How to get tickets to Saturday Night Live

SNL Standby Tickets

Trying to obtain tickets to a live Saturday Night Live taping has often thought to be an impossible task and from my most recent experience, I can definitely see why. NBC certainly does not provide the necessary direction to make things easy for you. Before I go on, I should heed warning in noting the irony of my blog title as I was unsuccessful in my endeavor, however, I am hoping my personal experience will help others down the line.

It is often claimed that the most effortless route to get a guaranteed SNL ticket is to send an e-mail to NBC in August and try your luck in the lottery where the reward nets you two tickets to a random taping (I have my some thoughts and skepticism on this). Keep in mind, a lottery ticket may only grant access to the 8 p.m. dress rehearsal and not necessarily the live 11:30 p.m. show.

The other option to attend an SNL taping is by means of stand-by tickets. This involves lining up in front of NBC Studios on the day of a taping and obtaining a stand-by ticket (dress or show) on a first-come, first-serve basis. These tickets only come into play when guaranteed ticket holders are no-shows. Guaranteed tickets are not confined to just lottery winners; in fact, tickets won via lottery represent a small percentage of guaranteed ticket holders. The majority of seats are reserved for VIP, which includes friends and family of the host, musical guest and cast members. The number of VIPs varies largely from show-to-show and in essence determines how many stand-by ticket holders eventually make it into a live taping.

Having been unsuccessful in the lottery, my friend and I decided to try our luck in stand-by on Saturday, April 24 for a show hosted by Gabourey Sidibe with musical guest MGMT. It was a very calculated move having selected a taping that involved an uncelebrated host and relatively unknown musical guest. This duo seemed to offer a better chance at attracting less of a crowd than say the Tina Fey/Justin Bieber combo from a few weeks earlier.

Upcoming Saturday Night Live Hosts

Our day started off leaving from Bristol, CT at 3:45 AM on Saturday morning. We arrived in NYC at 5:30 and made it to 30 Rockefeller Plaza around 5:45. A fair number of folks were already lined up on the W 49th street side of NBC Studios (later we learned there were 130 people in front of us). The majority of people in the front of the line had camped out overnight. An estimated 200 total people were in line by the time we obtained our tickets.

On a quick side bar, I have to mention an offbeat character who was in line right behind us with an unhealthy obsession with SNL. He claimed to own “over 20 episodes on VHS tape,” boasted in finding a site that listed every member who had stated the line “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” and passed along an anecdote where he “froze” when having met Jenny Slate. It was an onslaught of questions from the get-go ranging from “Who is your favorite Weekend Update anchor?”, “Who was your favorite host,” “What is your favorite skit of all-time?” While my friend was a little more engaging, I phased him out when it got to a point where he was not the type of energy I was intending on soaking in early on a Saturday morning. I’ll give the kid an “A” for effort but an “F” for the ability to detect human discomfort in social situations.

Back to my story, an NBC player (call him NBC-1) came out 10 minutes prior to 7 a.m. to indicate stand-by tickets (numbered from No. 1 onwards) are available for the dress rehearsal or the live show. He was generally approachable and the obvious question people were asking involved the chances of getting into either show. His advice was to choose the show ticket with the lowest number (while this makes sense logically, it was obviously a false claim as we found out the hard way). NBC-1 told us that only four stand-by tickets made it into the live Tina Fey/Justin Bieber show; definitely not offering a hope of confidence.

Another NBC player (call her NBC-2) distributed the tickets. By the time we got to the front of the line, we were faced with the decision to take tickets Nos. 63/64 for the live show or Nos. 69/70 for the dress rehearsal. To get a better idea of our chances, we asked how many people typically make it in and what was the most number of stand-by tickets ever earning admission. While being fairly open to questions, NBC-2 played the naive card and didn’t give us much to work with. She claimed that 40 standbys made it into a live taping during a snowstorm a few years back in a studio that holds roughly 330 people. We were able to extract the fact that “30,000 people apply for the lottery and less than 5% win.” Playing the numbers game, we ended up taking tickets 63/64 for the live show.

Over breakfast, we replayed our questions and information obtained from NBC-1 and NBC-2 and determined that we had made the best decision possible. Still, we knew our chances of making it into the live show were pretty slim. Regardless, we agreed to go back later that night to try our luck. With no shortage of things to do, we were easily able to make a day of it in NYC, surprisingly without feeling the crash and burn from the early morning mission.

