meant that 29 people had to be called into the show in order to get in with that ticket.

Coming back at 10:45 p.m. to wait in the line, the NBC players begin to call in large amounts of people. Before we knew it, over 50 people were called in—all within the first two minutes.

This meant that there were a ton of empty seats. While arriving inside Studio 8H (where SNL takes place,) the SNL players kept the audience entertained with various holiday acts until the show began.

Some of these acts included three cast members (Bobby Moynihan, Abby Elliott, Nasim Pedrad) performing a Christmas act in song and Jason Sudeikis (one of the oldest tenure cast members currently in the cast) giving a brief intro about the rules of the show, basically that no photos or videos would be allowed to be taken at any time in the studio, and they're really strict about it.

The show eventually starts, and since Jimmy Fallon is a former SNL alum, an old recurring sketch is brought back, called the Boston Teens, featuring former cast member Rachel Dratch, who made a surprise cameo.

Throughout the show, the audience is bombarded with surprises of joy with the numerous cameos and witty segments, such as celebrity impersonators doing Christmas duets with musical guest Michael Buble, and Jimmy Fallon bringing on musical Christmas cheer through his monologue.

One of the wittiest segments involved a weekend update joke-off, which involved jokes based off of the fact that a strip club in Chicago is giving free lap dances in exchange for toys.

Two former weekend update anchors Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey took part in this against former anchor Amy Poehler and current anchor Seth Meyers. Another exciting segment was bringing back the musical holiday performance of "I Wish It Was Christmas Today," featuring Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Kattan (first performed in the 1990's generation of SNL).

The audience grew ecstatic from seeing them behind the curtain. Morgan can be seen dancing with a dull face. While this was intended for humorous purposes, Morgan had hostility towards Kattan (who was next to him in the performance) for reasons said in his book Tracy Morgan: I am the New Black.

In an early sketch involving a recurring character (played by Kristen Wiig) not wanting to sing and a new character (played by Jimmy Fallon) not wanting to dance ultimately led to Jimmy Fallon standing on top of the piano and tap dancing, which the audience got a chuckle and joy out of.

At the end of the show, the whole cast and cameos say their goodbyes, usually in Studio 8H, but this time they said their goodbyes in the ice skating rink outside of Rockefeller Center. The audience applauded with complete happiness for an overall outstanding show.

The excitement doesn't end there, though.

After everyone leaves Studio 8H, crowds of fans wait outside of Rockefeller Center for the cast and cameos to come out and take photos with them.

Tons of famous people did so, including those who weren't featured in the show, such as John Krasinski from "The Office," and Will Arnett from "Up All Night."

Seeing SNL and meeting the cast and other stars is an incredible experience that anyone would enjoy, whether or not they are fans of this comedy show.

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