Notes from SNL’s Stand-by Tickets Line, Part V: Another Line

This post starts here at Part I.
I know, the suspense is killing you.

When last we saw our tired, tweaked, insane heroes, they had all finally gotten their standby tickets and were free to actually go anywhere they wanted, not just the McDonald’s, the Duane Reade and the Tree. And where did they all go? They went to get something to eat, they went home, and they went to sleep, not necessarily in that order.

The Kids, as you recall, were not able to go home if they wanted to be back in time for the show, so they faced another 12 hours wandering around the city, where they were fast running out of money and steam. But off they went, excited about their stand-by tickets.

L. and I were in search of coffee and food. We ended up at the Stardust diner. We ordered coffee before we even looked at the menus, and then ordered the overpriced, oversized breakfasts.

“I forgot to mention,” I said. “The last time we saw SNL, we were sitting behind two giant lights.”

“Yeah, that happens. Partially obstructed view seats.”

“Yeah, these were almost entirely blocked. But still, it would really suck if we didn’t get in after waiting all night. I’ll be happy with anything.”

The wait staff started singing to music-minus-one CDs. Yes, we know it’s the theater district, and therefore all of the wait staff were budding performers, but it was too early to be hearing their signature Christmas song about Kosher wine. (sadly, I am not making that up.). On the other hand, it distracted me from fretting about asking for the wrong tickets, and it kept L. from having to keep hearing about it.

After three cups of coffee and half the eggs in front of us were consumed, L. and I headed home to sleep.

Duh, again.

Sleep never came for either of us, unless you count the fifteen minutes or so between the next caffeine rush. I got a lot of errands done, wrote Part I of this blog post, bought groceries, sorted laundry, took a shower, got dressed, watched the rest of the Craig Ferguson show that I had TiVo’d while we were in line… you get the picture. No sleep. Very, very awake. At 4pm L. texted me: “Are you awake yet?”

I called her right back. “Not yet,” I said. “Still.”

We made plans to meet later. She was going to take the 7 train, because weird weekend things were happening to the E.

So I watched the Saturday afternoon rerun of House and left for Grand Central Station.

That’s right. Two intelligent, savvy New Yorkers decided that the place to meet on a Saturday night two weeks before Christmas was the clock in Grand Central Station. Wall to wall people, and more people than usual because they were having a lights show. Duh one more time.

When L. called to tell me she had arrived, we were four feet away from each other.

And it was worse when we got to Rockefeller Plaza. Every person on the planet was there to see The Tree and the Christmas windows and God knows what else..

“Watch your bag,” L advised.

“No shit.”

And finally, we were inside, and waiting on another line.

“I bet the Kids went home,” L. said.


“Because they were running out of money, had no place to sleep, and no place to park the car.”

“Hmm. True. Sam seemed really unhappy about the whole thing. But you know, they’re young and resourceful. I bet they make it.”

A few minutes later, there they were.

After a loud happy reunion, I asked them if they slept.

“Yeah. At the McDonald’s!”

As it got closer to the moment of truth, The Kids started negotiating. If only two of them got in, Ruvin would let Chris and Sam in. If only one of them got in?

“We’re all going to get in,” Chris said.

I started to feel guilty again. What if The Kids didn’t get in after we — okay, I —convinced them to stay up all night in the city and wait for tickets instead of turning around and heading back to Rhode Island?

Blood on my hands.

The first 29 were called. We waved forlornly to A. and R. as they were whisked away to go through security.

“Okay, this could really suck,” I said.

“By the way," L. said. "If we get separated, just go. Don’t worry about me.”

Kind of like war buddies: “Don’t worry about me. Save yourself!”

They let twenty more of us through security. Still no guarantee of being let upstairs, but we could feel victory in our grasps. A group of people, again, cut off just before me, were let into the elevator.

And then: “Okay, the next 6.”

There was great rejoicing.

The warm-up guy was already announcing the show when we got upstairs. They were now just filling sporadic empty seats. L. and I were extremely lucky and got put in two seats in the front row of the right section (stage left) of the balcony. The Kids were way off in a section even further to our right, a section perpendicular to the stage.

But we all got in. There were several people in back of us that got in as well, seated during a pre-show performance of Maya Rudolph doing Tina Turner.

The show was mad fun. And our host did not look like he was going to have a nervous breakdown this time. The proverbial Christmas miracle, all around.

Note to Hugh: Your joke about Oliver Twist? I think most of us New Yorkers who didn't get that one right away were thinking that suddenly being surrounded by a bunch of dancers is something that might actually happen in New York, especially in Rockefeller Plaza at Christmastime. I was once walking home in the Village and was followed down a street by a marching band. Things like that happen here.

Note to TV Guide: The Singing Lamps were fun. Guess you had to be there.