Our stand-by tickets indicated that we arrive back by 10:45 p.m. for the 11:30 live show. We made our way back to NBC Studios to line up with our stand-by tickets around 10:15. This time we waited inside the GE building. We saw a line for the roughly 30 lottery winners. Another batch of folks, the VIPs, were coming from an exclusive back-door entrance. At this point, promptness is not a factor provided you arrive before 10:45 since standbys are admitted by the number on your ticket.*

In line, by means of an unknown NBC Player, word spread that “around 70″ stand-by ticket holders made it in to the dress rehearsal. Our hopes were immediately raised and an excitement spread among others in our line. What was thought to be a long shot earlier in the day appeared to be a possibility. At 10:30 p.m., the guaranteed ticket holders were ushered past security and to their seats. Then, NBC Player (call her NBC-3) had us line up based on our stand-by number. NBC-3 definitely appeared to be “in-the-know,” actively communicating with whatever activity was taking place in the studio above.

It was noted that any stand-by ticket holder arriving after 10:45 p.m. would have to go to the back of the ordered stand-by line regardless of number. To follow-up on the asterisk from earlier, this was obviously not strictly adhered to as two sets of female groups came in a bit tardy. The first two girls followed instructions and moved to the back of the line (which benefited us since they were #s 61/62). The next set came in closer to 11 — apparently the rules are slightly relaxed when you sweet talk an NBC PA wearing five-inch heels and a short skirt because the girls were allowed to retake their stand-by ticket number in line (which hurt our chances since they were about 10 numbers ahead of us).

At 11 p.m., 30 people from our line were instructed to clear security, yet were informed that this did not guarantee a seat (eventually these 30 did make it in). That left us 32 people away from glory, building anticipation. The element of unknown was painful to endure. NBC Players did not offer any indication of how many seats remained. We saw VIPs continuing to come in sporadically. Around 11:10, two more standbys got in; followed by two more at 11:15. At this point, it seemed unlikely the openings would jump from two people at a time to 30, which is where we were in line. At 11:20, one more stand-by was asked to go in. Finally at 11:22, our hopes were dashed when NBC-3 informed us that no more folks would be allowed in. In the end, 35 standbys made the cut for the live show.

As a last ditch effort, we loitered in the lobby hoping for any last minute offers. When we heard the audience noise from above, we knew the show was underway and there was no hope left. I decided to speak with another approachable NBC Player (NBC-4) in the vicinity to try and obtain further information. She claimed to not know how many people actually made it in that night’s dress rehearsal, however did state that it is always better to take your chances with the dress show since more VIP are inclined to attend the live taping. While not stated directly, it was implied to be almost a 2:1 ratio.

Earlier when we got in the building, we had actually spoke to standby #35 (the last to make it through). He mentioned that he had arrived in line at 2 a.m. and was offered either ticket number 35 in the live show or 56 in the dress rehearsal (this should give a perspective on the number of people already in line by 2 a.m.). Remembering that NBC-1 had harped on the notion of going with the lowest number, clearly folks earlier in the line knew that the dress rehearsal offered a better chance at admission than live show. Whether this tip came from prior experience or from NBC-2 remains to be seen.

What makes our experience even more intriguing is that if “around 70″ truly made it in the dress rehearsal, we could have potentially made it in had we chosen dress show ticket Nos. 69/70. Of course, if it were rounded up to 70 or even 69, that would have made for an uncomfortable situation; our pact was always both of us or none of us.

It seemed as though the four NBC Players we encountered played a villainous role throughout our endeavor. NBC-1 offered some misdirection with the “lowest number policy.” NBC-2 did not shed any perspective on the numbers game nor gave any inclination that taking No. 69 in dress is infinitely better than taking No. 63 in live. NBC-3 seemed to have the inside track on the seating arrangement inside, however never disclosed any information throughout the night to indicate our chances, potential or otherwise. NBC-4 appeared to have knowledge of general trends week-to-week yet did not offer any hard numbers to support the claim.

