That time I went to an SNL taping

I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, go to a taping of Saturday Night Live would be right there at the top. It’s been my favorite show since the early-2000’s glory days of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch. I would slip out of bed at 11:25 and watch with the volume turned way down. (As it turns out, my parents totally knew, but as comedy fans themselves they let me think I was being rebellious for a couple years.) Even today, I watch my Women of SNL  and Best of Amy Poehler DVDs regularly.

When I moved to New York City in March, going to a taping was one of the top things I wanted to do. None of the hosts or musical guests in the spring were enticing enough for me to camp out overnight for a slim chance at a standby seat, so when the lottery opened up in August, my roommate Becca and I both entered with the agreement that if we won, we’d go together. If you’re picked, you’re given two tickets to either the dress rehearsal or the live taping of a random show – you can’t pick the date or the time. I’ve heard tales of people who enter every season for decades and never win – so I wasn’t expecting much my first year in New York.

I’m sure you know where this is going by now. Six weeks ago, I got that fateful email: Dear Leigh Anne, CONGRATULATIONS! In response to your request for tickets to Saturday Night Live… at this point I stopped reading and started freaking out. Complete with tears. AT WORK. I immediately texted Becca (save the date!) and my parents (GUESS WHAT?!) It felt like Christmas.

SNL email

Immediately we began speculating on who the host would be. I was hoping for an SNL alum, particularly Amy Poehler (my very favorite celebrity). Becca crossed her fingers for Matthew McConaughey. When the news broke, I actually heard from my friend Emmie (also a comedy fan): James Franco would be hosting with musical guest Nicki Minaj. I was excited for a couple reasons: James Franco had hosted twice before, so I knew he’d be good and know the ropes. Also, I hadn’t given any thought to the musical guest before – I’m not the biggest fan of pop music and usually don’t even know the guests on SNL. But I knew Nicki Minaj and knew I didn’t hate her!

When the day arrived, Becca and I got to 30 Rock around 9:30 p.m. – a huge benefit to having reservations! I picked up our tickets and, knowing we’d have to hand them over to an NBC page, immediately took a slew of selfies for Instagram, texting to my family, and general bragginess. Soon enough we were turning off our phones and settling into Studio 8H!

SNL tickets

I’m not going to talk about the entire show because I could easily write a couple thousand words on it, but you can watch it on Hulu. I will say that, before the show, if I could have made two wishes (which I never vocalized, for fear of jinxing it!), I would have wanted a surprise celebrity guest appearance and for Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer to do their ex-porn stars sketch (my very favorite recurring sketch!) We got both!

Though some may say Seth Rogen wasn’t exactly a “surprise” (he and James Franco seem to be attached at the hip), I was caught off guard and screamed like a little girl when he came out during the monologue! At the end of the show, when they were setting up the set for ex-porn stars, I freaked out again. These were the perfect bookends for my SNL experience!

After the show as Becca and I were walking outside to catch a cab, I held the door open for the girl behind me (because I like to think I’m a nice person) – and it turned out to be my favorite current cast member, Kate McKinnon! What a fun surprise, and what a way to wrap up a night I’d been dreaming of since middle school.

Special thanks and apology to my lovely friend Misha, who was visiting from Phoenix and whom we ditched to have this hopefully-not-but-probably-once-in-a-lifetime experience. Love you dearly!


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