Thursday, May 3, 2018

Our experience at SNL: The Experience

The Mr and I grew up on Saturday Night Live.  He remembers a little more of the original not-ready-for-prime-time players than I do.  He loved Dan Aykroyd's, Fred Garvin...Male Prostitute (which he said to me incessantly when we dated, and yet I still went forward with the relationship) and John Belushi's samurai.  I wasn't a huge fan of the first few years, but I recognize and appreciate the trail they blazed at the time for something new and never seen before.  Our true time was starting season 7 with the cast of Robin Duke, Christine Ebersole, Mary Gross, Tim Kazurinsky, Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, and Tony Rosato which was 1981 into 1982.  We've been avid watchers ever since even in the past decade where the quality of the writing has just tanked for us. (The only saving grace for me being Stefon played by Bill Hader but he's long gone.)

When I knew we were going to Chicago back in February, something popped up in my feed about SNL: The Experience being at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, I took a peek at their website, and I knew I wanted to surprise the Mr with it.  We had breakfast with a friend that morning, and when he asked our plans for the day, I told him I was surprising the Mr with something I called "the thing at that place" as a placeholder for the day, and we'd go on from there.  As we walked down State St., I was hoping he wouldn't see the sign on the sidewalk for the exhibition, and I don't think he did until I turned into the building.  Thankfully, we got there about 10 am so it wasn't busy yet, and we had the whole place almost all to ourselves.  I've got a buttload of pics for you so kick back.  If you ever liked SNL ever, you will love this post!

This is an exhibit of a typical week at Saturday Night Live where it walks you through day by day what is done at the initial pitch meeting all the way through walking through the doors in front of a live audience of millions of people.

They have the headshots of every cast member in the order of them signing on as a cast member.  There were so many faces we forgot about, and it was fun to reminisce before we even got inside!

Before you go in, you watch a little video on the screen, and when it's over, the "elevator" door opens, and you walk through a replica of the hall from the audience of studio 8H like you're walking up to the stage.  I have to say, that was oddly one of the Mr and me's favorite part because it felt SO real!   We actually got butterflies, it was that real and I swear I got teary-eyed.

There is the original 1975 set and Lorne Michaels desk along with videos of celebrities talking about what it's like to work with Lorne and the writers, how involved they are and the kind of ideas they have.  There is also an exhibit of John Belushi's killer bee costume.

When we rounded the corner, we both about dropped a brick.  Our favorite Eddie Murphy characters from our day from Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood and Buckwheat were right in front of us.

It was hard to pry the smile off of my face.

Then the Mr spied a prop from one of his favorite skits, Land Shark.

Being an avid Star Wars fan, he also loved the Nick the Lounge Singer bit by Bill Murray.

There's everyone's favorite self-esteem guru, Stuart Smalley.

As well as Steve Martin's giggle-worthy tribute to King Tut.

They show the timeline they use for the shows that are on notecards so they can be easily moved around as skits are approved.

The exhibit is also interactive, and they have a few sets from the show including the Weekend Update desk used by Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey as well as the Jeopardy set where you can get your picture taken behind Burt Reynolds famous "Turd Ferguson" podium.

Speaking of Turd...

You can also jam out with a guitar on the Wayne's World set after you see the costumes up close.

I was obsessed with Church Lady as a kid and probably talked like her character for a solid 2 years.  How I didn't get belted by annoyed adults is beyond me, but my inner kid was squeeing over this one!

They showed amazing detail of their prosthetics department as well.

It was amazing to see the molds for teeth, hairpieces, and videos showing the process.  I'm a big behind the scenes nerd, so it was right up my alley.

When I rounded the corner to see their Hall of Fame and saw Stefon's costume, I totally fan girled.

Then did the same when I saw the Barry Gibb costume.  (Chris Farley fans will recognize Matt Foley behind it.)

Early season fans will love seeing the original Coneheads costumes.

Another really awesome display case showed many of the "products" they used on the show from John Belushi's Little Chocolate Donuts to Colon Blow to Baby Spanx to Nerf Crotch Bats.

The Hall of Fame is so amazing to see with Hanz and Franz, Mary Catherine Gallagher, Donatella Versace, and even Melissa McCarthy's Sean Spicer Easter Bunny costume.

We about crapped when we saw our all-time favorite SNL Digital Short...Dick in a Box.

These are the quick change fitting rooms they use between skits.  This Harry Carey costume was actually just returned 2 days prior after Will Farrell hosted at the end of January.  Leslie Jones is the same measurements as Will, and they used that and another costume for promos.

You can go into the control room to see how it's set up and listen to the actual calls being made for a show with The Rock and what's going on in between takes.  Since I went to school for this, it actually took me back for sure and reminded me why I never became a director.

The finale is really awesome and is a semi-replica of the studio where you face the stage with a monologue by Tina Fey in a few of the actual old-school seats from studio 8H that swiveled.

 So it made it easy to look at the stages on the right for skits and to the left for performances.

Admission to the exhibit also includes the 3rd floor which shows Chicago based shows and lots of really cool TV memorabilia.  There was this cool one from the Bozo show.

I actually geeked out over these NBC chimes you could play.  It's amazing how the cadence is drilled into your head.

Fans of 50's - 70's shows would have a field day in there so should you go, make sure you don't skip it.

SNL: The Experience runs through December 31, 2018, and we very highly recommend it.  It was one of the major highlights of that trip for us.  It's centrally located at the Museum of Broadcast Communications at 360 North State Street in River North just a few blocks off the Mag Mile and just above the Loop.  It was only a half mile from our hotel by Water Tower Place, so it's an easy walk.  Check out their Facebook page, and they'll let you Ebates/Groupon peeps know of any deals.

What were your favorite SNL characters/skits?

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  1. I've never been to Chicago, although I'd like to go. This sounds like a great exhibit! I would have so much fun with that. SNL seems to go through phases, good years and bad years, all the cast members are extremely talented but some groups just mesh better than others.

    1. Chicago is wonderful. There is a lot to do. Historic architecture tours (on foot or by boat on the rivers). Museums. Sports. Shows. Restaurants. Zoo.

      We have gone many, many times. I use Priceline and get reasonable rates ($100-$125) right downtown.

    2. If you go to Chicago, take a water taxi. They have one that goes down the river, and they have a different one that runs from Navy Pier to Museum Campus. Both are very reasonable and will usually give you a little touristy info while you're on them too. Much cheaper than the tour boats.

  2. This looks absolutely awesome!!! I squealed when I saw the Bozo Show towards the bottom -- LOVED that show and all the dysfunction behind the scenes. LOL What an amazing experience this had to be. I'm just amazed at all the details they have. Iconic for us old folks. LOL


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