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    I Queued For 13 Hours To Get Tickets To "Saturday Night Live" And This Is What Happened

    A tale of two tickets.

    Hey there! I'm Ellie, and I just recently got back from a trip to New York City. Being a person with no chill, I had two huge goals for this trip: One was to see Hamilton, and the other was to attend a taping of Saturday Night Live.

    Ellie Bate / BuzzFeed

    That's me in the shirt I bought when I saw Hamilton. The second day of my trip, I was one goal down. I felt invincible. Next stop: Saturday Night Live.

    If getting Hamilton tickets is difficult, SNL is a whole different ball game. It's on way less often, the studio seats only about 300 people, and YOU CAN'T BUY TICKETS WITH MONEY.

    NBC /

    In theory, there are three ways to get tickets to Saturday Night Live:

    1) Be close personal friends with creator Lorne Michaels or a member of the cast or crew! I am not. But if any of you are reading this, hit me up. I'm cool. (I'm not.)

    2) Enter the ticket lottery! You can email NBC any time during the month of August and ask for tickets. If you're lucky, they'll assign you tickets for a random show during the upcoming season. I was not lucky.

    3) Line up outside 30 Rock on Friday night, receive a numbered standby ticket, and pray that your number is low enough to get you in! Ding ding ding ding!

    Last week, when I was in NYC, the host happened to be Emma Stone, who I love.

    Listen. I am British. I know how to queue. But nothing could prepare me for what was about to come.

    Ellie Bate / BuzzFeed

    This is me with my friend Lucinda when we first sat down. Look at our smiles. We were so young. So innocent.

    This feels like a good time for IMPORTANT TIP #1: Unless you're going it alone, make sure you find a companion who's as committed as you are. You really don't want to get to 2am and have your friend abandon you because they're too bored/cold/tired of your constant stream of Kristen Wiig impressions.

    The SNL season runs from October to May, so you'll probably be queuing on an extremely cold New York City street for many hours. This brings us to IMPORTANT TIP #2: Layers and blankets are about to become your best friend.

    Ellie Bate / BuzzFeed

    You'll probably end up feeling like Joey in that one episode of Friends where he puts on all of Chandler's clothes, but trust me, you'll be thankful for it.

    By the end of the night, I was wearing a pair of fleece-lined tights under my jeans under my sweatpants, two thermal T-shirts, two sweaters, a huge fur-lined parka, two woolly hats, two pairs of gloves, a scarf so big it could've doubled as a blanket, three pairs of socks, and the sturdiest boots I own. My IMPORTANT TIP #3 is this: Instead of putting on all your layers at once, save some to put on when you get there. That way, when you've been sitting on the cold pavement for four hours and need some warmth, you'll be able to put on an extra sweater for some relief.

    I also brought a pillow and five blankets, and when it got to 4am and I was trying to sleep, I was still freezing. If you can, bring a sleeping bag. You'll need it. Thank me later.

    Once you've gathered your companion, your layers, and your entertainment for the night (a fully charged iPad with The Princess Diaries downloaded and ready to watch, obviously), prepare to settle down. Your home is now 48th Street.

    Ellie Bate / BuzzFeed

    Honestly, as awful as it sounds, sitting outside for 13 hours in a cold city isn't THAT terrible. Yes, a warm, comfortable hotel room bed would probably be preferable, but there's a delightful sense of camaraderie amongst the people in the queue and it ends up going a lot more quickly than you'd expect it to. And you're allowed to leave the line for necessary bathroom, food, and coffee breaks!

    Around 7:30, the 30 Rock kitchen staff came out and gave everyone butternut squash soup and crackers courtesy of SNL.

    Ellie Bate / BuzzFeed

    This provided at least 30 minutes of entertainment, the soup was delicious, and now I'm going to be telling people that Lorne Michaels bought me dinner for the rest of my life. It's only slightly a lie.

    After more than 13 hours, countless selfies, three burgers, a hash brown from the 24-hour McDonald's around the corner, and approximately an hour of freezing-cold sleep, it was 7am and time to get our tickets!

    Ellie Bate / BuzzFeed

    Here's where you make your biggest decision (if you haven't yet, which you probably should've): Do you go for the dress rehearsal or the live show? There are a few things to consider here – the live show is the live show, and it's Saturday Night LIVE, not Saturday Night Dress. But dress rehearsal is longer – the show is constantly changing, so if you go to dress, you'll see sketches and jokes that get cut before the show goes on live – and, in theory, more standbys get into dress, because VIPs and season ticket holders will bother going to the live show only.

    We'd decided weeks in advance to try for tickets to the dress rehearsal. We got tickets #27 and #28.

    To get tickets, you'll need your photo ID proving that you're older than 16 and also your face. That's all!

    FYI, now's the time to take pictures of your ticket and post them all over social media. When you come back later for the show, they'll take it away and you'll have to say goodbye.

    After enjoying a few hours of rest and relaxation, you'll need to go to the NBC store at 30 Rock where an NBC page will put you in yet another line based on the number on the back of your ticket.

    Ellie Bate / BuzzFeed

    At this point you will be an expert at queuing. You'll recognise the people around you from the night before, and you may have even made friends with some of them. It will feel like you are home again.

    You'll need the photo ID you showed when you were originally given your ticket, and not much else: Whatever you do, IMPORTANT TIP #4 is do not bring a backpack. They won't let you in and you will have been through all of this for nothing. I don't want that for you.

    At 7pm sharp (for dress rehearsal), security guards will appear from a mysterious door in the corner of the NBC store. They will say, "We're taking the first 30," and you will let out a breath you didn't realise you've been holding for the last 24 hours.

    Ellie Bate / BuzzFeed

    DISCLAIMER: They might not take the first 30. They might take the first 10. They might take just one. They might take 50! I'm just telling you what happened to me. Please don't hurt me if you go on Saturday and they don't take the first 30.

    If you're lucky, you'll be taken through security and upstairs to a waiting area. If you're luckier, you'll be given a wristband and sent down a corridor lined with stills from old SNL episodes. If you're the luckiest, you'll be led into Studio 8H, where they will put you in a seat and it will all have finally been worth it.

    And it REALLY is worth it. Being able to sit in Studio 8H and watch how Saturday Night Live is made is a truly incredible experience.


    Throughout the show, crew members are silently moving sets and setting up for new sketches, cast members are running around followed by people carrying wigs, and you'll have to try to keep from screaming when you see Jennifer Aniston waiting offstage to make a cameo on Weekend Update.

    (OK, that ~probably~ won't happen. But it MIGHT. It happened to me.)

    It was freezing cold and I was exhausted, but I can't wait for my next trip to NYC so I can queue all over again. And that's saying something.

    NBC /

    And if you're thinking of trying this yourself – good luck! ❤️

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