On some level, I believe they are instructed by execs to yield as minimal information as possible. Other shows like “Daily Show” and previously “Conan” are fairly up front with their ticket issuance policies. The “Saturday Night Live” ticket policy is very closed off and often leads people on to false hope. Why NBC chooses to go down this route of secrecy baffles me. The show is not good enough to be taking fans on an emotional roller coaster. Its ratings are consistently on the decline, and only Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin has kept “SNL” on the map in recent years. This isn’t the ’90s anymore when NBC was on top of the world and the show was consistently funny. The fact that people still want to come out and watch a live taping of any NBC show should be received with open arms and full disclosure.

I also wonder if it makes sense for the fan to decide whether to take the dress or live show stand-by ticket. From our conversations with folks in line, a large majority indicated that they would be satisfied attending either with no preference to the live show. Perhaps NBC should consider a “best ticket” number policy where stand-by tickets are simply distributed from No. 1 onwards with no distinction between dress and live shows. That way, fans who wish to attend only the live taping can skip lining up for the dress show earlier in the night. Those who simply want to get in either show can line up for the dress and if cut-off, come back later for the live show. Obviously a ticket can only be used in one show. I haven’t explored the full ramifications of this process, but it is something to consider.

The lottery system itself should also be investigated. The ticket info page on hasn’t been updated for three years, and it’s a mystery if the process is still active. I’ve applied for the past three years and have never heard back from NBC either confirming receipt or otherwise. I shouldn’t be too bitter considering NBC-2’s earlier claim that “30,000 people apply for the lottery and less than 5% win.” To crunch the numbers further:

  • At a 5% hit rate, 1500 people are lucky enough to win the lottery each year.
  • Given a 22 episode season, 68 tickets are available per show, of which half are presumably distributed evenly between the dress and live show. This leaves roughly 34 lottery tickets at hand for a given live taping; clearly slim pickings going this route.

I would be even more skeptical of the process had my friend (then living in NY) not won a dress rehearsal lottery ticket back in 2008. A few other folks in our stand-by line mentioned they knew friends in NY who had also won the lottery. Are locals more inclined to attend tapings and thereby given preference vs. say, someone from Idaho?

At the end of the day, it came down to more questions than answers:

  • If a high of 40 people got in during a winter storm a few years ago as NBC-2 claimed, did we pick one of the most opportunistic shows in recent years considering 35 standbys made it in the live show? Seems doubtful.
  • Is there no counter to know how many seats remain unfilled? In the closing minutes, it seems devious to call people in numbers of one or two, especially if you are with a group and concerned if others behind you are going to make it in.
  • Why not full disclosure with how many standbys make it in the dress and live show each week? Clearly these numbers are available and would offer guidance to fans hoping to attend the show by analyzing weekly trends.

The fact that we potentially could have made it in the rehearsal show with tickets Nos. 69/70 leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I still haven’t watched the Gabourey Sidibe show from 04/24, which I had recorded on DVR, primarily out of spite. I’ll probably come around at some point. I urge folks who decide to participate in the stand-by ticket process to ask plenty of questions to NBC players and also comment on your experience so as to help others in the future. Until then, stay classy NBC.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing your experience in the SNL line, insightful. (It also reminds me of waiting in line to attend a taping of the Price is Right). I too had my doubts about the email lottery, but I just got notification yesterday that I got a pair of tickets for this weekend, so it is still functioning apparently. Try again, hopefully you will have better luck next time!

  2. Joey T
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    That is a great story Mukul!! Have you ever thought of trying to buy tickets from Lottery winners (Kijiji, Craig’s list) or from other people in line? You could have tried bribing the NBC people (Person # 3 sounds like the best to try and drop $50-100 on to see if you could get in). It seems if you wanted to get in, you should have showed up the night before and lined up for almost 12 hours to get in. At that point, it almost seems like you would be guaranteed to go get in to the live taping if you were the first few in line. Would you try your luck at getting in again by waiting in line? The secracy almost seems unnecessary for a show that has been declining for a long time but it almost adds a mystique to the show that sounds interesting.