Either that, or I was punch drunk.


sharp2799,  Sun Dec 21, 12:47:00 PM EST  

Lucky you! I got there 5 am, didn't get in that night. Sighhhh. But really enjoyed your posts on this!

SMPnyc Sun Dec 21, 03:37:00 PM EST  

Thank you for your kind feedback. Wow, I hope they didn't cut off the line right in front of you.
L. and I saw the snow and sleet this past Friday night and thought, "A perfect night to go to the SNL line."

sharp2799,  Wed Dec 24, 11:02:00 AM EST  

LOL No, there were about 15-20 disappointed people in front of me. I didn't even get upstairs. But it was Hugh Laurie that I wanted to see. Oh well, I'll know better next time!

SMPnyc Wed Dec 24, 05:47:00 PM EST  

We were in line for Hugh as well. I can't imagine suffering that wait in the cold for anyone else. And I did that twice! What's wrong with me, anyway?

sharp2799,  Wed Dec 24, 09:16:00 PM EST  

What's wrong with you? Not a thing! I did get into the Conan show earlier that week so I wasn't completely disappointed. ;)

Anonymous,  Wed Jan 21, 09:28:00 PM EST  

Hey, I figured I would check on the blog, looking good! Ruvin and I are going to go see the SNL show when Steve Martin is hosting. We're trying to convince Sam to go too.

You should definitely show up, we're bringing a tent this time.


P.S. - let me know if you have any idea when he's hosting.

SMPnyc Wed Jan 21, 09:45:00 PM EST  

Hey Chris! Would love to hang out with you guys again on the SNL line. Uh,,, you have to send me your email address if I'm going to let you know about SM. Email me privately.

Madeline,  Fri Jan 23, 12:12:00 AM EST  

This was great to read! I was just searching on google for info on standby tickets and I'm so glad I stumbled upon this. My friends and I are planning to go up next weekend to see steve martin and jason mraz. If we got there around 10 on Friday do you think our chances would be pretty good?

SMPnyc Fri Jan 23, 01:27:00 AM EST  

Not that I'm an expert on this.... but it seems that 10pm would be a great time to get in line, on a normal night. Steve Martin is HUGELY popular, so it's hard to say if ANYone in the standby line will get in. But go for it, because you never know. It's the winter, after all: snow, flu, pestilance...as long as enough people with mailed tickets don't show up, you've got a shot. Count the people in line when you get there. If it's already over 150 people, I'd bag it.

cove street Sat Dec 05, 10:11:00 PM EST  

Just tried to go to SNL this weekend. NBC sucks. I was 38th and 39th in the line, getting in line at about 5:00 am.

Showed up for the 2nd line -- and was about 10 people behind the cutoff. Such is life.

I'm actually ok with that.

But what is pompous is NBC giving out 150 standby tickets -- making people stand in line twice.

I get it, you're the "popular" kid and can make people do that -- but guess what, SNL isn't funny and NBC is now ranked 4th as a network -- and now you've got 150 people who waited in line twice who think your network sucks even more.

Not great marketing.

So --- good luck. SNL is not funny and the jokes on me because I stood in line twice --- but atleast I'm funny.

Suck it NBC.

SMPnyc Tue Dec 08, 10:29:00 PM EST  

It really is a crap shoot. I still think the reason we were lucky enough to get in was because the weather was terrible, the first time cold and rainy, the second time just very very cold, like in the 20s. And we were there before 4a. There are people that get in that line every weekend, and they get there at 5pm the night before. (!!!!!). If the 2 deceased Beatles rose from the dead and there was going to be a reunion of the group on SNL, I wouldn't spend 14 hours on that sidewalk. Anyway, I agree, the show has been seriously lame in recent years. Even great guest hosts can't save some of that material. yikes.

eclipse515 Sat Dec 12, 12:20:00 PM EST  

hey i just stood online last night it was suppose to be the coldest night of the year my friend & i got there around 6pm. our ticket numbers are 39 & 40 for the dress rehearsal. do you think we have a chance at getting in?

eclipse515 Sat Dec 12, 12:28:00 PM EST  

hey i just stood online last night it was suppose to be the coldest night of the year my friend & i got there around 6pm. our ticket numbers are 39 & 40 for the dress rehearsal. do you think we have a chance at getting in?

SMPnyc Sun Dec 13, 12:31:00 AM EST  

I'm sorry... I just got your comment now! I haven't been online all day. By now the live show is almost over Did you get in? I had numbers 35 an 36, and we got in the dress, and it was this very weekend, last year. But Taylor Lautner and Bon Jovi, that's a tough one. Let me know, if you check back here, that is.

