1. BEING ONSTAGE AT SECOND CITY HELPS, BUT ISN’T NECESSARY.
Bill Hader got discovered performing a sketch show in someone’s back yard. Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer were part of a showcase put on by iO. So study and get good at Second City and The Groundlings, but be prepared to welcome opportunity from anywhere.
2. YOU HAVE TO PREPARE 6 MINUTES (unless you’re Jimmy Fallon)
You got the call! OK great, now you have a week to come up with 6 minutes (3 characters and 3 impressions) out of nowhere if you were totally not expecting that call, or 6 minutes of your best stuff if you’ve been expecting for this moment all your life.
3. THEY PUT YOU UP ACROSS THE STREET.
You know, so you can sleep and work out and eat and breath, while staring at 30 Rock and thinking about your impending doom.
4. WHEN YOU ARRIVE, YOU’RE SENT TO MAKEUP.
They touch up what you’ve already done to your hair and makeup, while you stare at wig heads and scripts that have cast members names on them, and start to feel insecure.
5. YOU’RE GONNA SIT THERE AWHILE.
You’ve been touched up, you’ve run your audition in your head 4,000 times. You’re sitting here in this dressing room used by hosts and guests, down the hallway from the stage. OH GOD WHEN ARE THEY GONNA CALL YOU?!!!
6. A LOT OF GREAT PEOPLE HAVE AUDITIONED (plus Dane Cook).
Jennifer Aniston, Dane Cook, Donald Glover, plus a lot of great people who are currently about to become legends in other ways, like the amazing Lauren Lapkus and Elaine Carroll.
7. BRING PROPS AND WIGS. OR DON’T.
It really doesn’t matter. If your bits require that you have brown hair or be carrying a hose, then bring them. But don’t think too much about it. Bill Hader famously said, “I remember getting in the elevator for my audition and there was a guy next to me who had a backpack full of props and wigs and things, and I went, ‘Oh my god, that guy is so prepared, I have nothing, I have no props.’ And that was Andy Samberg. And Andy Samberg said he was looking at me going, ‘Oh, that guy has no props. He doesn’t need props.’”
8. IT’S THE SCARIEST 6 MINUTES OF YOUR LIFE!
And just like that, you’re called to THAT FAMOUS STAGE, surrounded by cameras and crew and Lorne Michaels and Seth Meyers and what seems like a million other people. You slate your name to the camera and then it’s all over before you even realize it and you go back to your dressing room.
9. THEY DO LAUGH.
Legend tells us that Lorne Michaels is notoriously stony-faced during auditions. But don’t let that worry you, because there are 10 other people in the room and they DO actually laugh. I mean, if you’re funny.
10. MEETING WITH LORNE IS YOUR CALLBACK.
They call it the social audition - if they like you, you’ll meet with Lorne or some writers so they can see if you’re crazy. And then they’ll hire you anyway.
11. GETTING THE JOB IS ONLY HALF THE BATTLE.
Oh my gosh, congrats!! You got on SNL! Great, now you have to work harder hours than you ever have before! And that’s just to get yourself on the air! Have so much fun guys!