  3. Joey T
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I do also think you made the right choice of show, with a host that is unknown and a musical guest that isn’t so huge, i think that increased your chances of getting in. I also think that seats are being awarded as VIP are no shows. You did state that VIPs were coming over an extended period of time (those last few who filtered in must have been filling in for VIPs not showing) and whether some seats are lost to VIP no shows as they might need to keep a certain amount of seats available for VIPs is unknown. Also NBC might not record the statistics of who makes it in each week as they are uncertain who makes it in due to no shows etc (even though they clearly have the capability of recording the stats, it might just be something they do not do). I also think the Live show is the preferred route because of 2 things. 1. The chance of seeing a mess up on live TV, greatly outweighs that in seeing a mess up in the dress rehersal. 2. Seeing the dress rehersal is like seeing a band practice, while i am sure it is good and a good representation of what the band will do, it is not the real show itself.

  4. angi
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been trying to get SNL tickets for 15 years via the lottery and the stand by line. I live out of state. This year I had 20 friends submit email requests for tickets. I can’t believe it, but 3 of them were notified this week that they had won tickets. One to the 9/25 live, one to the 10/2 dress and one to the 10/2 live show. I’m just dumbfounded, but quickly making plans to fly to NYC. It looks like they only give out tickets for a few shows at a time, so maybe even more tickets will come as the season progresses. Crazy!!

  5. Victoria
    Posted November 6, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    The first time this year I had emailed NBC for tickets to Saturday Night Live for the lottery. I’m in DC. I actually got 2 tickets! I just randomly got an email on 11/3/2010, stating that I have 2 tickets to the 8pm show (after reviewing other postings I realize this is the rehearsal not the live show) for this coming Saturday, 11/13/2010. Short notice but I’m fine with it!
    Good luck out there if you’re still trying for SNL tickets…!

  6. Mukul
    Posted November 7, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    congrats Victoria, it looks like you and a few others who’ve commented have had success in the lottery game this year so there is hope. I’d be curious in knowing if the tickets are transferable or does the lottery winner have to be present? does the email give much direction/guidelines?

  7. Ed
    Posted November 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I also got tickets for tomorrow show via the lottery, very excited. It is in the email that if you are found to even try to sell your tickets, then they are void. No transfering. But Good luck in the future.

  8. Michelle
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to be in NY this weekend and wanted to go to SNL. The host is Robert Di Nero and the musical guest is P Diddy. Do you think with these big names it would even be worth it to stay in line? What time should I get in line if I do try, 4 or 5 am? Thanks for your really helpful information on your experience – the BEST I’ve seen online, wish more people would post their outcomes.

  9. Mukul
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Both of the talent are well past their prime however their name brand likely sticks with the general public. This weekend probably presents a better opportunity to get in than upcoming December shows (12/11 – Rudd/McCartney, 12/18 – Bridges/Eminem). I would still recommend getting in line no later than 2AM if you want a reasonable shot. Colder weather over the weekend will help your cause. Good luck!

  10. Chris
    Posted December 29, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    My girlfriend and I traveled to NYC for our 6th anniversary on 10/2/10 (Bryan Cranston/Kanye) and decided to try to get into SNL via standby ticket. We were planning to arrive at 5 am in line. But after touring the “Top of the Rock” the evening before we saw people in line at 6 pm Friday! We decided we must try to be there earlier. We got in line at 3:15 am Saturday morning and got tickets 50/51 for the live show. Well..we were 2 out of the last 3 that got in!! Amazing luck. It was a great experience, and since our favorite band from our home area, The Black Keys are on next weekend, we might try to fly in and get in line super early Friday afternoon to try to get in, wish us luck!!!!

  11. jezabel
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    The rehearsal is recorded to tape and is used for backup in case the live show cannot air. Many skits in the rehearsal do not make it into the live SNL show. Many fans prefer to see the rehearsal because its more relaxed and enjoyable and some of the best skits have been cut-out in the live show because they are too risque for NBC execs.

  12. Sue
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I loved reading your story. We are going on 2/19/11. How in the world can you find out ahead of time who the host is going to be? I have looked everywhere. Any advice would be great.

  13. Jane Doe
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    For this year, my sister went through a travel agent in NYC with know on the inside to get tickets for a specific date that they would be in NYC. The agent told her they were the hardest and most expensive tickets to get, and came back with a number $5500 for two tat she could get. I assume these are some of the VIP seats, but still, for that price, I will enter the lottery every year until I die, and just try to keep my weekends open for a trip to NYC!

