Fans of SNL and all things comedy will appreciate experiencing a live television show taping of SNL in New York.
Planning to do more than catch a live show? Get discount tickets to lots of top New York City attractions when you use a New York Explorer Pass®.
How to get Saturday Night Live tickets in New York City:
The 411 on SNL:
Even if you aren’t familiar with Saturday Night Live, seeing a live taping is one of the top things to do in New York.
Since its premiere in 1975, Saturday Night Live has been one of the most popular comedy shows in the world. It has the most Emmy nominations in television history and continues to make audiences laugh with its satirical sketch comedy and hilarious take on contemporary culture. Attending a performance is one of the best things to do in New York City for fans of comedy, TV, and pop culture.
Former cast members have included Chris Farley, David Spade, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Sarah Silverman, Will Farrell, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The most recent cast of SNL includes Superbad star Bill Hader, I Love You, Man star and Lonely Island singer Andy Samberg, as well as All That alum Kenan Thompson and Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig.
The Ticket Lottery:
Each August, Saturday Night Live holds a ticket lottery for the upcoming season.
How to enter:
Send an email with all of your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org at some point during the month of August. You must be at least sixteen years old to be considered for the ticket lottery. Unfortunately, you are not able to select a certain date.
If you are one of the lucky few chosen, you will be sent two tickets for a random show in the upcoming season.
Get SNL Tickets on Stand By:
If you’re in New York City and want to take a chance at stand-by tickets, they are distributed on the 49th Street side of 30 Rock at 7 am on the morning of a taping. People waiting in line for stand-by tickets are asked to stay in line at all times and are given one per person on a first-come, first-served basis. You’ll need to have a current photo ID with you.
Stand-by tickets are available for both the dress rehearsal at 8 pm or the live taping at 11:30 pm. The rehearsal is recorded to tape and is used for backup in case the live show cannot air. Guests selected for stand-by ticket clearance may choose which they’d like to attend.
Should I Go to the Dress Rehearsal or the Live Show?
You may be thinking, “Why would anyone want to see the dress rehearsal and not the real show?”
Reasons to consider attending the dress rehearsal:
Many people who have gone to SNL claim that the dress rehearsal can be even better than the live show. This is due to the fact that many skits in the rehearsal do not end up making it into the live SNL show.
The dress rehearsal tends to be much more relaxed and spontaneous, making it more fun for the audience. Plus, some of the best skits are not included in the live show, because they are deemed too inappropriate to be aired by the television executives.
Getting to the recording:
If you happen to be given standby tickets the day of the show, you’ll need to be at the studio before 7:15 pm for the dress rehearsal or before 10:45 pm for the live show.
*Keep in mind that a stand-by ticket does not guarantee admission. There have been unfortunate stories of people who have traveled a long distance only to be told at the last minute that their SNL tickets would not be honored because the celebrity host brought too many people in their entourage or that the skit that they are doing that night requires some extra space, so less seats for the audience.
Plan B: If You Can’t Get Tickets
Unfortunately, you weren’t picked for the lottery and you couldn’t get stand-by tickets. Now what?
If you’re hanging out in the Rockefeller Plaza area, there are plenty of things to do on a Saturday. Take a tour of Rockefeller Center, go backstage at Radio City Music Hall, see the entire city in the Top of the Rock Observation Deck or stroll through the Channel Gardens.
In the winter time, you can go skating on the famous ice rink or take photos by the giant Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Steps away from Rockefeller Center, you’ll find the Museum of Modern Art, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Fifth Avenue.
There’s always plenty of things to do in New York City, especially on a Saturday night, so you’re sure to have an exciting night, no matter what.
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Editor’s note: this blog post was originally published on 9/9/2011 and has since been updated