By Samantha Tatro, Daily Free Press Staff Writer
The stand-by line is not for the light hearted. It’s like Saturday Night Live alumna Tina Fey said on 30 Rock, “concrete bunghole where dreams are made up. There’s nothing you can do.” Except, with proper planning, the will to wait 40 hours outside, and three ounces of good luck, you, too, can survive the SNL stand-by line, all for that glorious reward: sitting in the SNL audience. And for all the trouble and hours of ice-cold waiting and 40 hours of waiting we endured, it was – hands down – the best experience of my life.
When we left Thursday at midnight, we were only sure of one thing: we were going to be the first people in line. Everything we read online said the first people got there at 7 am, so surely our four a.m. appearance at the 49th street of 30 Rockefeller Center would grab us the first spots in the stand-by line.
But, like many other things we thought we were “sure” about, my friend Megan and I soon discovered that the Saturday Night Live stand-by line for the Feb. 18 show hosted by Maya Rudolph is nothing like any account you ever read online.
So here are some tips that will help anyone brave enough to venture out to the greatest place in New York City, 30 Rock, to survive the SNL stand-by line:
1. When you plan your trip to wait in Saturday Night Live’s stand-by line because it is first on your bucket list, do not plan to get in. Stand-by tickets guarantee nothing, as the many people turned down each rehearsal and live show will tell you. Sometimes, 150 people get in, and sometimes 2 people get in. It’s a total and complete lottery, so until you are sitting in a seat, you are not “in.”
2. When you are buying your bus tickets, get out of Boston as soon as you can. The only way to somewhat guarantee that you will get in, is to be there first.
3. When packing, do not assume that one sleeping bag and one blanket will be enough for two people. Whether it is May or September, bring a sleeping bag, blanket and – most importantly – heating pads you can buy at a drugstore – for each person waiting in line. You will not regret this choice at 4 a.m. Saturday morning, when the weather suddenly takes a shift for the worse.
4. When you’re waiting in the stand-by line and people ask what you are doing there, resist the urge to tell them that the person who waits the longest will get a free kidney. No, people who passed us, the Ellen show is not in New York today, nor is she hosting SNL. We are not waiting for free crack, we are simply waiting for our version of free crack: SNL stand-by tickets.
5. When you are in line, you will get bored. This is when you talk to your amazing stand-by line neighbors, who turn out to be the coolest people you have met so far. Or you sleep. Seriously, go to bed! Because God knows that once Friday night comes around and Seth Meyers comes by to talk to you or Bill Hader mysteriously walks around during a smoke break at midnight, you will definitely not want to sleep.
6. Dress Rehearsal or Live Show? I might be biased, but when it comes time to pick between the two, go with the dress rehearsal. We got to see an additional hour of hilarious sketches and never regretted it. The dress rehearsal is exactly like an extended live show. They even tape the dress rehearsal in case something fails at live.
7. When they send you through security, do not assume you are “in.” When you are in the elevator on the ride up to Studio 8H, do not assume you are in. When they tell you to grab a wrist band and tell you to run because the show is starting soon, do not assume you are in – instead, run like your life depends on it. When you’re sitting in seats that might not have the best view, do not judge, just be thrilled because you are now in. Do not apologize for screaming and yelling too loudly and do not apologize for crying when Bill Hader says, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.” You are in.
8. Lastly, when they tell you the show is over and they all hug each other on stage during the goodbyes, resist the urge to hide under your chair and wait until the live show. Resist the urge to chain yourself to a chair and swallow the key. Just leave and go wait at the stage door to meet the cast. Just be happy you made it in.