Jess Fri Jan 15, 11:00:00 PM EST  

I'm giving it a try tomorrow morning! Sigourney Weaver is hosting and I'm really nervous about it. I'm leaving my house at 4:30 and I'll get there by 5am, I hope I have a chance!! I'm just a little confused about how this whole stand-by ticket thing works

SMPnyc Sun Jan 17, 05:49:00 PM EST  

Did you get in? 5am, I think, is about the latest you can get in that line and have a chance. Last time I went the line didn't start getting long until about then. If you guys try it again, I would say shoot more for 4am or 4:30. How it works? They are trying to fill the seats. That's it. If a lot of people who were sent tickets in the mail show up, and if the guest stars have a lot of VIP friends, your chances of getting into the show are less. There is never any guarantee, frankly, even if you've gotten a ticket mailed to you, because when there's a really hot guest, a lot of VIP tickets are issued to family and friends.

Katie,  Sun Mar 14, 05:31:00 PM EDT  

hey, great blog! my boyfriend and i are traveling to NYC in late may, probably going to try to go to the may 29 show if they are taping that day.

a few questions though:
do you only have to show up early for the stand-by line?
how do they work the numbered tickets later on?
do they organize you in line based on your ticket number? or do you also need to show up early for the actual shows?
and also, say you are the very first person lining up for tickets...how do you know where to go? is there a sign outside 30 rock showing where you line up?
thanks, i appreciate any info you have.

SMPnyc Mon Mar 15, 01:12:00 AM EDT  

Katie-- Good questions!
[do you only have to show up early for the stand-by line?]
Yes, that crazy middle-of-the-night thing is only to get stand-by tickets.
[how do they work the numbered tickets later on? do they organize you in line based on your ticket number? ]
Yes, they have you get in line according to the number on your ticket. [say you are the very first person lining up for tickets...how do you know where to go? is there a sign outside 30 rock showing where you line up?]
The line is right outside the entrance to 30 rock, and yes, there is a sign. If you are THAT early, chances are you will run into some of the regulars anyway, but also there are 30 Rock building people around to let you know whther you are in the right place as well.
[do you also need to show up early for the actual shows?]
When you come back for the show, you come back to the same entrance you were waiting on earlier. The lovely guard-like people (not sure if they're guards per se, but they have uniforms) that are in the lobby of 30 Rock are very helpful, and will tell you where to go. And yes, there is a sign for where to line up for the show, too. You do not have to get there too early to get in that line, but I have 2 things to say about that: (1) if you are late, even by a little bit, and they have already called your number to go upstairs, they will send you to the back of the line. (I saw that happen to people who had tickets numbered 3, 4 and 5. Ouch.) The ticket will have a time on it. If it says 7:30p (a dress rehearsal ticket), be there by 7:15p. But no, you don't have to park there at noon or something and sleep on the line again. (2) There was someone who had a ticket numbered something like 57, but she was there pretty early for the stand-by ticket-holders line, and someone who had a "real" ticket came up to her and gave her his ticket. So there can be benefits to being there early.
And here's another matter of practicality: Restrooms are on the lower level of the building. In a maze, and I'm just barely kidding about that. If you want to use the restroom before you get into the show, go early enough to get back in the line before they start calling numbers. And keep in mind: they will not let you leave the taping, so don't think you'll be able to go once you get upstairs.

Please let me know if you guys get in! A lot of people ask me about getting in, but they don't always let me know the outcome. Do be prepared to not get in, especially if the host or musical guest is very popular, Stand-by tickets of any number are not guaranteed entry. Actually, as i've said in the blog posts, mail-in tickets have no guarantees either, and they get priority over the stand-bys. Always have a back-up plan.
Good luck, and let me know how you do. --Robin

The Metzes Tue Nov 30, 03:26:00 PM EST  

This information is great! I've been surfing trying to find some testimonies as to how difficult it actually is to get into see this show. My wife and I have been fans forever. I'm surprising her with a trip to NYC and we'll be there when the Christmas show is being taped. I would love to score tickets to that - but we'll only be in town four nights, not sure she'll one to spend an entire day waiting for them. Per the comments here, I may see if she's game to getting up and getting in line around 4:00. Our hotel isn't too far away. I'll try to post back of our experience. Thanks!

Anonymous,  Tue Nov 30, 05:16:00 PM EST  

I'm going to NY this weekend and hope to get into the show. I don't know though with Robert DeNiro and P Diddy, do you think my odds are slim to none? What time do you think I should get in line?

Ruvin Bogati,  Fri Apr 22, 09:42:00 PM EDT  

Top 5 greatest experience of my life: thank you so much for posting this, This is Ruvin and i'll have you know that i am currently an adult and still talk about this event. My calfs look a lot better and i havent slimmed down as much. im so glad you made this post.

Just a girl. Fri Sep 02, 01:41:00 AM EDT  

Thankyou for this fun little series! I'm going over in January and I was worried I would have to stay in that line all day. Thankfully, just until 7am.
Better start packing some thermals!

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