  14. Anonymous
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I just got an e-mail that I won 2 tickets. I cannot believe this! This is my first year entering. I was prepared to wait 12+hours in the cold, on the street. Speechless!!!

  15. CaliGirl
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m taking my daughter to New York this weekend for her 16th birthday (2/2). So excited! Thank goodness we’re taking the red-eye on Feb. 3rd, since the weather will be clear and the flights will not be cancelled. Anyway, we’re really excited to try to get into SNL on Feb. 5th on standby. Any specific advice for this weekend? Thanks!

  16. Anonymous
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    I entered the lottery this year for the first time and got tickets!! I couldn’t believe it. It appears you get notification a week before for the next weeks show. You have to bring a picture ID and the tickets are non-transferable. So it does seem like these are one of the hottest and hardest tickets to get! My first response on getting the tickets were New York trip in a week, nah. But then reading your post and others it made me understand it’s next to impossible to get the lottery. Thanks for the detailed info on your ticket experience!

  17. Anonymous
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    this was helpful until you shit on SNL

  18. Posted March 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    hopefully this comment doesn’t appear multiple times (it seems to freeze once i try to post my comment.. not sure if it’s really posting), but all I truly wanted to say was great post and thanks for sharing.

  19. Bob
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Lottery system does work… I won some tickets to a dress rehearsal today!

  20. mandy
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Thought I would add a little regarding the lottery. I have applied pretty much every year for probably 10+ years. I or a friend/relative won tickets for a show or rehearsal 5 years in a row (but until this week had a 3 year dryspell, but know people not close to me who did win a few more times). And I should mention…none of us live in NY. In August I email a large chunk of my friends and family to remind them to apply and always add the stipulation that if they win…I’m their +1;) Some have been notified in September and I have already received notification in January for tickets. My aunt just received notification for a December show! I have seen both rehearsels and live shows. I enjoy the rehearsels because as someone mentioned it is more relaxed and you see more skits (that don’t make the cut). An advantage to live shows is the possible chance of sitting near “celebrities”..Ivanka Trump, Bob Costas, Guy Fieri, Michael Phelp’s mom, Woody Harrelson, etc.
    As far as seating if you do actually have tickets..this is what baffles me. Have no clue how they do the seating. I have been towards the beginning of the line and all the way in the back…have always been in the balcony…not sure how you get selected for the floor seats. But the balcony can be great.
    A show story…I had live show tickets for the Luke Wilson/U2 show. While in line a guy approached us to try and buy our tickets for $400 (believe he was trying to impress his date). I did not sell for two reasons 1. seemed shady and didn’t want $400 in counterfeit money and 2. it was U2! He eventually found a sucker and then preceded to try and buy his way up the line for better seats. He ended up ahead of us in line, however, when seated he was at the top of the balcony and my friend and I were in the front row right about the stage exit. Several cast members acknowledge us and asked if we were enjoying the show, including Luke Wilson. But the icing on the cake..musical guests play two songs during the show and rarely close the show out, but U2 did and they continued to play 3 or 4 songs after it ended…very great treat!
    Good Luck to everyone who is trying to win tickets! It is a great experience.

  21. Mukul
    Posted December 2, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    this is a great story Mandy; thanks for sharing. it looks like you’ve lucked out a few times in the lottery which is good for you and your story proves there is no prejudice against regions where tickets are awarded.

  22. Joe
    Posted December 4, 2011 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    Why not grab a ticket Bot for instead?

  23. K
    Posted December 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I go to school in New York now, but I’m from MA, so I put my house there as my permanent address. I put my name in the lottery this past August just hoping I’d get drawn, and I got the email that I got chosen last week! I don’t think that it has anything to do with where you’re from, but I do know that the chances are very slim and I’m extremely lucky to get it on my first try. I have friends here that camp out for the show often, and if you want to see a show in particular you should definitely get there on Friday! Also, just keep putting your name in the lottery! You’ll get chosen eventually!

  24. Kathleen
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone have info on the stage door and actually meeting the host, the actors on SNL, or the live performer. I’m interested in going to the Jan.14th 2012 show with Dan Radcliffe as the host. I’d be getting Stand-by tix. Any tips?

