AS BOB Schieffer—looking and sounding strangely like last week’s Tom Brokaw, but with a more receded hairline—appears live on NBC at 9:30 p.m., we once again enter the comedic world of Saturday Night Live.

For some of us, however, this foray into the arena of political satire started much earlier—6:00 a.m. to be precise. Most of the studio audience won tickets through a lottery back in August, but, luckily for us, NBC studios hands out 200 standby tickets to those brave souls who venture to Rockefeller Center the morning of a taping.Only a small fraction of these would-be audience members actually receive a seat in the audience. On Thursday, we were among those lucky souls.

In possession of standby ticket numbers 1 and 19, we eagerly waited in a cramped line on the mezzanine at 30 Rock. The NBC pages like to convince the standby crowd that none of us will be lucky enough to get into the show, but seasoned veterans like us know that they always let in a dozen or so from the standby line. Even on the night when Michael Phelps (who can’t read a cue card to save his life) was the host, they let in eight from the standby line. At last week’s “Weekend Update Thursday,” they let in 40 from the standby line for the live show and upwards of 80 for the dress rehearsal. One of the largest-ever fails was when Debs tried to get a ticket for the live taping with Steve Carell, Usher and John McCain. She missed the opportunity, but Chris succeeded because he played it safe with a dress rehearsal ticket.

Rule number one for getting in with a standby ticket: Don’t be late, because they won’t make exceptions for you. Once when Drew Barrymore was hosting, the pages banished the people behind us (who also waited all night for standby tickets) to the back of the standby line because they were 30 seconds late. They came all the way from Canada for the show, and broke down in tears.

Rule number two for getting SNL standby tickets: never celebrate until you are on the 8th floor studio, where SNL is filmed, with an official SNL wristband wrapped around your arm. You can even go through the metal detector and be waiting for the elevator and still not get in. This is especially tragic for people who have waited overnight for a Saturday night show (unlike “Weekend Update Thursday,” when you can show up around 7 a.m. the day of and probably get in).

We followed all of the rules this week. We were on time (which meant running to and from the subway at rush-hour), and we didn’t celebrate until we reached the 8th floor studio. Having obeyed the SNL code to the letter, we were two of 30 fans from the standby line able to attend dress rehearsal. The advantage of attending the dress rehearsal is that you get to see all the content that doesn’t make it into the live show, and your laugh determines the jokes they keep and the jokes they cut. If possible, attend the rehearsal.

What you didn’t see:

  • Several lame jokes making fun of the Ungrateful Dead and Ringo Starr
  • An unvaliant attempt at wondering why we’ve numbered the sixth space tourist. Don’t only the first few matter?
  • Amy and Seth reading their cue cards without messing up
  • The split screen during the jokes about split screens. What happened with that?
  • Kenan Thompson as Jean K. Jean, the hilarious Frenchman who said the economy is so bad in France, brothers are eating pain without the chocolat.

We Like It:

  • We like “We Like It!” Positivity tempered with barely hidden sarcasm makes for excellent joke fodder!
  • We like Rev. Jesse Jackson talking about the “unavoidable and unequivocable” Bradley Effect. It’s true. White people just pretend to like hip-hop.
  • We like Obama apologizing to Joe the Plumber across the debating desk.
  • We like the split screen during the Obama and McCain smile jokes. Well, we liked it in the rehearsal.
  • We REALLY like the crazy lady from the McCain rally! We can’t all go on our “compooters” and find out that Obama is “a Arab” “muslin,” and “convorts with terriers.” We like that she did the research.

We Still Like It:

  • We still like Kenan Thomson’s “Fix It!!” from last week. And we quote it pretty frequently.


  • Really SNL, how could you miss the chance to use the name “Senator Government” in the Presidential Debate sketch? You could have done so much with that inadvertent, yet true, McCain flub.
  • And, really, do you think you mentioned Joe the Plumber enough times?
  • And, really, why did you take out Jean K. Jean? Incroyable!

Debs Francisco is a multimedia producer and staff writer at in New York; she blogs at Chris Ross is the opinions editor of The Student Voice, the student publication of The King’s College.

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