While some may consider it, most people do not realize how much work goes into Saturday night’s famous hour and a half. From brainstorming to the after party, each week at SNL is unique and different, but the format and schedule is consistent. A multimedia exhibit, SNL: The Exhibition takes guests through each day. As you enter the museum and hear Alec Baldwin’s voice explaining some of SNL’s history, and the elevator doors open up to a spotlighted red carpet that leads to the iconic main monologue stage, you will feel the magic that is SNL. Not even having dived into the meat of the museum, you will know that you are stepping into an alternate universe that is unlike any other.
The start of every week at SNL begins with the pitch meeting with the host in Lorne’s small office, which is replicated in the museum, bobble head and all. After the meeting with cast members and writers, Lorne, the producers, and director collaborate and choose exactly which ideas will (and will not) be developed for the coming week’s sketches. As the world knows, nothing is off limits at SNL. When something interesting happens in America, in pop culture or in the news, the world wonders, “Oh man, what are they going to do on SNL?”
As events occur and ideas are decided upon, Tuesday rolls in with writing night. With a beautiful room full of original scripts and notes from SNL’s first episodes, some of the most experienced head writers from the show are filmed to share the fears, excitements, and experiences of what it is like to be a writer on the ever changing Saturday Night Live. This takes museum goers into Wednesday and one of the coolest rooms in the exhibit: the read through room. An exact replica of the read through table with projections of platters of food, scattered script papers, and voice recordings of real read-throughs with Lorne, the host, the cast, and all the writers, museum guests can actually sit at the read through table and get a taste of a typical Saturday Night Live Wednesday.
Once Wednesday is over, the rest of the museum is a surreal experience. Guests have the opportunity to navigate their way through immediate show scheduling, set design, costume design, makeup prep, and more. A room with a full Wayne’s World set and Jeopardy podiums are available for fun and photo ops. As you make your way into the costume room, one can find his or her favorite costumes and real face molds of cast members that the award winning makeup department used to make masks. Here’s a tip: try to see if you can match the face mold to the cast member. It’s scary impressive how accurate these masks are.
Finally it’s Saturday. Walking down a corridor as if you are living out your dream as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, you walk past photos of cast members from every decade preparing for the live taping. You find costume racks labeled by sketch, ready for your favorite characters’ quick changes. You can sit in the makeup chairs, explore the changing rooms and feel as if you are really about to be on live television. You walk through the control room and hear the director making calls to the crew. And lastly, as you make your way through the scaffolds of studio 8H, awaiting your arrival is a grand finale so amazing you just have to see it for yourself.
Amy Poehler said that Saturday Night Live, “is America now whether you like it or not.” In the 40+ years Saturday Night Live has been around, it has always been America. It has always been the show that speaks the thoughts of all Americans. It has always been the program that has brought people of every age, interest, and political affiliation together.
Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition exposes guests to how necessary every SNL cast and crew member are to the success of a single show. It immerses guests into a cultural phenomenon that has flourished through four decades, a turn of a century, new millennials, and consistent world achievements and turbulences. Saturday Night Live has stood the test of time. It has brought some of the greatest comedians, actors, writers, singers, bands, and entertainers the world has ever witnessed. Saturday Night Live isn’t going anywhere and, lucky for you, neither is this exhibit.