  25. Kevin
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Very nice story! I’d like to share a recent experience I had, if you wouldn’t mind. I’ll keep it brief. I went to go for tickets to the live show with Jimmy Fallon/Michael Buble. I always thought it depended on the host on how many people would get in. I knew Fallon/Buble would be a super popular combo, yet a ton of people got in the live show on standby. I had ticket #29. I actually got there at 10:48. By then they already let in about 40-50 people, much to my demise. I literally had to beg and give the puppy dog eyes to let me in. They kept saying no at first. After awhile, thankfully, they did. The NBC Player just told me “GO! GO!” (to the back of the 10 people he called in). I was so relieved to get in. I was shocked to see this many people get into the show, but happy at the same time. It’s sooo worth it if you’re a huge fan of SNL like me. My advice is that if you’re gonna try to go for standby tickets, line up real early for a lower numbered ticket. I thought I had no chance cause Jimmy Fallon sure is popular (especially since he is an SNL alum) as well as Michael Buble’s soft/smooth voice. I lined up on Friday afternoon at 3pm. Those 16 hours in the cold were worth it (especially with all those cameos). I originally planned on waiting 24 hours earlier, but due to plan conflicts it became 16 hours.

  26. Joseph
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great share my friend. I hope you made it by now. Me and my girl friend attended last night’s SNL live show with Charles Barkley hosting 1/7/2012. It was amazing! We’re visiting from San Francisco and staying in a hotel near Times Square. I was passing by on Friday afternoon around 5 pm and decided to ask where can I get tickets at the NBC studios. The security there told me that people just started lining up! 5 pm on Friday! Went out and found at least 20 people already lined up! Anyways I went back to the hotel, told my girlfriend and we were totally disapointed. Anyways decided to go out. Got totally shit faced and made it back to midtown at 2 am and thought may be we should go wait online. Luckily wasn’t cold like the night before. Totally unprepared shit faced. Went stayed in line. We met some awesome people who were so much more prepared with chairs, tents, sleeping bags. We were number 60 inline. 5 hours later of laughs an quick naps on pavement. Got to tickets number 38 and 39 for the live show. Went to the hotel slept till 3 pm had and awesome day. Went back to NBC at 10:30 we were let in with the friends we made earlier and had the best night ever. Totally worth it!

  27. Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    I am going to NYC for SNL Feb 4 for Channing Tatum… I am willing to go the night before and wait, but I wanted to say I appreciate this post as it is very vague on the site. I have waited in line for X-Factor and was rejecvted minutes before the show because I was “stand by” come to find out there is a “super secret way” to get paid tix that guarantee your entry for x-factor – good to know ha ha anyhow, I plan to dress warm and wait it out – – – hopefully I can get in dree or live i don’t care 🙂

  28. Jamie
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I wanted to encourage people about the lottery. I put in for the lottery every year for as long as I can remember – probably 10 years or more. I won this past year for the first time! I just randomly got an email telling me I had 2 tickets. It was a month before the show (Zooey Deschanel is the host). My next door neighbor just won tickets for a show in March as well. So it is possible! Keep trying! Both of us won tickets to the live show.

  29. Cory
    Posted March 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    What all should be included in the lottery enterance email? Just all contact information? Nothing else?


  30. Shawn
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Can anyone who has attended a dress rehearsal share if the musical guest is present? Thanks!

  31. Theodore
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    After 10 years on lottery, finally got chosen for dress rehersal. But we got escorted directly to the bleachers on the far right, which Jason Sudeikis, during his dress-rehearsal-pre-show-intro, called out to us: “How are you doing up there, $#!t seats?!” because we couldn’t see anything but spotlights and backgrounds. If you’re ushered to the far right-back, welcome to the $#!t seats. The dress rehearsal is the same as the live show, verbatim, with the exception of any truly live snafus, ad-libs, or loss of composure. Even the musical guest does the same stuff. How do I know? Because were home in time for the live show. The website says no one under 16 will be admitted, yet we say a little kid in the audience seats that are directly in front of the set, on the same level. We asked how to get those seats below, in front of the actual set. The staffer smiled and said, “You REALLY have to know someone.” Sometimes, I hate our world.

