Anticipation can be a great thing with huge rewards, or it can lead to major disappointment.
But what would life be without anticipation? I imagine it would be quite boring. Nothing to hope or dream about, nothing to look forward to, no eagerness to experience something unknown.
It’s the unknown that makes various experiences, when they come to fruition, something to talk about, whether good or bad.
Recently, I had an ‘anticipation experience' that resulted in an array of emotions.
Clearly, by the headline, you know this is about a trip to see "Saturday Night Live."
First, a bit of explanation. Since I write about television if I’d like to visit the set of a show usually all I have to do is use my credentials, go through the proper channels and I generally have no problem gaining access.
But many times, with shows that are open to an audience, I like to go 'The Average Joe Route' and do whatever the general public has to do get in and then write about my experience.
So, in August of 2012, I sent in a request for tickets to “Saturday Night Live.” The show only takes e-mail requests in August for the upcoming season. (So if you want to go to a show during the 2013/2014 season, mark your calendar now. I’ll do my best to remind everyone at the end of July.)
I put in the request and then sort of got busy and forgot about it. On Friday, December 21st, I got an email that I had a reservation for the show on January 19th. It was a rather non-descript email that I almost thought was spam.
When I opened it, the first line of the message read, “CONGRATULATIONS! In response to your request for tickets to Saturday Night Live, we are pleased to inform you that we are holding two tickets for the above reservation.”
My first disappointment came when I realized my passes were for the dress rehearsal and not the actual show.
I didn’t figure this out right away as the words ‘dress rehearsal’ were not listed anywhere on the email. It was only after some scrutiny of the listed arrival time that I understood this was not an admittance into the live show.
I soon got over that issue as I’ve heard that during dress rehearsal the audience actually gets to see more skits than what appears in the live broadcast as the staff cuts a few elements prior to air time to streamline the show.
Even though I travel to New York very frequently, my primary residence is in Los Angeles, so as soon as I got the tickets I hopped online and planned my trip.
The day of the show I arrived at 5pm; well ahead of the stated 6:45pm arrival time listed on my ticket. There was one person in line so I decided to leave and come back. A security guard told me 6pm was about the time everyone started lining up.
So at 6pm I ambled back to the line and sure enough people where taking their place. I was about tenth in line. Perfect, I thought.
I watched as others arrived and took their place in line. A young woman who we were told was in charge, flitted about. As people checked in, she moved them to other lines. Immediately, I knew what was happening. Those who knew our hostess and the pretty twenty-somethings were ushered into one line while the rest of the rift-raft (myself included) were sanctioned to another line.
After over an hour in line, you kind of knew who was in front of you and who was behind you in your line.
Sure enough as the lines began to be ushered into the elevators that would take the audience to studio 8H where the show would take place, the ‘twentysomethings, beautiful people line’ went first, followed by the rest of us.
Disappointment #2; not so much that I wouldn’t be sitting in prime seats, but that those seats are dished out merely based on age, and apparently, looks, rather than some more fairly conceived method.
Finally, my group went in we were ushered straight to……the worst seats in the house.
And, you don’t have to just talk my word for it on this.
In a little speech given by Jason Sudeikis before the show he actually pointed to our section and commented that we, in fact, had the worst seats in the place.
Why are they worst seats, you ask? Using the diagram that I’ve provided I’ll explain why.
My seat is marked on the diagram with the circled “X” which you will note is waaaay off to the side of the stage. In fact, we were almost behind the stage.
“A” was the main stage and as you can see the band is at the back of that stage. The walls that separate the “A”, “X”, “B” and “C” stages are tall, solid walls. We couldn’t see the band, nor could we see anything that happened on the “A”, “B” or “E” stages. We could see the side of the host during the monologue because during that part of the show the host stands on a pullout from the “A” stage, labeled A1. You would think we could see the “D” stage, but there were lights and other things hanging in the way.
So it was pretty clear that the folks in my section weren’t going to see much of anything unless we watched on the monitors hanging above our heads. Sort of defeats the purpose of coming to a live show, right, having to watch everything on a monitor?
What was most disgruntling was that we, the-arrived-early-waited-dutifully-in-line-and-then-were-seated-in-that-awful section, watched the people who arrived later than us as they were led in and seated in the center section in much better seats.
At that point, I have to say that I was really quite pissed. My excitement for the show had waned to the level that I actually considered leaving, reasoning that I'd come back next year and just arrive late to get bettter seats.
But, then, kind of like magic, the band started playing and things started buzzing down on the floor. Executive Producer Lorne Michaels appeared and suddenly it was cool to be in on the action.
Once the show started going, it was still disappointing not to be able to really see anything live, but it was fun to laugh along with the crowd and watch the speed with which everyone behind the scenes worked to get everything together. It was a good, entertaining show.
So it seemed like a bit of a roller coaster of emotions during those few hours, but in the end, it seemed well worth the time and effort.
After the show, as we were filing out, I tried to make light of the situation in our section commenting aloud that we all learned a valuable lesson -- that next time we should all arrive late to get prime seats.
One woman remarked it was doubtful that she’d be returning as she came from New Zealand. She went on to say that when you buy tickets to a sporting event and your view will be obstructed they tell you that upfront. She said that she may not have come had she known that this would be the case. But, after someone else remarked that, ‘hey the tickets were free and you did laugh,’ she admitted that it wasn’t all bad.
On the way out of the studio, we went down a long hallway filled with pictures of classic “SNL” skits. It was very cool to see the history of the nearly 40 years of the show all there. It seemed like we were traversing through a shrine of some sort. Everyone was strangely quiet as we moved along, pointing, giggling a bit and whispering to their neighbor or friend about teh memories the photos evoked. Again, I was the one who spoke up, saying something like, "People, it's not a library, it's ok to laugh outloud." Just as I said it, Fred Armisen came through the line and said shouted out a thank to everyone for coming to the show. The ice was sufficiently broken then and people seemed to lighten up, now laughing and smiline on their way out of the studio.
So, while it wasn’t perfect, it was still a fun, interesting night that had it’s up and downs, very much like an episode of “Saturday Night Live” itself.
Given all that happened, I would still highly recommend it as an interesting, insightful, entertaining activity for any true TV fan.
So mark your calendar for August 2013 to send in those ticket requests. You just might end up sitting in the audience next season. Hopefully, it won't be in the worst seats in the house, but even if you end up there, you'll no doubt enjoy the show.