Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Live from NY: It's the SNL Exhibition

Saturday Night Live Exhibit Entrance
Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition


There are not too many people who are not familiar with the phrase, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night Live!" This line, usually within an opening sketch, starts one of the longest running comedy variety shows that is broadcast on NBC. Like many icons of American culture, it has amassed artifacts and generated interest amongst fans. The result: an exhibit, of course, presented by Premier Exhibitions

After purchasing a ticket, we got the red carpet treatment. A video introduced the series, the doors open and we were on on our way. 

SNL Exhibit Red Carpet
The Red Carpet to the SNL Exhibit

They started with the history of the show with the Lorne Michaels' desk and continues to introduce the Not Ready for Prime Time Players who entertained America starting in 1975. We smiled while reminiscing looking at photos of the late Gilda Radner, the late Jan Hooks, the late John Belushi, the late Phil Hartman and others.

The original Not Ready for Prime Time Players.

The famous staircase onto the set

The exhibit actually was a lot like the show: a planned, organized format that seemed improvised. It took you through the week of producing a show, starting with Monday and ending with Saturday. Along the way, we were introduced to writers, costumers, set constructors, directors, musicians, make-up artists, cue cards and of course, the talent in the form of actors, hosts and musical guests.

The board of the show's rundown.

"Video" table: imagine you're in the meeting of the staff as they prepare for the show.

One would expect original artifacts in the form of costumes, actual sets and props and the SNL exhibit did not fail to deliver. Scripts, mannequins wearing authentic costumes, a drafting table and the famous news desk were all on exhibit. We were allowed to take photos and immerse ourselves into the sets.

Set designs

Model of the television studio and set
Wayne's World
Wayne's World set, with the famous "Jaws" shark

Throughout the exhibit, there were monitors with clips of sketches: entire loops of clips throughout the tour.

After the tour of the gallery of costumes including outfits worn by Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, racks of costumes, photos and the hundreds of musical guests, we entered a mock-up of the control room. We sat at the desk and became the director and heard how a live broadcast would be.

Control Room

After watching the countdown clock in the control room and the next thing we knew, we were in a facsimile of Studio 8H, watching an abbreviated 15 minute version of the show, with projections coming from all sides. As each area was showing its portion of the show, we also watched the other areas and saw how the stage crew was setting up for the next skit. 

"Studio 8H"
In a classy turn, fittingly, there was a wall of All Credited Crew and resume photos of all the cast, some you will know who rose to higher fame as a result of being a cast member, some you may have never heard of and some famous folks you have not have known were ever on the show. Although SNL tends to hire unknowns, some actors with previous notoriety have been cast.

Eddie Murphy's famous Buckwheat costume
We enjoyed taking our picture from the famous "Weekend Update" news desk with your favorite anchor superimposed in the shot.

We spent almost 3 hours there, reading every caption, looking every artifact and lingering at every monitor playing video clips. We even took a photo at the news desk with our choice of our favorite SNL anchor sitting in with us.

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