  32. Jason Murray
    Posted July 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Going to NYC. Much appreciate you sharing your experience. N0w we know what we need to do if we REALLY want to go. Camp out…

  33. Posted September 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you SO MUCH for this wonderful account of your experience. It was incredibly helpful for me, and it inspired me to write about my own experiences with this crazy process (I got into the dress the second time around). Hopefully my story can help provide some insight too:

  34. Mitch somers
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    awesome comments,,, Ive tried many years too for lottery,,, chicago and now LV,,, ive tried 2 times for standby,,, always picked live standby tks,,, was really close once,,, Im in NYC now,,, and will try for my 3rd time,,, thinking rehersal,,, although,,,, that might change,,, always meet some interesting folks in line,,, host and musical guest,,,, bruno mars,,, think I lucked out with ,,, not the most popular host,,, so hoping I make it,,, will keep this forum posted !!

  35. Gus
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Entertaining story and useful information at the same time — thanks Mukul! I’m in New York the weekend of November 17, and was thinking of taking a stab at getting stand-by tickets (Jeremy Renner/Maroon 5). After reading your account, I’m not so sure. I’d be willing to get up early on Saturday, but unless I’m willing to stay in line all night it sounds like an awful lot of waiting in line for a slim chance of getting in.

  36. Mukul
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    @Gus, I like your chances for the 11/17 show considering the relative obscurity of the host. Most of standbys will likely be coming out for Maroon 5. The colder weather and week leading up to Thanksgiving (when folks are heading out for vacation) should work in your favor for a potential early line-up Sat am.

  37. Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Hey there. I’m planning on going up to NYC for my birthday weekend and plan to stand in line for the 12/08 show. Anyone know who’s hosting yet? I’m trying to get a feel for my chances. Either way, I hope to stand in line all night since this is one of my bucket list items. Any insight into the host/musical guest is welcome. Thank you all for the tips and info. This has been so helpful! Cheers.

  38. Brad
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I am wondering if they checked your ID when you got your standby tickets.

  39. Posted November 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Updating my post from a few days ago. They announced the Dec.08 host to be Jamie Foxx with musical guess Ne-Yo.

  40. orangegina
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi, thanks for documenting your experience in getting standby tickets for SNL. I want to share with you that the lottery system definitely does still exist. I have requested SNL tickets every August for the past 13-14 years. During that time I have won a pair of tickets on three occasions: in 2002 (dress rehearsal), 2009 (live show) and just recently for the Jan 19, 2013 dress rehearsal. It really is a game of chance. Also, even when you have guaranteed tickets the SNL staff still seem secretive. For the two shows I actually attended it was frustrating trying to find the correct line to jump on to get into the show. When they notify you that you won the tickets they tell you to ask for a specific line, for example,”ask for Jessica’s line,” When you get there and ask an NBC page “Where’s Jessica’s line?” they tell you to wait in the vicinity of the security gates and wait for you to figure out where the line is going to be and when they will start lining up.

  41. Posted February 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mukul,
    I was researching to know how to get tickets to SNL and came across your site. Wow, that’s tiresome. I still want to be able to see it live but I am not sure how hard can I really try for it? Why can’t this whole process be more simpler – like any other reservation? At least that would be fair to people instead of playing their emotions. I was just reading about this stand by tickets and I was wondering how easy will that be to get, all my questions were answered in your post. Awesome work, Thank you.

  42. Nick
    Posted July 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I, like the rest of you, am dying to go to a show regardless of live vs rehearsal. My question is to those of you who have one lottery tickets. When did you send your emails (date specificly) and did you do anything special?

  43. Caroline
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering if anyone knew if someone receives an email that they have won
    tickets do they have to be the ones that go? Or can someone else go instead of them? Like forward the email to them? Thanks!!

  44. Mario
    Posted August 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    The lottery system does work. For what its worth I entered it via email per the website instructions and got two tickets. It was when lady gaga and ryan reynolds hosted so it can be done!

  45. UnNamedName
    Posted March 27, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Going Standby is just another experience of NYC and SNL. I did this many years ago with my Uncle you lives in NY and we were two people shy of the live taping. We were in the Standby line at 6:30, recieved our ticket at 9-9:30, had breakfast and got back in line at night time. Didn’t make it but had a Plan B and watched David Lynch’s Lost Highway at Midnight at a local theatre in East Village. Next time I am in NY we will be trying this method again. No harm if you can’t go and if you can then it’s experience worth waiting for.

2 Trackbacks

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